We pick up where we left off with Vic telling bra-clad Emma to call an ambulance. Vic kneels beside Ronnie, horrorstruck. He asks if Armadillo did this, but Ronnie is in too much pain to talk. Paramedics arrive; Lem and Shane crowd in the doorway behind Vic.
It seems Claudette has been assigned to investigate the attack. She's sorry about Ronnie and knows Armadillo is responsible. She notices Emma and asks why she's there. Emma, who's put a shirt back on, claims she was discussing a domestic violence case with Vic. Claudette seems to buy it. Emma offers to help with the investigation if she can, but Vic wants her kept out of it. She didn't see much anyway, other than Ronnie on the floor.
Claudette promises to help take care of Armadillo. Like Vic, she knows good and well who the intended target was. Vic coldly tells her they don't need her help. In the alley outside Vic's motel, the Strike Team plans to find Armadillo and end this once and for all. Edgar-veda arrives. "No speeches!" snaps Vic. The Strike Team is on the warpath.
|Wrong name, same sentiment.|
Once the boss is gone, Vic tells Shane to pull out $15-20 K from the retirement fund. They'll need to grease some palms to find Armadillo. They can't let Ronnie down.
At the Barn, Claudette has managed to get a preliminary statement out of Ronnie through the morphine haze. It was enough to get a statewide APB issued. Edgar-veda says Vic is looking for him too. "You turned him loose on this guy?!" Claudette says incredulously, then accuses the captain of being in league with Vic. Edgar-veda tells her, "Stop looking for conspiracies that don't exist!"
|"And there's absolutely nothing to those rumors that I'm a Leviathan."|
Julien announces he's just picked up the rings and is glad Danny decided to come to his wedding after all. She wouldn't miss it, even though she planned on doing just that on account of Julien lying to the future Mrs. Lowe. Edgar-veda has good news for the groom. Based on Julien's 6-month review and recent performance, he's been recommended for a promotion to P-2. In LAPD, that means his rookie period would officially be over.
Julien feels blessed, as anyone would in his shoes: new wife, new son, and a raise. God is looking out for him and if Danny ever meets someone, she'll know what he means.
Van Bro has information. Little Pop, an O.G. in the Los Mags, just got out of Pelican Bay. He's very displeased about Armadillo taking over. Little Pop just happens to be smoking on a nearby bench. He gripes that he had a good thing going in prison, enough money to send home to his mom. Armadillo promised him a spot at the top of his new business. When Little Pop got paroled, Armadillo reneged. "I ain't got nothin' out here. And I'm too old to start over," Little Pop says glumly.
There's only one way to earn back his street cred: go back to prison. Vic is sympathetic and flashes the money. A fellow gangbanger, Quazi, works out of the back of Armadillo's garage. Quazi prints phony visas and green cards for Armadillo's Mexican homies: "You get him, you get Armadillo." That tip is worth something to Vic. As they walk away, Little Pop echoes Vic's sentiment that jail is too good for Armadillo.
Lem breaks the lock on Armadillo's garage, which looks more like a barn. Vic asks if Quazi is "filling out back orders for Ellis Island." He wants to know where Armadillo is. Quazi replies, "Yo no visto," which roughly translates to "I've never set eyes on him."
Vic tests out an industrial-strength tabletop paper cutter. Satisfied with its sharpness, he tells Quazi to put his hand in it. Quazi is all "que?" Shane puts his gun to Quazi's head and leads him to cutter. Vic asks again where Armadillo is, hand on the cutter's lever. Quazi answers in rapid-fire Spanish; the only word I can understand is chica. According to Vic, he said a house in "the little jewel." Shane tells Quazi they need an address. Let's just hope it's the right one this time...
Back in the alley, Dutch says, "This was a message, not a mugging." Danny agrees with that; the victim still had his watch, wallet, and $50. The store owner saw an Asian teenage boy running down the alley into the back parking lot; the kid was wearing a red hoodie, black pants, and sneakers. The victim, Lee Kusa, is originally from Thailand, here in California nice and legal. Dutch, munching on an apple, doesn't think this looks like a gang thing either.
Vic, Shane, and Lem go to a house that definitely isn't the last place Armadillo stayed. A few guys run from them. Shane chases one into the backyard, where there's also a chained and barking pitbull. They roll down a short set of stone stairs. The dog breaks free and latches onto Shane's gun arm. Lem, at the top of the stairs, does what he has to, even though it's clearly killing him. The dog yelps and lets go.
Shane shoots the dog a couple more times, despite the fact that it's either dead or dying. "Jesus, man!" cries Lem, who's always had a soft spot for animals. Vic joins them and tells Lem to forget about the dog. Good luck with that one.
The alley security camera caught Lee's attacker's license plate. DMV registration came back to a 19-year-old Asian at the house where Dutch is currently with some uniforms. There's blood smeared on the outside of the white sedan. When they knock on the front door, a middle-aged lady answers, probably the kid's mother. Dutch asks if Malcolm Rama is home. Mom replies that he's in the shower.
Back to the Strike Team interrogating Armadillo's crew. Shane asks questions while Lem holds a guy by his shirt at the top of the stairs. Guy #1 claims he doesn't know where Armadillo is. Shane gives his partner a signal. Lem punches the guy in the stomach and rolls him down the first set of stairs. He follows the guy and kicks him down the next flight. You know, beneath the million-dollar smile and sweet exterior, Lem isn't entirely unlike the rest of the Strike Team. Or the pitbull he just shot, for that matter.
Shane makes Guy #2 stand up and asks, "Where's your boss?" Lem trots back up the stairs. Guy #2 doesn't know either. Shane is about to knee the guy in the back when Vic stops him. "We're just about to jog his memory," he says innocently. Vic wants him brought back to the Barn.
Corinne shows up at the Barn looking for Vic. Claudette tells her Vic is out. Corinne is concerned he's not answering his phone. Claudette is sure he probably just turned it off while making arrests. Corinne is upset; someone broke into their house while she was out dropping Matt off at the occupational therapist's. When they got home, police cars were in the driveway and a window was smashed. "It might have something to do with what's going on here," Claudette says cryptically.
Corinne has no idea what that means. Claudette thinks they should talk privately. A uniform named Paula can watch the girls. When asked if she ever babysat, Paula replied, "I work here, don't I?" Upstairs in an interrogation room, Claudette doesn't waste time with tap dancing: "Someone burned off half of Ronnie Gardocki's face last night...in your husband's motel room. We think they were targeting him."
Does Corinne know about Armadillo greenlighting the Strike Team? No, she doesn't even know who Armadillo is. Claudette offers Corinne a chair.
Dutch tells Danny she's been cleared to help with his case for a few hours if she wants. He's sorry about her promotion snafu. "Maybe I can steer you toward detective work," he offers. She seems to be good at it. Danny watches him talk to Malcolm. Where was he at 10:40 this morning? Malcolm claims he went running in the park like usual. His blood-spattered hoodie is in an evidence bag and they found bloody footprints.
Malcolm may not have intended to hurt Lee, but the guy is in a coma. Dutch asks what happened. Did Lee disrespect him? Is Malcolm dating Lee's daughter? One way or the other, Malcolm is going to jail. Dutch just wants his morbid curiosity satisfied. Oh, if only this guy knew how morbid. Malcolm insists he didn't do it.
Out on the balcony, Dutch knows they have a problem: Malcolm could walk. He rattles off a statistic about how many hours of soap operas the average jury candidate watches per week; they like "simple stories they can understand." Has he ever watched a soap opera? Some of those have 6 plots going at a time.
Anyway, Danny doesn't think it gets much simpler than them catching the guy. Dutch says motives are important at trial. There was a blood trail from the kid's car to his mom's house, but the jury could think the police planted it, leaving Malcolm "free to caddy for O.J." "Until you know why, a detective's job isn't done," Dutch tells her. Sounds like a Grissom-ism to me.
Claudette asks how long the Mackeys have been living apart. Corinne says it's been a few weeks. Claudette thinks Vic is doing it for his family's safety. And by the way, does Vic have a P.O. box? Corinne doesn't think so. Claudette presses about finances: bank accounts Corinne doesn't recognize, maybe in someone else's name? Fancy new things like cars or jewelry? No, they can barely pay bills after Matthew's tuition.
"Matthew?" says Claudette curiously, as if she doesn't already know their kids' names. Corinne explains that Matt goes to a special (and very expensive) school for autistic children. Vic pays for it by working a lot of overtime. "Is that what he tells you?" Claudette asks lightly. Corinne finally gets this isn't just a girl talk session. Claudette just wants to understand why Armadillo has his sights set on Vic and to make sure no one else gets hurt. "Has Vic done something?" Corinne wants to know.
Lem shoves one of their suspects into the cage. When the second guy doesn't step back far enough, Shane pushes him. He asks Vic why he seems to be holding back. Vic reminds him that a lot of people have their eyes on them; they can't call more attention by cracking skulls. Maybe somebody should've told Lem that before he started kicking people down stairs.
Vic notices Officer Paula in the breakroom, holding Megan on her lap. Cassidy is coloring. He goes in and asks what's going on. "Mommy brought us. Somebody smashed our window," Cassidy explains. Vic finds Corinne upstairs with Claudette and asks if she's okay. Corinne grabs her purse and walks out without a word. He follows her downstairs to the clubhouse.
"Talk to me," Vic says gently. Corinne would rather he talk. Somebody who's after him tried to break into their house. Vic is all "The alarm system worked, didn't it?" He also has a PI following them; he didn't let her know earlier because he didn't want to scare her. Corinne thinks Vic doesn't want to admit what he's been doing, which is true.
Vic wants to know what Claudette told her. "Were involved with some drug dealer who died?" Corinne asks through her teeth. Vic explains that sometimes he has to make deals to make bigger arrests; Claudette is giving her the wrong idea.
"I've gotten more truth from her in 10 minutes than I've gotten from you in a year," says Corinne. She asks pointblank how they're paying Matt's tuition. Vic loves their kids and wants them all to have a good future. He needs Corinne on his side. That's a non-answer if I ever heard one.
When Corinne exits the clubhouse, Cassidy asks if she's seen Daddy. Corinne tells her Daddy is busy working and they'll see him later. Officer Paula hands Megan over. Cassidy sees Vic and waves. When they're gone, Vic confronts Claudette: "I've got a team member in the burn unit, the guy who did it is out on the street, and you think now is a good time to screw with my family?"
Claudette thinks Armadillo broke into the house looking for Vic. He's lucky Corinne and the kids aren't in the burn unit next to Ronnie. Vic says his family is off-limits. "Tell that to Armadillo," she advises. Vic shouts, "I'm telling you!"
Lanie is in Edgar-veda's office; she recommended weeks ago that the Justice Department should be providing protection for the Strike Team. Edgar-veda explains they didn't want it, a macho pride thing. Lanie's report to the city council is due next month. The captain is sure she'll be fair and accurate.
"You wanted to see me?" asks Vic. Lanie informs him that starting tomorrow, the Justice Department will be assigned to watch the team until Armadillo is arrested. It's for their own good. They argue. Vic can't afford to be "handcuffed by some part-timer who thinks she knows what's right." Lanie huffs that she's a litigator with a master's degree in criminal justice. "Then stay in the classroom," Vic advises.
The office door opens. It's Shane. "The cripple called." Noticing the captain and Lanie, he immediately corrects himself, "I mean the...handicapped guy called."
Danny brings Dutch some kind of club in an evidence bag. It was found in a storm drain near the alley. No prints, but it's covered in blood and hair. The etchings on the club are Thai. Danny checked with the Thai cultural center where Malcolm volunteers; the club was reported stolen a few days ago.
Vic, Shane, and Lem find Van Bro with paint all over his clothes, loudly groaning on the sidewalk. The guy who attacked him had Mexican prison tattoos and took his wheelchair: "How wrong is that?" He was able to paint the license plate number on one of his nearby pieces of art and knows it was a blue Ford pickup.
Lem effortlessly picks up Van Bro and carries him to the nearby bench. Vic tells Van help is on the way. Lem promises him a new wheelchair. Awwww. "Somethin' sporty," Van requests.
At a garage, the Strike Team finds a blue pickup. And what do you know? There's a wheelchair in the bed. They draw their guns on the Mexicans. "Don't even twitch, bitch," Lem orders. Apparently, if there's one thing he hates more than animal abusers and pedophiles and woman beaters, it's people who victimize the handicapped.
Vic and Shane pat the guys down. Vic says they're looking for Armadillo. Shane is sick of playing games. He hits one of the guys across the back of the legs with a tire iron, then tosses it to Lem. Lem moves in menacingly on the one still standing. Guy #2 agrees to show them. Lem will ride with him, Shane and Vic will follow. "Enjoy the wheelchair, asshole!" Shane calls to the screaming guy on the ground.
At a local restaurant, a guy standing in line waiting for food was attacked. More specifically, sprayed with something from an aerosol can; the owner thinks it was bug spray. Julien asks if there was an argument. The victim is a regular who always takes a long time to order. When the victim didn't hurry up, Bug Spray Guy said, "You're buggin' me" and sprayed him.
The restaurant owner adds that the victim holds up the line every day. "I was reading the menu!" the victim snaps. The owner says it's not complicated: hot dogs or hamburgers. Danny and Julien have to separate the guys to prevent a fight. Julien talks to the victim. Does he really want his wife and son to see him go to jail for assault?
Lem handcuffs a guy to a tree and informs Vic that Armadillo is on the top floor of the building. Shane gets the neighbors out of the way. Vic tells Lem to take the truck out back. Armadillo is watching from the apartment.
Dutch asks Malcolm what he knows about Thai culture. Malcolm claims he's not into it. Dutch knows he volunteers at the Thai cultural center. Malcolm shrugs that it's a way to meet girls. "And to pick up antique artifacts," Dutch adds, producing the stolen war club. The symbols carved into it represent fertility, family, and bloodlines. Did Malcolm ask for the name of the old man he attacked?
Dutch tells him the man's last name was Kusa. Is he pronouncing it right? Malcolm guesses so. "How would you say it?" Dutch asks. Malcolm replies, "I wouldn't."
Vic lays out the rest of the plan: Drop a smoke bomb and send Armadillo out the back into Lem's waiting arms. Suddenly, a police car with its lights and sirens on pulls into the driveway. It's followed by an unmarked car, which Claudette climbs out of. There's another squad car behind her. "What's goin' on?" Lem calls from the back of the house.
Armadillo comes out the front door with his hands up, shouting, "I'm unarmed!" It seems Armadillo called the precinct and gave himself up. The Strike Team knows this is super not-good. Claudette remarks, "Somebody did a job on his face."
A lady comes to the Barn and tells Danny she was attacked by the bug spray guy 3 days prior. "Serial sprayer? That's weird," says Dutch. Danny agrees it's kind of dumb, but people are being hurt. Dutch suggests she run with it; she has great instincts and it'll be a while before any detectives are free. Besides, it was Danny's idea to call the cultural center about the club. Dutch thinks it could be the key to finding out Malcolm's motive.
Dutch asks Danny where she's starting with the serial sprayer. The attacks happened within blocks of each other, meaning the guy probably lives in the area. She could call around to stores that sell bug spray and see if anyone matching the guy's description has bought any recently. "Sounds like detective work to me," says Dutch. She smiles proudly.
Vic wants to go into the interrogation room with Claudette. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't need the help," she says. Vic thinks they can trip up Armadillo if they work together; he knows things she doesn't. Edgar-veda lets Claudette go in alone after she threatens to tell Lanie all the facts of the case.
Claudette rattles off what Armadillo's been up to: drug trafficking, consolidating a power base, murder, and raping young girls. She has him on tape making a death threat against a police officer. Armadillo will challenge that in court. "What about the testimony of a cop with his own grill mark?" she asks. Her tone turns mocking. "What happened to your face? You used to be so pretty."
Armadillo will only confess to Vic. Claudette tells him he's in no position to make demands. "I speak to Mackey...or my lawyer," says Armadillo. Vic steps out of the observation room. When he goes to talk to Armadillo, he locks the door from the inside. The drug lord wants to talk alone. Vic obliges by unplugging the camera.
Touching his face, Armadillo says, "The first few weeks are the worst, then the skin gets hard. Stinging goes away." It's time for him to leave. Vic takes off his jacket; Armadillo shoulda left when he had the chance. Armadillo's business in the U.S. is done; he just needs Vic's help to get back home: "You have no choice. The second you did this to me, you gave me control."
Unless the Strike Team wants to join Armadillo on the cell block, Vic has to get Ronnie to recant his statement and give Armadillo time to flee to Mexico. Then they'll be even. Vic asks, "What about the people you burned and the little girl you raped?" "Sometimes life isn't fair," says the drug lord.
Vic grabs Armadillo by the neck, then abruptly lets go. "You wanted me to hurt you," he realizes. Armadillo sees his scars as victories; this burn is his biggest one, both physically and symbolically. Vic puts on his jacket and leaves the room. Outside, Claudette asks what Armadillo said. "He just wanted to gloat," Vic says quietly. Claudette starts to go in. Vic claims Armadillo asked for his lawyer, meaning the interrogation is over.
Danny and Julien track down their suspect, Jarvis Stanley. His hands are in his jacket pockets. Danny tells him to show his hands. Jarvis obeys. Danny pats him down and finds bug spray in his jacket. Jarvis asks if it's illegal to have that. "It is when you're tryin' to blind people with it," says Danny.
As Julien cuffs him, Jarvis offers his explanation: "They were all buggin' me." It's not like he killed anyone. Danny tells him this is considered assault with a deadly weapon, a felony. "Now you're startin' to bug me," mumbles Jarvis.
In the clubhouse, Vic says Armadillo has him over a barrel. He can't afford to have Armadillo play the brutality card; Ronnie has to say someone else was responsible. Shockingly, Lem says he'd be okay with that. Vic isn't; he could never look at Ronnie again. "I did this," he sighs, "I'll take all the heat." This may be the noblest thing he's done so far.
Shane reminds Vic that he could go to jail. Vic doesn't seem to care. But before he does anything else, he wants to go call his kids. "What are we gonna do, Shane?" asks Lem. When Shane says he's thinking, Lem angrily flings a football at the wall. In turn, he almost breaks the lamp hanging over the table.
|Easy there, big guy.|
Dutch found out Malcolm's family originated in a part of northern Thailand known for its tribal warfare. They've been involved in the Thai version of the Hatfields and McCoys for over 800 years. "Not me," argues Malcolm. His clan specifically warred with the Kusas. Now Dutch knows why Lee Kusa was beaten into a coma.
"My dad was pissed," Malcolm starts. As a joke, he told his dad about someone coming to the cultural center and signing the guest book as Kusa. Dad started talking about killing him. Malcolm was just trying to scare Kusa so he'd leave the neighborhood. "And the scepter was to drive the point home?" Dutch guesses.
Malcolm followed Lee out of the center and told him who he was: "The old freak spits in my face and starts whaling on me, screaming at me in Thai." Malcolm hit Lee to make him stop. His eyes fill with tears. Dutch points out that the guy being found mostly dead hanging from a pole makes self-defense a hard sell. "It was at first, but something happened to me," Malcolm whines. He knew it was illegal, "but somehow, it made sense."
Danny brings in Little Pop. As she puts him in the cage, Lem asks what he did. Julien explains that he was smoking a joint in public. When Danny asked him to put it out, the guy blew smoke in their faces. "Idiot," scoffs Shane. We pan to Armadillo sitting on the floor in the cage.
In the parking lot, Danny says to Dutch, "Now we know the 'why'", referring to the attack on Lee Kusa. Dutch couldn't have done it without her. Danny has been so focused on working her way up the patrol ranks that she never really considered detective work...until now. It's almost like the two of them were partners.
Dutch agrees there's a real connection. Danny takes a couple of steps closer to him and leans forward. Dutch has had a crush on her since last season, but blurts out that his girlfriend Kim is making him dinner. At almost the same time, Danny says, "I have a lot of--oh shit." and hurries back into the Barn.
At the desk, Danny confesses to another female uniform in an embarrassed whisper, "I almost kissed Dutch." Her coworker asks the same question I would: "Oh my God, why?" Danny says Dutch pulled away.
Suddenly, there's a commotion in the cage. Danny and Julien's prisoner has started stabbing Armadillo. Everyone in the Barn hurries over. By the time Danny gets the cage open, Armadillo is lying on the floor, bleeding severely from his gut. "Call a medic!" Danny cries, separating her suspect from his victim. Then she goes over to Armadillo.
"Jesus Christ! Who searched that guy?!" Claudette demands. Danny did. Lanie the civilian auditor with no police experience asks accusingly how she could've missed a knife that size. Danny insists Little Pop didn't have it when she frisked him on the scene. "Upstairs," hisses Edgar-veda. We see the knife on the ground; it's not tiny but it's not a machete like Lanie's trying to make out.
Vic sees the cage is now empty except for Armadillo's body. Claudette is taking Polaroids. He asks what happened. "Los Mag O.G. with a grudge stabbed him 9 times. Won't say why," she says. Deadpan, she adds, "Unbelievable, huh?"
Claudette tosses Armadillo's file on the captain's desk. Edgar-veda declares the case closed. She offers her theory: "Vic was Tio's drug landlord, gave him protection. Tio gave him favors and a cut of the business. When Armadillo killed Tio, Vic fried his face on the grill and that's why he didn't want me to find him." She asks why Edgar-veda got in her way. The captain says he made a mistake. I call bullshit.
Danny is in the women's room, gripping onto the edge of the sink when Vic walks in. He heard she's being suspended...again. Danny knows she did a thorough search. Vic advises her to call her union rep. Danny asks if everything that's been happening to her is a joke.
Vic puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder: "You're a good cop, Danny." She puts a hand over his, sighing that she misses him. Vic knows, but he's trying to make things work with Corinne. "Right," Danny mumbles, having now been rejected by two guys within half an hour.
Speaking of Corinne, Vic tells her at home that he has someone coming to fix the broken window. He'll have the guy call ahead and make sure she's home. Corinne asks for his number; she'll take care of that herself. Vic asks for more time with the kids. Right now, it's just dinners. Mornings and weekends would be nice.
"You can't even spend 3 dinners a week and now you want more time?" Corinne asks. Vic wants to start being a good dad again. He needs to change his life. Corinne's only response to that is to ask again for the window guy's number.
In the clubhouse, Shane and Lem tell Vic about the fallout. Little Pop, the guy who stabbed Armadillo, is going back to Pelican Bay. They're covering his mom's expenses until the sentencing. Vic will never forget how they helped him out. "Don't worry. We won't let you," says Lem. Shane winks. One of Van's paintings is on the table. Vic tells them to enjoy it. Maybe they can bring it to Ronnie in the hospital as a get-well present.
After they leave, Claudette comes in. "We both know," she tells Vic. "What happened to Ronnie, that's on you." I think he's well aware of that and feels no small measure of guilt.
Montage! Corinne uses an awfully sharp knife to make PB-and-Js for the kids to take to school. Claudette puts Armadillo's file in storage. Dutch is inexplicably given googly eyes by some female uniforms. Lanie and Danny pack up their stuff to go home. Julien sits on the locker room bench contemplating his wedding ring. When Vic gets back to his motel room, Emma is waiting and they resume what was interrupted the night Ronnie got burned. End of episode.