Saturday, January 20, 2018

Attempted Murder, Betrayal, and "Parricide", Oh My! (Episode 7.8)

Previously on: Vic has just 10 days remaining as a cop to finally bring down Cruz. Abrasive ICE agent Chaffee took over the investigation into the Box O' Blackmail. Shane figured out he'd been set up to die by Vic and Ronnie. He hired a pimp named Two-Man to take out Vic.

In his bedroom, Shane puts on a baseball cap, then tosses it to the floor. He puts on gloves. Grabbing a gun, he loads it and tosses it in a duffel bag. We see a framed picture of Mara and Jackson on the nightstand. Shane flops backwards onto his bed with a sigh. He sits up, puts his face in his hands, and stares into space.

"I'm not sleepy; I wanna play!" Jackson cries from the next room. Mara tells him it's time for bed. Shane appears, telling Mara it's okay for Jackson to stay awake. "But it's late. He's fussy," says Mara. Shane says grumpily, "Good. Let the whole block know we're both here dealing with a cranky kid."

Shane motions his wife into the hallway. They need to walk through their plan. "In 30 minutes, I go online, I check the Georgia Bulldogs score," Mara recites. She'll check the score every 10 minutes after that, answering any emails Shane gets.

At 11:00, Shane wants Mara to order a pizza and turn on the shower. When the delivery guy shows up, she'll call toward the bathroom to ask Shane for cash and make sure he sees Shane's wallet. Mara looks uneasy.

Elsewhere, Vic meets with Cruz. A bodyguard waves a metal detector wand over Vic's body. Cruz wants Vic to put a drug dealer out of business. Did he come to the right guy! He explains a priest named Father Morton lets gang members deal heroin and cocaine out of his church in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds. The yearly fiscal report to the diocese is due in a week. Cruz wants Father Morton to recommend that St. Luke's be closed.

Vic guesses St. Luke's is located on land that Cruz is developing. Cruz plans to open restaurants, but he can't get a liquor license if there's a church within 1,000 feet. His knowledge of the drug dealing will force Father Morton's hand.

In the Barn parking lot, Vic tells Olivia about what Cruz wants to do. "How many commandments does that violate?" Olivia wonders. Vic says Cruz seemed agitated. Olivia gives Vic permission to play along and has the go-ahead from Claudette. In fact, the captain will let Olivia have Vic for the whole week. "The love just keeps on comin'," he says.

Olivia knows he's being fired and is sorry to hear it. Vic hopefully asks if he can work for ICE. "You're forgetting I've read your file," says Olivia. So has Chaffee. Vic points out that with Farmington about to become cartel HQ, the feds need someone who knows the players. Olivia will try to grease the wheels again.

Vic hopes they won't actually let the church close. Olivia promises to give the diocese a heads-up. "Good," Vic says vehemently, "I wouldn't wanna piss off Jesus on top of everyone else."

Ronnie brings home a young Asian woman. She bartends at night and goes to dental hygienist school during the day. They're holding hands and it's nice to finally get a glimpse into Ronnie's personal life. The romantic evening is cut short by a black man, his face hidden by a black motorcycle helmet. He fires at Ronnie.

The bartender screams. Ronnie valiantly opens his apartment door and pushes her inside. He stays where he is and pulls his own gun. After they each pop off a few rounds, Ronnie dives for the safety of his apartment, kicking the door shut behind him. He throws his body on top of his date to shield her until the gunfire stops.

(Photo credit)
Peeling off on his motorcycle, the would-be assassin pops a few more bullets through Ronnie's living room window.

Next we see the photo of Ronnie, Shane, Vic, and Lem having some beers together. Shane sits by a window, breathing heavily. A Charger driven by Vic pulls into the driveway. Bug-eyed and panting, Shane overhears Vic talking to Ronnie on the phone.

Ronnie thinks a black guy took some shots at him. He tenderly wraps his date's arm with gauze; she was grazed by a stray bullet.

Vic jogs out to his car. Shane keeps hyperventilating in the bedroom.

"Glad I moved to the Valley. It's so much safer," Ronnie says sarcastically as Vic and the EMTs arrive. He asks his date (IMDb lists her as Esther) if she's okay. "Don't talk to me, shithead!" snaps Esther. When she's gone, Vic jokes, "So much for your bamboo cage fantasy."

The Barn will be handling the investigation. Claudette arrives on scene, exclaiming, "Jesus! You're still in one piece?" Billings inquires about Esther, tactfully referring to her as "Hanoi Hannah." Ronnie is sure she'll live, but doubts there'll be a second date. Billings is impressed Ronnie talked Esther into coming over on the first date.

Claudette will send Ronnie a list of recent parolees so he can check for familiar names. Dutch notices the light bulb in the porch light has been unscrewed. All Ronnie knows for sure is the guy was black, had a big gun, and rode off on a motorcycle. Vic digs a .357 out of the living room wall. "Looks like armor-piercing," says Dutch, "Somebody wanted you dead two or three times."

A woman calls from outside: "Ronnie, you okay?" It's his neighbor Shonda. She thinks she can help the cops out with a possible license plate. Shonda normally "doesn't like to get involved with messy shit," but Ronnie helped her cousin get out of some kind of trouble. She describes the motorcycle as black and red, then hands over the partial plate she wrote down.

"Timing's kinda creepy with all the shit goin' on with Shane lately," Vic mutters. Ronnie was thinking the same thing. Vic offers to let Ronnie spend the night at his house. Ronnie deadpans, "You got a bamboo cage?" "For chrissake," Vic chuckles.

Vic suddenly remembers he's meeting with Olivia the next morning about Cruz. Not to worry, he can cancel it. Ronnie doesn't want him to. He plans on going back to the Barn to figure out who shot at him: "I'm not gonna sleep anyway. Not without my Asian throw pillow."

The first thing that came to mind when he said that.
(Photo credit)
By morning, Julien has 400 possible matches for the partial license plate. Maceo Padmore AKA Two-Man is on that list. Vic knows that name as Farrah's pimp. Claudette asks if Two-Man had any reason to go after Ronnie in particular. Ronnie admits things got a little physical between them, but not enough to warrant this. How did Two-Man find out where he lives? One word, Ronnie: Google.

Vic will see what he can find out. Claudette tells him that's not happening; he's been assigned to ICE. She threatens to have Vic on desk duty for the rest of his short career if he starts rousting people in Farmington. Claudette addresses the rest of the cops; any information on Two-Man or Ronnie's attempted murder should be passed along to Billings and Dutch.

Ronnie makes a disgusted noise when Claudette puts him on desk duty. "You're the victim of a crime; it's mandatory," says the captain. She's sure Shane and Julien will leave no stone unturned on Ronnie's behalf. Claudette will get a warrant for Two-Man's house. She turns to Julien: "I'd park Shane here too, but we need the manpower. You keep an eye on him."

In the clubhouse, Vic promises Ronnie that he'll find a way to be there when Two-Man is caught. "This is bullshit," grumbles Shane, "Everyone used to fear this team...We need to remind them who we are, put this asshole's dick in the dirt." Ronnie doesn't think that's a good idea. Shane the Duplicitous Bastard points out, "This asshole tried to kill you over a bloody jaw, man....If he happens to fall in front of a moving bus, consider it an accident." He leaves with Julien to talk to Two-Man's stable.

Ronnie muses it's possible Two-Man was acting on his own. Possible, but extremely unlikely.

Shane parks in front of a motel. He wants to take the first crack at Capuchina: "We can go salt and pepper on her if her tongue freezes up." Julien agrees to wait in the truck. In Capuchina's room, Shane urgently asks for help finding Two-Man before he finds Capuchina. Someone must've seen her at the Barn and figured she dropped a dime. "Shit!" cries Capuchina, hurriedly getting dressed.

Capuchina starts shoving more clothes into a bag. Shane sits her down on the bed. The best thing she can do is pretend she's never talked to Shane. Capuchina thinks Two-Man might be staying with his cousin.

Shane snarls to Julien that Two-Man deserves whatever they can give him. "That's not for us to decide," says Julien. Shane points out all the factors: Two-Man is big, pissed-off, and has lots of guns. He probably won't come peacefully. Two-Man also tried to kill a fellow cop. Julien agrees to back Shane's play.

They hear a loud argument from inside the house they're approaching. "Hey! Hey! It's the police!" calls Shane. An angry black woman opens the door, telling them more or less to get the fuck out if they don't have a warrant: "You don't have the right to--" "Do what? Look for a guy who almost killed another cop?" asks Shane.

The woman tries to get Shane in a stranglehold from behind. Shane manages to shake her off and handcuff her. Julien finds a black man in the bedroom, pulls his gun, and demands to see the guy's hands. Shane dashes into the bedroom, all "whoa, whoa, buddy, that's not him."

He then asks, "Where's your cousin? Why were you trying to sneak out the window?" The other man admits Two-Man was here earlier, but he packed some things and left. Two-Man has an hour head start.

Vic asks to talk to Father Morton about his unofficial altar boys. The priest insists the gangbangers just come to his mission "for a hot meal and a place to sleep. What they do on the streets is out of my hands." "Out of your hands and into your pockets?" Vic guesses. He knows the E-Park Johnnies deal drugs there and the good father gets a cut of the proceeds.

Father Morton is curious about the lack of squad cars and uniforms. What's Vic's angle? Vic wants the priest to recommend the closure of St. Luke's; otherwise, photos of Morton taking money from gangbangers might end up in the parish hall. He also has statements from Father Morton's unauthorized bank account. That could mean a lot of prison time. "Then arrest me," Father Morton challenges. He won't close his mission.

Vic arrives at the home of Damon, head of the Johnnies. Damon thought Vic was retired. "Too young and pretty to retire," says Vic, "Made 'em shitcan me." He taunts the gangbanger about the possible effects of steroids on a man's goodies. Vic has seen the crew around St. Luke's selling cocaine and heroin. How does the priest figure into it?

Damon claims Father Morton is just their spiritual counselor. Threats of jail don't scare Damon. The police don't have evidence. "Ain't gonna put no homeless junkie on the stand. And the priest? He bound by oath to keep his mouth shut." "Since when are you Catholic?" Vic wants to know. Damon mockingly crosses himself.

Cruz has a lunch conference with Edgar-veda. Early studies have been encouraging. People believe Edgar-veda's years as a police captain will make him a stronger leader. D.A. Anita Lima has started an exploratory committee of her own, convinced she can be L.A.'s first female mayor.

If the councilman wants to win the election, he has to surround himself with more influential people. Cruz promises, "I have the influence and power to make you the next mayor." He also has enough leverage to guarantee a win. This is one-time offer.

"Forgive me, Father, but you have sinned and I need a goddamn confession," Vic says. That's not quite the version I learned in Confirmation class. Through the confessional screen, Father Morton hisses, "I am in the middle of service. Get out." Dear writers, real Catholics call it Mass.

Vic tells the priest about his visit to the Johnnies. Whatever the gang has on Father Morton must be a lot worse than Vic's Box O' Blackmail. "What could be worse than a priest losing his collar and going to jail?" Vic muses, "Then it hits me. A priest going to jail for molesting boys." Father Morton tells Vic to leave. "What? No absolution?" Vic asks innocently.

Father Morton gives Vic an earful: "Just because some priests use the collar to live out their sick fantasies doesn't mean every priest is a gay pedophile." He does have a fair point. "Then what do the Johnnies have on you, sir?" Vic asks loudly enough that people in the pews turn around.

Father Morton pulls Vic away from the congregation. With a sigh, he admits to having an affair with a female parishoner named Keisha, which resulted in a baby. Keisha's brother is none other than Damon. The gang leader was none too happy about the relationship.

Father Morton tearfully says Damon has been threatening to kill Keisha and her son if he doesn't let the Johnnies deal at the mission. The secret bank account is to provide for Keisha and Adam. Damon uses his and Keisha's grandfather's house as a stash spot.

Vic suggests hiding Keisha and Adam in a shelter. Father Morton tried, but gentrification closed all the shelters in the neighborhood. Vic understands that a man has to do whatever he can to protect his blood.

"Good news!" Claudette announces to the squadroom. Uniforms picked up Two-Man. Outside, assembled cops clap as Two-Man is taken out of the squad car. The pimp was driving recklessly on his motorcycle, ran a stop sign, and almost hit a city bus. "You shot and tried to kill one of my detectives last night," says Claudette. Two-Man denies it, but tells Ronnie his jaw feels better.

Busting Two-Man was a case of beginner's luck; a rookie spotted his bike. Dutch and Billings get the first shot at interviewing him. Vic takes Billings aside. He knows all about the "half-assed lawsuit" and doesn't want Billings' "half-assed brand of police work anywhere near a hit on one of my Strike Team members." "The guy shot at a cop. Cuffs are never coming off," Billings promises.

Upstairs, Two-Man repeats he had nothing to do with shooting at Ronnie. Dutch informs him that a witness saw his motorcycle leaving Ronnie's apartment. Two-Man holds up a Polaroid of Ronnie: "This faggot-ass cop laid his hands on me. Y'all need to arrest his damn ass." "Great, only 20 seconds in we've already got motive," says Dutch.

Shane, Vic, and Ronnie watch the interview on CCTV. Two-Man insists that, as a Christian, he turns the other cheek. "He could turn both cheeks, he'd still be talkin' out of his ass," says Vic. Billings thinks it's lucky for Ronnie that Two-Man couldn't hit a target that was 10 feet away with a clear shot.

Two-Man's favorite phrase
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Dutch asks where Two-Man was at 11:00 last night. Two-Man was in bed alone; somebody must've stolen his bike and taken it for a spin. Neighbors heard the motorcycle leave at 10:30 and come back after 1 AM. "Nice of whoever stole it to bring it back when they were done," says Billings. The pimp knows the cops don't have proof.

Dutch and Billings leave the interrogation room to come up with a new strategy. Unis are combing the streets between Ronnie's apartment and Two-Man's for the gun. Julien suggests searching the cousin's house. Shane thinks he can convince the guy to let them in without a warrant. He would like it to be just himself and Julien: "Too many bodies, it'll look like an occupation instead of a friendly request."

Shane makes a beeline for the interrogation room and turns off the camera. He asks where Two-Man ditched the gun. Two-Man is sure this is a trick to put him in prison. "Look, I am trying to save you, dumb-ass," Shane says impatiently. There's no case against Two-Man without the gun. Going into her office, Claudette notices Shane pounding on the interrogation room table, waving his arms.

"You think I trust you?" asks Two-Man, "You wanted me to kill your own cop buddy, remember that?" "Which means that we're in this goddamn thing together," Shane whispers. Claudette passes the observation room and notices the TV showing nothing but static. Two-Man finally tells Shane the gun is in a sewer grate in his backyard.

"Why is the camera off?" Claudette demands as she enters. Shane lies, "I didn't think you'd want a defense attorney to hear the names I was just calling this asshole."

Vic approaches Chaffee about staying undercover for ICE. Chaffee doubts it'll be possible with Vic's shady reputation. Vic appeals to their desire to keep good guys on the streets. Chaffee's phone rings. "It seems you're not the only one Cruz is trying to employ," the fed says. Edgar-veda enters the office.

Cut to after Edgar-veda has presumably explained Cruz's play to buy the mayoral election: "As soon as I showed any reluctance, he turned his offer into an ultimatum." Chaffee advises Edgar-veda to accept the offer. Edgar-veda thought he gave them the Box O' Blackmail to wash his hands of Cruz. "Are you sure those hands are clean, councilman?" asks Chaffee. Edgar-veda calls him an asshole.

Olivia reminds the boys they're all supposed to be on the same side. They need to keep Cruz from leaving L.A., which he won't if he's helping Edgar-veda's campaign. Vic and Edgar-veda have to turn their secret partnerships with Cruz into an open threesome. The goal is to prove Cruz's connection to the cartel.

"And what happens when this blows up and my name gets tied to Cruz and the cartel?" demands Edgar-veda. Olivia says, "Former cop goes undercover to catch a cartel player trying to buy a mayor. Smells like a winner." Chaffee tells the men to be careful. Vic quietly tells Edgar-veda not to worry: "If Cruz decides he wants you taken out, I'll be the one he hires to do it."

Olivia stops Vic before he leaves. Her orders to keep Cruz in play were from the Department of Defense. The cartel evaluator probably has ties to the Mexican military. If Vic wants to make himself an asset, he needs to find out who the new player is. Vic is glad Olivia has his back. She tells Vic she managed to get Keisha and Adam into a shelter in El Segundo.

Shane gives Two-Man's cousin a choice: Let him and Julien in to look for the gun "or 20 cops show up in an hour and they wreck this place." The cousin and his girlfriend consent to the search. Shane tells Julien he'll check the backyard. He pulls up the sewer grate, finds the .357, and shoves it down the front of his jeans. Don't ask me how; they're practically painted on.

Shane is further proving his idiocy in that the T-shirt he's wearing is barely long enough to touch his belt line. If that thing rides up when he sits down, the surprise is out.

Dutch and Billings heave sighs. Ronnie heard Julien and Shane rolled snake eyes at the cousin's. Billings wonders if the witness and partial plate could be enough to make a case against Two-Man. "You be willing to roll to a jury with that if he'd been trying to fill your ass with lead?" Ronnie asks grumpily. Julien hasn't been able to find any associates.

Shane suggests switching out teams. Dutch pissily tells him they're doing the best he can. "And the final result's lookin' to be this asshole walkin' outta here with nothin' but a few hunger pangs," says Shane. Dutch thinks Shane should make himself useful and look for the gun. Shane did; without it, the only chance at sending Two-Man to prison is a confession. Let him and Julien try pushing the pimp's buttons.

"He doesn't know we don't have the gun," Billings points out. Shane worries Two-Man could catch them in that lie, then there'll be nothing left to squeeze. Dutch wants to finish what he and Billings started. Upstairs, Dutch pretends they found the gun. "Where?" Two-Man challenges.

Dutch thinks that's an odd answer; innocent people would say there's no gun to be found at all. They know Two-Man has a motive and no alibi. "Means, motive, and opportunity, the holy trinity of incarceration," says Billings. The only question now is whether to charge Two-Man with attempted first-degree murder or attempted second-degree murder. The pimp wants to see the gun, then he'll tell them why it's not his.

Vic jogs into the observation room. "If Wagenbach and Billings do any more jerking off, it's gonna be a goddamn bukkake party in there," gripes Shane. He begs Claudette to let him and Vic talk to the suspect. The captain agrees, but Vic has another idea: fake statements by nonexistent witnesses. Shane looks vaguely sick to his stomach.

Claudette pulls Dutch out of the interrogation. Vic instructs, "I want you to smile at me like we've got this bastard hung to the cross and thank me like you really mean it." Dutch does, then strolls back into the room. He reports to Two-Man that he has witness statements saying "you were gonna kill a cop who roughed you up."

Dutch heard all this from a reliable source: "couple pros you use as punching bags, Farrah and Capuchina." "I didn't say nothin' to them bitches," Two-Man insists. Dutch sums up all the evidence in their favor. He and Billings put on their suit jackets and walk out.

Vic mutters desperately for Two-Man to take the bait. "What if you get forced to do somethin' that you didn't really wanna do?" the pimp inquires. Shane hastily excuses himself from the observation room.

Two-Man won't shut up now: "That ho Amber that got herself killed...he was gonna put my name on that killing I don't do what he say. He wanted a cop merked." "Who wanted him dead?" Dutch presses. Cut to Shane skittering down the stairs like a Daddy longlegs.

"Who made you do it?" Dutch asks again. Two-Man points in the direction of the observation room: "That cop in there. Dixie-Boy." There's only one person that could be. Downstairs, Shane has made it as far as Billings' bank of vending machines.

Two-Man lays out more damning details: Shane gave him the revolver and Ronnie's address, told Two-Man that Ronnie was getting off work at 11:00. What Ronnie drives, where the pimp could hide. "Two shots to bring him down, two shots to the head to be sure."

In the back parking lot, Shane's getaway is impeded by Officer Paula. She cheerfully asks if Shane wants to sign up for department softball again. "Uh, sure," he answers, speed-walking to his truck. Paula says Shane can play center field or shortstop since Officer Asher quit. "Wherever," Shane says with a wave of his hand. Officer Paula keeps chattering away; the league fee went up to $75 instead of $50.

"Shane Vendrell hired you to kill Gardocki?" Dutch looks equally confused and skeptical. Two-Man argues, "I didn't get hired for shit. I got thrown on a slave ship and given a gun for an oar." Ronnie, Julien, and Vic dash out of the observation room, all three eager to get their hands on Shane. "Where's Vendrell?" Vic asks downstairs.

Officer Paula is still standing at Shane's truck window. What jersey number does he want this year? "You pick," he replies. Paula gives him his choice of any number besides 23, 17, and 35.  (I'd suggest #1 with a bullet or maybe #25, as in 25-to-life). Shane fidgets, then finally loses his temper: "Just pick the goddamn number and shove it up your ass."

Shane starts his truck and peels out of the parking lot. Ronnie, Vic, and Julien are too late to catch him.

Mara knocks on Corinne's door. "You left Jackson in the car?" the former Mrs. Mackey says disapprovingly. Mara asks Corinne to listen to her carefully.

The first thing out of her mouth is a bombshell: "Vic murdered Terry Crowley." Shane witnessed it. A year and a half or so later, the Strike Team stole $2 million from the Armenian mob. "That's why there was an Armenian hitman in your house to kill you and your kids. Shane shot him and saved you." Two days ago, Vic and Ronnie tried to kill Shane. "Last night, [Shane] retaliated in self-defense."

"You're crazy," Corinne grinds out through her teeth. When she tries to shut the door, Mara grabs her by the arm. "Just shut up and pay attention," orders Mrs. Vendrell. She and Shane are leaving L.A. Mara wants Corinne to pass on messages to Vic and Ronnie. First, they need to remember they started this. Secondly, they better not look too hard for the Vendrells or "Shane is gonna testify to so much Strike Team shit that the two of them will be put away for 10 natural lifetimes."

Corinne's mouth hangs open in shock. Anything else you wanna add, Mara? Like how your husband murdered Lem in cold blood? Mara orders Corinne to be by the phone every day at 1 PM and 10 PM. She'll be checking in. Vic needs to keep Corinne in the loop concerning what the cops know about Mara and Shane. "You need to tell [Vic] everything. Exactly what I said," Mara demands before stomping off the porch.

"Must've given you some reason why he wanted to kill Gardocki," Dutch says. Two-Man denies it; Shane was all about the plan.

Vic reports to Claudette that nobody is at Shane's house. It looks like the Vendrells packed in a hurry. "Why?" asks Claudette. Vic shrugs; Mara must be Shane's accomplice. "No. Why did this man try and kill [Ronnie]?" the captain wants to know. Vic snarls, "Ask Shane." Claudette places Vic and Ronnie under orders not to leave the Barn. When Vic goes downstairs, Corinne is in the lobby.

Billings informs Two-Man that he shot Ronnie's date Esther. Two-Man asks if she's okay. "Gonna be left-handed for the next 6 months," says Billings. Two-Man apologizes, but he had no choice; Shane was trying to stick him with a bullshit murder charge.

"Holy shit," Ronnie says in the clubhouse. Corrine replies hotly, "That's right, holy shit." Vic implores Corinne to help them. Corinne agrees, provided Vic tells the truth and she believes it. Did the Strike Team really do all the things Mara said? Ronnie looks uncomfortable. Vic admits a lot of stuff happened that shouldn't have "for reasons that made sense at the time, but are pretty hard to defend now."

Corinne's eyes fill with tears. Vic asks, "Do you want me to go to prison?" Corinne responds with a question of her own: "Do either of you even feel any shame?" Vic tries not to think about it too much. Corinne appreciates the honest, then admits she's known something shady was up for all these years. "And I have let you infect me and our children. I will help you this one last time and then the kids and I are out of your life." Vic has to have some kind of consequences for everything that's happened.

Driving along, Shane tries to give Mara a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

Vic and a small army of uniforms show up to raid Damon's house. When Keisha answers the door, Vic promises to get her and Adam out safe. She says Adam is watching TV with his grandpa and Damon is in the back bedroom. Vic presses a finger to his lips and motions for grandpa to take Adam outside. He ends up having to keep Damon from diving out the bathroom window.

Vic hands $5,000 Cruz gave him over to Olivia. She's impressed; given his file, she thought he'd have pocketed it. This will go a long way toward helping Vic get a job with ICE. Vic thanks her for doing right by him. "Wouldn't wanna piss off Jesus," Olivia says, probably in reference to the fact the Barn used to be a church.

In the clubhouse, Ronnie heaves a deep sigh. "If Shane wanted to retaliate against both of us, why only come after me? And why'd he trust it to someone like Two-Man?" Vic figures Shane needed to give himself an alibi. Or Shane wants to finish Vic off himself. For all Vic knows, Shane could've been hiding in his house the night Ronnie almost died.

Ronnie wonders how long the Vendrells can realistically hide. A month? A year? I'd say less than that. Mara looks like she's pretty far along and I doubt she'd agree to a home birth, on the run from the law or not. Ronnie is sure Claudette will confine him and Vic to the Barn. How are they supposed to find Shane? Vic sighs. For once, he's at a total loss.

"Why did Shane try to get Ronnie killed? What went wrong with you three?" Claudette asks Vic. In response, he unclips his detective shield from his belt and lays it on her desk. Vic officially announces his resignation; he'll turn in his gun before he leaves the Barn.

Claudette is surprised. Vic still has a week left; she thought he wanted to play things out 'til the end. Vic doesn't want to stay if it means being chained to his desk. After a beat, Claudette goes to her office window and calls do to Vic. She doesn't want him interfering with Shane's case. "Seeing as how I'm not a cop anymore, you don't really have jurisdiction over what I do, captain," Vic snaps.

"You rogue out on this, you do anything sideways like you did with Lemansky and I'll lock up your corrupt ass faster than you can say, 'How'd I lose this job?'" Vic looks amused. If this is what his job's come to, he doesn't want it.

Vic turns in his gun at the desk. Ronnie watches him leave the Barn. End of episode.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Real "Bitches Brew" (Episode 7.7)

Previously on: One of Cruz's henchmen assassinated city controller Robert Martin. Edgar-veda ordered Vic to get Cruz out of his life. Vic planned to have the Armenians "take care of" Shane the Traitorous Bastard, but punked out at the last possible minute. Shane told Mara that Vic and Ronnie were behind the attempt on his life.

Shane tucks a gun into his sock, warning Mara it may take a few days to sort things out. Mara asks him to be careful and gives him a kiss. In the background, little Jackson happily hums to himself at the kitchen table. "We'll always be together. All of us," Shane promises, scooping up Jackson for a hug.

Vic pays a visit to Danny's house. She cuts to the chase: "If you're interested in doing the right thing, relinquish your rights to Lee." She initially doesn't want to let Vic in, but relents. Vic brought along a present for his youngest child: a mobile to hang over the crib.

Vic doesn't want the two of them to be at odds over Lee. His solution for that is a court-ordered DNA test. "You wanna have a kid so bad? I know a lotta women who'd like to get knocked up," Danny snaps. Vic would rather work on a co-parenting plan than go to court, wasting a lot of time and money that neither of them have. All he wants is for Danny to acknowledge his rights and responsibilities as Lee's dad.

Edgar-veda and Vic go to a meeting to present the Box O' Blackmail. They use the old "this just showed up on my doorstep" explanation. Edgar-veda wants Cruz to face his crimes, even though he's a major campaign contributor. Kouf proposes a joint investigation into the matter.

Someone else at the meeting plays a video of Vic meeting with cartel man Rios. Vic says he was just trying to use Rios for intel. Edgar-veda didn't turn the Box O' Blackmail to ICE right away because they thought it could be handled locally; they soon realized they were in too deep. ICE will be taking over the case. Edgar-veda is relieved that the box is someone else's problem.

Of course, Edgar-veda sees this as an opportunity to make friends in high places. Vic points out, "Cruz is gonna grind up half of L.A. before these idiots come up with a code name for their operation." Vic is concerned about the repercussions for Olivia's career; her file is still in the box. Turns out Edgar-veda has the file tucked away somewhere. "Bet she can't wait until that bill comes due," mutters Vic.

At the clubhouse, Vic likens the meeting with ICE to "another Mexican donkey show." Has Ronnie seen Shane today? Nope, and the bearded one would very much like to finish what they started. Vic is disappointed in the way Ronnie handled the attempted hit on Shane. Now they have no idea how much Shane knows about their plan or what he might do.

"On a good day, that prick's a wild card," Ronnie reminds him. Vic has known Shane since before the Strike Team was started, a fact that I think is clouding his judgment. He also knows he had a big hand in the way Shane turned out. "That's why you got to put him down," Ronnie says vehemently.

Vic tells Ronnie he has bigger worries than Shane, namely "a daughter traipsin' around in a French maid's outfit in front of boys, popping X." Does Ronnie think Vic should just put a bullet in Cassidy and be done with it? Ronnie looks stunned Vic would accuse him of thinking that. Vic is sure he can fix Shane nonviolently, just how he's gonna fix things with his wayward kid.

Their conversation is interrupting by Claudette, who tells Vic his review-board hearing is in an hour. Vic thought he had another two weeks. Claudette shrugs that the schedule got changed.

Ronnie sits on a bench in headquarters' hallway, looking like an anxious expectant father in an old movie. Vic emerges with the verdict and it's the worst possible outcome; he's been fired without pension, effective in 10 days. He bets things would've gone down differently if he still had the Box O' Blackmail. Ronnie is in disbelief: "Taking down the public face of the Mexican cartel got you canned?"

Vic's PBA rep stops them before they can leave. Vic's career isn't over yet; the chief makes that call. The rep advises Vic to have Claudette put in a good word for him. Vic knows if that's what it takes to save his job, he's a dead man walking. The big man, of course, puts it in more colorful terms. Claudette is as likely to help him as the PBA rep is to let Vic take his wife to Vegas for a weekend of freaky sex.

At what looks like a homeless encampment, paramedics do CPR on someone they're wheeling to an ambulance. Shane gets out of his truck nearby. He heard through the grapevine that Vic is being fired. Vic asks how Shane's doing mentally after that scare with the Armenians. Shane says it's the kinda thing that "just makes you wanna hug your kid and not let go. I thank God I'm blessed with a wife who loves me."

The person who just left in the ambulance is a prostitute. She was discovered by a colleague that dropped Vic's name to the uniforms. "What is it with you and whores?" Shane jokes. Vic retorts, "Tryin' to keep 'em from temptin' you." 
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The hooker in question is Farrah from a few seasons back. She has a big old smile on her face like Vic didn't once put a gun in her mouth and threaten to pull the trigger. (Personally, I think the only thing that stopped him was Lem standing right there). Farrah says her friend was attacked by Bombay, their pimp.

"Amber and I were getting clean for each other," says Farrah. "That's why Bombay did this." Vic reminds Farrah she had a chance to get out of "the life;" he even paid for her bus ticket. Farrah asks, "Why are you mad at me?" Uh, he literally just told you. Farrah doesn't remember them having issues. Vic bets she can't remember who she's given blowjobs to.

The bruised, cracked-out Farrah insists she's not a hooker anymore. She hasn't used drugs for two whole weeks and neither has Amber. They've even been going to NA meetings. A uniform tells Vic the paramedics just pronounced Amber dead. Farrah starts crying, begging Vic to find the guy who killed her friend.

Back at the Barn, Vic parks Farrah in an interrogation room with Julien. Farrah can't believe Vic doesn't care that she could die next. Vic says, "By me, that's euthanasia." Julien thinks Vic is being a little harsh. "I've been down the road with this little slut," Vic tells him. Claudette catches the tail end of this discussion.

Julien asks when Farrah last saw Amber. The day before on account of Amber "working" nights. Farrah knew something was wrong when she didn't see Amber at sunrise this morning. She again points the finger at their pimp; Bombay threatened Amber. According to Farrah, pimping is just a hobby for Bombay. He makes most of his money cooking crystal meth.

"I trusted you!" Olivia says to Vic in the clubhouse. She just found out Vic had the Box O' Blackmail the whole time they've known each other. Vic explains Edgar-veda took it out of his hands. Olivia asks if Vic knows a good attorney. He assures Olivia her boss won't ever find her file. Edgar-veda plans to use it as leverage. "So I've traded one blackmailer for another?" Yeah, basically.

Vic is trying to figure out a way to take down Cruz "in the 10 days I still have a badge." Rios has disappeared. Olivia needs an inside man and Vic is her only option. She doesn't think her boss Chaffee will go for it. He's raiding Cruz's construction site later to see if they can find Rios' body.

Vic worries this will scare Cruz into hiding. The guy's smart enough not to leave a body lying around his own construction site. He might have some ideas, though. He heads for the site and tips off Cruz. Cruz gives Vic an envelope of cash, calling it "this week's pay and severance." Vic is no longer useful to him.

Billings and Dutch interview a home invasion victim. She was home alone when she heard glass break. She tried to scare the intruder off with her gun and thinks she might've shot him. The woman thought this neighborhood was gentrifying: "I was gonna flip the house like on those infomercials."

Dutch wants to take a mosey around the neighborhood; Claudette lives five doors away and he's concerned. He gets the answering machine when he calls her house. Dutch notices her car in the driveway. He knocks on the front door. Boxes of files are overturned and scattered on the other side of the glass.

Claudette still doesn't answer, so Dutch breaks in. The living room and her study are also in disarray. Mountains of dirty dishes are piled in the kitchen sink.

Danny tries to talk to Vic's other baby-mama. Corinne doesn't care about what's going on between Danny and Vic. Danny tells her about the DNA test; she doesn't want Vic in Lee's life, not even in the form of child support checks. She's sure Corinne wouldn't like part of Vic's tiny paycheck going to Lee.

Danny won't settle for anything less than sole custody and no visitation. The only way to make that happen is to prove to a judge that Vic is an unfit parent. Corinne says her ex has a lot of bad qualities, but he loves his kids. "You know this guy better than anybody," Danny pleads, "It's all about him all the time." She asks Corinne to give her take on Vic to the judge.

Danny suggests the former Mrs. Mackey think of testifying as "a long-term business decision in the best interest of your kids."

"Crime scene is this house, not mine," Claudette tells Dutch peevishly. He inquires about her car. The alternator's gone out, so a uniform gave her a ride to work this morning. Billings reports he found blood around the side of the house: "Looks like Annie Oakley winged the guy."

"Tried to get a read on Shane," Vic says quietly to Ronnie, "Looks like we might be all right." "As long as he's alive, we're not all right," Ronnie disagrees. When Claudette enters the breakroom, Vic pretends to be advising Ronnie about car repairs.

The captain's heard about the board's ruling and would prefer if Vic cleaned out his locker today. In exchange, she'll ask the chief to allow Vic to have a percentage of his pension. Vic considers this briefly, but decides to stay the full week and a half to tie up loose ends.

Claudette turns to Ronnie; she wants the Strike Team to investigate Amber's murder because her pimp also deals meth. Julien exposits that Bombay the pimp's "government name" is Marcel Letourneau. There's no address listed on his record and none of "the girls" seem to know how to find him.

"Get ready for a long, lazy afternoon on the stroll, turning down free BJs while we look for this idiot," drawls Shane. Vic jokes, "Who said anything about turnin' 'em down?" Farrah told Julien about Bombay's new girl Capuchina. Vic bets Capuchina replaced Farrah as bottom bitch and now Farrah wants to settle that score. He'll take Shane out for a Capuchina while Ronnie and Julien wait for the forensics report.

On his way out, Vic runs into Corrine. His ex asks why he's suddenly interested in joint custody. "Because I want joint responsibility," Vic replies. Corinne calls bullshit; he's had 14 years to be the biggest male influence in Cassidy's life and he's never been around. Vic doesn't want to make that mistake with Lee. Corinne arches an eyebrow, "This baby's a do-over?"

Vic doesn't want to be a bad example by walking away from his illegitimate love child. Corinne confides the reason for Danny's visit; she wants help making a case to keep Vic away from Lee. Corinne asks Vic to consider if he's pushing the issue because he's a fighter or because he thinks it's really in the baby's best interests.

As they approach a motel, Shane nervously keeps a hand on the butt of his gun. Vic notices and asks what's up. "Shit can jump off with these 187 cats, man," Shane shrugs. A woman, presumably Capuchina, answers their knock. Vic pushes his way into the room, claiming he smells marijuana.

Looking around, they find drug paraphernalia and a Taser. Capuchina says she has it because "one of my regulars likes me to use it on his nuts." "Who could blame him?" Vic chuckles, pocketing some cash he found on the nightstand. He asks about Bombay.

Capuchina is sure Farrah sent them: "Bitch couldn't handle her business. Chose the white smoke over her black pimp...Farrah ain't right in the mind. Why she got kicked to the curb." Capuchina has a vision for her future, namely running her own stable. She calls it being an entrepreneur. Vic says, "You help us find Bombay and we'll sponsor you for the Rotary Club."

Capuchina clearly has no idea what that means because she wrinkles her nose and says she doesn't do anal. Vic pulls out his handcuffs and asks, "What about bondage?" He's adding obstructing a police investigation to her list of charges. Capuchina struggles against him and finally gives up the name of someone who might know where Bombay is: Two-Man.

Two-Man is Bombay's business partner who collects money from the meth sales. Capuchina doesn't know where Two-Man lives or what he looks like other than "big, ugly, black as a flat tire." Farrah might have a better idea of where to find Two-Man.

From the backseat, Farrah says Two-Man collects drug money "every Mother's Day," which is apparently slang for the day welfare checks are issued. She points out Two-Man's car. Shane is curious why Farrah didn't mention this guy earlier. Farrah plays like she didn't know if he was still Bombay's partner.

Vic parks a distance away from Two-Man's car. The three of them will be sitting there until Two-Man shows up so Farrah can ID him. Vic suggests they "keep the talking to a minimum."

Dutch reads over crime statistics and notices there's been a 15% increase in burglaries in Claudette's neighborhood. The thieves always take electronics and jewelry. Makes sense to me; easy to transport, easy to pawn. Billings thinks it'd be worth chatting with the private security guards in the area.

"Rent-a-cops?" Dutch frowns. Billings would call it "rent an ex-cop." One of the security companies, PRP, mostly employs former police officers. In an uncharacteristic show of motivation, Billings called PRP and one of the owners is coming in to talk. 

Enter Lester, resplendent in a hideous Hawaiian-style shirt. Billings thinks it's a genius idea for ex-cops to run a private security firm, even though I've heard that's a common line of work for retired public servants. He boasts about his own side gig with the gourmet vending machines until Dutch glares.

Lester chalks up the recent burglary boom to gentrification. Wealthier whites have been steadily moving in, so "for the blacks and Mexicans, it's a crowbar Christmas." He's helpfully brought along PRP's logbooks from the last three months. Lester also has a couple of suspects in mind: recently paroled crackhead Elliot Gallardo and pawnshop owner Paolo who's got "an interesting way of compensating for his low inventory."

In the car, Farrah points out Two-Man. Vic tells her to stay put and "try to keep your clothes on." The pimp seems to realize he's being watched by plainclothes cops and takes off. Shane lags behind, causing Ronnie to bellow: "Up and at 'em!" With a mighty grunt, Ronnie tackles Two-Man as he dashes out of an apartment building. He punches the suspect in the face until Julien pulls him off.

Vic twists Two-Man's arm behind his back, asking if he knows Bombay. Turning to his colleagues, he says, "Anybody feels like writing me up for excessive force, you better do it in the next 10 days." Vic pats down Two-Man and makes a deal: If he tells them about Bombay, the cops will let him keep his money "and forget all about the track-and-field tryout."

Two-Man gives up the location of new meth cooking house. He spits out blood, glares at Ronnie, and gripes, "I think he broke my goddamn jaw." "You broke your own jaw, asshole," Vic counters.

At the camper/slash meth lab, Julien wants to wait for uniform backup. Vic would rather have the element of surprise. He sternly tells Farrah to stay in the car. When the team gets close to the trailer, someone opens fire on them. Julien gets the kill shot. Vic and Shane line up the bra-clad female meth cooks against the trailer. Farrah is standing next to the car.

"I did what I had to do," Julien says when Claudette arrives. She doesn't want him talking to anyone other than his union rep about the shooting.

Back at the Barn, Dutch and Billings shake hands with Lester, thanking him for his help. Lester and Vic look daggers at each other. A process server appears with papers ordering Danny to appear in family court. "You son of a bitch! You told me I had until tomorrow night!" Danny shouts. Vic replies coolly, "That was before you went behind my back and dragged Corinne into this." "After all the shit you pulled on Corinne, she comes crawling back to you like a whipped puppy." Danny wonders what kind of dirt Vic is holding over his ex-wife.

By now, everybody in the squadroom has taken notice of them. Vic says Corinne just understands kids need their dads. Danny grits her teeth, looking like she wants to punch something (preferably Vic's balls).

Olivia tells Vic he missed a show at Cruz's construction site: helicopters with thermal cameras, canine teams, forensic accountants, and...

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"Your boss came up with jack shit and no body," Vic guesses. Olivia confirms it. She'll try to get Vic a sit-down with her boss Chaffee.

Dutch calls to Vic across the parking lot, inquiring if he knows Lester. Vic nods, "Guy's an asshole. Into all kinds of wrong shit....If you think he did something shitty, he probably did."

Claudette remarks she saw Danny arguing with Vic. Danny apologizes, promising it won't happen again. Claudette requests she keep a lid on it until Vic is terminated in 10 days. That's clearly news to Danny. She explains about her now-ugly custody dispute with Vic. Claudette offers Danny time off to handle things.

Billings found out Elliott the crackhead has an airtight alibi: "Four people saw him stealing food from a soup kitchen." "How do you steal from a soup kitchen?" Dutch asks. He suggests they try another investigative angle. Most of Lester's security clients are people who've had recent burglaries. What if Lester is staging them to create more business? Billings doesn't like the idea of interrogating a former cop.

Vic vents to Chaffee about blowing a covert investigation: "I'm outta my department on my ass because of this thing." The only way to turn things around is to give Cruz the Box O' Blackmail. "We'd be handing the man a loaded gun," says Chaffee. Letting Cruz have it keeps the shady developer in the cartel's good graces. Chaffee gets it; they could arrest Cruz for extortion.

Olivia worries Cruz will smell a rat when he discovers her file is missing from the box. Vic warns her that he'll have no choice but to put Olivia's folder back in. Olivia knows Edgar-veda won't just return it; she already asked. Vic tells her it's all about how you ask.

Vic announces to Edgar-veda that he's working undercover for ICE; he needs Olivia's file and the Box O' Blackmail. Edgar-veda thought Olivia was working for Cruz. Vic says things aren't always what they seem. "I'm sorry, but Vic doesn't make a very compelling character witness," says the councilman. He's keeping Olivia's folder in case she changes teams again.

Vic lays out what'll happen if Edgar-veda doesn't cooperate. Cruz will rat out Olivia, who in turn will rat out Edgar-veda for keeping her blackmail file. Vic will back her story. Edgar-veda's face falls as he realizes they're serious. He tosses Olivia's file onto his desk.

Billings brings Lester in for questioning. Dutch gets right to the point: "The more security systems you sell, the more money you make. And what better way to stimulate demand than breaking into houses?" Lester can't believe they're accusing him of that after his 15 years protecting and serving the residents of Farmington.

Billings tells Lester the burglar got grazed by a bullet and left a blood trail. Lester takes off his Hawaiian shirt and there's not a scratch on him. He also has some impressive muscles. "53, still ripped," Lester boasts. He turns around, pulling down his pants and his boxers. "Liking that ass?" Lester's lower body is similarly unblemished.

Dutch asks how to get in touch with Lester's partner J.R. Lester claims J.R.'s been on vacation since last weekend.

Capuchina arrives in the squadroom, asking for someone from the Strike Team. Shane takes her to the clubhouse. The hooker claims Bombay is mean, but not capable of murder. She saw Amber go for a ride with Two-Man. "Just because she got in his car doesn't mean he killed her," Shane points out.

As part of his meth dealing benefits package, Two-Man gets the girls' "services" anytime he wants, free of charge. He's into rough stuff and has even broken bones. Shane remarks, "That can't be good for business. Bombay's okay with that?" "He never lets him beat on his earners," says Capuchina.

When Amber refused to "take her beatdown like a ho," Two-Man grabbed her by the hair, beat the hell out of his car with her face, and threw her in the backseat. Shane proceeds to flatter Capuchina: "I think you're a good person." He believes she's telling the truth about what she saw. Problem is her pot habit makes her an unreliable witness.

Shane is also worried about her safety and what'll happen if Two-Man doesn't get convicted. He'll write up her statement as an anonymous tip.

"Looks like J.R. decided to vacation in the ER out in Riverside," says Dutch. Lester doesn't know anything about it. Dutch found out J.R. was treated for a gunshot wound, fed the doctor a bullshit story that he accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun. "He always was clumsy," shrugs Lester.

Riverside PD is bringing J.R. to the Barn. They're willing to bet J.R.'s DNA matches what was at the crime scene. Lester heaves a sigh: "He's my partner." Dutch respects his loyalty. He'll drop the breaking and entering charges and book Lester for trespassing and vandalism.

Lester confesses to breaking into the house, which they thought was empty right up until the gunshot.

Vic talks to an Asian girl from the meth lab. Bombay got a phone call tipping him about the cops right before the raid. Vic storms out of the room.

Elsewhere, he confronts Farrah, who's sitting in a piece-of-shit car. "You spun that sob story about your pimp killing your girlfriend? You set up Bombay for a death-by-cop payback for kicking you out?" Vic rages. Farrah thinks Bombay got what he deserved; he started Amber using crack.

Vic grabs her by the arms, drags her out of the car, and throws her down in the dirt. He's still screaming: "You warned him so he'd come out blasting! You used me! You used one of my guys as the shooter! You coulda gotten us all killed, you sick bitch!"

Farrah chuckles: "Oh, I used you. Played you just like last time. I remember now. You were an asshole back then too." She may not be pretty anymore, but she can still lead him around by his dick. "You ever thought about just cutting it off? Free your mind once and for all?" Vic lets go and stomps back to his car.

Dutch sits down in Claudette's office and confesses that he had to break one of her windows when he was trying to check on her earlier. She gives him a you-did-what-son look. Did Dutch think she was dead on the floor because she has lupus? Dutch lays out his evidence: Claudette lives alone, car in the driveway, and nobody answering the door. Claudette tells him to expect a bill for the window.

She explains that it takes all her energy to get through the workday; that's why her house is so messy. Dutch figured that and has taken the liberty of hiring a cleaning lady to come in twice a week. He's paying for it. Claudette would rather pay it herself. Ever the cop, she asks, "Is she even legal?" Dutch doesn't answer that.

Vic knocks on Danny's door. Wouldn't they both rather see all the money they're about to spend in court go toward Lee's education? "Okay, I'll give," Danny nods tearfully. She agrees to put Vic's name on Lee's birth certificate as long as she gets sole custody; they'll have to work out a visitation agreement. "I can live with that," Vic says breathlessly. This is clearly more than he expected.

Danny plans to call an arbitrator in the morning to set up an appointment. Vic is sure this is gonna work out for the best. "That's what I want for Lee," Danny nods. They say their good-nights.

When Vic is gone, Danny goes to her bedroom and tosses a bunch of Lee's clothes into a suitcase. Several others are already packed. She boxes up some toys and diapers.

Elsewhere, Shane is sitting on a bed, fiddling with his revolver. A shirtless black man emerges from the bathroom. "Need to get a better lock, Two-Man," says the Southerner, "Some lowlife could break in." Is Shane trying to get himself killed? "You got a warrant?" asks Two-Man. Shane chuckles, "Shit no."

Shane knows Two-Man murdered Amber, not Bombay. He has a witness. There are two ways to handle it: Two-Man getting ID'ed by the witness and being locked up for special-circumstances murder. "Or you can work with me and make this whole thing go away," Shane goes on. "...I need your help getting rid of somebody." "You ain't serious," Two-Man snorts. Shane says quietly, "You don't know how goddamn serious I am."

Two-Man doesn't think he'd have a problem with that. Who's the target? Shane answers with another question, "How's your jaw feeling?" OH HELL NO! Not Ronnie! End of episode.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Time for Some "Animal Control" (Episode 7.6)

Previously on: Edgar-veda's "one-man campaign bankroll" planned to use blackmail to allow a drug cartel the opportunity to buy up Farmington. Edgar-veda took said Box O' Blackmail. Vic played the Armenians against the Mexicans, each thinking the other group had the box.

City controller Robert Martin was assassinated. Vic's federal friend Olivia has a file in the blackmail box. She asked Vic for help getting out from under the cartel.

Tina and yet another new partner respond to a burglar alarm. She stupidly goes down an alley alone, gun drawn. Behind a dumpster, Tina discovers a naked man with blood smeared on his chest.

In the clubhouse, Edgar-veda informs Vic he's turning the Box O' Blackmail over to some friends at the Justice Department. Vic can join him if he wants to get credit too. That's not good enough; Vic wants Cruz in jail and "not for 30 days on some pissant charge his lawyer can plead down to a fine."

Doesn't Edgar-veda care about Olivia? Turning over the box now means "throwing a good woman and her career under the bus." Edgar-veda shrugs that Olivia got herself into her own mess. Vic knows Cruz gets Rios to do his dirty work and wants a chance to bust him. Vic's the inside man. Edgar-veda says no way; Vic's had plenty of chances. Vic pleads for more time and Edgar-veda agrees to 36 hours.

"What happened to his clothes?" Dutch asks of Tina's suspect, now wrapped in a police blanket. Tina has no idea; she found him naked. She's hoping someone can do a psych exam on the guy. "This time of night, good luck," says Dutch. Billings is utterly uninterested, playing with his tie; let him know if naked girls show up. Nice.

Vic crouches over Lem's headstone; Ronnie joins him. "The last time we were here, Shane stood right next to us," Vic sighs, "He watched as I vowed to get the guy who killed Lem." It's been months and Vic hasn't kept his promise.

Vic tells Ronnie about Edgar-veda's timeline for turning in the Box O' Blackmail. Ronnie worries about losing their leverage with Rezian. Vic's spent the last two hours sitting here in the graveyard trying to come up with a plan. Vic thinks he knows how to get rid of the Armenians, save his job, bust Cruz, and "give Lem the justice he deserves."

There's a close-up of Lem's gravestone. Inscribed upon it are the words HONESTY, LOYALTY, OFFICER, and BROTHER. Vic knows they can't afford to wait for Shane to make a mistake. "We go through with what you're talking about, there's no turning back," Ronnie says slowly, "...Doing this in a rush to meet some deadline, we're bound to make a mistake." "We owe it to Lem!" says Vic. He promises that taking care of Shane will never blow back on them.

"Where you guys been?" Shane asks when Vic and Ronnie enter the clubhouse. Oh, nowhere, really. Just visiting the grave of the guy you murdered and plotting your death. Vic apologizes for being so stubborn about the Box O' Blackmail. Cruz won't want to pay to get the box back, but Rezian might.

Vic asks Shane to call the Armenian boss about purchasing the box. Shane's all for it, eagerly guessing they could make at least $100,000. He doesn't seem to realize that amount splits a lot neater two ways. "It's gonna feel real good to move past this," says Shane.

There's a knock at the door and an unexpected visitor appears: former Strike Team member Tavon. Ronnie and Vic greet him with hugs. Tavon recently got off disability, but still has some physical therapy to go; he transferred to Hollywood Division. "Oh, you went out and found yourself another brother?" Tavon jokes when he sees Julien, "They letting you ride in the front of the bus yet?"

Tavon expresses his sympathy about Lem, then asks to talk to Shane upstairs about someone named Gary Barba. "Hope he fell into a meat grinder," grumbles Shane. Julien asks who Gary is. Vic replies cryptically, "A blast from Shane's past."

Shane dishes exposition to Claudette; Gary was a rape suspect when he and Vic were working Vic, but they never had enough evidence to arrest. "Piece of shit goes off and kills his family a week later." His 10-year-old daughter Camille was the sole survivor. Gary's been on the run for the last 6 years and just tried to get in contact with Camille. Tavon got involved in the case because Camille's foster parents live in Hollywood.

Gary has been calling Camille constantly for days, trying to talk her into meeting up. The girl told Tavon that she was close to Shane during the original investigation. Shane remembers watching her in protective custody, a job that seems like it would've been better suited to Vic or Lem. Anyway, the girl will only meet with Gary if Shane is there to protect her.

Outside, Tavon apologizes to Shane for hitting Mara the night the two men slugged it out in Shane's living room. (Longtime viewers/readers will recall that never happened; it was a lie Lem fed Tavon to keep Shane from getting in trouble). Shane shrugs that bygones are bygones.

Vic has observed the conversation. Shane asks if he can go back and forth; Gary's back and he wants to take him down. Vic inquires if Tavon's memory is back. Shane shakes his head: "He still thinks he smacked Mara around." Vic is relieved to hear that. Shane looks vaguely sick.

Vic knows something about the Box O' Blackmail, but is afraid what Cruz will do with the intel. "I don't pay you to be afraid," says the developer. Vic points out he isn't paid enough to "stand by while you assassinate city officials." He wants Cruz's word there won't be more civilian casualties. Vic heard all the Armenian bosses are meeting sometime tonight. Cruz tells Vic to give the details to Rios.

Camille asks why her dad is coming back after all these years. "Ah, baby, your old man is a bad penny. He was bound to show up sooner or later," says Shane. He promises not to leave the teen's side until she's safe and Gary is in handcuffs. Shane also offers the girl advice he would've done well to take himself: "You are better off dealing with trouble now than looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life."

When Corinne answers her front door, Vic sighs that he's been calling all morning and knocking. Corinne, still in her robe and PJs, says she took a personal day from work. Vic reminds her they were supposed to meet about counseling for Cassidy. Corinne wants to deal with it tomorrow.

"You've been bitching to me about being more involved," Vic says irritably. He looks at his ex suspiciously. "Are you on something?" Corinne admits she took sleeping pills the night before. "Looking at your eyes, they look more like downers," says Vic. Does she know how addictive those can be? I mean, she should; she's a nurse.

Corinne argues she hasn't been able to sleep too well lately. Vic points out she's got primary custody of three kids, two of whom have special needs. Maybe they need to figure out another arrangement if she's popping pills to deal with it. "Let that be the last thing you say before you leave," Corinne growls. Vic is incredulous: "Our daughter's falling apart and you're snoring the day away?" Corinne slams the door in his face.

The naked man claims he can't remember anything that happened after 11 PM last night. He was watching the late news and has a history of sleepwalking. Usually, though, he wakes up somewhere in his house like the garage or kitchen. Once, he got arrested for public indecency after being found naked in a convenience store.

"How does your girlfriend feel about ya runnin' all over town naked?" Dutch asks, trying to lighten the mood. Jeff says he's been separated from his wife for six months. Hey, It's That Guy! Scott Michael Campbell played Dr. Weston on the Netflix series Longmire.

Jeff is a recovering addict who doesn't drink or use drugs. He's scared he might've hurt someone, but can't remember it if he did. Dutch had Tina send a sample of the blood on Jeff's body to the crime lab; they'll know soon enough whether it matches any recent assaults or murders. He inquires about the marks on Jeff's wrists. "Sometimes I tie myself up at night to stop myself from leaving," he explains.
Clearly not a foolproof strategy.

Tina brings Dutch a folder. Six months ago, uniforms responded to a 911 call from Jeff's wife. Maybe Jeff finally killed her.

Shane reports to Vic that Camille is doing well and likes her foster family. Barba wants to meet Rezian in the park this afternoon. In a filthy warehouse, they tell Rezian it'll cost $100,000 to buy the Box O' Blackmail. Rezian wants to see the box first. Vic can bring it at 9 PM if Rezian has the money. Both sides are allowed to bring three lieutenants and no weapons; Vic and Shane will be armed.

Tina hangs up a composite sketch of Robert Martin's killer. Danny recognizes the man. Claudette asks why this is the first she's hearing of Danny being attacked in the line of duty. "The Army surplus room was supposed to be cleared. I didn't wanna get another officer in trouble," she explains. Danny spent her own time looking through mug books and couldn't find the suspect.

Claudette interrupts the Strike Team's lunch break to ask them to track down Robert Martin's killer. He's the same man responsible for the body draggings. She asks where Vic is. Ronnie tells her he's on his way back from following a lead. Claudette doesn't buy that: "I put you in charge of the Strike Team so that I could have somebody who could be held accountable...If I wanted to be lied to daily, I would've left [Vic] in charge."

Claudette shuts the clubhouse doors, saying she knows Ronnie is covering Vic's ass as usual. He looks a little scared by her tone. Claudette has no choice now but to put an official reprimand in Ronnie's file. She warns, "One more and you lose the team, plus your job, if I can manage it." Claudette is willing to tolerate Vic until his hearing, but who'll still be standing when he's gone?

Vic and Ronnie talk outside in the parking lot. Shane has volunteered to handle the Armenian side of their deal. Vic bets he's already spent his share of the money. "Holy shit. This is gonna work, isn't it?" Ronnie breathes.

The blood on Jeff's body came back AB- and Jeff himself has a different blood type. Dutch found out his wife called 911 because Jeff was choking the woman in her sleep. He doesn't believe the guy really has parasomnia.

Billings thinks Dutch is projecting his failure to lock up Lloyd onto an innocent man. "I would hardly say Lloyd burned me. And haven't you got a lawsuit to lose?" Dutch asks nastily. Claudette decides they need to have a conversation with Jeff. Billings is more interested in calling his lawyer, so Claudette will help her old partner.

Olivia worriedly tells Vic that Rios asked for help getting himself and two other guys out of the US tonight. She's considering the idea of turning herself in, but she'll keep Vic's name out of it. Vic is sure she has other options. Hypothetically, how would she go about smuggling Rios to Mexico?

Vic wants to stall Rios. If they can definitively connect him to a crime, they can get him to turn on Cruz. "Vic, I can't have anymore blood on my hands," Olivia says tensely. Vic promises that won't happen.

Vic informs Rios, "Witnesses made two of your boys for the Robert Martin killing." Are they the same two he's bringing tonight? Half of LAPD is looking for them and Rios needs to make sure they're well-hidden.

Vic asks how Rios is getting out of the country. Rios basically tells him "nunya." Vic argues it is. Rios answers that his new ID is being made as they speak. Vic gives him the meeting time and location: Armenian junkyard, 9 PM.

Julien's knock-and-talk didn't turn up Martin's shooter. Ronnie didn't have any luck with the Byz Lats. Shane lets the guys know he'll be late to the meeting; he's still trying to catch Camille's dad. Ronnie looks worried. Vic reminds Shane that Rezian could get cold feet if they start changing the plan, but relents. Shane and the Armenians better be there on time.

Jeff play semantics: "I was grabbing Sophia, not choking her. I was asleep when I did it." He was also asleep when he wandered into the convenience store naked. Jeff admits he hasn't been formally diagnosed as a sleepwalker. "And yet, it's your excuse for everything," says Dutch, "And yet, you won't see a doctor about it." Both good points.

Dutch sits on the interrogation room table and leans close. He thinks being naked in public helps Jeff regain feelings of power he lacks due to his failed marriage. Exhibitionism is a rush "until it doesn't work anymore." Dutch theorizes Jeff "got into some kinky sex," but things went too far and his partner got scared. So Jeff attacked her.

Jeff repeats he isn't lying, then stutters he never meant to hurt anyone. Claudette suggests Dutch step out for a few minutes.

Olivia ran Rios' name through her ICE databases again. After several previous searches turned up nothing, Rios has been flagged on a federal watch list. Cops with cameras are following him 24/7. Olivia isn't sure if Rios is wired or not: "I need to turn myself in now while I still have control." It's downright spooky how much she sounds like Lem. She can arrest Rios when he picks up his fake IDs from her.

Vic lets Ronnie know about the surveillance. It'll be hard to deny involvement when there's photos of him and Rios on the day of the Armenian hit. "Shit," says Ronnie, throwing his taco onto his passenger seat in frustration. Vic is willing to let Rios get away to keep his family safe. They'll still have Rezian, his crew, and Shane.

Vic also tells Cruz the feds are watching Rios. Cruz needs to keep Rios away from the meeting at the junkyard.

Jeff is embarrassed and disgusting with himself for trying to choke Sophia. Claudette understands. Jeff admits he wanted to hurt Sophia because of the bitter custody battle over their daughter. He's ashamed of other thoughts he's had too.

Jeff followed Michael Vick's dogfighting trial and became hooked on the idea of the rape stand dog fighters use to breed the females. He wondered if he could design one for human women. Jeff's been having memory flashes of a young, screaming blond woman: "I think I wanted to kill her."

Camille sits at a picnic table in the park, waiting for her dad. Shane's in a van parked at the curb. The girl is scared. "You're not scared, baby. You're brave," Shane soothes. Tavon asks Shane to tell him what happened the night they fought. "I thought Lem told you," Shane answers evasively.

Tavon's replayed it in his head thousands of times. "We got a 16-year-old girl out there who's scared to death," says Shane, "Maybe this isn't the right time for this."

Cut to Shane locking Gary in the cage. Gary wants him to tell Camille he's sorry for killing Camille's mom and two brothers; he almost killed Camille too. "Sometimes it's too late to apologize, no matter how much you mean it," says Shane, an expert on that subject.

Ronnie sends the desk sergeant on an errand and starts digging through the drawers. Shane has the money from Rezian. Vic wants him to be at the meeting early. Ronnie takes Shane's gun out of the desk drawer, fiddles with it, and puts it back.

Outside, Tavon asks if he can come to Shane's this weekend and give Mara a long-overdue apology. Seeing her in person is the only way he can make peace with himself. Shane understands, but doesn't think Mara would like it. (Also, she probably forgot all about Tavon and the lie that was spun for her benefit).

Tavon nods: "After all, she might not have her iron ready this time." He's slowly come to remember everything about that night, except for the moment he supposedly hit Mara. Tavon knows it didn't happen. "You musta gone through that windshield harder than ya thought," Shane says coolly.

Tavon is pissed that Shane used Lem to cover his ass. He bets it wasn't the first time. Shane freezes in place, staring. "Now I know who you really are...and so do you," Tavon finishes.

Shane goes back to the clubhouse, looking shaken. "I thought you were headed to the junkyard," says Vic conversationally. Shane mumbles he forgot something in his locker. He then suggests the Strike Team needs a fresh start without him. Shane knows they'll never be able to put what he did to Lem behind them. He can transfer if the others want him to.

"Me and Ronnie, we got no axe to grind," Vic lies. When Shane leaves, Ronnie asks, "Can you believe the balls on that guy?" Julien struck out on canvassing another part of town. Ronnie thinks the three of them should do the next round together; splitting up hasn't worked.

In the parking lot, Corinne hands Vic her bottle of downers, which she's supposedly only been taking for a week. She's exhausted and knows she's not handling the kids very well. Corinne loves them more than anything and won't give up on Cassidy. She begs Vic not to take the kids from her. "You think my first move would be to rip the kids from you?" he asks through his teeth.

Dutch managed to find Jeff's victim, a 34-year-old woman named Fiona, in a dumpster. She was stabbed five times. Dutch bets Jeff dumped Fiona's body using his car, parked it somewhere, undressed, and started wandering around to sell his sleepwalking story. When they confront Jeff with the crime scene photos, Jeff lawyers up.

"We gotta pull Shane outta there," Vic pants at the junkyard, "I can't do this." Ronnie tells him it's a done deal; they can never make it this clean again. Vic says, "We still have a choice." "Do you think Shane gave Lem a choice?" asks Ronnie.

Elsewhere, Shane's cell phone rings with, what else, "Dixie." But it isn't Vic on the other end; it's Mara. She wants a favor. Shane tells her now isn't a good time. Mara keeps talking. Can Shane pick up Jackson's prescription on his way home from work?

Shane's call waiting signal beeps. Rezian tells Shane to give his phone to his associate. Shane points a stern finger: "I see any calls to Armenia, I'm coming after you."

In his car, Vic is worried that he got Shane's voicemail. He casually asks Ronnie where Shane is supposed to be meeting the Armenians. They're acting like they don't know because Julien is driving. Vic refuses to "let a team member fall off the map in a red zone."

Rezian complains the Mexicans' arrival is taking too long. Shane steps out to take a look around the junkyard. Two men approach the meeting spot, but don't see Shane. The Mexicans open fire on the Armenians. Shane takes out his gun, but, thanks to Ronnie's earlier gunsmithing, it goes click instead of bang.

One of the Mexicans spots Shane hiding amongst the wrecked cars.

"He's still not answering," sighs Vic, snapping at Julien to drive faster. The dispatcher crackles over the radio. Shots fired near the Armenian junkyard. Vic turns on the blue lights. When they arrive, he dials Shane's phone again. They hear "Dixie" beeping from nearby. The man himself, very much alive, appears. He lies that he was late because he had to sign Tavon's arrest report.

Vic says he tried to call with information on the Mexicans. Shane explains Rezian took his phone. Vic breathes a sigh of relief. "I'm still shaking," says Shane. Ronnie can't find the briefcase of money. Shane's just glad the Mackeys will be safe. Ronnie looks disappointed that Shane's still breathing.

Tina has information that could change things for Jeff. His victim is alive and at Mission Cross Hospital. She reported running into a naked man outside a bar the night before. The woman stepped outside for air after too many mai tais, tripped, and hit her head on a fire hydrant. Naked Jeff pulled on her arms to help her out. She freaked out and ran back to the bar.

Claudette goes back to interrogation, but the door is locked. She calls for a uniform to bring the keys. When the door is opened, we see Jeff motionless in large pool of his own blood.

Vic goes to Corinne's house to let her know she and the kids are safe.

Billings gripes some more about his disability lawsuit. The city is countersuing him for basically filing a nuisance suit. His "bitch dyke lawyer won't take the case without a retainer, but I can't afford the retainer without winning the case." Billings then asks if Dutch is planning to eat that sandwich.

"You know, Steve, someone died here tonight," Dutch points out. Billings helps himself to the sandwich even though he didn't get an answer. Dutch knows why he worked so well with Claudette: she challenged his assumptions and crazy theories.

Billings looks uncomfortable when Dutch lays a hand on his arm. For better or worse, they're partners. Dutch needs Billings' head in the game, not worrying about his lawsuit or counting the days 'til retirement.

At home, Mara puts some soft rock on the stereo. Shane enters. They embrace and kiss. Mara asks where he's been. "Lookin' for a place to hide $100,000 where Vic won't find it," he sighs. He describes the cash as a consolation prize. "Vic and Ronnie tried to kill me tonight."

Shane splashes cold water on his face in the bathroom: "It's sheer luck I'm even alive right now....The worst part is, they think I'm too stupid to even realize it [was a setup]." Shane heaves another sigh and stares at himself in the mirror. End of episode.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Put On Your "Game Face" (Episode 7.5)

Previously on: Teenage Lloyd shot and killed a classmate; he claimed self-defense because the kid had broken into his house. Dutch feared they have a Ted Bundy in the making. Vic started a mini race war by making it seem as though the Armenians stole the Mexican's Box O' Blackmail. City controller Robert Martin's name was in the box, so Edgar-veda convinced him approve a memorial to the Armenian genocide. At a rally to announce said memorial, Martin was assassinated.

Vic discovered a file on his fed friend Olivia in the Box O' Blackmail, meaning his only ally is in Cruz's pocket too. He confessed to Edgar-veda that he's told Olivia "enough to get us both killed." 

Vic and Edgar-veda arrive at the Barn's parking lot at the same time. Ronnie gets out of his car, bandage still wrapped around his arm from the recent dog attack. "You look like shit," Vic remarks. Ronnie finds it a little hard to sleep when he knows Olivia could talk to Cruz and have them greenlit. (Honestly, you'd think he'd be used to green lights by now).

Vic thinks there's a possibility she's planning to take Cruz down herself; it's what he'd do to get out from under someone's thumb.

In Claudette's office, Edgar-veda describes his dead friend Martin as "a glorified accountant, not a very sexy target." He had no enemies. (Well, Lem didn't think he had any either). Claudette explains the Strike Team was present at the rally because of Shane's work with an Armenian informant. Said informant told them about bad blood with the Mexicans. Detective Kouf wonders if recently announced mayoral candidate Edgar-veda could've been the real target.

In the hall, Edgar-veda asks if Vic has change for the vending machine, closing the gap between them so they can't be overheard. Kouf is a great detective and the councilman worries Martin's death could blow back on them. "Neither of us had a thing to do with that shooting by word or deed," Vic reassures him.

He accuses of Edgar-veda of trying to have it both ways: Brand himself as a reformer by busting Cruz, but not until he's done using his fat campaign donations.

"What's up, buttercup?" Vic asks Olivia. She sighs that she needs Vic's help again; the favor has to go through Claudette before she can tell him what it is.

Vic and Ronnie share a tense look when Vic says Olivia wants their help. "Am I missing something?" asks Shane, who's been excommunicated from the inner circle. Surprisingly, Vic tells Shane about the file Cruz has on Olivia. Cruz somehow has proof that Olivia's brother is in debt to mobbed-up bookies.

Shane wants to give the Box O' Blackmail to Rezian and have him return it to Cruz. This would pay off the Strike Team's money train debt and get their families out of Armenian crosshairs. How is that a bad thing? Julien enters, causing Vic to say he'll explain another time.

Olivia drops exposition on Claudette. Gayton Echeverria, known Cuban rat, is visiting L.A. from Miami. He has a meeting with Martin Blez, a denim manufacturer, about using his operation to launder cartel money. Echevarria's daughter, a freshman at USC, was carjacked/kidnapped earlier in the day by three black men.

"In that neighborhood, it's probably gang-related," says Claudette. Olivia nods: "Hence the Strike Team." This is their best chance at stopping the whole scheme. The Strike Team can recover the girl and keep Daddy's mind on the business of drug dealing. Echeverria didn't report the kidnapping to the police; he's using his own men to find her.

Olivia brings them the information on the daughter's car. "Not like we can put out an APB if we need to keep this on the down-low," Ronnie points out. Olivia suggests making rounds of the local chop shops. Ronnie asks Julien to pull files on carjackings with similar M.O.s. Echeverria's four enforcers are all Jamaican or Cuban and heavily armed.

Blez's private plane is due to land at 6 PM. "That doesn't give us a whole hell of a lotta time," says Vic. Olivia warns that Echeverria will get spooked and skip town before the meeting if he senses police presence around his daughter's abduction.

Shane doesn't like the idea of Olivia "walking us into a sketchy case with out-of-town players." They have to assume Cruz is getting a heads-up. Vic thinks Shane is being paranoid, but they should still be careful. Julien found a chop shop on Manzanita that specializes in stolen parts for Japanese cars like the missing Nissan.

In their car, Shane urges Vic to let Cruz have what he wants; his former friend needs to give up the dream of the Box O' Blackmail saving his career. "I don't have to remind you of all the bad shit we've done. You're the one who wrote it all down," says Vic. Shane tells him that was just Volume 1: "The next installment has Ronnie doing Zadofian's murder."

Honesty makes them all blood brothers again. Vic warns that Cruz will "unleash a level of violence and corruption in Farmington that'll turn this place into Little Mexico City." He refuses to let that happen. Vic doesn't trust anyone else to take Cruz out of play. Shane says someone else would just take Cruz's place. For Vic, locking up Cruz is "a down payment on me being able to live with myself."

Claudette calls Dutch into the kitchen. Why has he had Danny intercepting subpoenas to testify at Kleavon Gardner's trial? Dutch explains that he didn't think Claudette needed the stress of being cross-examined by Kleavon, who's acting as his own defense attorney. "Because of my illness?" Claudette guesses. Well, their last meeting, Kleavon did push Claudette down the stairs, which put her in the hospital.

Dutch promises Danny doesn't know why she was hiding the subpoenas. "I want this prick to get the justice he deserves," says Claudette. Kleavon is coming to the Barn later this afternoon to take her deposition.

As they pull up to the chop shop, a car peels out of one of the bays. "Got a rabbit," Ronnie says over the radio. The pursuit goes through an alleyway, nearly running over a pedestrian. The sudden appearance of a garbage truck inadvertently helps the team intercept their suspect. "Llwellen Wang?" Shane says incredulously, reading the guy's driver's license.

Wang protests he doesn't know anything about a missing girl. Four Caribbean dudes showed up while he was hanging out and asked about a Cuban girl. His friends didn't know what they were talking about and "dudes went at 'em with knives and shit!"

Wang points the guys to where this took place. "Zorro wannabe?" Ronnie quips, seeing the letter carved into the dead man's cheek. It looks more like a "N" to Vic. The drug lord's daughter is named Noelle. "They weren't wishing him an early Merry Christmas." says Vic.

A pompous Kleavon throws out all the legal jargon he picked up from watching Law & Order before asking Claudette to state her name and her relationship to the defendant. "I investigated the murders you committed and I arrested you for them." "What you're expressing is a very personal, biased opinion," says Kleavon.

Claudette advises him to "enjoy [his] charade." He'll be getting the death penalty for the murders he committed in California and Texas. She didn't interview other suspects because she didn't have to. Kleavon thinks Claudette acted out of prejudice: "We all know that serial murder is a white man's crime." Claudette reminds him of the videotaped confession.

Kleavon asks if Claudette is on any prescriptions. ADA Insardi tells both parties that's irrelevant. Kleavon holds up a prescription bottle he somehow got out of Claudette's trash.

Olivia arrives at the chop shop. Shane called a friend of his who works Robbery-Homicide; they've had three carjackings in a month that also involved sexual assault. Vic suggests reaching out to our old friend Deena the car thief, even though this isn't her M.O.

When Shane and Vic come knocking, someone starts shooting at them through the closed door. Vic goes around the side and almost gets shotgun pellets to the face as he dives through a window. Shane orders Deena to drop the gun.

Kleavon asks if Claudette was on steroids while interrogating him. "You are way over the line," says Insardi. Kleavon argues it goes to state of mind. Claudette claims she needs a bathroom break. Kleavon knows that's a side effect of steroids.

Dutch pulls Insardi aside. Can the ADA stop this deposition? Claudette's medical history is irrelevant to the case.

We see why Deena was so spooked. Her accomplice lies dead on the floor, an "N" carved into his cheek. "I came back from a run and I found him like that," says Deena. Her attire (low-rider jeans and a tight T-shirt) makes me doubt that story. There's a lot of demand for "Jap cars", so anyone could have their silver Nissan.

Vic asks if she knows any carjackers who target women specifically so they can rape them. She suggests Ghost Town Piru or Hollis Lane. Deena looks at the dead man and sighs sadly: "I liked him. He could've been the one. We were talking about getting out of the game." Vic thinks that's a good plan.

Kleavon remembers Claudette becoming unsteady and developing a nosebleed during his interrogation; he saw her fall down the stairs. "You're not a medical expert," chides Insardi. Kleavon points out he never went to law school either but is still being allowed to defend himself. Long-term steroid use can cause paranoia and psychosis. Does Claudette suffer from those side effects? She shakes her head.

Kleavon asks if Claudette remembers lying that his sister Fatima was strangled in an alley. Claudette defends it as a legal interrogation tactic. Insardi tells him to stop that line of questioning. Kleavon argues he would've said anything out of distress, thinking his sister was dead. Any evidence can be discredited through Claudette's supposed mental illness.

"You're putting on quite a show," says Insardi, "You think you're gonna get acquitted, think again." Kleavon wants the death penalty off the table; he's a changed man, in love with one of his prison pen pals. "Even more reason to put you down like a sick animal," says Claudette.

Chotzen, the FBI profiler who helped Dutch work Kleavon's case, wants to meet with him to discuss Lloyd's case. Billings warns that Mrs. Denton will figure out Dutch thinks her son is "Jack the Ripper Jr." His partner is free to beat a dead horse if he wants.

Danny asks Vic if he's signed the paternity paperwork; her lawyer wants to file it by the end of the week. Vic is curious about the rush, but Danny dodges the question.

Enter Corinne, clearly frustrated: "Cassidy's been suspended from school. I give up. She and her friends were at some pimps-and-hos party. All the girls had to wear lingerie." Holy shit, Cassidy is supposed to be in 8th grade! Where the hell did these girls even get lingerie? Stealing from their moms? Maybe I was sheltered, but I never even heard of parties like that until I was a high school senior.

Vic's reaction is much the same as mine, growling "pimps-and-hos" through his teeth. One of Cassidy's classmates posted photos of the girls in their underwear online. And that's not all. Corinne whispers, "There were drugs involved." Cassidy admitted she did ecstasy after Corinne threatened to make her take a urine test. She wouldn't say who gave it to her.

"I don't know what to do," Corinne frets. Vic says, "I sure as hell do!" Who threw the party? Corinne thinks it was a boy named Mickey. Vic promises to handle it.

Shane has confirmed it was live ammo fired at them. Vic doesn't think Olivia was behind that. Claudette wants the Cuban car thief in jail or sent back to Miami. Julien suggests following up on a statement made by a domestic abuse victim that uniforms have upstairs. The woman's abusive boyfriend is a gangbanger with a history of carjacking and has been bragging about "running a train on some Latina."

"Happen to mention if ol' girl was Cuban?" asks Ronnie. The girlfriend shrugs, "Cuban, Mexican, it's all reggaeton to me." Her boyfriend punched her when she refused to have sex with him. He's also a member of Ghost Town Piru.

Dutch and Chotzen go out for tacos. The profiler just got back from China, working a case where 37 women were "autopsied pre-mortem." Dutch tells him about 16-year-old Lloyd, who has "no obvious killer symptoms." However, Dutch doesn't buy the teen's story about shooting an intruder; he thinks it was a thrill kill. And if Lloyd is doing this now, what's he gonna do when he's 25? Dutch doesn't want Chotzen to let Lloyd know he's a cop too.

They bring Lloyd in based on the ruse that Chotzen is some sort of therapist. Lloyd says he's all talked out. Dutch goes back downstairs to sit with Mrs. Denton, explaining it's "easier to vent those feelings to a blank screen." She reports her son's been doing "surprisingly well" since the incident. Dutch presses. No anger or bedwetting? "My son is 16," Mrs. Denton says as though she thinks Dutch forgot that fact.

Ronnie peeks out a window with his binoculars, radioing that he sees a silver Nissan parked across the street. There are four guys in the loft. Vic plans to go with Shane and make the rescue look like a robbery by a rival gang so as not to tip anyone off about police involvement. Julien pipes up from the backseat, "No offense, but the only set you guys can claim is Aryan Nation." Vic has a way around that, but he needs Olivia's help getting Claudette to approve it.

Claudette doesn't like the proposal; it's too risky for police and civilians. She's sure it was Vic's idea. "I sign off on this insanity, here are my terms," says the captain. She wants Echevarria charged in Farmington before any federal cases are made. "Any blowback from Vic Mackey's voodoo law enforcement is on you."

"You don't have to wear your own colors. No one's gonna see your faces," Vic reassures the gangbangers. They seem to know about Shane's fling with a fellow gangbanger's girlfriend. Vic will allow them to take their own guns, but no ammo. Julien will accompany them to the fake robbery. "Now that we undercover brothers, don't you think we need to be deputized?" asks Burnout.

Vic tells them to raise their right hands. "Now do this while you do this," he instructs, rubbing his stomach and patting his head at the same time. The gangbangers fail to see the humor.

Chotzen and Dutch watch as Lloyd talks to a shrink. Lloyd worries that his mom is disappointed in him. He does some exercise where he addresses the kid he shot, saying it's all that guy's fault. Chotzen thinks Lloyd could be "speaking to his own shadow-self," which "could be interpreted as guilt."

However, Chotzen finds Lloyd's behavior more in line with the typical PTSD you'd expect after something like this. Dutch thinks he's wrong. If that's the case, the profiler says Lloyd is "a sociopath with a well-constructed mask of sanity." However, something is odd about Lloyd.

Insardi announces she's willing not to seek the death penalty if Kleavon pleads guilty to everything and accepts serving life without parole. Claudette hopes that if there's a God, Kleavon meets the same fate as his victims: throat cut, "miserable and alone."

Julien goes in the building first, then Burnout crashes the gate with his Escalade. While the real gangbangers do crowd control, Julien heads upstairs. Noelle is naked and whimpering, tied down to a filthy mattress. Julien undoes the ropes and throws her clothes at her: "Get dressed, bitch."

While he and Burnout fake a scuffle over some rims, Noelle runs out of the building. She flags down Danny, cruising by in plainclothes. The marked units surround the building. The Strike Team heads in, Ronnie toting Lem's favorite shotgun.

"I hear you're an attorney now. Not sure if that's a step up or a step down from doing time for murder," Dutch quips to Kleavon. He asks for Kleavon's expertise as a killer and shows him the tape of Lloyd's interview with Chotzen. "We all gotta ride or die with what the good Lord meant us to do," says Kleavon. Lloyd can be stopped, just like Kleavon himself was. "All it takes is a pair of cuffs and a cage to throw him in."

Vic parks at a house where two middle schoolers are shooting hoops in the driveway. "Which one of you fine young men is Mickey Dightman?" he asks politely. The kid with long blond hair nods. Vic tells him to put his hands behind his back. "What did I do?" asks Mickey. Vic smiles, "That's what you're gonna tell me, big pimpin'."

At the Barn, Vic shows Mickey a picture Corinne found online of the teen smoking a joint. He estimates booking to release will take about 18 hours. He bets the Dightmans are gonna love "being in and out of court for the next year, trying to clear their baby boy." Mickey claims he rolled his one joint from the weed patch that grows wild behind his school.

Vic questions him about the ecstasy. Danny knocks at the door; Mickey's dad is here and a parent's presence is required during the interview because of his age. "Your son is involved in a drug investigation," Vic informs Mr. Dightman. He had to make sure Mickey was safe before calling. Can Dad get Mickey to cooperate.

A glare is all it takes. Mickey stammers, "This girl in my grade, the pimps-and-hos thing was her idea...She scored the ex...The only thing Cassidy asked me to do was put together a mixtape." Vic's mouth drops open just a little.

Shane goes up to Ronnie in the parking lot, saying he knows his friend sees the big picture. "With what you did to Lem center and foreground," Ronnie says bitterly. Shane wants to appeal to Ronnie's better judgment, "even though I know I will forever be on the wrong end of it." "You got that right," grumbles Ronnie.

Shane worries Vic is gonna land the three of them in jail for life. Ronnie doesn't see anything wrong with Vic protecting his family. Shane knows it's more than that; Vic is trying to balance the ledger for Terry "in that big ol' box of sins God keeps on all of us." Ronnie replies, "I don't believe in God." "Oh, you will," counters Shane.

Vic thinks he can fix the world; Shane isn't like that and he knows Ronnie isn't either. Taking down Cruz won't change anything. Vic doesn't listen to Shane anymore, but he'll listen to Ronnie. Shane is aware Ronnie hates him, but Ronnie also knows the right thing to do.

Dutch vents his frustrations about Lloyd to Claudette. If Mrs. Denton realizes he's still a murder suspect, "she'll circle the wagons around her sweet teen killing machine." Is a better detective someone who arrests a guy after committing 30 murders or the one who prevents 29 of those murders from happening in the first place?

Dutch is sorry to hear how the deposition worked out. Claudette isn't; Kleavon plead guilty and she has the only copy of her deposition tape. Claudette sighs, "[I'm] more a liability with each passing day." If Kleavon can sense she's sick, how long will it take before a real lawyer does?

In the clubhouse, Vic wonders whose side Olivia is really on. "Makes sleeping tonight just as rough as it was last night," nods Ronnie, "Shane wants me to have the come-to-Jesus conversation with you about ending the war." He honestly think Shane has a point. Vic says, "I can't give back what I don't have." (Besides, he has bigger fish to fry. Like his 13-year-old daughter organizing drug and sex parties).

Vic explains Edgar-veda has the box. They still don't know if Olivia is Cruz's mole, a detail that has to stay between him and Ronnie.

In her office, Claudette confides to Danny that she's sick. Would Danny like a full-time reassignment as the captain's assistant? Danny smiles and agrees. She's finally got her ticket off the street.

Corinne isn't sure she wants to believe Mickey's story. What can they do if it is, anyway? Ground Cassidy until she's 21? "Or she can start learning about consequences the hard way like these people," says Vic, gesturing at the female side of the cage. Corinne balks. Vic doesn't want that to be her future either. "She's a good kid," Corinne insists. Vic thinks she better start acting like one again.

Danny starts in on him again about the paternity claim. Vic refuses to sign it. Danny thought they had a deal. "You have no idea what it takes to raise a child," says Dad of the Year. Danny never planned on Vic being part of Lee's life. "I may not have been part of the plan, but I was 50% of the execution," says Vic, which is a fair argument.

Danny thinks Lee's best shot at a good upbringing is Vic staying out of his life. Vic snarls that he won't abandon his son.

Dutch goes to Lloyd's house for a chat. He knows the kid planned on killing Luis and made it look like a robbery. Killing probably gets Lloyd off, but Dutch won't let him get away with it. Mrs. Denton emerges from the bathroom, putting a robe over her pajamas. She thanks Dutch for being helpful. Lloyd tells his mom Dutch stopped by to officially clear him of Luis's murder. "What a relief," Mrs. Denton sighs.

Olivia comes home to find Vic (and his gun) waiting for her. He takes her service weapon. She flirts that he could've just asked for a late-night rendezvous. He found a thick file on her nightstand that's labeled VICTOR MACKEY. How long has she been working for Cruz?

Two years ago, Olivia made documents in a bookmaking case disappear because they proved her brother was in debt to a cartel-financed casino. Cruz found out. Olivia thought she could live with the deal; they never asked her to do anything overly untoward. She recently smuggled four illegals over the border by pretending she was taking them for further questioning.

Olivia thinks those four men were behind the body-draggings on Kearney a few episodes back. She knew they weren't coming to the U.S. to pick lettuce. Olivia has dug herself a hole and she doesn't know how to get out of it. "You're talking to the right guy," says Vic, who's heard that song more than once. End of episode.