Thursday, June 16, 2016

How Vic Mackey Got His "Blowback" (Episode 1.5)

Previously on: Danny was threatened by drug dealers. Vic's middle child Matthew might have a developmental disability. Julien is attracted to men but totally not gay. Vic told Shane to get over him killing their coworker Terry.

Vic unlocks a door. Horrible music in a foreign language is playing inside the apartment or whatever. Closed captioning identifies the singer as speaking Armenian. A cat runs across a table piled with beer bottles. It's not the only feline at home; I count 3 in various colors. The cats meow in protest of Vic shining his flashlight at them. Vic goes over to the window, sticks the flashlight under his chin, and laughs creepily. Shane and Lem, parked in the van, start laughing too. The apartment is over a shop called Ara's Pastry.

Ronnie is sneezing violently as he looks through a storage compartment built into the stove. A cat knocks over some of the beer bottles, making a hell of a lot of noise. Back in the van, Shane reveals that Vic and Ronnie are looking for Peruvian cocaine. This batch looks pink in the right light and Rondell hasn't seen coke so strong "since Grandmaster Flash." "What's that?" asks Lem, the baby of the family. (Funnily enough, Kenny Johnson is 3 weeks older than Michael Chiklis, making him the oldest actor on the Strike Team).

Inside, Ronnie is getting ready to install an illegal wiretap. Lem notices a car parking at the curb next to the closed bakery. Shane calls to let Vic know the bakers are home and headed through the front door; they'd better duck out the back. Ronnie and Vic do so just as several Armenian gangsters enter.

Vic explains how everybody wins in this scenario. Edgar-veda gets a pat on the back for them busting the Armenians, meaning he'll get off their asses. Rondell gets more cocaine to sell. The Strike Team adds to their retirement fund. Shane asks who said anyone was saving for retirement. Lem wants to go skiing. Everybody suddenly pipes down to hear what's coming through on Ronnie's wiretap. Unfortunately, the Strike Team is gonna need a translator.

The next morning, Vic recruits a college student named Theo to help them out. He takes the kid into the van and plays the surveillance tape. "The gardener delivers 6 loaves of Indian white bread?" Theo translates, looking confused. It makes perfect sense to Vic. Theo adds the "bread" is being delivered at 9:30 the next night. Vic guesses the location will be the bakery and passes the kid a $20. Shane lets Theo out of the van, but the kid wants to know what's going on. Vic lies it's a matter of national security; he could tell Theo, but then he'd have to kill him.

Vic bribes a chauffeur named Bing. He's to say he heard about an incoming shipment of cocaine while shuttling a client from LAX. Bing is to also to know the time and place of the dropoff: Ara's Pastry at 9:30. Bing accepts the money and even signs a statement. Vic will take the statement to a judge so they can get a search warrant, all nice and legal.

That night, Edgar-veda comes into the clubhouse as the Strike Team gears up for the raid. He ruins the party by turning off their heavy metal music. For safety's sake, Edgar-veda is sending a few marked cars with them as backup; he doesn't want another Terry Crowley situation on his hands. Everyone else looks slightly nervous at this, but Vic says, "The more the merrier." Lem racks a load into the shotgun. Once Edgar-veda is gone, Vic turns the music on again. Lem starts playing air guitar on the shotgun. I hope he remembered to put the safety on or they'll have a hole in the ceiling to explain...

Julien has a visitor, his Latin lover Tomas. Tomas is upset that Julien hasn't called him since the night they had sex. Julien tries to shoo him out by saying he'll call later. Tomas won't budge. Julien promises to stop by later if Tomas leaves. Tomas turns all stalker, saying he'll be back every day if Julien goes back on his word.

In the squadroom, Dutch gives Danny a binder of study guides, notes, and practice tests from when he took the sergeant's exam. She gripes that the exam is scheduled for 7:00 AM: "I barely know my name before 8." You and me both, girlfriend. Dutch asks when they'll be having their first tutoring session. Danny suggests 9:00 the next night. Claudette, who was watching, comments, "A study date? What kind of back-door con is that? Unless the first question on the test is 'Will you sleep with me?', you're wasting your time."

Above Ara's, the Armenians are sitting amongst the cats, drinking and listening to music in their native tongue. Holy Kurt Sutter, Batman! He's making a cameo appearance like he did during SoA as Big Otto. (I always called him Blind Otto 'cause of the eyepatch). The cops clear the surrounding block. Vic tells the uniforms to hang back and cover the exits. Lem enters first with the shotgun.

One of the Armenians decides to take a literal snootful of cocaine from the pile in front of Not-Otto. Not-Otto calmly snorts some cocaine, then shoots his associate in the head. At that moment, here comes the Strike Team. Vic orders the Armenians to put their hands on top of their heads. They comply, so I guess they understand more English than they'd have you believe. Vic radios in a report.
Danny calls for the coroner and sends Julien to the back door. She tells the rest of the officers to lock down the building; nobody gets in or out if they don't have a badge.

At Apartment Armenia, Lem is peering at the coke and saying it doesn't look pink. Shane is all "It's not the right lighting, dumbass." They start stuffing bricks of cocaine into a duffle bag while a cat watches them from the sofa. Vic hands over Not-Otto to Danny, telling her to keep him in a separate cell. I wonder how many evidence envelopes they'll need for Not-Otto's jewelry. Shockingly, Ronnie is not a ball of snot on the floor.

Downstairs, Lem is on a raid of his own: day-old baked goods. Shane shakes his head and asks, "Do you know how much fat is in that cookie?" Lem doesn't care. "Have you looked at your waistline?" Shane goes on. I don't think Shane's seeing the same thing I'm seeing; Lem's a skinny dude. Vic comes in with the bag o' coke, putting an end to the nutritional debate.

Lem licks the icing off his fingers and starts putting bricks of coke into evidence bags. Cocaine looks a lot like powdered sugar, so he probably shouldn't have eaten anything coming out of that kitchen. Of course, not all the bricks are going to the drug locker. What they don't know is Julien is watching them from the open back door. Appropos of nothing, Vic doesn't want his kids to end up "in U.C. Northridge hell." Lem, a Northridge alum, gets defensive. Shane guesses that Lem majored in "Where's the keg at?" Lem, having been called fat and now stupid within the same minute, looks really irritated. Vic tells Shane to give the bag to Rondell.

Danny finishes stuffing Not-Otto in her squad car. Julien pops out from around the corner. The other cops cheer as Lem and Vic emerge, victorious (no pun intended), with the cocaine. Shane gets into a truck across the street while the others pile into the van.

Shane is listening to a country song that basically just lists brand of beer when he parks. He leaves the bag o' coke in the truck and knocks on a door. A woman in a bathrobe answers, miffed that Shane is 5 hours late. But he had to work. The woman reminds Shane that he's not the only one with a job. But busting drug lords makes Shane horny; all he needs is 15 minutes. "Ooh, a marathon," the woman teases. He carries her back into the house in a bear hug. She starts kissing him and Shane kicks the door shut, sparing us all a Walton Goggins sex scene.

At the precinct, Vic drops off the remaining Peruvian coke with the evidence clerk. Edgar-veda is suspicious about the lack of cash. Vic tells him there wasn't any money, just a million dollars' worth of cocaine, a murderer, two possession with intent arrests, and a partridge in a pear tree. It was just a delivery, not a buy. Vic asks why Edgar-veda always assumes the worst about him. They want the same things: safe taxpayers and imprisoned criminals. Edgar-veda just wants to know they're going about it the same way. Vic knows that he should be blamed for Terry's dead and wishes he could make that night go differently.

When Shane leaves the girl's apartment, the truck is no longer parked at the curb, meaning the bag o' coke is also gone. He's gonna have some 'splaining to do. A short time later, Shane has woken up his woman and they're driving the streets in her car. She doesn't understand why Shane can't just report the truck stolen. He makes an excuse about police business and says she needs to keep her mouth shut unless she sees a black Navigator. She does.

As they pass the Navigator, Shane holds his badge out the window, screaming for the driver to pull over. When the badge doesn't work, he tries a different approach: pointing his gun out the window. Like anybody would pull over when a crazy redneck is waving a gun at them. However, these morons do exactly that.

Shane's woman looks bored, her flip-flop-clad feet on the dash. Shane orders the driver and his passenger to the ground; they look like scared college kids. One of them, thinking Shane is a carjacker, tells him to just take the truck. Shane informs them that they've stolen a police vehicle. "It's my mom's car," says the driver. Shane looks inside the truck but all he finds is an open package of maxipads. Not sure why two college guys would be driving around with that particular cargo. Frustrated, Shane throws the maxipads at them. Shane's girlfriend gives him a look like he's a maniac.

At home, Vic puts on a pot of coffee. He's thinks he heard Matthew having a nightmare. Corrine is concerned about their daughter Cassidy's cough; she's taking her to the doctor in the afternoon. Shane knocks on the door, strolls into the kitchen, and gets right to the point: he "kinda lost" the Navigator. Vic is aghast. When Corrine leaves to check on Cassidy, he asks where Shane was when the truck got stolen. Shane reveals his lady friend is named Amy. He's sure got a thing for girls with three-letter 'A' names...

"You stopped to get laid?!" cries Vic, "What were you thinking?!" Shane was, of course, "thinking about getting laid." And he's so sorry. Well, sorry doesn't cut it. Vic gets his backup gun out of a lockbox; they've probably got about 4 hours to find the truck before it gets sent to Mexico in pieces and somebody besides Rondell starts dealing Peruvian Pink. Vic tells Shane to call Lem and Ronnie.

At the clubhouse, Vic has just explained the situation Shane got them in. Lem is pissy about being out $50,000. Vic reminds him that nobody else is thrilled about it either. Shane hopes the thief is just sitting on the drugs. Yeah, hang onto that dream. Ronnie and Lem will have the fun job of explaining this mess to Rondell.

Meanwhile, Shane and Vic stop by a diner and pay a visit to Officer Hoffman. He works auto theft and has a bait car parked outside. They ask if Hoffman knows of any chop shops in town that specialize in new (as in 2002) Lincoln Navigators. Hoffman gets distracted as two girls approach the bait Jeep, but all they do is check their makeup in the side mirror. He scribbles an address on a napkin. Hoffman describes the head of the chop shop as a "skinny Polish prick." Hey, don't talk about my people that way!

Hoffman is bored to death with these bait car stings. He asks Vic to consider putting him on the Strike Team. "Might be a new spot opening up any day now," says Vic. Shane looks both worried and offended. In the evidence room, Julien asks the clerk how much cocaine the Strike Team brought in. She tells him 4 bricks.

Dutch interrogates Not-Otto, who has a wrist handcuffed to each side of the table. Four police officers saw the Armenian kill his associate; they'd be able to nail Not-Otto even if one of said cops got hit by a bus. Not-Otto isn't talking. Down the hall, Claudette is having similar luck. The trafficking charges only add years to their sentences. Claudette's suspect won't say where Margos AKA Not-Otto got the drugs. Dutch tries to shock Margos into talking by asking, "What if I stuff big blue bananas in your ears and set them on fire?"

Claudette sits down on the captain's sofa and says her suspect is ignoring her as much as her daughters did in high school. Everyone's too scared of Margos to talk. Desarian (whoever he is) has been questioned by Interpol in Kosovo, Bogota, and Sri Lanka; he recently returned from a 36-hour trip to Peru. Edgar-veda tells her to get a warrant to search Desarian's house. Elsewhere, Dutch keeps spitting out theories why Margos killed his buddy. The guy insulted his mother. Bad hair day?

Vic sticks his head under a partially open garage door, calling, "Is this Universal Studios?" One of the mechanics tells him no. "You mean this ain't CityWalk?" asks Shane. They notice the cars being stripped for parts; Vic thinks it's a good thing they're policemen. I almost laugh because this is like a scene from 21 Jump Street (the Johnny Depp version). Mark the mechanic isn't dumb enough to think the guys really got lost on their way to an amusement park. They ask whether any Navigators came in overnight. They'll even let Mark keep his current inventory if he cooperates. Mark admits to someone named Guy Ricardo from Silver Lake tried to unload one.

Danny locks Margos in the cage and he says something to her in Armenian. She knows Dutch interviewed the guy and asks him about it. "Interview would imply that a conversation actually took place," says Dutch. Danny tells him the phrase phonetically and he jots it down.

Vic and Shane wake up Ricardo, who's in bed with a woman. She whines that she's trying to sleep. Vic asks about the Navigator. Ricardo has a question of his own: "How'd you get in my bedroom?" Vic punches him in the chest. Ricardo coughs that he didn't steal the Navigator; a girl named Deena did.

Outside, Vic tells Shane to have Ronnie and Lem pick him up; he has somewhere else to be. They can drive him to Deena's. Shane wants to know where he's going. Vic tells Shane that he's not currently in a position to question his judgment.

Vic finds Danny in the precinct parking lot. She tells him about Dutch tutoring her for the sergeant's test. Vic is pretty sure Dutch is trying to pull the old "I'll help you study, you help me get laid" number. So am I. Vic lies that the police-issue Navigator got jacked when Shane stopped for a Slurpee on his way home. He needs to find the truck because their weapons are in the back. He doesn't want the boss to know about this. Danny will keep an eye out for it. "Is that what Shane's calling it these days, a Slurpee?" she asks, seeing through Vic's story. They both chuckle.

Julien goes to ask Claudette for advice. She thinks he'd be better off asking his training officer. Julien would rather to talk to her. Claudette asks if it's because she's also black and adds, "It better not be because I remind you of your mother." Julien mumbles, "Never mind" and starts to leave. Claudette calls him back in. Julien thinks he saw a fellow cop do something illegal on duty and doesn't know what to do.

Claudette warns that Julien could be jeopardizing two careers: "Nobody likes a rat, especially one who hasn't proven himself yet." I'm surprised she didn't ask if it was Vic. Is what he saw illegal enough that he can't live with keeping it a secret? The answer must be yes because now he's talking to Edgar-veda. Julien counted 6 or 7 bricks of coke, but he knows Vic only turned in 4. Edgar-veda barely conceals his glee as he tells the rookie that he did the right thing.

In the breakroom, Edgar-veda asks an unnamed female detective when the blue Navigator was checked back in to motor pool. It wasn't and should've been 5 hours ago. Another district has been calling and asking for it to be returned.

Vic and Corrine are at the developmental pediatrician's office. They're in some kind of windowed observation area, watching Matthew page through a picture book. Vic gets a call from Edgar-veda. The captain informs him that he's had a telephone complaint from a woman. A policeman matching Shane's description attacked her son at gunpoint and accused him of stealing a department vehicle. Where's the blue Navigator? Vic tells him to ask Shane and hangs up as the doctor enters.

The doctor asks the Mackeys to have a seat. He tells them how lucky they are to have such a charming, intelligent little boy. He's also autistic. "Oh God," Corrine says in horror, putting a hand over her mouth like she's just been told he has terminal cancer. Vic's reaction is similar: "Autism? Jesus!" The doctor knows it's a difficult diagnosis for parents to hear, but it's also a very misunderstood one. As the daughter of a pediatric occupational therapist, I know that for sure.

The doctor empathizes with them; he has two autistic sons. Corrine looks even more worried, as if autism is contagious. She asks what's gonna happen to her son; he's already behind in school. The doctor suggests a special program. Vic bursts out with, "You mean like blue bus special?" Matt's not autistic, he's just shy. The doctor explains Matt can stay in the school he currently attends, but will require speech therapy and social skills teaching.

Vic further endears himself to the doctor by demanding, "Is he gonna be normal or not?" The doctor doesn't promise anything, except that the prognosis for autism that gets proper intervention is good. Matt just needs a lot of love and some help. Vic wants to know what kind of help, even though he was just told what would be best.

Vic's cell phone is ringing again. "What?" he snaps. Shane moans that they're screwed; the captain put out a state-wide APB on the Navigator. Later, Vic and the rest of the Strike Team gather on the street. Lem talked to Deena's roomie; their suspect went to get a bikini wax, but the roommate doesn't know where. There's probably only several hundred places in L.A. to get one.

If Edgar-veda finds the truck first, he'll find out the coke is Peruvian Pink and their fingerprints are all over it. Lem blows up at Shane: "We're gonna all crash and burn because of you! I mean, Christ, dude, Amy's not even that hot!"

Shane calls bullshit on that. Ronnie agrees that he screwed them. "Thanks for the support, asshole!" yells Shane. Vic tells the overgrown children to cut it out. There's probably people that didn't hear them up in the Hills somewhere. They're not getting in trouble. Vic has a plan. Ronnie will wait for Deena to come home; Shane, Vic, and Lem will split up to check out waxing places.

At the precinct, Edgar-veda asks what Claudette and Dutch found at Margos' place. Nothing incriminating, just seemingly random items: maps, dictionaries in 5 different languages, diapers (even though he doesn't have a baby), a Gameboy, and incense. The most interesting find was a case of microwave popcorn but no microwave to pop it with. He also doesn't seem to believe in the bare necessities like a refrigerator, soap, plates, or toilet paper. Margos must buy shampoo by the case, though, because his hair looks scraggly but clean. Edgar-veda has heard enough.

Danny is on break, so Dutch asks if she's looked over the notes yet. He tells her they're pretty detailed, so she shouldn't put it off too long. She asks if he managed to translate what Margos said to her. Armenians speak two different dialects, so this may not be an exact translation. Dutch's Armenian source thinks Margos probably said, get ready for this one, "delicious feet." Danny thinks that's gross, but I'm of the school of thought that he could've said a lot worse. Dutch's eyes wander under the table to Danny's tactical boots.

Suddenly, all the cops in the building rush toward the ruckus going on in the cage. One perp is so scared he's wet himself. Margos is up against the chainlink, looking very calm. Those meditation books must really work. Another inmate is lying on the floor with his neck snapped. Edgar-veda tells the desk sergeant to call Central Booking; he wants Margos out of here. Probably worried about how a lawsuit would affect his chances of becoming councilman.

Meanwhile, Danny and Julien have pulled over a Lincoln Navigator. The girl in the driver's seat is very nervous and barely looks old enough to have a license. They have her get out and put her hands on the window. The girl sobs that her father is drinking again; she was so scared she just grabbed her younger brother and took off in the truck. Danny asks if the girls needs them to help her. Big sister just wants to go pick up her brother from school before Dad does.

"You always pick up your abused brother in a stolen vehicle with bogus plates?" Danny inquires. Ah, so this must be Deena. Danny cuffs the girl. Julien starts to radio in that they found the Navigator. Danny tells him not to; she promised to tell Vic first. "It's an APB. We have to call it in," says Julien. Deena, still handcuffed, tries to wander away. Danni catches her by the arm. She explains she owes Vic a favor. While Danny puts Deena in the car, Julien lets dispatch know about the stolen Navigator. He can't risk a black mark on his record while still in his probationary period.

Edgar-veda soon arrives. Julien assures him they didn't touch the car. The captain notices a lockbox in the center console and is quite pissed to find it empty. Vic pulls up with Shane in tow. Danny apologizes; Julien told dispatch before she could stop him. She has good news, though. They didn't find anything in the truck except Deena. Edgar-veda transfers Deena to the backseat of his car.

At the precinct, Edgar-veda tells the girl she's in deep trouble. Deena already has a record for shoplifting and assault; grand theft auto is a felony. What's next? Deena sarcastically replies, "I was thinking about the police academy." Edgar-veda tells her this isn't a game. Deena wants to know if he's going somewhere "with this scared-straight angle." Or is she supposed to break down and say Daddy used to bad-touch her? Clearly, she's a sociopath. Edgar-veda slaps the table hard enough that he winces, asking what she found in the Navigator.

Deena overheard he's a captain. She's sure a stolen car shouldn't even be his concern; he's got people for that. Edgar-veda doubles down: "Where are the drugs?" Deena says they're safe. The captain offers a deal. Deena won't talk until she has something in writing from the DA.

While putting Deena's property in the evidence room, Danny pockets the girl's cell phone. She calls Vic. Their car thief made calls to her roommates and a pawn shop in Echo Park: Pemble and Pemble. Margos is led out past her, causing Danny to shout, "Stop staring at my feet, you Balkan freak!"  Edgar-veda motions for her to join him and Deena.

As soon as they walk into Pemble and Pemble, Shane flips the store's sign from Open to Closed. The clerk isn't pleased: "Yo, sprechen sie English, skinhead? We're not closed yet." Vic takes extreme offense to that. He smashes a display case, grabs a large hunting knife, and holds it to the clerk's throat, asking about Deena. The clerk claims he doesn't know her. Shane goes into the back room and finds the duffle bag empty. "Where are the drugs?" Vic demands. The clerk thinks a French guy named Freddie might haven taken them home. Vic presses on the knife just hard enough to make the clerk bleed and the guy gives up an address.

When the Strike Team kicks in the door, they find French Freddie sitting with his head on the kitchen table. There's a puddle of blood and a partial line of Peruvian Pink on the cutting board next to him. Vic surmises the guy blew a vessel. He sends Lem to look for anything that could tie them to this. Shane looks out the window and sees Danny and Edgar-veda. They hurriedly grab the bricks of cocaine, rinse of the cutting board, and wipe down Freddie's face. Ronnie zips up the bag o' coke.

Edgar-veda asks what happened. The Strike Team found him OD'd and were about to call it in. Vic is in the bathroom flushing the opened brick. Lem informs the captain they found their guns that were in the Navigator when it got stolen. Vic wanders out of the bathroom. Edgar-veda rips open the duffle bag and finds nothing. Edgar-veda asks, "Where is it?" Vic has no idea what his boss means, but he'll see him back at the barn. I guess that's the precinct call sign? The captain looks ready to go into full head-chomping mode.

"Captain, eat a Snickers. You're a monster when you're hungry."
(Photo credit)
He orders Julien and Danny to turn the apartment upside down.

When Vic gets home, Corrine has books about autism spread all over the kitchen table. Vic tells her not to worry; they'll get through it. He tucks Matt in and kisses him good night.

Danny is studying with Dutch. He explains the rationale of a question that deals with turning in your partner for an infraction. The phone rings. She tells the caller to come on over and hangs up. Danny apologizes for cutting their study session short, but a girlfriend is having a crisis. She tells Dutch he's a good teacher and they'll pick up where they left off tomorrow.

At Tomas's place, he tells Julien he's sorry for coming to his work. He swears it won't happen again. Julien feels like he shouldn't even be there. Tomas doesn't know a thing about Julien and his beliefs. Julien reads the Bible and this is just so wrong. Tomas says Julien deserves happiness. Julien, who'd started to leave, comes back and starts kissing Tomas.

Edgar-veda tells Claudette that Margos somehow escaped from the paddy wagon that picked him up. He got the back doors open and jumped out at 40 mph, then disappeared. "That's a special kinda crazy," Claudette remarks. Well, an Armenian guy with dead eyes and long creepy hair shouldn't be too hard to find.

Back at Danny's, the friend in crisis has turned out, of course, to be Vic. Dutch, the creeper, hasn't left. He's been circling Danny's block in his car. He catches her making out with Vic on the porch. I now realize why Dutch looks so familiar. Way back in Season 1 of Sons of Anarchy, the same actor played an ATF agent who also happened to be Tara's stalker ex-boyfriend. Danny better watch her back. End of episode.

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