Thursday, February 2, 2017

Robberies and a "Riceburner" (Episode 3.12)

Previously on: Lauren the K-9 handler refused to break up with her boyfriend but wants to keep banging Vic. Matt got in trouble for biting another kid at school. Claudette was asked out by James, a witness in the Cuddler Rapist case. Corinne is deathly afraid that Matt's little sister Megan is autistic too. The Strike Team planted marked money on an Irish gangster named Neil. 

In the breakroom, the Barn's staff is listening to a classic law enforcement comedic bit, the supposed police department phone menu: "If you want to complain because one of our jackbooted thugs mistreated you and you want his goddamn badge, press 1. If you've committed a crime you think you can bullshit your way out of, press 2. If you're shirtless and threatening your girlfriend with a knife, but you don't want us interfering with true love, press 3."

The assembled cops chuckle.

"To report an incident of racial profiling, put down your crack pipe and press 4. If you can't locate one of your 7 unsupervised, fatherless children, press 5." Edgar-veda overhears and is predictably unamused. He tells everyone to get back to work and asks Vic for a progress report on the custom car sting. Ronnie's getting warrants and they'll start bugging cars as soon as they clear the judge's desk. Lewis' clients include drug dealers, money launderers, and a Hollywood guy who sells bootleg copies of his own movies.

Vic got the feds to give them state-of-the art surveillance gear and Ronnie is as giddy as a teenager with his first Playboy. The captain asks the Strike Team to serve a high-risk warrant in Koreatown as a favor to Detective Rodriguez. Curiously, the guy is Asian. Their target is Charlie Kim, an enforcer for the K-Town Killers. He's wanted for firebombing a motel, a fire in which 3 people died. Charlie is suspected in 4 other murders.

The motel owner agreed to testify against Charlie. The captain wants to show the Korean community that helping the police is a good thing. Edgar-veda needs Charlie brought in alive. If that's the case, he should probably send anybody other than the Strike Team. Charlie's currently holed up in an apartment complex.

"You're late," Vic snipes at Lem. Lem's sorry; he was at the hospital visiting Tavon, who's doing better now, moving and opening his eyes. Lem takes a swig from the prescription bottle in his locker. As Shane slaps a magazine into his gun, the ring on his ring finger doesn't escape Ronnie's notice. Vic looks shocked and not in a good way.

Shane confirms that he eloped with Mara over the weekend. Ronnie hugs him and Lem claps Shane on the back. "Any more surprises?" asks Vic.

Edgar-veda tells Danny and Julien that two expensive chairs were stolen from a moving truck in Echo Park. A woman named Sara bought the chairs at an estate sale. The case is another of the captain's political favors; Sara's hubby Nick is on the police commission's budget committee. The chairs cost $10,000, making it a felony theft. Danny speculates it could be an inside job.

The Strike Team arrives at Charlie's place. Vic says someone needs to watch the garage, lest their suspect drive off on his riceburner. Once the neighbor kids are safely out of the way, Lem kicks in the door. However, the guy on the other side of it isn't who they're looking for. "Where's Charlie?" Vic demands. If he's looking for Charlie, Koreatown is the wrong neighborhood; he should check Little Saigon.

Vic tells the guys to start knocking on every door in the building in case Charlie is hiding somewhere. He spots Charlie running, but it's too late. Charlie has hopped on his motorcycle. He starts firing what looks like an Uzi. Shane barks for someone to call a helicopter.

Suddenly, a woman screams. Vic finds a young boy lying next to a parked car; he seems to be dead. Lem checks on a second victim, a girl about the same age. "She's still breathing," he reports. The woman who initially screamed starts shouting at the cops in both English and Korean. Uniforms try to corral the now-unruly neighbors.

"What the hell happened here?" Edgar-veda asks. The young boy's body is covered with a tarp. Vic explains that Charlie was watching them from another apartment and escaped. The captain wants to know who's responsible. The people in Charlie's apartment turned out to be Korean tourists on their honeymoon. Vic's trying to run down John Cho, the building's owner. Rodriguez isn't having any luck getting witness statements from the neighbors.

The Strike Team finds John at a driving range that looks more like a parking garage. Vic tells him about the two kids who were just shot in front of his building. They were 7 and 8 years old, now one of them is dead.

Dutch notices Claudette is an especially good mood today. He surmises she had another date with James, which makes 3 nights this week. "You look tired. That cat still keeping you up at night?" Claudette asks. Dutch replies, "No." If only she knew...

Dutch takes a phone call and learns there's been a robbery at the 87-cent store. "Is there a profit in that?" Claudette chuckles. Dutch is curious about how serious things are between his partner and James.

At the store, the clerk thinks it was the woman's first time doing a robbery because she seemed nervous. Anxiety didn't keep her from pointing a snubnose in his face, however. He describes the woman as white, wearing a ballcap and sunglasses. That narrows it down.

Edgar-veda sits down with Rodriguez. Charlie might not have had a chance to shoot those kids if people hadn't protected him. Rodriguez reminds the captain of a Korean custom: "Don't trust the police, don't trust anybody but your own kind." Gangs serve the purpose of keeping blacks and Latinos out of Koreatown. I'm surprised Edgar-veda isn't mortally offended by that remark. The captain says that perception has to change, no doubt fearing a repeat of Season 1's race riots. He needs Rodriguez's help to get Charlie.

The Strike Team brings in their informant Taylor, who's griping that he can't be available for them 24/7. "I drop this confession of your third strike to the D.A. and your schedule clears up real fast," says Vic. If Taylor has business dealings with the Koreans, Vic needs the name of somebody he can lean on. Taylor knows a girl who's into ID theft.

Danny and Julien knock on the clubhouse door. She tells Vic about the stolen chair case. Does he know any fences? "Meet Taylor," Vic introduces.

"Married, huh?" Vic says to Shane as they drive around. He's sorry he missed the wedding. That's kinda the whole point of eloping. Is his best friend sure he knows what he's doing? Shane knows what he wants. "Just don't make the same mistakes I made," Vic cautions.

They go to the store run by Tracy the ID thief. Sidebar: My sophomore year of high school, we had a Korean exchange student. Nobody in small town Kentucky could pronounce her actual first name, so everyone called her Tracy, even the teachers. Vic says they're here to interview Tracy because she applied to be a CI. Tracy argues that she didn't.

Shane and Vic herd Tracy into the office. There, they find all the supplies needed to print fake credit cards. I wonder if her client list includes the Winchester family. Vic tells her that she doesn't need to provide a set number of tips, the opposite of what he told Connie once upon a time: "I judge my CIs by the quality of their work, not the quantity." If her information is solid, Vic's willing to let the credit card scam slide, even tip her off if there's ever a scheduled raid.

However, Tracy has to earn that privilege by giving up Charlie Kim. She claims to know about 15 guys by that name. Vic's got the wrong girl. "You the same Tracy Pok who's about to spend 8 years in federal prison for credit card fraud?" Vic asks lightly. Tracy gets the point.

Taylor tells Danny he's good at finding things and "we can start by findin' your smile." Danny shows him the pictures of the extremely ugly chairs, which are worth $10,000 apiece. "Not to no black people they're not," says Taylor. Julien agrees.

Dutch, going through surveillance tapes, remarks, "It looks like the 87-cent store paid that much for their video camera." Agent Nell from Treasury called Dutch to report they arrested a suspect in the money train heist. Claudette says a woman matching the 87-cent store clerk's vague description also walked out of a convenience store with merchandise this morning. They have a partial plate on the getaway car: a blue Honda Civic.

Corinne and Vic go to an office about getting another OT for Matt. Megan has now officially been diagnosed with autism, so she needs one too. The office worker explains that they try to assign their therapists to "situations with a high likelihood of success." Corinne's jaw drops. She stammers that Megan's autism isn't as severe and her doctor recommended early treatment.

This therapy program involves after-session exercises (newsflash: all OT/PT/speech programs do). Both parents work, so who'll do the exercises with the kids? Vic says they'll figure that out, but they need to be assigned a therapist in order to do that.

Dutch tells Claudette that if things are serious with James, "I can provide valuable insight into the male psyche." Yeah, the psyche of a crazy man, you deranged cat-strangler. Dutch has DMV reports on Civics matching the partial plates. One is registered to a married couple: Henry and Angie Deets. Henry has multiple priors for battery, spousal abuse, and misdemeanor thefts. He's also the registered owner of a .38 snubnose revolver.

Vic sees Agent Nell and Dutch leading Neil to an interrogation room. He goes downstairs to give the good news to the Strike Team. Everyone lets out a sigh of relief, then begins laughing hysterically.

Agent Nell fills in Edgar-veda on Neil. Last week, he deposited $17,000 into three different banks on the same day. Every single bill was on the marked money list. Neil's family also hails from Indio. "I thought the Irish were supposed to be lucky," Claudette remarks.

Rodriguez summons Edgar-veda onto the balcony. John Cho won't talk, fearful of what Charlie might do to his tenants. He pays protection money to Charlie every month and lets him drift to different addresses at will. Rodriguez has the list.

"This is weird," Lem comments as the Strike Team walks into an apartment complex courtyard. Every apartment has the curtains drawn. It smells like a set-up to Vic. They break into the apartment from the list. Inside, the TV is tuned to the Korean channel, but Charlie is nowhere to be found. Vic sticks his finger in a takeout container on the table and finds the food is cold. "He's probably on an underground rickshaw to Seoul by now," guesses Shane. Vic instructs the guys to start knocking on doors "not that it'll do any good." He calls the captain.

"Vic! Vic, get over here!" Lem suddenly barks, "Our car, man!" At first, I think somebody took off with it, but nope. The car is still parked where they left it...annnnnnd it's been torched. "You better flag down that rickshaw," Vic tells Shane. The neighbors have gathered around to watch the spectacle. "Somebody wants us outta here," says Vic.
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Danny informs Taylor that she and Julien already checked this pawn shop and didn't find the chairs. "Membership has its privileges," says Taylor. They go inside and show the flyer to Leroy the owner. Leroy confirms that a skinny guy tried to hock the chairs around 11:00 this morning and he didn't want them. Julien asks if there's anyone else the guy might try to sell them to. "Somebody lookin' for firewood," says Leroy.

Back at the Barn, Edgar-veda asks if the Strike Team is all right. "Car's a little overheated," Vic jokes. Rodriguez is out of ideas on how to get Charlie.

Dutch asks where Neil got all the money. Neil claims a friend owed him and paid it all back at once. When they ask for his friend's name, Neil changes his story and says he won it gambling in Vegas. Treasury Agent Nell informs him that payouts that big have to be reported to the IRS. Also, casinos have cameras everywhere. Which ones did he go to? Neil doesn't remember the names. "You remember a pyramid? A pirate ship, maybe?" asks Dutch. Luxor and Treasure Island, both on my personal list if I ever go to Vegas.

In the clubhouse, Vic tells the guys about Megan being diagnosed with autism. To get a therapist, Corinne has to become a stay-at-home mom again. Since the Treasury is focused on Neil, he figures it's safe to dip into the retirement fund. He'll only take enough to pay the therapist. Vic asks them to discuss it amongst themselves. "Whatever you guys decide, I'll respect it." I think we all know what Lem's answer will be.

When Vic leaves, all is quiet for a minute. Shane knows Vic wouldn't ask if he didn't really need it. I'm completely shocked when Lem says no. "Jesus, Lem, come on. These are his kids," says Shane. Lem points out that Vic won't be much good to his kids if he's in jail. They also can't be sure if the feds are really off their scent: "Every time we spend a dime of that money, some new shitstorm smacks us in the face." He's got something there...

Shane trusts Vic to play it smart. If a guy can't help his family out in an emergency like this, what was the point of stealing the money in the first place? "We said we wouldn't make the same mistakes as the dumbasses we catch," says Lem. Shane assures him they won't. This coming from the guy who wanted to use marked money to buy a Lexus for Mara. Lem doesn't think Vic is looking at the big picture. Ronnie is on the fence.

Dutch lets Neil know that his $17,000 was marked. Not only that, it was stolen from the Armenian mob. Neil has a shot at less prison time if he gives up the other three guys who were in on the robbery. Neil explains how he found the money on the street. "Where? On the yellow brick road?" asks Dutch. He doesn't believe Neil, even though it's exactly what happened.

The chair thief is getting desperate, even tried to pawn the chairs at a furniture place. The store owner suggested the guy sell the chairs to the S&M club. The thief left a number, which the owner thinks he threw away. As Danny walks to the door, Taylor admires the way her butt looks in her uniform pants. He asks Julien if she's seeing anyone. Julien doesn't know and wouldn't set him up with Danny anyway. The store owner produces a piece of paper with several different phone numbers written on it.

Vic finds Lauren "catching up on paperwork" at one of the Barn's computers. She says the scenery here is nicer than Wilshire. "You know, we keep meeting this way and one of these detectives might think that we actually like each other," says Vic. Lauren invites Vic to join her next weekend at a dog handling seminar in San Diego. Vic thinks he can fit that in his schedule.

Tracy calls with a tip that Charlie is at a PC arcade, which Vic relays to Rodriguez and Edgar-veda. "There might be more children there," says Rodriguez. Vic promises they'll be careful. When they arrive, Charlie is once again gone and there's a vacant computer that wasn't logged out of. Ronnie checks it and says Charlie left 6 minutes ago. "Oh, this is bullshit!" Lem complains.

At Tracy's store, Vic accuses her of tipping Charlie off. He tells the guys to seize everything in her office as evidence. Vic handcuffs her. Tracy says she's one of the few store owners who doesn't pay protection money to the K-Town Killers, but they'll find her sooner or later. Vic's offering a better deal than she'd ever get from the gang. He uncuffs her.

Claudette and Dutch have Henry the wifebeater in an interrogation room. He walks with a cane due to a slipped disk. Claudette asks where his gun is. Henry is sure it's at home; Angie knows better than to touch it. Dutch tells him Angie used the gun in a robbery. Where is she? Angie works as a temp, but Henry supposedly doesn't know where. Like a control freak like him wouldn't be tracking her every move. When Dutch barely touches Henry's arm, he cries that his back hurts and he wants his lawyer.

Vic drags Rodriguez out of the captain's office by his neck. He tries to shove Rodriguez's phone down his throat. Does he want to make another call to Charlie? Edgar-veda stops him. Vic is sure Rodriguez has been tipping Charlie off all day. "He killed a child and you're protecting him?" the captain asks his friend. Rodriguez has talked to community leaders and can't help what they do.

"That's conspiracy," says Edgar-veda. Rodriguez doesn't want cops like Vic storming through Koreatown. He won't give up Charlie. Edgar-veda calls down to the uniforms, telling them to turn Koreatown upside down.

Vic goes to the clubhouse and tells the Strike Team to gear up. Everyone stands there awkwardly. Vic guesses they voted and which way it went. He lets them know he isn't upset and seems to mean it.

The Strike Team van and a slew of police cars arrive in Koreatown. Shane lays down the rules. If there's a code violation, write a ticket. If something illegal is going on, arrest whoever's doing it. If someone smarts off, pop them in the mouth.

Dutch laments that he couldn't get the truth out of Neil. Claudette tells him that Henry's lawyer Arreyo Gonzalez is here. "The ambulance-chaser who's on all the city buses?" Dutch says worriedly, "You saw that I just barely touched that guy, right?" When they walk in the room, the first thing out of Gonzalez's mouth is, "Is that the officer who assaulted you?"

Dutch wonders why a mild-mannered housewife would suddenly start robbing convenience stores. Does Henry still beat her? "You've bullied Angie for years. She's runnin' around knocking off stores with your gun in your car and you don't know nothin' about it?" says Claudette. They know he recently bought 5 boxes of .38 ammo. Uniforms are waiting for Angie outside his house. She'll tell the cops about her husband putting her up to it.

Downstairs, Dutch isn't so sure that Angie is acting on orders. Claudette doesn't see any other explanation. Dutch argues that you never know what someone else is truly capable of: "If I told you the worst 5 things I've done in my life, I bet a few would surprise you."

Vic and Shane go to a dirty-looking Korean restaurant that somehow got an A from the health department. "We know about the little wink-wink deal you have with your councilman. No more grade fixing," Shane says as he tears the sign in half. They're shutting down her place. If she wants to reopen, she can tell them where to find Charlie.

Edgar-veda doesn't understand why his old friend Rodrgiuez is being so hostile; he used to rebel against his strict Korean upbringing. Rodriguez asks if Edgar-veda would destroy the Hispanic community's culture if he became councilman. "If they protected a child killer, yes, I would," says the captain. He stands firm that the police aren't leaving Koreatown without Charlie.

Vic and Shane are confiscating clothes from an illegal sidewalk sale when Edgar-veda calls. He gives them the address of where Charlie is hiding. Before the team gets out of the van at the house, Vic tells them, "Option one is we take him alive, but feel free to consider option two." Lem breaks down the door. Vic and Ronnie find Charlie hiding in a bedroom closet.

Claudette and Dutch talk to Angie's friend Ginnie. "Thanks to Hank, I'm her only friend," she says, "Did that bastard hit her again?" No, she's wanted for committing armed robbery with her husband's gun. Ginnie is adamant that Angie would never do such a thing. However, she's been talking about starting a new life and thought $4,000-5,000 would be enough to get her away from Hank. In L.A.? Surely you jest.

Claudette asks why such a specific amount. Half would be for Angie and the other half to pay Hank's back rent so he wouldn't get evicted. She and Dutch go back upstairs to tell Hank he's free to leave. Hank wants Dutch to apologize. Claudette tells him, "Your wife's out robbing stores so she can leave you." Hank doesn't believe her.

Dutch chuckles, asking who could blame Angie for leaving. "Not me," says Claudette. Hank stands up angrily, knocking his open soda can onto the floor. Thought you had a bad back? Attorney Gonzalez murmurs, "Don't aggravate your injury."

Outside a local barber shop, Danny and Julien run across two old men playing chess. They're also sitting on the stolen chairs. Danny asks where they got them. "We get our 10 bucks back?" one of the chess players wants to know.

Dutch and Claudette go to a dry-cleaners, where the owner just shot and killed a would-be robber. The victim is Angie. "She, uh, finally got away from Hank," Dutch says. The owner explains that he recognized Angie from the police flyers and that she pulled a gun on him. It was self-defense. "How long to wheel her outta here?" the guy asks.
Actual screenshot of Claudette's reaction.
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The guy's only concern is reopening his store.

Vic puts Charlie in the cage. This might not help the captain capture the hearts and minds of the Korean voter demographic. Edgar-veda doesn't care. Vic asks if the captain can scratch up some overtime, say, 15-20 hours a week. Edgar-veda doesn't have any overtime to give, let alone that much. Vic explains that Megan is autistic too. Private occupational therapy is expensive, especially for two kids.

The captain doesn't want Vic spreading himself too thin. They still haven't closed the AGC custom car sting. Edgar-veda uses a classic parent phrase: "I'll see what I can do." He sees that Neil is being released because he stuck to his "it fell off a truck" story. Vic overhears. He and Lem exchange a look.

At home, James joins Claudette in the shower. Things are getting serious, all right. Seriously steamy.

Vic finds Lauren in the Barn's ladies' room. "You told me not to leave without saying goodbye. That was 4 hours ago," she says. Vic locks the door. They start making out. Lauren chuckles, "This is so high school." No, it's so Bobby and Diane. Vic thinks he can make it to San Diego. The moment is interrupted by someone knocking on the bathroom door.

Taylor offers to get Danny concert tickets. What kind of music does she like? He wants to get to know her better. Danny thanks him for helping with the case.

When Vic comes over, Corinne offers him a beer. She proposes a toast to Matt and Megan getting a therapist. Sessions will start in two weeks. However, one of them will have to be home more. How soon can Vic give notice? Then, "Oh, go ahead, say it. It has to be me." Vic reminds her that someone has to pay the bills. Corinne argues that she makes plenty as a nurse, especially with overtime.

"How does it feel to get to be selfish, or don't you know because you're 'with the children as much as you can be'?" Corinne throws Vic's words back at him. Vic thinks Corinne is the best person for the job. She defeatedly says, "Yeah. I know."

Back at the clubhouse, Lem wants to explain why they voted that Vic shouldn't use the retirement fund: "It's not like your kids aren't worth it. It's just that--" Vic doesn't need an explanation. Besides, he and Corinne worked out a plan. Ronnie offers to buy everyone a beer. "With your own money?" Shane snarks. Vic has to find Charlie's paperwork.

"How about you guys?" Ronnie asks the others. Shane has to get home to Mara. Lem hopes the newlyweds are happy. "We did the right thing. We did the right thing," he says, as though he's trying to convince himself. I have a feeling he won't be joining Ronnie for a drink; alcohol isn't good for ulcers. End of episode.

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