Friday, December 30, 2016

Nobody's "Safe" (Episode 3.7)

Previously on: Danny told Edgar-veda about Vic and Julien forming a posse last episode. Edgar-veda was sexually assaulted on the job by two men; he's been ignoring his wife and being generally rude since. Edgar-veda was given a list of marked bills from the money train heist by a Treasury agent. The Strike Team needs said list to know which bills are safe to spend. The problem? Edgar-veda put said list in a safe in his office.

"Christ, it's freezing out here!" Lem gripes, shaking all over. Vic reminds him that they can't use the clubhouse with the Decoy Squad in it. I'm surprised he didn't ask why Lem isn't wearing a jacket. Vic informs the Strike Team they're working late tomorrow, so they better cancel any plans. "I got tickets for Journey!" says Ronnie. What could be so important? They're gonna steal the Treasury list from the captain's safe. Lem thought that was impossible.

Then-President Bush is campaigning in L.A. and added a stop in Century City, which takes him through Farmington. Every cop in the district will be on security detail for the motorcade. The Barn will have a skeleton crew. "You forget about the combination?" asks Lem, who's chewing on gum or something. It's a county-issue safe, so the combination is on file. If someone from the evidence room asks for a favor, they better do it.

They've got one shot, one opportunity. "This works, I might even have to vote for the guy," says Vic.

Out on Shane's deck, Mara is smoking a cigarette. That's real healthy for the kid. She argues that it's just one. Shane notices 8 other butts on the railing. "6 of them are yours. Maybe you should stop too, for Christ's sake," says Mara. Shane thinks it's just her hormones talking, a very dangerous thing to say to a pregnant woman.

Mara's mom knows about the baby and Mara acts likes it's a disaster. Shane is sure her mom can't be that bad. Mara gets all Mom's crap because she's the only one of her siblings who still talks to her. Shane tells her not to worry and kisses her cheek. Mara grabs his wrist and whines, "You're supposed to be off today." Shane says everyone is on duty because the president is in town.

The squadroom in the Barn is deserted except for Vic. He goes in the clubhouse and tells the guys they have half an hour before morning shift starts; it's a ghost town. "Boo," whispers Shane. Nobody laughs. In fact, Lem looks vaguely sick.

They head upstairs. Shane picks the lock on Edgar-veda's office door, then crawls across the floor like a monkey. He tries the combination, but the safe won't open. Lem, keeping watch on the balcony, sees Nina arriving for work. He hurriedly calls Vic. He motions for Shane to hide. Shane crawls under the captain's desk.

Vic intercepts Nina at the bottom of the stairs, greeting, "Hey, you're here early." She starts to head upstairs and gets as far the balcony. I guess she realized she forgot something downstairs. This gives Shane the chance to slink out of the office. Vic asks about the list. "Ask your Property guy when he pulls his head out of his ass," says Shane.

Well, is Shane sure he punched in the code right? There's no other way to get the list, "especially when employee of the month clocks in two hours early." Ronnie thinks he can crack the safe. He's never tried it before, but that's never stopped him. Case in point: the garbage truck. "Shane was in there 30 seconds and we almost got caught," Lem points out.

If they sneak the safe out tonight, Ronnie could take his time. Lem asks how the captain won't notice a missing safe. Easy, they'll wait until he leaves work and put a twin in its place. The safe is standard police-issue, so it'll be no trouble to find a duplicate.

A woman named Mrs. Maldonado is in the lobby to see Vic, which he doesn't seem too happy about. She's holding a CD: "Reina's friend gave me this song. It says he killed her. It says he stab and kill mi hija!" (That's "my daughter" in Spanish).

The Strike Team plays the CD. "This supposed to be hip? It sounds like a Chihuahua threw up on an accordion," says Shane. Edgar-veda explains, "It's a narcorrido, a song about crimes." Usually drugs or murder. I have limited knowledge of this sub-genre of music thanks to an episode of CSI. 

Claudette translates the lyrics. Chaydez loved a girl he couldn't have, but couldn't let her go; it sounds like a love song to her. The captain translates the next verse. As Chaydez and the girl made love, he stabbed her once for every day they were together. He buried her by an underpass in Frogtown Flats, near the river. "A real chart-topper," says Vic.

The girl mentioned in the song, Reina, is a 15-year-old who disappeared 6 months ago. Vic helped out for a day, but it wasn't gang-related. Chaydez was their only suspect because he worked for Reina's father. Bobby, the original detective, took early retirement, so the mom asks Vic for updates.

The singer is Otillio Ramirez, a self-published artist. Edgar-veda wants them to find Ottilio and get a K-9 team to look for Reina's body at the underpass. "You gonna bring in Eminem every time he raps about killin' his ex?" asks Vic. Edgar-veda says there's a difference: "Narcocorridos are recorded history."

Vic meets Boris the K-9 and his female handler at the underpass. Hey, It's That Girl! Lauren is played by Natalie Zea. Fellow FX junkies may recognize her as Winona Hawkins, Raylan's ex-wife on Justified. "What brings us together this time?" she flirts. Vic answers, "Heard a song about a lovesick cholo, buried his chiquita out here." She should think of it as quality time.

Vic asks if Lauren still has a boyfriend. Lauren asks if Vic still has a wife. He doesn't. Lauren's boyfriend the chef is "still trying to establish his career," which doesn't really tell him if they're still together. Boris starts to bark, which means he found a body. Lauren marks the spot with a red flag. "They don't write love songs like they used to," says Vic.

Boris barks again. Lauren puts down another flag. The count goes up to three, then four. Lauren makes a lame attempt at a Jaws reference: "I need more flags."

In a Mexican neighborhood, it looks like there's some kind of street fair going on. A man is playing a trumpet. Tables selling everything from toys to CDs are set up on the sidewalk. "Hey, can I get your autograph?" Shane asks Ottilio. Vic adds, "Yeah, like on a confession." Lem swipes the crate the guy was sitting on and starts to pack up the merchandise.

A passerby asks what they're doing to Ottilio: "He didn't do nothing." "He seems to know where all the bodies are buried," Vic counters. Ottilio glares: "You can't silence me." "Hell no," Vic chuckles, "We're gonna make you talk." They shove him in the car. Shane takes Ottilio's cowboy hat and puts it on.

At the Barn, Ottilio protests that he knows his rights. "Relax. You might get a new album out of it," says Vic. The final body count from Frogtown was 8, all young women. Some of the bodies were there for quite a while. Dutch is intrigued by the idea of musical confessions. Claudette wants to see the items recovered from the women's bodies.

Upstairs, Vic says the song lyrics state Reina's body was dumped by the train tracks. She was 14 when she went missing. Ottilio sang about Chaydez stabbing her. Vic wonders "why your shitty CD led us to 8 dead women." Ottilio starts yelling for help.

"What's going on?" asks Edgar-veda. Vic is telling the truth for once when he says nothing happened. "I don't wanna be alone with him." says Ottilio. Vic invites Edgar-veda to look at the videotape. The captain would rather sit in; everyone else is on presidential detail.

"I don't commit crimes. I'm a journalist," Ottilio explains. Edgar-veda asks if Chaydez commissioned him to write the song. "A reporter protects his sources," says Ottilio. All he does is tell the truth. If they're gonna arrest him, they should arrest the whole L.A. Times staff too.

Claudette translates another song for Dutch. Sol Negro needed money and planned to take it from a liquor store on San Marcos, but the owner hated Mexicans and pulled a gun: "Sol Negro bravely shot him in the neck." Dutch remembers the case because it happened on Christmas. "Ottilio's got three CDs. Who knows how many cases we might close?" she asks.

Claudette tells Dutch to run Sol Negro and the street name. "Who am I, the Strike Team all of a sudden?" asks Dutch. It sounded a lot like an order.

When Lem and Vic bring Chaydez in for questioning, Mrs. Maldonado is still in the lobby. She asks if he knows where Reina is. Vic suggests she go home; interrogation could take hours. "I want to stay here for the good news," she says.

Upstairs, Vic plays the song and tells Chaydez that Ottilio is singing about him. "Just a song," Chaydez shrugs. Vic corrects him, "It's a map to 8 dead girls." He knows Reina is one of them. Edgar-veda doesn't understand why "an asshole like you would put a stabbing to music." He killed Reina and had Ottilio write the song. The captain knows "Narcocorridos are real. The singer's reputation depends on it."

Claudette asks to speak to Vic and Edgar-veda outside. The M.E. report says cause of death in all 8 cases was long-term exposure to chemicals used to make meth. Reina's dental records didn't match any of the victims. Edgar-veda tells Claudette to stay on the meth case while Vic looks into Reina. In the meantime, find something to charge Chaydez and Ottilio with. Edgar-veda leaves for a meeting with the Secret Service.

Vic and Claudette are both like "did you just hear what I think I heard?" Claudette plans to cut Chaydez loose and have the Decoy Squad tail him.

Vic brings a cardboard box to the van and tells Ronnie he has an hour to crack the safe. They should have enough time to make the switch before the Decoy Squad comes back. "I really don't like this," says Lem, popping something in his mouth. Vic asks what's with the Rolaids. Lem explains sharply that he's had an ulcer "since the Armenian mob started lookin' for me." Shane helpfully tells him to stop worrying his guts out.

Lem thinks it's crazy to be breaking into the captain's office. I'm inclined to agree. He has another idea: Lay their cash off on some crooks for 30 cents on the dollar and let them worry about laundering it. "Partner up with criminals? Tryin' to find the flaw in that plan," says Vic, even though he's done exactly that more than once. Also, he wants a dollar on the dollar.

They head upstairs with the dummy safe in the cardboard box. "Hey," Lem practically squeaks when he sees Trish. Vic lies that they're moving stuff out of the clubhouse to give the Decoy Squad more room. Trish thought he wanted them gone. Vic does, but they might as well make the place comfortable.

Edgar-veda comes back because the Secret Service meeting was postponed. Vic thanks him for helping with Reina's case; he thought the girl was dead. Upstairs, Shane and Lem are switching out the safes. Vic's been hoping to be able to give Reina's mom good news because Reina's dad died of a heart attack last month. Lem and Shane have just made it out of the office.

"How's your stomach now?" Vic asks Lem when they get to the parking lot, then reassures him they're halfway home. Lem dumps the box in the van. Now they just have to get the Treasury list out and copied before dayshift comes back.
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Vic suggests that Lem give Ronnie one of his Rolaids.

Danny and Julien are in the evidence room doing the oh-so-important job of inventorying office supplies. They're 57 staplers short.
Bet I know who the culprit is.
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They discuss whether or not Julien did the right thing by joining Vic's posse. Danny tells Julien about the crossroads deal she had to make with Edgar-veda to get rehired. When she agreed, she never thought she'd have to turn her own partner in.

The liquor store owner survived being shot in the neck and identified Sol Negro as the Christmas Day robber. "If we close any more cases because of Ottilio's songs, we should deputize him," says Claudette. Dutch is headed out somewhere, but Claudette can't join him. One of the dead women had a friend's phone number in her pocket and the friend is coming to the Barn.

Claudette's witness says Leticia was her best friend in Mexico. Claudette tells her about the mass grave and how Leticia died of meth exposure. "She never touched drugs," the friend insists. A coyote brought Leticia to L.A., but she doesn't know when. Leticia called two weeks ago and the friend only got a message that she needed help.

After Dutch brings in Sol, he's ready to go back to the Cuddler Rapist files. Claudette asks for his help with ID'ing the other 7 women in the grave. Dutch claims he can't work both cases at once without losing momentum, but relents.

Vic walks Ottilio out. Sol calls to the songwriter from the booking counter. He manages to hit two uniforms and attempt to choke Dutch before being subdued. They manage to wrangle him into the cage. Dutch asks what Sol was yelling in Spanish. "There's your next song," Claudette deciphers. In the lobby, Mrs. Maldonado starts shouting in Spanish too, asking where her daughter is.

Vic goes back to the van and opens the rear doors. Ronnie can't crack the safe. He also can't pull the lock out because it would be too noticeable. "This keeps getting better," Lem grouses from where he's lying on the floor. Shane wants to know how they'll get the safe back inside. Vic is more concerned about the list. They'll each take turns watching Edgar-veda. Ronnie knows Smitty the locksmith could get the safe open, but Vic wants this kept in-house.

Shane gets first watch on the captain. Edgar-veda punches in the combination, but the safe won't open. Shane's phone rings and he tells Mara he's a little busy. She keeps on talking about how she spent 4 hours on the phone with her mom: "She says they're gonna kick her out of her apartment if I can't help her with the rent." If her daughter is anything to judge by, it's probably a con job.

Edgar-veda waves his secretary into the office. Shane says they need to talk about this later. "Are you ever coming home?" asks Mara. He tells her he'll be home as soon as he can.

Danny asks if Dutch checked out a department laptop around 10 months ago. Dutch says no, but his signature is on the log. Vic praises Lauren for her good work on finding the grave; she tells him to thank Boris. Vic saw the dog pacing outside. Lauren explains he "gets worked up and wants to go all night long." "Corpus interruptus," Vic smirks. Maybe someday he'll meet her under more pleasant circumstances.

In the choir loft/balcony, Edgar-veda demands of Nina, "Why isn't the narcocorrido in the cage?" She doesn't know, but will check the logbook. Lauren leaves to take another case. The captain asks Vic about Chaydez and Ottilio. "We had to cut 'em loose," says Vic. Edgar-veda storms downstairs; those two were supposed to be kept in custody. Vic couldn't do that once their hold time expired.

Edgar-veda barks, "You think you can disobey a direct goddamn order?" Claudette takes the heat; she was only trying to protect the case. Edgar-veda reminds her who is still captain: "And I will not put up with shit like this again!" Vic and Claudette exchange a what-was-that-all-about look.

Dutch asks if Danny found the computer. She hasn't. If Dutch doesn't find it, the city will be sending him a bill. Dutch remembers what he was using it for: child porn. Danny and Julien give him matching horrified stares. Dutch assures them it was strictly professional, hanging around chatrooms To Catch a Predator style. He got sidetracked by another case and forgot he had the laptop.

Danny wants to make sure she has this straight: "So when we find this computer that was last signed out by you, it's gonna be full of kiddie porn?" Dutch wants a chance to delete some files before he turns it back in. To that, I'd say shit no. "I swear it was just work," he chuckles.
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Vic asks Nina if she can help the Strike Team get some new stuff for the clubhouse. She tells him to submit an official request. Vic tries flattery; everyone knows she can speed things up. Nina has her own emergency to deal with, namely finding a locksmith. Vic offers Smitty, but she has someone else in mind. He peeks at the name Nina was considering and informs her the guy got sent up to Pelican Bay for burglary 8 months ago. Nina asks if Smitty is nearby.

"Why are we meeting in the back of a van?" Smitty asks the Strike Team. He stammers that he's turning over a new leaf. "Sounds like a good idea," says Lem, now sitting in a corner with his knees pulled up to his chest. Poor guy's ulcer is probably in overdrive.

Smitty has to be careful about the jobs he takes because he's trying to start a home security business. Vic offers to give Smitty some leads: the addresses and phone numbers of every residence in Farmington that's been burglarized in the last 2 months. He just has to do them a favor.

In the office, Smitty asks for Edgar-veda's combination. The captain writes it down. Smitty warns this will take time. Edgar-veda doesn't care. Smitty doesn't even try the combination, just starts drilling. Once Edgar-veda is gone, he calls Shane, who relays the combination to Ronnie. The safe pops open. In addition to the Treasury list, Ronnie finds some mugshots of Hispanic men. Lem and Shane send him inside to copy the list.

Trish has learned from Walon that Chaydez cleaned out his bank account as soon as the place opened. The account was under two different names, one of which was Reina's. The teller last saw Reina a week ago. "She's alive?" Vic can't believe it. The teller was sure because Reina and Chaydez were "an odd couple: too old to be his daughter, too young to be his girlfriend."

Vic tells Mrs. Maldonado about this. "I knew it," she sighs, "I knew she was alive." He asks how well Reina knew Chaydez. Mrs. Maldonado says Chaydez worked for her husband, but she's sure that he wasn't romantically involved with their daughter. Reina wouldn't have kept a secret like that.

Walon and the Strike Team are listening in on Chaydez. He's unloading his van: boxes and wire or rope. There's no sign of Reina. "What if she's the thing being moved?" asks Edgar-veda. The shades are drawn, so they can't see inside. The captain orders the Decoy Squad to go in. Vic doesn't like the idea; if Reina is elsewhere, they might never find her. Claudette adds that evidence they find could get tossed out. "I said go in. Get the girl!" Edgar-veda barks.

Walon comes back without Reina. There were women's clothes and shoes at Chaydez's house, so she was living there a while. He also found a 3-day-old receipt for makeup. Claudette doesn't know if that will even be admissible, even though the search was done in good faith. Vic is disgusted: "We can't even get him for playing house with a minor."

Vic asks Chaydez about the makeup receipt, but he claims he hasn't seen Reina. Edgar-veda says a bank teller remembers them opening an account together. This is problematic for Chaydez, who's already on probation for statutory rape. Chaydez asserts he didn't do anything wrong. "Not as you see it. You're in love," says Vic. Edgar-veda adds, "Forget the fact that she's barely out of algebra." In my high school, you took algebra until junior year.

Vic knows Chaydez is connected to the 8 dead women, but at the moment, he's more concerned about the live teenager. Edgar-veda understands why Chaydez would like Reina: "Too inexperienced to see what a dick you really are." Chaydez repeats he wouldn't have been with her, but Reina's mom keeps coming to his place to look for her. Edgar-veda guesses that Chaydez commissioned the murder song to get Mrs. Maldonado off his back. Did he hate Reina's mom so much he made the song come true?

Edgar-veda starts speaking Spanish and pushes Chaydez out of his chair. He kicks the guy while he's down. Even Vic is shocked. He pulls the captain off their suspect. Edgar-veda stomps out. Vic tells Chaydez to keep his mouth shut.

In the office, Smitty is returning the contents of Edgar-veda's safe to their rightful place. When the captain walks in, Smitty says he had to replace the safe door and gives Edgar-veda the new combination.

Vic goes into the observation room and takes the videotape containing Chaydez's beat-down.

Claudette asks Sol about Leticia. Records show she called her friend from Sol's phone. "Maybe I dialed a wrong number," he says. Claudette doesn't buy that: "And left a message doing an impression of her?" Sol has more than one cell phone and doesn't always do a good job keeping track of them all. Dutch asks what Sol does for a living and Sol is vague.

Claudette thinks that with his nice clothes, Sol must be doing better for himself than migrant work. There were traces of lye and red phosphorus in Leticia's lungs, meaning she was exposed to meth. "She worked in your meth lab; she used your phone," Dutch goes on.

In the squadroom, Vic thanks Claudette for taking the heat with the captain earlier. Dutch found out Sol was arrested in Sinaloa last year for manufacturing meth, but there wasn't a trial; he expected the Mexican police would at least pretend to be honest. That makes 3 dead ends. Chaydez and Sol don't know each other, but they look awful friendly in the cage.

Nina approaches Dutch about the missing laptop. He hasn't found it, but is sure it'll turn up. Nina wants him to know she had to call Internal Affairs because the laptop is city property worth over $500. When she leaves, Dutch says to Danny, "Please tell me you put her up to that." She didn't.

Mara calls Shane again; she's bleeding and thinks it could be a miscarriage. I know people don't make rational choices when they're extremely scared, but why would you call your baby-daddy instead of an ambulance? Shane tells Mara to call the her OB/GYN and lie down; he's on his way.

Claudette has learned that Chaydez and Sol are second cousins. Vic thinks Chaydez could've been helping out with the "meth lab cemetery." Maybe they can go to the media and get the cousins to turn on each other.

Vic and Claudette talk to Ottilio again. They know the narcocorrido about Reina is a lie. "But I saw a body," says Ottilio. Vic says Ottilio just made himself an accessory after the fact. They also know about Chaydez's cousin in the meth business whose workers all seem to die. Vic thought Ottilio was all about the truth and will make sure the whole community knows. After all, "we wouldn't want any of your fans paying good money for a corrido con job."

Chaydez and Ottilio have a heated argument in the cage. Trish, disguised as a homeless woman, is on the female side. Claudette hopes her Spanish is good. Apparently it is because she tells Vic later that Reina is with Chaydez's friend Joaquin. Sol runs his meth lab out of a truck, which is currently at an industrial park in Boyle Heights, former home of gangster king Mickey Cohen.

Officers go to an underpass and find a bunch of men hanging around outside the mobile lab. "Hazard fumes, don't breathe inside the trailer," Dutch warns as Julien opens the truck. Probably a dozen women are inside, all coughing and hacking. Some are crying.

Vic, Lem, and Ronnie go to Joaquin's apartment. The TV is on, but nobody's in the living room. Reina comes out of the bedroom, thinking it's Chaydez. Lem badges her so she won't be scared. "Hello, Reina. We're here to rescue you," Vic greets.

They take the girl back to the clubhouse. Reina asks if she really has to see her mom. Vic goes out to the lobby to give Mrs. Maldonado the news that Reina is alive. He tells her that Chaydez didn't kidnap Reina; her daughter ran away because she knew her parents wouldn't approve of the relationship. Mrs. Maldonado is upset that Reina didn't come to her dad's funeral. "She was young. She thought she was in love. She made a mistake," says Vic.

"You're wrong." Mrs. Maldonado stands up to leave. Vic tells her that Reina needs her mom. "No, not now!" Mrs. Maldonado walks out the front door.

"Look familiar, you big perv?" asks Danny, holding up the laptop. She and Julien found it in a desk drawer in the storage room. She jokes that she mailed in Dutch's renewal card for Tiger Beat. Dutch fails to see the humor.

When Vic goes back to the squadroom, Lauren is there. She supposedly made a mistake on her paperwork. "Maybe you were just hoping you'd run into me," he suggests. Is her boyfriend cooking tonight? No, he works weekends. Lauren doesn't want to sleep with Vic because of her chef. "Mentally, you're already checked out," says Vic. He'll explain what he means over dinner.

From bed, Mara asks why Shane has to go back to work: "I'm having a miscarriage." Shane brings her a glass of water. He already took her to the doctor and the couple was told it was just spotting. Shane kisses her and tells her to take it easy. Does she need anything else before he leaves? Mara wants the one thing she can't have right now: for Shane to stay.

Megan, Corinne, and Cassidy are on the clubhouse couch. The youngest has a bottle. (Isn't she weaned yet?) Lem is watching Matt draw. When Vic comes in, Cassidy asks if they can watch a movie. Corinne pulls Vic into the hallway and asks for a favor. Can Vic takes the kids this weekend? She knows he doesn't technically have them until next weekend, but there's something she has to do and she doesn't want the kids "to be around me like this."

Vic asks what's wrong. Did something happen to Corinne's mother? She doesn't answer, just says she's having a hard time. Vic hugs her and agrees to watch the kids. In exchange, Corinne says she'll take the kids next weekend. Vic says it's not necessary; he misses them. Before she leaves, Corinne promises she'll be fine. I'm starting to wonder if Owen got Corinne "in trouble" as they used to say and she doesn't want them to know she's getting an abortion.

Vic tells Lauren they can't have dinner tonight because he got a better offer: two nights with the kids. Lauren thinks it's a sign. Vic says he can make it up next week, but she turns him down.

Vic pays a visit to Edgar-veda at home. He lets the captain know that Chaydez is in jail and Reina is alive and safe. He also hands over the interrogation room videotape. Can't stand owing the boss something. "Dad, let's go!" Cassidy calls impatiently from the truck.

Edgar-veda sits down with Rigo, apparently a long-lost relative of his. He must've told him about being sexually assaulted because Rigo asks, "You couldn't stop them?" Edgar-veda explains there was a gun to his head. Nobody but Rigo knows it even happened. Edgar-veda feels guilty. He did what the rapist wanted so he could see his wife and daughter again: "Now all I do is make up excuses not to go home." The captain is about to cry.

"You did what you had to do. No one can blame you," says Rigo. Edgar-veda tells him about beating Chaydez: "The only thing that stopped me is I started to piss my pants. I'm losing control of everything." "Then take it back," Rigo advises. Edgar-veda sobs that he doesn't know how.

Rigo gives him a pep talk: Edgar-veda is a police captain in charge of 200 people. He's gonna be a city councilman. He has power, a gun, and a badge. Does Edgar-veda know who attacked him? He could find out, but what good would that do? "If it was me, I'd kill 'em," says Rigo. End of episode.

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