Monday, March 5, 2018

Need 100 Grand? Just Take It Out of "Petty Cash" (Episode 7.11)

Previously on: Olivia doubted Vic could still be valuable to the Beltran investigation now that he's no longer a cop. Vic proved otherwise by faking Pezuela's death. Ronnie told Claudette almost everything about Shane's reasoning for wanting him and Vic killed. Vic put out a reward on the street for his ex-best friend's head. Ronnie has had enough shenanigans and wants to run away to Mexico; Vic promised they'll both run if his latest scheme fails. Shane has demanded $100,000 and sent a blackmail package to Claudette.

Unbeknownst to Vic, Corinne is working with Dutch and Claudette to bring down Vic. Claudette tried to appeal to Mara for her cooperation.

Corinne offers coffee to Claudette and Dutch as they wait for the phone to ring. When it does, Mara only wants to speak to Claudette. She tells her that Shane wants $100,000 by 5 PM; Corinne is to personally make the drop at the fountain in Hollenbeck Park. Mara wants Claudette to promise Shane won't be hurt because "I know how some suspects wind up dead getting booked." The cops need to know Shane tried to kill Vic and Ronnie strictly out of self-defense.

Mara continues making demands: "You need to guarantee that he gets a light sentence. Otherwise, I will blow this whole thing out of the water!" "I'll work it out with the D.A.," Claudette agrees. When his wife hangs up, Shane compliments, "That was beautiful, baby." They'll never have to worry about Vic Mackey again. I wouldn't count on that...

Shane vows he's never going to prison and he won't let Mara end up there either.

Claudette gives Corinne instructions for the drop. She needs to act like everything Vic tells her is news. "Don't go along too easily," adds Dutch. Corinne mutters, "Having a problem with all this won't be a stretch." Claudette won't have her wear a wire during the initial meeting because Vic can smell a setup.

Corinne asks tensely, "How will Vic not figure out that I set him up?" Claudette will make it seem like Vic's been on their radar for a while. Dutch will go through the motions of arresting Corinne to maintain her cover. Corinne doesn't like the sound of any of this. "You came to us to get Vic out of your life," Dutch reminds her.

Corinne's next question is how to get into the witness protection program. Claudette explains that would involve testifying. Corinne vehemently refuses to do it; Vic would know she put him in jail. "It was his own doing," Claudette points out. Corinne still feels guilty.

Edgar-veda, lurking outside Vic's house, remarks, "You're a little overdressed for your paper route." This morning's edition of the L.A. Times ran a story about the tragic suicide of Cruz Pezuela. "His shrink should be sued for not recognizing the 7 warning signs," Vic says dismissively. Edgar-veda is sure his friend wasn't suicidal: "Beltran had him whacked." He's willing to bet Vic pulled the trigger.

"Olivia's not returning my phone calls," Edgar-veda goes on, "Now you drop a body in the middle of my campaign." He leans in the car window. "You're not screwing up my investigation and costing me the mayor's job with one last scandal, Vic." "Nice to know that justice is still your top priority," Vic snarks.

Corinne gets a call from Vic. He needs to talk to her, but can't get into why over the phone. Corinne lies she doesn't have much time; she's getting ready for work. Vic asks if she can take a personal day and meet him at Hollenbeck Park.

"Vic, this is crazy," Corinne snaps at him in the park. He asks her to come back to this bench at 5:00. Corinne is incredulous: "You're gonna hand me a bag full of money to give to the guy who tried to kill you?" Vic sees it as a small price to pay to get all the Vendrells out of the U.S. Shane wants to hurt Vic, not Corinne, so she shouldn't worry. Can Corinne do him this one last favor?

Vic sits down for a friendly lunch with Beltran. He bets the cartel boss is glad Cruz's narrow-mindedness died with him. Vic can understand Cruz "being down with La Raza," but 40% of the drug trade in L.A. is owned and operated by blacks. The cartel could use a "trade rep who's fluent in the culture." Of course, this means Vic himself.

Beltran doesn't see the advantage in allying himself with a "white cop who's made a career cracking the heads of low-level gangbangers." Uh, Vic's actually taken down his share of big ones too. Vic offers to "set up a meet-and-greet with the black board of directors." If Beltran supplies their drugs at a reasonable cost, he'll end up with a monopoly in a year or two.

Beltran knows that meetings like that are how you end up getting arrested. Vic would be happy to go to the meeting alone and negotiate. Beltran wants a deposit from the gangs.

At the L.A. County Jail, Vic asks an incarcerated gangbanger to arrange a board meeting. The guy will see what he can do.

Olivia reminds Vic he has to be trusted enough to get to the cartel's inner workings. Vic can't help he's still being cagey. Olivia has tried talking to Cruz about it and describes him as an uncooperative shithead. She wishes she knew where her blackmail file is. Vic reassures her that it being lost is a good thing; nobody can use it against her. He knows his jobs are to find it and help ICE bust Beltran. Vic Mackey is a man who makes good on his promises.

Vic gets a phone call from jail. The black board of directors' meeting is at 2:00 in Inglewood. Crosstown traffic in L.A. being what it is, Vic is gonna have to hustle to get back to Corinne at 5:00.

A uniform lays some mail on Claudette's desk. Ronnie casually breezes over and starts fishing through it. "Something you need?" asks Claudette. Ronnie huffs in annoyance: "This new guy handing out the mail must be dyslexic. When's Danny coming back?"

Claudette has a case for Ronnie and Billings: shooting victim pronounced DOA. The teen's name is Cardell Rhodes. "The football player?" pipes up Julien. It transpires he was Cardell's coach during his Pop Warner days. Ronnie thought he was on desk duty.

Claudette explains she's got the majority of the cops sweeping the streets for the upcoming presidential motorcade. "Much as I want out of my forced detention, Julien's history with the kid gives him a leg up here," says Ronnie. Claudette agrees; she wants Julien to partner with Ronnie instead of Billings. Detective of the Year grumbles that he'll go back to his crossword puzzles.

Ronnie stops Billings on his way downstairs, asking for a favor. "I took a bedroom tumble with a woman on the force," he explains, leaning in confidentially, "She found out she's not the only teeter-totter on the playground, got pissed, and now she's tryin' to jam me up with Claudette."

Imaginary Mystery Woman wrote a letter to Claudette and Ronnie needs it intercepted. Billings' man-crush on Ronnie is evident in his reply: "That poison panty-gram won't hit Claudette's desk." Ronnie gives his partner a fist-bump.

Ronnie informs Vic the letter wasn't with the first round of mail. Vic is sure it'll turn up with the afternoon round. Ronnie has another possibility in mind: Shane's just fucking with them. Vic knows neither of them can afford to take the chance in getting complacent; it's a good thing Ronnie's still on restricted duty.

Ronnie explains about being put on a homicide case with Julien. "One minute, one minute," he snaps at said uniform, who's hovering over his shoulder. Vic gives Ronnie a brief run-down of the cartel situation.

Elsewhere, Shane strides purposefully into an alley full of bums. He lifts up a sewer grate, looks inside, and lets it drop back down with a clang. Shane raises his voice, addressing the alley at large: "I put somethin' over here fer safekeeping. Y'all know what I'm talkin' about. Now where the hell is it?"

Shane kicks over a shopping cart, then slams a homeless man against a wall: "You think yer quality of life sucks now? You wait 'til I get done with you." He asks where his gun is. Getting no answer, he roughly kicks another man awake.

"Think pink while you still can, hero!" says the homeless man, brandishing a revolver, "You die now among the righteous and the urine savior." When it pulls the trigger, it goes click instead of bang. Shane snatches it out of his hand and opens the chamber: "It's not loaded, Pig-Pen." Before leaving, he smacks the homeless man's forehead for good measure.

At a warehouse, Vic asks Beltran how much weight the cartel can provide to the blacks as a starter kit. However, he counsels that it might be better in the long run to "absorb them into your corporate structure." Cruz never managed to grow past Byz Lat level. Beltran scoffs that Cruz was a "waste of clothes."

Cruz renovated this warehouse and built others for the cartel to store their drugs, but they were all "over budget and behind schedule." "You're gonna fill this whole place with drugs?" asks Vic, gesturing around them.

Beltran wants to know if the blacks understand the terms of working with the cartel. Vic inquires about taking some cartel guys along since this meeting could turn hostile. "You forget, eh? My background is professional military," Beltran replies, whatever that's supposed to be.

At Ronnie and Julien's crime scene, a white man sits on the bumper of an ambulance, explaining what happened. He was just talking to Cardell when the gunshots started and the teenager shielded him from the bullets. The man, Polk, is in Farmington on a football recruiting trip. He thinks Cardell was about to commit to his school and laments the loss of talent: "He was on his way to a Heisman." Julien agrees, "That kid had eyes in the back of his head."

Ronnie turns the focus back to the murder: "You vet these kids pretty thoroughly." Was Polk aware of Cardell having any personal problems or enemies? "The shit you have to put up with to get a BCS bid," gripes Polk, "Take a banger to brunch." Julien doesn't believe Cardell was involved in a gang. Polk goes on, "I had to get permission from a shot-caller just to get a sit-down with the kid."

Julien pays a visit to Cardell's mother, who describes her son as "a child of God." Julien holds her hand, asking if she knows who might've shot Cardell. "Why would anyone wanna hurt my baby?" she sobs. The front hall is full of pictures of Cardell in his football uniform and his trophies.

Another relative wonders why God would let something like this happen. Julien nods that this job tests his faith every day. The other woman's son died last year in a drive-by. Does Julien believe Cardell was running around with gangs? Julien shakes his head and hands her a business card.

Ronnie meets Julien outside the house: "Recruiter told me Cardell was repping Acorn Park." "How in the hell does he know what goes on around here?" asks Julien. Ronnie reminds Julien what the guy said about the shot-caller. Julien insists that wasn't Cardell. Ronnie understands Julien has history with Cardell, but they have to look at the case from all angles.

Julien says, "This kid was the closest thing to a hero this neighborhood ever had." Ronnie would love to be wrong; it's still too soon to draw any conclusions. He sends Julien to talk to Acorn Park; Ronnie will "discourse with Spookstreet."

"You're using the ICE sting on Beltran to scam $100 grand off Beenie Spears' guys?" Ronnie asks Vic incredulously. Vic doesn't know how else they can come up with Shane's buy-off. Has anybody checked inside Ronnie's mattress recently? I.A. never could find his share of the money train cash. "Playing both sides like this is crazy dangerous!" Ronnie cries.

Vic only needs both sides occupied for a couple of days longer so they can get Shane out of the country and Beltran busted. In exchange, ICE will give both of them a deal and immunity. "Jesus," Ronnie sighs. He tells Vic he tasked Billings with intercepting Shane's letter to Claudette. "The wheels are comin' off this whole goddamn thing," Ronnie predicts tensely.

Vic is on his way to the gang council and "could really use some backup that speaks Ingles." Ronnie wishes he could, but Claudette has him working a murder case.

Dutch enters Claudette's office, saying she doesn't have to go on the stakeout if she doesn't feel up to it. Claudette vows to put the cuffs on Shane and Vic even "if you have to take me there on a damn stretcher with IVs running." She distractedly lifts up the stacks of paper covering her desk. Dutch asks if she lost something. Claudette can't find her medicine and knows it was here a minute ago.

Dutch hands her a prescription bottle from a nearby shelf. The captain wonders how Vic is gonna get $100,000 together for Shane. She worries someone could get hurt. Julien comes in and Claudette asks if Ronnie's talked to Vic at all today. Julien reports Ronnie's gotten some phone calls, but he doesn't know who was on the other end.

Claudette and Dutch tell Julien about their plan to arrest Vic for aiding and abetting fugitive Shane. If Julien can free up time from working Cardell's murder, the captain wants him to come along. Claudette wanted to let Julien have time to mentally prepare himself for having to "throw bracelets on former colleagues." Dutch thinks Ronnie and Vic might be planning something. They were his teammates once, so Julien has to pick a side. Julien agrees to walk point with their backup from Rampart Division.

Vic tries to convince the black gangs of the upside to switching suppliers: lower cost, unlimited quantity, and high quality product. One of them tells Vic, "We've been with the same wholesaler since before you had a cowlick." Vic shows them a bag of meth made from Mexican ephedra "by Ph.D. chemists." The gangbangers explain they only agreed to the meeting as a courtesy.

Vic invites them to look out the windows. A couple of cars full of Mexicans are parked in the driveway. Someone pulls a gun on Vic. He warns that if they shoot him, "there'll be an RPG in this room before I hit the floor." Vic then tells a story about his colleagues murdering a whole precinct full of Mexican police last year, along with their dispatchers and janitors. Beltran did it to take over turf. If he was willing to do that to his own people, what do the black gangs see in their future?

Vic just wants to "promote a little racial harmony through economic opportunity." The buy-in is $200,000.

Vic tries to leave for his meeting with Corinne, but his Mexican colleagues waylay him in their truck. Beltran wants his money now. Vic tells them he needs to get gas. While the pump is running, Vic pops his trunk and shoves money in a duffel bag. Vic dashes to the gas station bathroom and puts the duffel bag in the trash can, covering it up with paper towels.

Vic calls Ronnie and says quickly, "Code red. Third and Alvarado gas station men's room trash can." When one of the Mexicans answers, he pretends he's talking to one of his kids: "All right, sweetheart, Daddy has to work late."

"Van Bro!" Ronnie greets everyone's favorite wheelchair-bound street artist/informant. Van Bro cheerfully replies, "Gardocki, my man!" He's sorry to hear about the dissolution of the Strike Team. Ronnie must be "the last cat standing. Upright and breathing."

Van Bro advises, "Signify your own path, you won't get caught up in other folk's bullshit and tribulation." That's how he lives his life and look at him: "Standing strong and doing the damn thing."

Ronnie gestures at what looks like spray-painted pieces of tin roof. What happened to Van Bro's talent? Van Bro calls it "nonrepresentational art." After all, it worked for Basquiat. He offers one of his art pieces to Ronnie. The detective just wants information about Cardell.

Van Bro heard bookies were pissed at the teenager, accusing him of point shaving during a game the night before. He doesn't want to speculate, but supposedly Cardell was "steppin' outta bounds with all kindsa daylight numerous times." All of this is coming fourth-hand, however. He doesn't have any names until Ronnie gives him a $20; suddenly, it might be Deuce. Van Bro calls after them, "Stay black!"

Billings, eating sushi at his desk, gets a call from Ronnie and suddenly remembers he's supposed to be intercepting mail deliveries. "Oh shit," he says, "Yeah, lemme look." We flash briefly to Ronnie's furious expression. Julien interrupts, telling his partner that Cardell wasn't involved in point shaving. Stepping out of bounds was his way of preserving his knees for college ball. Ronnie isn't listening; he's having a few terse words with Billings.

When Ronnie hangs up, he suggests going back to the Barn. Julien would rather talk to Polk the recruiter again. Ronnie reminds him that Polk is a victim too, not a suspect. "Maybe he was the target," says Julien. Ronnie can't argue that's an angle worth examining. He dashes off, lying that he needs to get a prescription filled. Ah, one of Lem's favorite tactics, God rest him.

Shane puts on a backwards ballcap and pulls up to a street corner. "Hey, yo, my man!" he calls, flashing some gang signs. Getting no answer, he adds, "You goddamn deaf, homie?" The drug dealer approaches the driver's side window, suspicious that he's never seen Shane in the area before.

Shane flashes a wad of cash to show he's serious, then grabs the dealer's arm and yanks him partially through the open passenger window. Shane drives a short distance away and sticks his now useless badge in the dealer's face. Of course, the dope pusher doesn't know that. Shane presses the revolver's barrel to the guy's cheek, requesting to be let into a stash house off Normandie.

"I ain't doin' shit for you! I'm 16!" the kid cries, panicked, "Take me in; they'll call my mom!" Shane punches the boy in the face, saying, "I don't have her number." He hits the kid in the stomach once and the face again.

Shane marches the kid toward the stash house at gunpoint, asking about the weaponry inside. "Enough to shred your bony white ass," the kid grumbles. There's probably about $8,000-10,000 in cash sitting around too. Once inside, it looks like the place has already been tossed. A squawking police radio out back confirms my suspicion.

Shane throws the kid into a nearby shelf, knocking things over and making a hell of a lot of noise. Uniforms on scene spring into action with shouts of "We got a runner!" Shane manages to weasel his way out undetected.

Vic lays a briefcase full of cash on Beltran's desk and is offered a shot of something. Vic waves it off, saying he doesn't smoke or drink. Beltran can respect "a man of few vices." Vic used to believe in hard work being its own reward, but has now decided he doesn't want to die miserable and broke like his grandparents. He hopes Beltran understands he has "an action hero on [your] payroll."

Corinne nervously takes a seat on the designated park bench. Dutch and Claudette are in a car behind a nearby fence; they're backed up by a van full of uniforms. Claudette hopes the former Mrs. Mackey can get through the operation without cracking. Ronnie approaches, carrying the Duffel O' Cash. Dutch is surprised to see him. "Where's Vic?" Claudette hisses angrily.

Ronnie drops the bag onto Corinne's lap. She's worried that Vic isn't there, but Ronnie assures her that he's okay. Before Corinne can say much of anything else, Ronnie disappears. Dutch radios an order for the uniforms to arrest Ronnie. Claudette counters that they need to stay where they are; Vic could be watching from somewhere.

Dutch argues, "We've got Gardocki dead to rights." That's all on tape and can be discussed later. Claudette snarls, "We haven't got the real bastard yet."

"Shane's an hour late." Corinne is understandably freaked out that she's sitting in a park in Los Angeles with $100,000 in a duffel bag. Dutch wonders if Mara revealed to Shane what the cops are planning. "What if Vic figured out I was working with you? That's why he sent Ronnie," Corinne is barely holding it together, "Somebody talk to me!" "Okay, call it," Claudette sighs.

Dutch gives the abort mission signal. "Goddamn it!" Claudette screams, pounding the dashboard.

Shane and Mara try to plot their next move. Mara comes up with the harebrained idea of robbing the safe at the real estate office where she works; it's full of escrow checks. "Mara, if I can't knock over a stash house, what makes you think we're gonna walk into a bank and cash a buncha stolen checks made out to a goddamn escrow company?" asks Shane.

Mara presses a finger to her lips, indicating Jackson, who's napping on the floor. She goes on that they also have lots of cashier's checks for apartment rentals: "Folks in the hood don't have checking accounts." "I don't know about crackin' into no safe," Shane whispers. He won't have to because Mara has the combination. Shane still doesn't think it's a good idea.

Mara insists it could work; the only people in the office at night are on the cleaning crew. He points out the small problem of her being a fugitive. "They're illiterate and don't speak English," Mara reassures him. Shane beams proudly at his criminal mastermind spouse.

Edgar-veda is growing suspicious about his friend Cruz's supposed suicide. He's been dead a day and a friend at the coroner's office said his body was already shipped back to Mexico. When someone commits suicide in L.A. County, an autopsy is required. The coroner didn't have enough time to do that. Edgar-veda is willing to bet Cruz isn't dead. Vic dodges the question. The councilman worries about the possibility of Cruz testifying.

Edgar-veda threatens to tell Beltran that Cruz is still alive: "I will wreck this investigation before I let you and Olivia cut me out." Vic asks Edgar-veda which is the worst-case scenario: "being denied your legacy as the great brown reformer" or the public finding out a cartel bankrolled his campaign. Edgar-veda just wants both of them to respect each other's goals.

Ronnie unsuccessfully tries to get intel out of Julien about the special assignment Claudette had him on. Julien wants to reinterview Polk, who's back from a recruiting trip to San Diego.

In a parking garage, Olivia and Vic have a chat about the investigation. Vic wants to pull Ronnie into the fold instead of using some of Olivia's friends from ICE. He needs Beltran to think he has a friend in local law enforcement. Olivia can't authorize that. Vic hands over Olivia's blackmail file, letting her know he resisted the temptation to use it against her.

Vic trusted Olivia and it cost him his job. Even if he gets away from Beltran alive, he has no future. All Vic wants is her help getting a softer landing.

Shane corrals the janitors at the real estate office into the back with the universal language of gun in your face. He keeps trying to order them around even though Mara told him they don't speak English: "Hit the deck, dammit." Shane takes the safe combination out of his pocket, snapping at the crying cleaning crew to shut up. Even though the numbers are right, the safe won't open.

Shane sighs: "All right, anyone moves, morto, morto." He jogs out to the car, waving for Mara. She doesn't want to leave their toddler unattended in the car, so Shane tells her to bring him along. Shane tells her the safe won't open. Mara gives him instructions that he doesn't understand. She then practically shoves Jackson at her husband so she can open the safe herself.

One of the cleaning ladies offers to hold him and Shane obliges. "Gracias," says Mara, turning around with a fistful of checks. The Vendrells head off on their merry way. Mara guesses there's only about $5,000 in her hand (with rent in L.A. being so damn high?). "That'll work!" Shane says happily.

At her house, Corinne asks why Vic never came to the park. He explains he had a last-minute job interview with ICE. He apologizes for leaving her hanging. Did anything happen that could've spooked Shane? "Just me and the crackheads," Corinne replies. She tries to return the money; Vic wants her to keep it for the kids in case they never hear from Shane. "Please tell me when this is gonna be over," she begs.

The conversation is interrupted by Cassidy, emerging from her room to hug her dad. Corinne tells her to go to bed; it's a school night. Cassidy shows Vic her latest math test; she got a 98. Vic is proud of her for cleaning up her act after the lingerie party incident. As a reward, he gives Cassidy $20.

Polk promises to fax a list of all the L.A. kids he spoke to on his recruiting trip once he gets home to Dallas. He's used to talking to prospective players in the presence of their high school coach, overprotective mother, and maybe the family minister. With Cardell, however, "I had a meet-cute with some inked-out thug in baggy clothes and a grill." That caused him to reconsider offering a scholarship.

Julien argues said inked-out thug could've been trying to make sure Polk didn't try to take advantage of Cardell. Polk sees himself as Mr. Opportunity, offering inner-city kids "money, education, the chance to get out of a shitty environment." Julien won't let up: "In your job, you destroy more dreams than you make come true."

Polk scoffs. Last year, a mom tried to hit him with a baseball bat because he passed on recruiting her son. He adds this family was from the same block as Cardell.

Julien sits back down with Cardell's mom's friend Mia. Her son's murder remains unsolved. Julien asks where she was when the recruiter was shot. Mom's Friend claims she was at home watching her stories. Ronnie and Julien know Polk also recruited this woman's son Dion. The kid had been offered a scholarship and a car. His mom doesn't believe it all fell through just like that. 6 months later, Dion was shot in the head at a bus stop.

"As a mother who's lost a child, tell me you didn't know [Cardell] was in that truck," says Julien. Mia starts to cry: "With them dark windows, I didn't." She blamed Polk for destroying her son's future.

Ronnie finds a manila envelope on Claudette's desk. There's no return address, but Shane's alias Cletus Van Damme is scrawled upon it. Ronnie hustles down to the clubhouse to open it. Inside is a ream of paper and only one sheet with anything written on it. The message reads: HEY RONNIE. TELL VIC HE'S A SHITHEAD. YOU'VE BOTH JUST BEEN PUNKED. Pissed, Ronnie throws the papers at the wall.

Dutch tells Claudette he called IAD to get paperwork started on Ronnie. Claudette is willing to let him go. She has a mountain of paperwork on her desk. Dutch says now that Vic resigned, Danny is willing to come back to be Claudette's assistant. He promises they'll get Vic.

"We can't expect justice out there when we don't demand it in our own house," says Claudette. Dutch gives her an unnecessary reminder that she's not in control of everything. Claudette tells him that he's free to leave if she doesn't like how she's handling the case.

Vic tells Ronnie how things are going with Olivia: "ICE is gonna take care of both of us; I know it." Ronnie wonders why Shane didn't come to collect his bag of money. Vic guesses he was giving them busy work. A truck's arrival causes Vic to mutter, "Jesus, this is cutting it close." He tries to lighten the mood: "A little ulcer never hurt anyone." Oh yeah? Tell that to Lem. Like me, Ronnie fails to see the humor.

Vic introduces Beltran to his little friend Ronnie Gardocki. Beltran shakes his hand; Vic has spoken highly of Ronnie's character. Ronnie tries to look pleased by this: "He taught me everything I know."

Shane goes to a mini-mart/check-cashing place where he knows the owner. He slides a wad of cashier's checks through the bulletproof window. The owner, Boo Ray, isn't interested in doing favors for Shane. "You know these are as good as cash," he coaxes. Shane looked the other way when Boo Ray sold weed out of the back of the store.

Somewhat reluctantly, Boo Ray hands over the cash. Shane immediately notices he's short $2,000. Boo Ray's vig is 50 cents on the dollar, which Shane calls unacceptable. He pleads that he has a kid and another on the way. Boo Ray threatens to call the cops because "givin' up a killer cop ain't snitchin' in my hood." For once, Shane does the smart thing and walks away.

Outside, Mara is obviously disappointed at the cash she's handed. Didn't Shane say the shop owner was his friend? Realizing how tired Shane looks, Mara pulls him close to her chest and strokes his hair. "I guess we both have to embrace the reality that neither of us has a friend in this world," Shane mopes, "Except each other." End of episode.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two-Man's favorite phrase
(Image credit)
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.