Monday, May 23, 2016

"Our Gang" Has High Membership Dues (Episode 1.2)

A "previously on" segment brings us back to the shooting of Terry Crowley, the newest member of Farmington's elite Strike Team.

Vic calls 911 in a panic, shouting that there's an officer down, even though he's the reason said officer is down. He claims the police radio in their van is broken and seems unsure of the address. The dispatcher asks about Terry's condition. "He's dying!" Vic says. The dispatcher manages to trace the call and tells Vic she's sending an ambulance. The line clicks dead.

A throng of police cars and officers surrounds the hospital's emergency room. Vic gives a patrolman his version of the events: He heard a gunshot and Terry hit the floor. The shooter, Two-Time, was in the bathroom and fired a few shots at them; Vic and Shane had no choice but to kill Two-Time. The unnamed patrolman mumbles that Terry is a tough kid and will make it. Danny, not in uniform, arrives and asks Shane what happened. Shane, his eyes wet, says Terry was shot in the head. Danny gives him a hug.

Over by a police car, the guy with the Tom Selleck mustache blames himself; he was walking point. He should've cleared the room. Blond Spiky Hair didn't see Two-Time either. Suddenly, Aceveda and Deputy Police Chief Gilroy emerge from the hospital, their expressions grim. Everyone goes silent. Aceveda announces that Terry has been pronounced dead. People gasp. Blond Spiky Hair shouts, "No!" and punches out the driver's side window of the Strike Team van. Holy shit. Blondie doesn't seem at all fazed by the blood now dripping from his knuckles. Vic speaks up regarding Terry: "I'm responsible." Given that there are 6 seasons to go, that statement can't be a confession.

Vic sits down with Internal Affairs and repeats, "I'm responsible. It was my operation. I called the shots." Terry was too green to ride out with the Strike Team. Terry's personnel file says otherwise, an 8-year veteran with several commendations to his name who did a stint in robbery. Vic goes on: "We knock down doors that other cops don't want to. My guys accept the risks because they know I will take care of them. When we got out on a mission, I expect every single one of them to come home. Anything else is unacceptable."

In the clubhouse, Blondie is playing darts, shredded hand and all. He wonders what's taking so long. Shane reminds him that Internal Affairs won't look good if they only take 5 minutes to investigate. Tom Selleck Mustache worries that Aceveda will use what happened to Terry as a reason to pull the plug on the Strike Team. Blondie asks again what's taking so long. "For the last time, I swear to God," Shane starts as the door opens. Now it's his turn in the hot seat.

Dutch and Claudette walk into the squadroom. Aceveda asks why they're not still at the crime scene. Dutch explains that Gilroy kicked them out and handed the case to IAD. Speaking of Gilroy, he wants a private word with Aceveda.

Danny asks Julien why he didn't come to the hospital vigil earlier that morning. Julien replies that she never told him to go. "I shouldn't have to. A fellow officer was dying," Danny points out. Julien said a prayer, has been out of the academy 3 weeks, and didn't know Terry. Danny educates him on Rule #1: "He was a cop. That means you knew him."

Gilroy is afraid the department will be accused of favoritism if the Strike Team is cleared in the matter of Terry's death; evidence against the team will lead to a civil war in the precinct. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Aceveda has notified Terry's mother. Gilroy wants the captain to speak at Terry's funeral.

During Shane's interview, we learn that he was the first person Vic brought on board when he started the Strike Team. Vic handpicked his whole crew, with the exception of Terry. However, Shane is quick to point out that nobody had any animosity toward the new guy.

Meanwhile, Danny tries to get information out of Dutch. He's off the case, but in Dutch's professional opinion, the Strike Team "went in undermanned with a half-assed plan." And you're a poet and don't know it. Danny follows Vic into the breakroom for a whispered conversation in which she offers to be there for him. Dutch watches jealously from his desk.

Out in the parking lot, Danny tells Julien another police fact of life: "Anytime a cop goes down, the scumbags think it's open season." This is remedied by giving criminals the occasional forcible reminder about who really owns the streets.

Blondie's bandaged hand doesn't escape the eagle-eyed Internal Affairs officer's attention. She asks what happened to it. Blondie tells her about putting it through a window when he found out Terry was dead. The cuts looks bad to IAD lady and she asks if there was tendon damage. Blondie stubbornly crosses his arms, making his biceps bulge. Oh Lordy! He asks if they can get the interview the hell over with; though, to his credit, he does say please.

Aceveda walks through the park with his college buddy-turned-FBI-agent. Aceveda believes that Vic set Terry up to die. He asks Hernandez if anyone knew that Terry was trying to bring down Vic. Hernandez passed some of Terry's requests up the chain of command, such as moving expenses, a job, and a new car. He isn't authorized to guarantee such things.

Aceveda plans to give Internal Affairs that information; they'll dig deeper into the shooting if someone can prove motive. Hernandez reminds his friend that Terry looking into Vic was strictly off-the-books. Aceveda only stands to lose his political clout. Aceveda doesn't care about that: "I'm not gonna let Vic get away with it."

At Terry's graveside service, Aceveda quotes the epitaph from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a bagpiper plays "Amazing Grace." Terry was a dedicated officer and did a great service to the community. The members of the Strike Team are clad in suits and ties rather than their dress uniforms. Vic flashes back to shooting Terry. Elsewhere in the cemetery, the bagpipe music drifts towards the grieving family and friends of drug dealer Two-Time.

The honor guard folds an American flag. A fellow gang member drapes his bandanna over Two-Time's coffin; someone else pours a little malt liquor next to the grave. The honor guard fires a 21-gun salute. Two-Time's mother is overcome with grief and flings herself toward the grave sobbing and screaming, "Mama's sorry!" The minister tries to comfort her.

Vic and Shane slip away from the crowd at Terry's funeral. Shane seems disturbed by the fact that Terry's mother is here to attend her son's funeral. Of course she is; where else would you expect her to be? Vic reminds Shane that he brought Terry onto his team. And how did Terry repay him? By turning rat. Vic didn't enjoy shooting Terry, but it had to be done. All they have to do is ride out the IAD investigation. Meanwhile, Terry's mother is presented with the folded flag and her son's badge. Aceveda sees Vic and Shane having their little conference.

Danny and Julien respond to a call. A bloody, seemingly dead Hispanic man is lying beside his churro wagon. A second Hispanic man is digging frantically through the dead man's pockets. They warn him to step away. The second man says he's just trying to the get the money the victim owes. Danni isn't going to warn him again. Julien picks up the suspect and throws him against the churro cart. The flimsy thing tips over, littering the ground with churros and broken glass. Was that necessary to do to those poor pastries?

Julien handcuffs the suspect, who's still trying to explain his side of the story. Levi the Churro Guy owed him $100. He came to pick it up, but Levi had already been shot and he called 911. Danny reports that Levi isn't dead and radios for an ambulance. "Keep fighting, man!" the suspect shouts at Levi, "I'll collect from you later!"

At Vic's house, his young son intently lines up forks on a placemat. Shane must've been over for dinner because Vic's wife is worried that he barely touched his porkchops. Vic reminds her that it hasn't even been a week since Terry died. Elsewhere in the house, a baby is crying. Vic's wife gets a bottle out of the microwave and offers her take on Shane: "It's like he blames himself. It's not normal. I mean, it's not like he killed Terry." Yeah, your husband did. Vic goes back to reading his paper. His son is still playing with the forks and hasn't said a word.

Flashback to the Strike Team playing poker in the clubhouse. Shane is regaling them with a story of drinking poolside with a transvestite named Frank. Vic brings in Terry and introduces him to the crew. Tom Selleck Mustache introduces himself as Ronnie. Blondie hasn't offered his name. Vic tells Terry not to let the guys haze him too bad. They deal him into their game of pitch, not poker as it turns out. "Don't let 'em stick you with Shane as a partner," Vic advises, "He always loses." "That's because y'all are a buncha cheaters," Shane protests.

Back in the present, Vic's son is jumping up and down, shouting incoherently. Vic puts down his paper and tells the kid it's time to get ready for school. At the churro cart crime scene, Dutch and Claudette ask Danny about the victim's condition and any clues she noticed. Danny found a shell casing; the paramedics didn't seem optimistic. Claudette asks Julien to size up the scene. He's reluctant to do so in front of people who have a lot more experience. Nobody notices the woman watching them from a gap in a nearby fence.

Dutch looks at the overturned churro cart and surmises there was a struggle. Julien explains that the cart tipped over while subduing the suspect/911 caller. Danny tries to take the blame; she should've taken control. "I hope this isn't the way you teach a rookie how to preserve a crime scene," says Claudette angrily, "This is how murderers go free, son." Dutch whispers that she's in a bad mood because it's her birthday.

Gilroy comes to Aceveda's office with Frances from Internal Affairs. She's finished doing interviews and put a rush on the ballistics evidence. So far, the operation doesn't seem like it was well-planned, but nothing criminally negligent. Aceveda is surprised. Even more surprising, Rondell's girlfriend corroborated the Strike Team's version of events.

When Frances leaves, Aceveda says she shouldn't be clearing the Strike Team when all the evidence isn't back yet. "It's a preliminary report," says Gilroy. A double shot of Hey It's That Guy! Aceveda played Edgar the Leviathan on Supernatural; Gilroy was on Miami Vice as the ill-fated Zito. Edgar-veda doesn't want the incident to become "another chapter in the Rodney King-O.J. book." I don't think anyone wants that...

Claudette and Dutch interview Levi the Churro Guy's son. The kid blames himself for not going to college closer and living at home, but he got a partial scholarship to Stanford. Levi had been working a lot of overtime to help his son pay for tuition. That left Levi unable to afford protection payments to a local criminal. Levi was also running his churro cart without a license, so he couldn't go to the police. The kid gives up the name of the guy Levi was paying for protection: Marlon Demeral.

Julien and Danny knock on Marlon's door. He gets combative, so they cuff him. They tell him he's wanted for questioning in a shooting. "Look, I didn't shoot nobody today!" Marlon protests. Marlon's baby mama shouts, "Mama, get the camcorder! They're taking Marlon away!" A heavyset black woman runs down the porch steps while Marlon's baby mama accuses Julien of being a race traitor. The two officers manage to get Marlon in the car. The heavyset woman films them driving away.

While bench-pressing in the precinct weight room, Vic has another Terry flashback. At first, he's alive, joking and playing cards with them. It fades to Vic shooting Terry. Vic roughly re-racks the weight. Danny brings Marlon to Claudette.

In the breakroom, other patrolmen invite Julien to have drinks and something called a "B&B" with them, apparently a ritual all rookies go through. Julien can't; he has church that night. Danny takes Julien aside and tells him the silly ritual is essential to earning trust: "Rule #7: Those guys may be overgrown frat boys, but someday, they might be the only thing that comes between you and a bullet."

In interrogation, Marlon is hungry and demanding something to eat. Dutch asks if he likes churros. Marlon wants a cheeseburger. Dutch leaves, presumably to get it. Marlon endears himself to Claudette by calling her "sweet thang" and saying he knows she has a smile for him. Edgar-veda walks by the break room and catches Dutch shaking the snack machine. He asks for Dutch's help with an interrogation.

Meanwhile, Marlon continues to profess his innocent in Levi's shooting. He knows who did it, but won't name names until he gets his cheeseburger. He does reveal that Los Magnificos, a Mexican gang, recently muscled in on Marlon's no doubt highly lucrative vendor protection racket.

The interrogation Edgar-veda wanted help with turns out to be grilling Vic about Terry's death. Vic wants to know what's stopping him from calling his union rep. Edgar-veda knows how to push Vic's buttons, saying it's fine if the big guy wants to hide behind a lawyer. Vic wants to talk. Dutch asks why more backup wasn't available; Vic wanted the element of surprise. He repeats the party line: "Two-Time shot Terry, then Shane and I returned fire." Edgar-veda thanks Vic for his time, wanting to lull Vic into a false sense of security. He tells Dutch their best course of action now is to zero in on the weak link.

Claudette goes to the clubhouse to ask what information Vic has on Los Magnificos. The guys head out to roust some gangbangers. Shane is stopped by Edgar-veda. Personally, I think the weaker link is the guy with the busted hand. Anyway, Vic and Company go to talk to a wheelchair bound informant wearing an eyepatch. His nickname is Van Bro because he sells paintings on the sidewalk. He says if the Strike Team wants information, they have to buy something.

Blondie finally has a name and apparently it's Lem. Vic tells him to pick his poison. "What do I know about art, man?" asks Lem. Ronnie picks out a poorly done painting of clouds over a field of flowers. Van Bro wants $100 for it. Geez, I wouldn't give him $5. Vic hands over the money and asks about Levi. Van Bro knows the Los Mags were pissed at him for not paying protection. They "sent a baby banger" to get the message across more forcefully. He shakes his head, "The things they got these kids doin' these days..." I'm sure he only had to mug an old lady to earn his stripes...

Late that night in a deserted lot, members of the Los Mags surround a kid who's 13, tops. They begin the fun process of jumping the kid in. For those who haven't watched Gangland as much as I have, "jumping in" refers to a gang initiation ritual in which all the current gang members beat the wannabe member to a bloody pulp. Danny, Julien, Vic, and the Strike Team watch this from a distance. Vic calls dibs on the newbie; anyone else they grab up is a bonus. As the gang members assault the kid, they shout at him in Spanish: "Welcome to the life!"

Dutch asks Shane if he and Vic are such great cops, why did Terry get killed. "Wrong place, wrong time," Shane shrugs. Dutch notices that Shane squints every time he lies. No wonder he sucks at poker.

The gangbangers finally decide that the 13-year-old has had enough of a beating. They hug him and hand him a 40 of malt liquor. Vic gives the go signal. Police cars swarm the lot. Vic chases down and arrests the newest member of Los Mags. On his way to his car, he drops a calling card in the dirt in front of the gang.

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Edgar-veda accuses Shane of letting Terry die. He repeats, "IAD cleared us." Edgar-veda asks if Shane knows Rondell Robinson. Shane does, but not personally. A witness saw Shane, Rondell, and Vic talking at a car wash. Shane says Vic was just trying to scare Rondell.

Edgar-veda adds fuel to the fire: The Strike Team knew Terry was going to turn them in, so he had to go. Nobody ever trusted Terry in the first place. Two-Time's girlfriend heard a shot about 15 seconds after the others. Shane has an answer for that; Two-Time started to move when they walked up on him. Vic fired that shot and killed the dealer.

Edgar-veda backs Shane against the wall and orders, "Stop squinting!" For a second, Shane looks scared. He manages to tell the captain that he's wrong. Edgar-veda emphasizes that he has a witness. Vic bursts in. Shane reports he's been up there for 2 hours and Edgar-veda is making up things about the Strike Team. Vic tells Shane to go downstairs and wait for him and orders Dutch out. Vic warns that he'll lose patience if Edgar-veda comes after his guys again. Edgar-veda doesn't give any response other than a weasel-like smile.

Claudette talks to the junior Los Mag and his mother. There's a chance they can still get the case moved to juvie court. If Levi dies, he'll be tried for murder as an adult. The mother urges the bloodied preteen to tell Claudette he didn't do it. The kid does the opposite: "I shoot somebody? They don't almost die. Bitch ends up all dead." She leaves the room for a minute and Dutch tries to tell her about the scene between Vic and Edgar-veda. Claudette doesn't care.

Claudette goes back to the interrogation room with a lie. Levi is dead and Marlon confessed to the shooting. The kid, Olman, gets angry: "That's my shooting!" He won't tell Claudette who put him up to it because "they're my brother's now." His mom looks equal parts nauseated and heartbroken. Olman makes it clear he doesn't give a rat's ass about going to jail.

Gilroy is not pleased that Edgar-veda reopened the investigation of Terry's death without going through proper channels. It has to stop. Later, Vic privately thanks Gilroy for covering his ass. But according to Vic, there really isn't anything to cover: "Terry was overeager. He got himself killed. End of story." "It better be," Gilroy says ominously.

It's Claudette's birthday and someone left a gift on her desk: a tube of denture team. Claudette's friend arrives, wanting to take the birthday girl out dancing. It's ladies' night at the Crimson and Claudette's crush Franklin will be there. Claudette wants to know if his divorce is final. Yes, as of two weeks ago. She agrees to go out after she changes her clothes.

In another bar, Julien is finding out what exactly a B&B is. He has to chug a pitcher of beer and then get a girl to give him oral sex. What a lovely initiation rite...although it's a better alternative than getting an ass-kicking. Julien's fellow patrolmen introduce him to Betty the badge bunny, Betty takes Julien behind the bar and, uh, does her thing. Julien is unaware that the other uniforms are watching from the back door.

Dutch confronts Edgar-veda about putting him in an interrogation without all the facts. The captain was just trying to make Shane feel like they had nothing on him. Edgar-veda sees Vic leaving and they have a brief staring contest. End of episode.

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