Friday, February 9, 2018

Toeing the "Party Line" (Episode 7.10)

Previously on: Vic turned in his badge. Mayoral hopeful Edgar-veda was bullied by Cruz, whose cartel boss Beltran is in town. Ronnie told Claudette the truth about Shane (or mostly the truth). The Vendrells went on the run. Vic's attempt to kill his former best friend was thwarted by Mara. Corinne got a phone call from Mara and lied to Vic that Mara doesn't trust the Mackeys for help anymore.

Vic and Ronnie drive past a sign that reads INDIO--NEXT 2 EXITS. Savvy viewers will remember Mara's mom lives there. Ronnie pinches the bridge of his nose, looking like he's about to fall asleep.

At an apartment complex, Vic knocks on a door. A man answers. Vic says they're here to see Stella. "She's asleep, being the middle of the goddamn night and all," the man replies peevishly. Ronnie flashes his badge: "We're old friends of her daughter's."

Stella, it transpires, is not asleep but drinking on the couch. She insists she hasn't seen Mara. Since they made the 2-hour drive from L.A., Vic and Ronnie are welcome to drinks. Stella's boyfriend adds that they already told the Indio cops everything. Vic suggests the guy pour himself "another turpentine martini" and leave them alone. Stella remembers Vic from the last time Mara was in trouble and that he wasn't nice about it. Much like Dallas Winston, Vic Mackey is never nice.

Vic asks if Stella knows where Mara and Shane are going. Stella takes another slug of whatever is in her glass. "Keeping your mouth shut means you're aiding a fugitive," Ronnie points out. Stella chuckles it hardly seems official, them being here this late.

Vic tries to appeal to her better nature: "Shane's dangerous. It's not safe for Mara out there or for Jackson. Her pregnancy could be in jeopardy." "Oh well, this is a real fine way to get the happy news," Stella grumbles. She can't remember the last time she talked to her daughter. Mara used to send Stella Artois money, but that stopped after she got married. If Vic and Ronnie find her, can they tell Mara that Grandma's happy about the baby?

Ronnie and Vic are the only white faces in a bar run by Santi. Vic hands the gangster a photocopied picture of Shane. There's a reward for information leading to his arrest and $10,000 "will buy you an awful lot of cervezas." He gives Santi a business card, asking to be called if Shane turns up. Santi can keep the picture because Vic's "not feeling very sentimental these days."

Shane comes into the abandoned house with grocery bags, calling Mara's name. Getting no answer, he draws his gun. Jackson is curled up in a sleeping bag on the floor. Mara's outside, taking a relaxing skinny-dip in the pool. Shane smirks as Mara purrs that the warm water helps her back.

"Wanna come in?" she says. Shane doesn't need to be asked twice. He starts stripping down and holy six-pack, Walton Goggins! Mara wraps herself around him when he gets in the water, whispering for Shane to close his eyes and imagine being on the coast somewhere. He promises that's exactly where they'll be soon and they start making out. Yeah, never mind the unsupervised toddler in the house...

Meanwhile, Shane's former teammates have struck out at another hotel. Vic bets Shane is "looking for a place to crash with less eyes." Ronnie wants to call it a night; he has work in a few hours. He tiredly leans against the trunk of Vic's Charger. With a heavy sigh, Ronnie predicts, "We're not gonna find him." Vic wants him to think positive. Ronnie doesn't like that they're both betting their freedom on gangbangers.

Ronnie makes a shocking announcement: "I'm gonna run." He can call in sick to work and be in Mexico before anybody knows it. (After all, a Strike Team member fleeing to Mexico worked so well last time...) "Once you flip that switch, there's no goin' back," Vic warns. Ronnie would rather not spend the rest of his life in jail when fellow cops find Shane.

Vic promises they'll find him first. Ronnie's no longer willing to take that chance: "If something goes down and I don't hear about it, all they gotta do is march across the bullpen and slap the cuffs on me." No doubt he retains vivid memories of watching that exact thing happen to his best buddy Lem. "How's you running gonna make me look?" Vic demands. Ronnie advises, "You should run too, man."

Vic refuses to let Shane win: "He dropped the grenade that killed our team, but he doesn't get to kill your career or my life with my children." His unofficial work with ICE is going really well. Vic's endgame is to set both himself and Ronnie up with federal jobs. All Vic has to do is take down Beltran; he can make that happen in just a few days. He grabs Ronnie by the shoulders, all but begging, "Gimme one last shot at getting us through all this shit. If I fail, we both run."

Corinne sits on her couch, silent tears rolling down her face. Cassidy emerges from her room, telling her mom, "Megan had a bad dream. Didn't you hear her crying?" Corinne tells her eldest to go back to bed; she has school tomorrow.

Later, Dutch and Claudette arrive at Mission Cross. He says formally, "Nurse Mackey, we're here about the assault victim you called in." Corinne takes them into a lounge. Before she tells them any details, she wants to make sure Vic can't get in trouble. Claudette promises it'll be confidential. That's not good enough for Corinne; she wants it in writing and for her lawyer to review it.

"Corinne, it's us," Dutch tries to reassure her. Corinne tells them to come back in two hours with the paperwork. Dutch promises to get papers together as soon as he knows what they're dealing with. Corinne sighs, then tells them about the phone calls from Mara for information about the search. Vic convinced Corinne to take the calls, "then he lied to me and he used me to try to kill them." Corinne wants Vic out of her life permanently, but she doesn't want the kids to know she ratted their dad out.

Phillips wants Corinne arrested. Claudette points out all that'll get them is "limited and dated information on Shane." "Corinne's only trying to get free from the web Vic has spun," adds Dutch. Claudette is eager for the opportunity to close Vic down for good, something that should've been done years ago. She accuses the chief of sweeping him under the rug.

Phillips worries about Vic's old arrests being overturned. Dutch assures Phillips that the only crimes Corinne has evidence of relate to Vic and Shane. Phillips agrees to help Corinne without pressing formal charges.

"How's early retirement?" Edgar-veda lightly asks Vic a few doors from his campaign headquarters. The ex-cop replies, "Turns out it's not all Hawaiian shirts and fishing trips." Edgar-veda has heard about Shane and gloats, "The Strike Team's demise is more violent than I predicted." Vic calls it merely the end of an era; he has a new one in the works.

Vic warns Edgar-veda, "Your golden parachute might be about to rip." Cruz is just an "M.B.A. with a dirty agenda." Beltran has the real power with the cartel and thus poses a real threat. Olivia's boss Chaffee doesn't care about certain mayor wannabes: "The Feds want this guy so bad they can taste it. And they're not gonna have a problem shooting the messenger."

Edgar-veda guesses this is a scare tactic to back him off and let Vic get all the glory. There's only room for one guy to take down Beltran and that's Vic. Cruz has seen Edgar-veda's blackmail photo, meaning any respect and/or fear has gone out the window. It's almost guaranteed Cruz told Beltran about it. Vic suggests Edgar-veda "let the real men finish this job."

It's a cozy domestic scene at Not-Quite-Vendrell Manor. Jackson is feeling better, sitting poolside with Mara while Shane grills burgers and hot dogs. Shane thinks it would be nice to get a house on the coast. "I'd like that," simpers Mara. Shane shows off his burger-flipping skills and Jackson seems duly unimpressed.

Mara bets $100,000 could buy a house even bigger than the one they're squatting in now. At California real-estate prices? Dream on. Oh, it turns out she's talking about Colombia.

Mara asks if Shane will cook for her every day in South America too. Shane offers to do one better: "I am gonna hire a personal chef to make us breakfast in bed every single morning." He presents Mara with a burger. She kisses him and purrs, "I love you." There's a beat before he returns the sentiment. Shane folds his lanky body onto the same deck chair as his wife and child with a burger of his own.

Cruz wonders if they had a meeting scheduled when he sees Vic in his office. "Think of it as roll call," says Vic. Cruz tells Vic he's strictly an on-call employee. Vic tries to introduce himself to Beltran, but the guy won't shake his hand. Cruz says something to the cartel overseer in Spanish; I can only make out the word "policia."

Vic acknowledges he's used to be a cop, but now he's more of a "favor-granter." Edgar-veda shows up, pretending to be surprised that Cruz and Vic know each other. The councilman wants to talk to Cruz in private and renegotiate his terms. "You don't get terms; you get to be mayor," says Cruz. Edgar-veda puffs out his chest: "That'll still be. With or without you."

Cruz chuckles nastily. Edgar-veda doesn't want his old pal making any more campaign decisions he doesn't personally approve. Cruz shouts that Edgar-veda his errand boy will do what he's told. The councilman calls Cruz nothing but an empty suit and a checkbook.

"Just because you hang out with tough guys doesn't make you tough," says Cruz. Edgar-veda responds to that by punching Cruz square in the nose, surprising the hell out of Vic. Even cartel bodyguard Beltran doesn't seem to know what to do. Edgar-veda knocks pictures off the wall as he slams Cruz into it, repeatedly punching him in the stomach with his free hand.

Vic and Beltran watch the other men grapple with expressions of mild interest on their face. Beltran doesn't even intervene when Edgar-veda starts choking Cruz out. The councilman draws his gun when Vic takes a step forward: "You assaulted a reserve police officer. That's a felony!" "You have made a very big mistake." Cruz's words are a little garbled.

Edgar-veda corrects him; the only mistake he made was letting Cruz think he had all the power. He lets Cruz stand up. Cruz is breathing heavily, his nose bloodied. Edgar-veda and Vic make a hasty retreat.

"What the hell was that?!" the ex-cop cries outside. "You just blew that ICE investigation right out the window!" Edgar-veda has now opened himself up to a world of hurt from the cartel. The councilman thinks Vic better get himself a new gig; that beatdown just earned him Beltran's respect. (I seriously doubt that).

In the hospital lounge, Corinne finishes signing a stack of legal documents. She tells Claudette and Dutch how Mara showed up at her house, claiming Vic and Ronnie tried to kill Shane. Vic had told her the best plan was to let the Vendrells leave the country, so Corinne passed on information about the search. She's not sure if Ronnie is involved in this plan or not.

Vic found the Vendrells by asking Corinne about a prescription found in Jackson's name. Corinne is disgusted that Vic was planning to kill Mara too: "She's pregnant, for God's sake." Corinne admits she's never liked Mara, but nobody deserves this.

In the parking lot, Claudette doubts Corinne would be willing to repeat what she just told them in open court. Dutch will get Inglewood Division to tap Corinne's phone so Ronnie won't get suspicious. Claudette will partner Ronnie with Billings until they find out how involved he is. Dutch grins: "Steve will like that. He's got a pretty big man crush." Claudette doesn't want Inglewood to know whose phone they're tapping; Vic has a lot of friends.

At Squatters' Mansion, Shane pecks away at a baby grand piano while Mara and Jackson play hide-and-seek. You can see the kid's feet poking from under a nearby curtain. Mara didn't know Shane was musical. He explains his mom made him take lessons as a kid. Well, he certainly has the fingers of a pianist.

Shane then reveals more about his past that he has in the whole series. Even though the piano class was just little Shane and four girls, his interest didn't last. Shane wanted to help his dad fix cars.

Mara feigns surprise when Jackson pops out from behind the curtain. Laughing, she begins to dance with the toddler. "Show me your two-step, little man!" Shane calls, tapping his bare feet to the music.

Billings enters Claudette's office and immediately notices the secretive energy in the room. Undaunted, he plows on with a request from a friend of his at North Hollywood Division. Can they interrogate some murder suspects who live in Farmington? Claudette tells him they're a little busy at the moment.

Billings promises it's just a matter of taking statements and ruling people out; he and Dutch could be finished by lunchtime. Claudette instructs Billings to take Ronnie with him instead. She and Dutch are trying to get a lead on Shane.

Downstairs, Ronnie is wearing a suit for the first time in my memory. "Looks like you and me are first string today," says Billings. North Hollywood wants them to interview suspects in a home invasion that resulted in murder. The two of them can have some nice bro time. Billings adds, "You can tell me how you met that Asian hottie." Oh, you mean the one who called Ronnie an asshole on their first date?

Ronnie wants to stay at the Barn in case something pans out with Shane. Billings shrugs that it's captain's orders. Besides, Ronnie might be able to talk to Shane personally when they get back. Billings leans in confidentially: "Dutch and Claudette are upstairs playing I Got a Secret." That's good enough for Ronnie.

"Vic and Shane always seemed so tight," Dutch muses in their car. Claudette guesses friendships get tested. Dutch dials Corinne when he sees Vic's Charger pull up. He instructs her to put down the cordless, act like it's hung up, and he'll keep the line open.

Vic thought Shane and Mara might be calling. "She said she didn't trust us, remember?" Corinne points out. Vic corrects, "She doesn't trust me." He knows the Vendrells must be getting desperate. When he goes in the kitchen, Vic remarks how nice the house looks. Corinne smoothly says she took advantage of her day off to do some chores.

Vic knows she never asked to get involved in all this shit with Shane. Corinne looks slightly nervous as he toys with the cordless phone. What if he figures out it's still on? Vic puts down the phone and takes a seat at the kitchen table; Corinne joins him. Vic stands back, asking Corinne to let him know if Shane calls.

When he's gone, Corinne picks up the phone and asks if Dutch is still there. Dutch confirms he is. Corinne hangs up, takes a note pad out of a drawer, and lays it on the counter. The phone rings again. Mara demands to know why she got a busy signal a few minutes ago. "I have two autistic kids," Corinne says testily, "One of them knocked the bedroom phone off the hook."

Mara asks for updates. Corinne's response sounds way too rehearsed and technical, even for someone who was married to a cop: "They've expanded their search to include other precincts. All major thruways out of the city are being watched." The Vendrells pictures will be on the evening news. Mara says she's calling back at 10 PM. Dutch doesn't seem to share my opinion of the way Corinne handled the questions.

Ronnie jogs up to Vic's car. "Look at you, Beverly Hills Cop," Vic jokes at his buddy's attire. Ronnie says Claudette has been out with Dutch all day and he's been stuck with Billings. Vic suggests Billings could get some information out of Dutch. "I'll try," says Ronnie, "He wants to be my best friend." Vic wants Ronnie to ask Julien too, even though neither of them are sure whose side he's on.

Vic tries to fib everything is going well with ICE, but Ronnie calls bullshit. Vic has to get ICE away from Edgar-veda and needs Ronnie's help doing that.

Vic meets up with Beltran at a bar, explaining he had a department friend track the cartel man's license plate. "You've still got juice with the police?" Beltran says. Vic nods, "Enough to make a screwdriver for every vato in L.A." He guesses Beltran is high up in the cartel and has an idea why he's in town.

"Cruz is screwing up: body draggings, public assassinations," Vic outlines, "More interested in his big buildings than doing business for you. Getting his ass kicked by a politician today, that couldn't have inspired much confidence." Beltran doesn't work with outsiders very well. If Vic really wants to prove himself, Beltran never wants to see Cruz again.

Shane is having a relaxing cigarette by the Squatters' Mansion pool when he's alarmed by a tapping sound. He shoves his gun down the back of his jeans and dashes inside the house, warning Mara someone is there. She asks for help getting the rest of Jackson's clothes on him.

The unexpected visitor is a woman in a business suit; judging by the one-sided cell phone conversation we hear, she's a realtor. Mara appears out of nowhere, a fancy coat thrown over her casual maternity dresses. She introduces herself as Debbie from another realty office. Realtor asks why the door was locked. Mara lies that she's showing the place to a single dad with a toddler: "He wanted to make sure the locks worked. He's a nervous guy." (I'll say).

Realtor snits that she thought the showing was at 4:00. Mara explains she had just shown her client another house in the neighborhood when he saw the sign on the front lawn. She got the lockbox code from an agent named Hillary.

Shane strolls into view, asking about the local schools. "Mr. Wilson, apparently, this house is being shown to another buyer at 4," says Mara. Shane guesses he better decide fast whether he wants it. Realtor offers to show him the re-tiled back patio, unaware how acquainted Shane and Mara really are with the place. She quickly figures it out when she notices the sleeping bag on the floor and the open beer bottle on the patio table.

Shane points his gun at the other woman, ordering Mara to take her cell phone and keys. Jackson hides behind the hostage's skirt. The realtor begs the couple not to hurt her, babbling, "My husband, my daughter..." "Just shut up already!" Shane barks. The realtor starts to cry.

Dutch gripes that looking for Shane is like "trying to find a needle in 10 haystacks." He doesn't know if he's even still in the city. In the breakroom, Dutch informs Claudette, "A realtor was detained by an armed man and woman when she found them squatting in one of her homes. They locked her in a pantry before escaping in her car." She ID'ed them as Mara and Shane. Claudette asks Dutch to send a few uniforms to the house in Los Feliz (lovingly described by Patton Oswalt as "a very hipster-y part of L.A."

Dutch approaches Julien; he has a message about Shane that he doesn't want broadcast on the radio. Julien nods.

Vic pulls a gun on Cruz: "Beltran gave me my first task today. Apparently, he's not happy with your job performance. He sent me to kill you." Cruz looks ready to piss his pants. Vic lowers the gun. "Lucky for you, we're not on the same team." He works for Agent Olivia Murray of ICE. She has questions for Cruz. Vic would appreciate having her blackmail file before he takes Cruz in.

Cruz doesn't want to and calls Olivia a bitch. "That bitch can put you out on the street at the cartel's mercy," says Vic, which really changes the power dynamic.

Olivia crosses her arms: "For a guy who could be face-down in the L.A. River, you don't seem very cooperative. You were greenlit, Cruz." He's lucky the hitman who found him was an undercover cop. Olivia promises him a new life, courtesy of Witness Protection. "A townhouse in Phoenix? No, thanks," says Cruz.

Vic suggests Olivia go outside and call her boss. When the two men are alone, Vic promises to personally deliver Beltran. Cruz knows Beltran will never stop hunting him. "He's not gonna be looking for a dead man," says Vic.

Later, he assures Olivia that Cruz will talk and will make sure her blackmail file never sees daylight. To win Beltran's confidence in Vic, they'll have to figure out a way to fake Cruz's death. The feds can't count on Edgar-veda being permitted to know the details of the master plan: "It sounds like he's starting up a money laundering scheme that would make Ivan Boesky flinch."

Shane comes out of a store with a brand-new police scanner. Mara thinks they should leave California. Shane wants to wait until tomorrow's presidential motorcade. In the meantime, he knows where they can stay tonight. "I'm guessing it probably doesn't have a pool," says Mara.

She waxes poetic about how Shane playing the piano and dancing with Jackson made her forget about the whole fugitive situation; she was so happy. "Every day is gonna be like that in Colombia," vows Shane, pecking her on the cheek. He notices Jackson's oddly quiet in his car seat. "He's hungry," says Mara. Really? I thought kids tended to cry when they were. Shane says, "Well, I'm pretty sure I can fix that."

(Photo credit)
 Vic returns to the bar, announcing to Beltran that Cruz committed suicide. The gun was in his hand, a party mix of alcohol and drugs found at the scene. That means no in-depth investigation. Cruz's death will leave a vacancy in the cartel, which Vic will be only too happy to fill.

In a very questionable part of town, Santi's friend sees Shane walking back to his car with grocery bags. The Southerner apologizes to a nearby homeless man that the goodies aren't for him. Santi's friends approach with their guns. "Whoa, easy, fellas, I'm a cop," drawls Shane. Santi's friend replies, "Not no more."

Mara calls out from the car, asking what's going on. Shane tells her not to worry. "Bitch, get out the car," one of the gangbangers orders. Shane says, "Hey, she's got my kid in there." Mara freaks out and gets out of the car. The gangsters start to dial Santi, chattering excitedly about the $10,000 bounty Vic put on Shane's head. Shane offers them $20,000 if they'll let him and Mara go.

The gangbangers want to see the money. The cash Mara hands over is decidedly south of 20 grand. The gangbangers find even more money zipped in a black duffel bag. One of them jams his gun into Shane's cheek. Shane protests he thought they had a deal; there should be $100,000 in the bag.

Santi's friend wants to make it $110,000. Shane warns that the first thing Vic will do when he gets there is take all the cash for himself. The gangbangers hang up and retreat.

Beltran pays a visit to Edgar-veda's campaign headquarters and tells him that Cruz is dead. He likens the councilman's political career to "a fish swimming through razorblades." Beltran assures he won't micromanage the campaign. All Edgar-veda has to do is win. The fruit-growers' union is about to announce their public support of Edgar-veda. They pay their illegals in cash and need a place to store it, an arrangement Beltran will disclose at a later date.

Claudette and Dutch wait in Corinne's kitchen for the phone to ring. When Corinne answers, Mara is pissed. Vic tried to have them killed again and they're traveling with 2-year-old Jackson: "What kind of animal did you marry?!" Mara tells Corinne about the gang bounty.

Meanwhile, Shane calls Vic: "As punishment for the shit you tried to pull today, there is a letter on its way to the Barn addressed to Claudette Wyms, a written confession of one of your many sins from the past." He bets Ronnie and Vic will make great cellmates the next 3-5 years, "assuming you can't bullshit your way out of it." "This is our axe to grind, Shane. You leave Ronnie outta this," Vic warns.

Shane demands compensation to the tune of $100,000 by 5 PM tomorrow. "I can't get it together that fast; you know that," says Vic. Shane is sure Vic can figure it out; after all, he was the master mind of the money train.

Mara tells Corinne to make sure Vic does the task Shane is currently assigning. She sighs, "I just want this to be over with." You and her both. Shane wants Corinne to drop off the money. Vic interrupts, "Corinne's done enough for you already. Stop trying to shield yourself behind my ex-wife. Man up and let me deliver the cash myself."  "So you can get another shot at my pregnant wife and son?" asks Shane.

Vic reminds his former best friend exactly whose fault it is that Mara is in the crosshairs. Shane threatens that if Vic doesn't cooperate, "the next love letter I send to Claudette will be about the bullet under Terry Crowley's left eye." Hanging up, Vic tells Ronnie about Shane wanting $100,000.

"I just want this to be over with," Mara repeats to Corinne. Listening in on the other cordless phone, Claudette identifies herself and tells Mara not to acknowledge her yet. She'll guarantee Mara's safety and Shane's if they turn in Vic. Claudette knows how desperate she is and offers Mara immunity from prosecution; however, she can't promise it for Shane.

Claudette lays out Mara's future if she keeps running: "You will be giving birth in a state penitentiary. Your baby will be taken from you. Jackson too." Does she want them growing up in foster care? Mara needs to do right by them. All Claudette wants is Vic. If Mara's willing to help, she needs to find a private place to make a phone call at 8 AM the next day. Mara agrees and hangs up.

Shane asks Mara for an update. After way too long of a pause, Mara says, "Corinne's working with the police." Cue the Vendrell family group hug! End of episode.

Friday, February 2, 2018

It's "Moving Day" for the Vendrells (Episode 7.9)

Previously on: Dutch arranged to keep tabs on teenage suspected serial killer in the making Lloyd by pretending he's a concerned male role model. Olivia told Edgar-veda and Vic they both need to be in bed with Cruz. Shane tried to have Ronnie killed, a fact confirmed by shooter Two-Man. The Vendrells went on the run after Mara threatened Corinne. Vic turned in his badge.

Vic cuts the crime scene tape off Shane's front door and rifles through some boxes. "He must've split in a hurry," Ronnie observes. Jackson's toys, a package of Pull-Ups, and furniture are all still in his room. Vic points out how much time Shane's had to figure out an escape plan. In another box, Ronnie finds one of the old Strike Team calling cards, a softball trophy, and a framed photo with all four guys in it.

Shane's truck was found abandoned downtown and there's an APB out for the Lexus that started it all. Maybe they're headed south. "Shane knows the first place we'd look is Mexico. Question is if he's stupid enough to go there anyway," Vic says from the kitchen. There's still plenty of food in the fridge. Pictures are missing from frames, though oddly not Shane and Mara's wedding photo.

Vic finds something else interesting in the refrigerator: a bottle of amoxicillin with Jackson's name and yesterday's date on the prescription label. Ronnie bets Shane and Mara will be looking for somewhere to get a replacement. Vic tells Ronnie to keep gathering police information for when Mara calls; he'll handle tracking down Shane.

Ronnie sounds uneasy about this plan. What if Shane is dragging Mara around with him? "What, his accomplice?" asks Vic. Ronnie reminds him, "She's pregnant and the kid's 2." Vic doesn't want to worry about that until they have to make decisions.

Meanwhile, Dutch is having a cozy homemade dinner with Lloyd's mom Rita. He asks conversationally if Lloyd ever lets new people in his life. Rita explains she started a relationship too soon after her husband left, which Lloyd didn't take kindly to. "It was one of Lloyd's teachers when we lived back in Tulsa and--" Rita trails off, afraid the subject would ruin their romantic evening. Dutch accepts that but is more than willing to listen if she ever wants to talk about it again.

After a minute, Rita confesses that the boyfriend/teacher was physically abusive to Lloyd. She declines to provide anything further on the subject. Dutch asks if Lloyd has had trouble at school since shooting the classmate who broke into their house. "Lloyd adjusts easily, all this moving around," shrugs Rita.

She changes the subject entirely by kissing Dutch. He pulls away abruptly, saying they shouldn't do this. Lloyd's case is still open. "Wasn't this a date? A good one?" Rita leans in to kiss him again, strategically placing Dutch's hand on her breast. Dutch apologizes, repeating this isn't a good idea. They should get distance between them and the case; however, he thinks they might have a chance in the future. Rita sighs sadly.

Vic goes to a pharmacy, identifying himself as a detective. Can the pharmacist tell him what amoxicillin is prescribed for? The pharmacist checks the label and explains, "Pertussis is whooping cough." Shouldn't Jackson have been vaccinated against that? Vic inquires if anyone has requested a refill on this prescription number in the last day. He knows medical records are privileged, but he's trying to track down a murderer who's likely fleeing the country. The pharmacist agrees to help...if Vic has a subpoena.

The pharmacist asks if Vic has police ID other than his business card. Vic lies he must've left his badge at the station house. The pharmacist would be happy to call Vic's boss about getting a subpoena. Vic tells him that isn't necessary.

Chief Phillips has put out a statewide APB on Mara's Lexus and sent recent Vendrell family photos to other departments. Nothing has been put in the newspaper; Claudette hopes they can keep it that way until they arrest Shane. Chief Phillips plans to go public with the story if they don't find Shane in 24 hours.

Ronnie wants to be off desk duty. "We already discussed this," says Claudette. Ronnie requests to pick up Strike Team cases with Julien because gangs don't take days off. "Gangs aren't your problem anymore. I'm dismantling the Strike Team," Claudette announces. Chief Phillips cuts in; she can't make that kind of decision on her own.

Ronnie adds that they have the highest arrest rate in Farmington. Claudette wants to know who'll get credit for hauling Shane's "corrupt ass" in. "You don't blame the whole army for one soldier's war crimes," says Chief Phillips. However, he did give her full control over the Barn and has no choice but to let her.

Claudette reassigns Julien back to uniform patrol; she'll make sure he's promoted once he passes the detectives' exam. Ronnie will be assigned elsewhere once Claudette takes him off desk duty. Ronnie is none too pleased; he was put in charge of the Strike Team and thinks it could work with new blood. "I've had enough blood," the captain says shortly. If Ronnie doesn't like it, he's free to transfer.

"I don't like this," Corinne says tensely. She and Vic are in her kitchen waiting for Mara to call. Corinne wants no part of finding the Vendrells if Vic plans to hurt them. "The last thing in the world I'm gonna do is hurt 'em," Vic grumbles. Corinne doesn't buy that for a second. Vic tells her this isn't about revenge; it's about him staying out of jail.

They both jump out of their skins when the phone rings. Corinne answers while Vic listens in on the other line. She gives Mara the timeline of when the media is releasing Shane's picture; state and federal authorities have joined the manhunt. Border patrol stations and airports have pictures of the couple.

Corinne could give more details if she had a 50-mile radius of where the Vendrells are. Mara consults with her husband about this, to which Shane says, "Gimme the phone." He knows Vic is there and wants to talk to him. Corinne obliges.

"The deal was my wife speaks to your ex-wife," says Shane hotly, "Not that you sit in on the call or coach Corinne on how to pump Mara for intel." "Don't want your plan to go to shit just like your plan to kill me and Ronnie," Vic retorts. Shane argues his plan would've worked if Two-Man had finished the job. If Vic doesn't help him, they'll both end up in prison. Vic can't do that without knowing which direction they're going. "I'm gonna be pointing at you if I catch you near any one of these calls again," Shane threatens. When they call back at 10 PM, Corinne better have new intel and Vic better not be there.

Vic hangs up and tells Corinne that Shane is paranoid (no shit). He calls upon his ex-wife's knowledge as a nurse. What would happen if Shane's kid had whooping cough and suddenly stopped taking his medicine? Corinne replies it could turn into pneumonia.

Over lunch, Ronnie informs Vic that Claudette pulled the plug on the Strike Team, "another thing I gotta thank Shane for when we catch up to him." Vic fills Ronnie in about the phone call. He asks Ronnie to find out if Shane's tried to get the antibiotics refilled; he can't get anywhere without his badge.

Vic muses that Shane could be using a fake ID. Ronnie doubts it. Popping an eggroll in his mouth, he asks, "How's Shane financing this cannonball run?" Vic guesses with cash, possibly the $100,000 the Mexicans didn't manage to steal from Rezian. He kind of hopes Jackson's cough will get worse.

Mara wants to get out of L.A., but Shane thinks it's best they keep their heads down for a few days. With some difficulty, Mara turns her pregnant self around to check on Jackson in the backseat. The toddler's coughing and she frets that he still has a fever. "Hell, I'm doin' the best I can Mara," Shane gripes. They need to ditch the car.

"If that black asshole you hired had done his job, then we wouldn't be running like this," Mara bitches. Shane fires back, "I don't get to pick and choose which guys I get to hang murder charges over." He gets out of the car for a chat with Redding the mechanic. Does he have any cars with a clean VIN and papers? Shane reminds Redding that he let him beat some pretty serious charges. He'd be happy to call for an evidence team to come check for stolen parts.

Shane offers Redding the Lexus. Straight trade, no questions asked. Redding tips his head in the direction of a rusted green sedan. That's not good enough for Shane. "She runs," shrugs Redding. It's the only car he has with legit papers.
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"I was hoping I'd never wear blues again," Julien says glumly as he cleans out his locker. Tina enters the clubhouse, happy they've been partnered up again. Julien tells her they're looking for Shane. "Holy shit," Tina remarks, "A girl takes a long weekend and the whole world starts spinning backwards." Ronnie asks the uniforms to keep him in the loop about Shane. Julien has to clear it with the captain.

"Look, the guy tried to kill me," Ronnie reminds him, "If I can't be in the game, I'd at least like to hear the play-by-play." Tina stares after Ronnie as he leaves the clubhouse.

Vic pays a visit to an old informant. Does he know anyone who could make Shane a good fake passport with minimal turnaround time? The informant is aware Vic's been fired and boasts he doesn't have to say shit. Vic concedes he's not a cop, but at least he's not a "crooked wetback." The guy agrees to give up one name, then Vic is out of favors.

Vic finds Marcos in the back of a print shop and twists his arm behind his back. Forging federal documents carries a minimum sentence of 3 years. He shows Marcos a picture of Shane. "He skipped town without saying goodbye. I wanna send him a postcard, but since you gave him a new name, I don't have an address."

Marcos swears he didn't make anything for Shane. Vic twists his arm harder: "One more lie and I'm sending half of you to a hospital. The other half I'm leaving on the floor." Shane threatened Marcos if he talked. Vic tells Marcos who he should be more afraid of. Marcos admits to making passports for Shane, Mara, and Jackson; they used the names Shawn, Katie, and Bryan Hoover.

Vic compliments Marcos on the quality of his work and notices Shane's picture isn't on the passport yet. He'll be taking it with him.

At a motel, Jackson is crying. Mara says his fever is worse. Shane hands her a wet washcloth and suggests running another bath. There's a knock on the door. Mara hustles into the bathroom with the toddler. Another guest complains, "Does that kid ever stop making noise?" Shane apologizes; they're trying to figure out how to get medicine for him. "Figure it out quicker," snaps the other guest. He has jetlag and a meeting he needs to sleep for.

"We're doin' the best we can," Shane snarks, "Most people wait 'til it's dark to go to sleep." The guy tells Shane to "shut his goddamn kid up." "How about I take a shit in your goddamn earholes, give you a little peace and quiet?" Shane suggests. Mara lays a hand on her husband's shoulder, explaining their son is miserably sick with a fever. She promises Jackson will be better and quiet soon.

Inside the room, Mara wants to get in the car to pick up Jackson's medicine and leave town. Shane lays his gun on the dresser. Shane tells her criminals get caught because they move too much; the Vendrells are smarter than that. They need to keep off the roads and out of sight. "For how long?" Mara demands.

Shane has an idea. A presidential motorcade is coming to L.A. is over the weekend, which will tie up traffic. It's their best chance to get gone. Until then, they're stuck. Mara retorts they have to go out for Jackson's medicine. "Only because you left it at home," says Shane. Still, he agrees to make a pharmacy run.

Billings' wife Allison and teenage daughter Margaret pay a visit to the Barn. Margaret rolls her eyes when Billings tries to call her Mags. Billings apologizes that his child support check is late, but that's not what Allison wants to talk about. A man named Irving recently moved into their neighborhood and is a registered sex offender. He was convicted of molesting a teenage girl.

Billings and Dutch knock on Irving's door, introducing themselves as detectives. Irving grumpily tells them he updated his address two weeks ago. "Consider us the welcome wagon," says Billings before expressing his concern about his family. Irving knows his rights and that the detectives are out of their jurisdiction.

Billings shoves his foot in the door when Irving tries to close it. Irving admits to raping the teenager in Sacramento, but he's served his sentence, adding "haven't touched jailbait since." Charming.

"I didn't see your bulletin until after he left," a pharmacy tech tells Vic. Shane and his sick kid left about a half hour ago. She didn't notice what kind of car he was in, but Shane bought something besides antibiotics.

"Hi," Shane greets cheerily. He tells Mara he already gave Jackson the medicine. It should work fast, but the pharmacist said to keep an eye on him. Shane also has a single red rose for Mara. He notices local real estate magazines spread all over the bed. With the state of the economy, some houses have been vacant for over 6 months.

Shane thinks squatting is too risky. Mara's concerned about Jackson's health with them living in this dusty old hotel. They can expect more knocks on the door if he keeps crying.

Vic tells Ronnie to contact local ERs with Shane's alias: "Jackson might be sicker than we thought." Vic will start checking the hotels closest to the pharmacy. Ronnie doubts Shane is stupid enough to pick up prescriptions near where he's staying. "No, but maybe Shawn Hoover is." says Vic.

Ronnie reminds Vic of the decision he'll have to make if they find Shane. "Mara's not an innocent," Vic says vehemently. Shane purposely kept his wife in the loop about all the shady shit he gets up to; if Mara gets caught, she'll start pointing fingers at Vic and Ronnie. "Jackson's too young to be a witness," Vic adds heavily.

Cruz gives Edgar-veda a tour of his new campaign headquarters and introduces him to his friend Guillermo. Edgar-veda knows Miguel Calderon is interested in being his campaign finance chief, but he has someone else in mind. Cruz reminds him that all this help comes with a hefty price tag: "The dick is up your ass. And I'm the one who decides when and if it comes out."

"It was all I could do to keep from breaking that prick's jaw!" growls Edgar-veda. Chaffee reminds him the point of the meeting was to make Cruz believe he's in charge. Once he starts making mistakes, it'll be easier for Olivia to take him down. Edgar-veda gripes he won't win the election if he's "pretending to be this asshole's water boy." He wouldn't be surprised if Cruz's new friend Guillermo works for the cartel. Olivia asks Edgar-veda to sit down with some mug books.

Julien reports to Tina that Shane traded the Lexus for a green '91 Taurus. He asks her to call in the plate number. Julien doesn't plan to pass this info along to Ronnie. Practically the whole city is looking for the Vendrells.

Vic shows the motel manager a picture of his old buddy "Shawn Hoover." He has a bottle of medicine that "Shawn's" kid really needs. "Been getting a lotta complaints about that brat crying," says the manager. He points Vic in the direction of the room. On the motel walkway, Vic draws his gun. Panting, he kicks in the door of Room 213. It's empty.

The Vendrells are sitting in a hospital waiting room. "This people look fine. Jackson is really sick; he needs to see a doctor," Mara whispers. Shane asks what she expects him to do. Mara worries Jackson might be having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic.

Ronnie calls Vic with a tip; "Shawn Hoover" signed his feverish son into City of Angels Hospital. Mara's Lexus is at a chop shop in Sunland. Claudette already has the details on Shane's new car.

Allison, looking upset, is in the Barn's back parking lot. Margaret told her mom that Irving's been glaring at her and passing by the house frequently. Billings thinks it'll be okay; he went to Irving's to put the fear of God in him. Allison argues nothing is fine as long as he's living on their street.

"Now he sees my kids as a threat," she says. Billings assures her, "Nothing's gonna happen to our kids." Irving knows he's a cop. Allison regrets thinking he could help.

"You lied to me, you goddamn bastard," Rita says in an all-too-calm voice, "Lloyd told me everything last night. You think that he shot that kid deliberately?" She calls herself stupid for thinking she could trust Dutch.

The good detective has looked into what Rita said about her ex in Tulsa; the teacher/abusive boyfriend wanted to file criminal charges against Lloyd for tying up the man's son, threatening to torture and kill him. "It was a game," Rita insists, "You made me think we were on a date and all you were doing was gathering evidence on my son."

Billings watches interestedly as Rita threatens to slap Dutch. She doesn't want Dutch near her or Lloyd again.

Edgar-veda has ID'ed Guillermo as Guillermo Beltran, a former secretariat of the Mexican presidential guard. He resigned during the Vincente Fox administration because of a corruption investigation. Guillermo is now head of security for the Guerrero drug cartel and a three-year member of a Department of Defense watch list.

"Power player of this caliber elevates him way beyond Byz Lat gang level," says Edgar-veda. The cartel must want a hand in running Los Angeles. He wants Olivia to stop treating his mayoral campaign as just a pawn in an ICE investigation. Vic turned in his badge, making Edgar-veda the agency's new most valuable asset. He wants credit for helping take down an international criminal or he'll recant his ID of Guillermo.

Dutch tells Billings that Irving hasn't violated his parole. Billings wasn't thinking of going after him officially. Dutch scoffs, "I'm supposed to be Shane Vendrell to whatever Vic Mackey plan you've hatched?" Billings changes the subject to Rita, wondering why she looked so pissed. Dutch thinks she's starting to realize her son is a murderer.

Billings reminds his partner how helpful he was during Lloyd's investigation. It's time for Dutch to pay it forward. Dutch refuses to "be a party to anything that's unethical." Billings goes back to his desk, presumably to pout.

The ER doc has just finished giving Jackson a shot of a stronger antibiotic. He's concerned about the toddler's fever and wants to keep him for overnight observation. Shane lies that he has a new job starting in Northern California; it's gone if he's not there. "Your son shouldn't be traveling," the doctor advises.

Shane whispers he's been out of work a while and the family is uninsured. He promises to bring Jackson to the closest ER if he doesn't get better. He and Mara will watch Jackson around the clock. Doc agrees to give them some antibiotic samples to get them through the next couple of days. Meanwhile, Vic has spotted the green Taurus in the City of Angels Hospital parking lot. 

Irving is led out of his house in handcuffs. Detective Keefe tells Billings the parole officer found child pornography in Irving's bedroom. It's the second time he's violated parole, so he's going back to prison. Someone called in an anonymous tip.

Mara drags Jackson out of the exam room, telling Shane they have to leave. She heard nurses saying a gunshot victim is coming in, which means police presence too. Shane hurriedly snatches Jackson's backpack and the antibiotic samples. "It's okay, Jackson," Mara soothes, forgetting her son is named Bryan as far as the hospital is concerned.

Vic is waiting behind a column with his gun. Mara freezes at the sound of sirens. Shane sees his former best friend pointing a gun at them and whispers something in his wife's ear. Mara calls toward the police car parked behind them, "Officer! That man over there has a gun!"

Vic initially ignores the officers' commands to stop walking, then raises his hands in surrender. Shane gets in his car and watches as Vic kneels on the ground.

Allison and Margaret thank Billings for getting Irving out of their neighborhood. "Feeling better about yourself?" Dutch asks when they leave. Billings does, actually, knowing his daughters are safer. Dutch accuses his partner of falsely reporting Irving and getting his friend Keefe to plant the porn. Irving has stayed out of trouble since his original parole violation 6 years ago. "A cop helped another cop out. It's called loyalty," says Billings. Dutch disagrees, "It's wrong."

"Vic Mackey was detained by two police officers in a hospital in East Hollywood tonight," Claudette informs Ronnie, "A couple with a small child told the officer that he had a gun and pointed it at them." Ronnie doesn't think that makes sense. Claudette goes on; hospital surveillance tapes show the couple in question were the Vendrells. Ronnie keeps a poker face. Claudette says, "Tell me what you know about this and don't leave anything out."

Ronnie has no idea what Vic's been up to while he's been on desk duty. Sure, Vic wants Shane brought to justice, but Ronnie has no clue how Vic found him. Claudette tells Ronnie he has two choices: See Vic's departure as a fresh start or throw away his career just like Vic did. What's it gonna be? Ronnie doesn't hesitate: "I want my job."

Claudette advises him to act like it. She asks the tough question, "Why does Vendrell want you dead?" Ronnie sits down and answers honestly, "Vic and I found out that Shane killed Lem." They'd suspected him for weeks. Right before Lem died, they busted a Salvadoran weapons operation and Shane had pocketed a grenade.

Claudette inquires why Shane would want to kill Lem at all. "The only thing that we could figure out was Shane's involvement with the Armenians. Shane was double-dipping, Lem found out about it." Ronnie fibs. Claudette asks if there's proof.

Ronnie tells her about Kavanaugh's final report: "The night Lem was killed, Shane told us he'd been followed all night long, just like we had. Kavanaugh wrote only Vic and I were followed." "And why am I just finding out about this now?" Claudette asks.

Ronnie sighs that Shane was their friend; they didn't want to accuse him without solid evidence. Shane must've put the pieces together, then tried to have him and Vic killed. Ronnie's pretty sure that Shane was hiding in Vic's apartment to finish him off last night.

"So Vic went to the hospital for revenge," says Claudette. Ronnie shakes his head: "A bullet's too good." Vic wants Shane to suffer in prison for his crimes.

Olivia fills Vic in about Beltran. Vic would happy to look into Beltran's street crimes if ICE formalizes their relationship. Olivia explains quitting his job turned Vic into just another CI. "Then I'm not freelancing for you people in a war zone," Vic says flatly. He won't settle for anything less than "ICE credentials, a paycheck, and full dental." "That was an easier sell before you turned your badge in," says Olivia.

Vic might not be valuable to Cruz anymore and if that's the case...he's shit out of luck. "If anything, being badgeless just means I have more time to devote to his cause," Vic argues. When the Box O' Blackmail turns up and Olivia's file is in it, she'll realize what a mistake she's made. Vic asks for a chance to get close to Beltran.

A crying Rita turns up on Dutch's porch, asking, "Why are you so convinced Lloyd's a murderer?" Dutch invites her in. Rita tells her she had an argument with Lloyd about her wanting to date Dutch. Lloyd laughed nastily and called her pathetic. He accused Dutch of ruining his mom.

Dutch advises Rita to get away from Lloyd. "He's not an abusive husband or a cheating boyfriend; he's my son," she sniffles. Rita cooks for him and drives him to school. Dutch has another idea: bring Lloyd to the police station and convince him to confess. "What if he's innocent?" sobs Rita. Dutch thinks they both know otherwise. "He's my boy," Rita chokes out.

"Every killer that the world has ever seen started out as somebody's boy," Dutch says gently, "Lloyd is gonna kill somebody else eventually. Someone else's son or daughter. Unless you help me stop him." Rita puts her hands over her ears, refusing to believe it. She storms out of Dutch's living room.

"What if Shane saw you coming here?" Corinne asks Vic. Cassidy is curious why her dad is there so late at night. Vic thinks she should get ready for bed; he and Corinne are waiting for an important call. Cassidy gives her dad a good-night hug and kiss. I'm shocked she didn't argue that she's old enough to know what's going on.

The phone rings. "What the hell is wrong with you?" Mara demands from the other end. She understands why Vic lied, but not why Corinne would. "I didn't lie to you," Corinne insists. Mara yells, "Vic tried to kill us tonight and you helped him! He made you an accessory to attempted murder! And now you're a criminal! Just like Vic!" (I don't think so, Mara. Corinne works at Mission Cross, not City of Angels, so she didn't rat you out).

Corinne frowns, wondering aloud what Mara means. Mara explains what happened at the hospital when she took Jackson in about his fever. Vic was ready to kill all the Vendrells, including Mara and the unborn baby. He won't stop until he gets what he wants and "the deaths of my children will be on your head." When Mara calls tomorrow afternoon, she expects Corinne to have specific, detailed information.

Corinne hangs up. Vic wants to know what Mara said. She lies that Shane doesn't trust Vic anymore and won't be calling back ever.

Elsewhere, Shane has a big favor to ask of his wife. He wants Mara to go back to L.A. and turn herself in. The police have no evidence against her and she can say Shane threatened her into helping him. They'll believe Mara was scared for her life and the life of her baby. Mara refuses.

"Mara, you gotta take care of yourself," Shane pleads. And Jackson and their unborn daughter. She and the kids can still have a decent life; that's all that matters to Shane. "But we wouldn't have you," says Mara. Shane kisses her. Mara takes Jackson out of his carseat and holds him. "We're a family," she says, "Nobody's gonna tear us apart."

Shane breaks into a vacant house and deadpans, "Well, I always told you I'd get you a mansion someday." End of episode.

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.

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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.
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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.