Friday, March 3, 2017

"The Cure" For What Ails You (Episode 4.1)

We jump into Season 4 without a "previously on" segment. Vic and a group of uniforms raid an apartment. One of the uniforms gets bitten in the leg by the tenant's pitbull; he manages to shoot it. The haul from the raid is $6,000 and stolen DVD players, still in the boxes.

The uniform who was bitten didn't hear the dog coming. "Suspect cut the vocal cords. Didn't your T.O. warn you they do that now?" asks Julien. Danny tells them that Assistant Chief Phillips is on his way. Vic sighs and says to the rookie, "You woulda been better off shootin' the suspect." The official story is Phillips fears that a trigger-happy officer might mistake a kid for a dog. The more likely reason Phillips' wife raises cockapoos and probably cuts him off sex whenever a cop kills a dog.

Didn't the rookie see the mandate that came out last month? The guy nervously says he just started last week. "Don't sweat it, Scooby," says Vic. And thus a nickname is born.

Assistant Chief Phillips arrives accompanied by Glenn Close. I know her best from her wickedly delightful portrayal of Cruella in the live-action 101 Dalmatians movie. Phillips wants to know where the shooter is. Vic tells him it was a rookie who had no other choice. He gestures to the kitchen. The dog's body is lying on the floor; someone (probably Vic) laid a gun next to it. "Oh, come on, Roy," says Glenn with a smile, "If the dog had a piece, he was gonna use it." Even the assistant chief can't quite hold back a smirk. Before leaving, she adds, "Nice collar."

Assistant Chief Phillips introduces Edgar-veda to Glenn AKA Monica Rawling, his replacement. The soon-to-be-ex-captain wasn't expecting her for a week. Monica is taking personal time to get a cursory take on the Barn. Assistant Chief Phillips says, "Monica started as a patrol officer in Farmington." "Yeah, everyone knows you put in your time," says Edgar-veda the test-taker. Monica asks to meet the troops, so Edgar-veda takes her around the Barn.

Dutch and Claudette confer about this. "I didn't expect them to go for another woman. You know, I mean, after they torpedoed you," he says. Claudette gives him a thank-you-for-reminding-me look. Monica comes over to shake Claudette's hand; she's heard a lot about her.

In the clubhouse, Ronnie and Vic are playing cards, halfway watching grainy black-and-white surveillance video on an old TV. Ronnie asks whether Vic's latest girlfriend is "a screamer or a moaner." Vic tells Ronnie to get his own woman. Edgar-veda introduces them to Monica. He brings her up to speed on the AGC sting, a local custom car outfit that's also in the money-laundering business. Vic's expecting to get about 3 dozen arrests out of it.

Monica is itching to go on the streets. Can Edgar-veda spare Vic to give her the grand tour? He agrees as long as they aren't gone all day; Vic has to log evidence tapes. As they drive through the neighborhood, we learn Monica has spent the last 3 years heading the domestic abuse unit. "I see the Farm's as rough as ever," she notes. Vic gives her a whaddaya-gonna-do speech; nobody wants to accept help, at least not from the police.

Monica asks what happened to the Strike Team. Vic explains that Tavon got in a bad car accident and a couple of other guys transferred. The department claimed they didn't have to money to restock the pond. Vic laments that they "pulled the plug on somethin' that works." He'll be back on the streets himself after he ditches the Garage Sting.

A radio call comes in, requesting additional officers. A homicide just took place at the Pavo Real Motel. Vic makes a U-turn. In the tiny motel bathroom, several people are dead, their hands zip-tied behind their backs. The victims are the Veneza family, locals. Which begs the question, why stay in a motel when you live here? Dutch exposits the family's been here since their eviction last month and they're paying for the room with "several over-maxed credit cards." It looks to Billings like they were all drowned in the tub.

Edgar-veda wants the case solved by next week so Monica won't think she's inheriting a mess. He assigns Billings to be the primary, not Dutch and Claudette. Those two got themselves in hot water with the D.A.'s office after Claudette pushed to reopen cases tried by a drug-addled public defender. Edgar-veda doesn't want to hear any complaints; it isn't his fault. Billings asks Claudette and Dutch to see if the Venezas car is still outside and help with getting witness statements. Like you'd find many cooperative witnesses in a place like that.

Vic and Monica stick their heads in the bathroom. A prostitute who does business out of the hotel heard someone scream, but didn't call for help because she was...otherwise engaged. "Lovely," Claudette mutters. Dutch found a pay locker key in the Venezas car. Claudette looks in the backseat and remarks they have a bigger problem: an empty booster seat.

In Mrs. Veneza's wallet, Monica finds a picture of a little boy who's probably 2 or 3. Vic hurries out of the room. The One-Niners run drugs out of the motel and no crime happens in the neighborhood that they don't know about. Can Monica get a ride back to the Barn with somebody? Monica would rather go with Vic.

Vic stops at a restaurant where every other customer is wearing One-Niner purple. He asks the nearest guy what he knows about someone drowning a family at the Pavo Real and kidnapping their little boy. The guy claims he has no idea anything like that even happened. Vic knows "you maggots use that motel like it's a frat house." If the kid is found alive, Vic won't burn the fleabag to the ground.

A One-Niner named T-Gun gets mouthy with Monica. She pats him down. He seems to recognize her. Monica bets she probably arrested T-Gun's dad back in the day; T-Gun says he never knew his dad. She finds a knife in his pocket, which violates his probation. Monica doesn't have time to write him up, so she'll keep his driver's license as collateral; he can pick it up at the Farmington precinct. "That was a waste," she gripes. Vic isn't so sure about that: "We stirred up the pot. Now we'll see what boils over."

A.D.A. Insardi joins the cops at the motel. The missing boy has been identified as 3-year-old Little Eddie. The crime lab put a rush on all the evidence. Claudette suspects he was kidnapped for very sinister reasons. Why kill the people who could pay ransom? Edgar-veda assigns Dutch and Claudette to trace the pay locker, which Dutch protests. The A.D.A. doesn't appreciate his attitude.

Corinne calls Vic, asking if he can come over today and sign an agreement for a realtor to show their marital home. I hope their realtor isn't named Mara. Vic asks her to drop it off at the Barn when she gets off work.

Monica asks if it's true Vic is leaving the Barn. Vic put his name in to run a new street crime unit. The new boss has bad news: someone else got the job.

"RESPECT!" shouts a group of black men. A very large black, Antwon, gives an impassioned speech before them: "Our sisters need us. They're raising our babies alone while we're out in the street chasing women or money or drugs instead of giving them respect. Our babies, they need us in their lives. Our mothers need us. Too many have cried too many tears, buried too many sons."

Vic and Monica wander into the community center and stand at the back of the crowd. Vic exposits Antwon is a One-Niner O.G. The crowd is made up of gangbangers from rival sets and dozens of civilians. Antwon recognizes the police officers: "You put more than two black men together and look who shows up." I roll my eyes, thinking he's about to change topics to All Cops Are Racist No Matter What. Instead, Antwon continues, "But it's our own fault because we commit the crimes." He talks about his bad old days with the One-Niners.

Antwon urges the gangbangers in the crowd to put the salesmanship and hustling skills they learned on the streets to positive use. Open a restaurant or a store, hell, even a bank. The rally ends with a round of

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Dutch and Claudette are at a 24-hour gym, looking for the locker their key goes to. Dutch asks why Claudette had to torch his career along with her own. Nobody forced him to help her. Claudette wouldn't blame him if he requested a new partner. Dutch examines a locker: "You could definitely fit a child in there." A naked passerby watches them curiously. Instead, Dutch finds a Duffel O' Cash.

After Antwon's rally, there's music and a potluck lunch. Vic doesn't buy that a One-Niner with the unfortunate street name of Stank doesn't know nothing about a kidnapping/multiple homicide on his turf. Antown remembers Monica from her time in uniform and asks about her old partner Nelson. She says he died of cancer 3 years ago. Vic tells him about what went down at the Pavo Real Motel, a known "One-Niner cesspool." Looking around the room, he adds, "These million men, they're One-Niners."

Antown claims this is just a community cookout. Vic calls bullshit; he knows a gang council when he sees one. This has to be a parole violation. Antwon informs Vic that he's been off probation for 4 months: "I ain't the system's slave no mo'." Vic and Monica know he didn't just retire. Antwon swears he's just trying to keep this generation from repeating his mistakes.

Vic wants Antwon to come to the Barn. Antwon insists on having his friends escort him because "this is the city that plants evidence on innocent brothers. Shoots us in the back, says we were resisting. Takes us to their police house, sticks a plunger in our ass." "Actually, that one was New York," Monica corrects. The Abner Louima incident resulted in protests, a $5.8 million settlement, and a ripped-from-the-headlines episode of Law & Order: SVU.

Dutch and Claudette tell Billings that Mr. Veneza had $35,000 stashed in a gym locker. With this much lying around, how did the family get evicted? Billings talked to the older son's classmates, who pointed him in the direction of a gangbanger named Chalindo of the Coronado Boys. The gang is known for kidnapping.

Antwon looks around the Barn and remembers going to church there as a kid. Monica introduces Antwon to Edgar-veda. The almost-ex-captain wants to know what he has to do with the multiple murder. Monica explains the One-Niners run the motel.

Vic tells him about not getting the street crimes post. Edgar-veda didn't know he was transferring. "Then why'd you write a 4-page letter sabotaging it?" asks Vic. He talked to someone downtown who owes him a favor. "You stabbed me in the back. You didn't want me to find out about it until you ran outta here, right?"
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Edgar-veda doesn't want to pass Vic along to be someone else's problem. He's not pleased with the way Vic's been running the Garage Sting. Thousands of dollars and hours of surveillance only got them 9 minor busts. Edgar-veda gives him an ass-reaming in front of the entire squadroom: "You ran the Strike Team into the ground. To get you under control, I parked you in front of videotapes for 6 months and you even managed to botch that! You are a joke."

Vic charges at Edgar-veda, who's also ready for a fight. It takes three guys apiece to hold them back. "After everything, you thought I wouldn't get the last word?" asks Edgar-veda. Monica remarks, "One happy family, huh?"

Upstairs, Vic wants to know why everyone says Antwon still runs the One-Niners when he supposedly "hung up [his] colors to preach the peace." Antwon explains his status "keeps him real to the little homies." People talking doesn't make it true.

In observation, Edgar-veda is sorry he didn't have a chance to warn Monica about Vic sooner. She'll learn how to get him under control. "Didn't look like anyone was in control downstairs," she says lightly. She read his letter. If half the allegations were true, Vic would've been fired a long time ago.

All Vic wants to know is who kidnapped Little Eddie. If Antwon tells him, Vic won't look into how all the new banks and restaurants are being funded. Antwon isn't worried; Monica's partner died before he could get anything on him.

Monica comes in the room and argues Nelson did get something on Antwon: a 13-year sentence at Lompoc for trafficking. However, Antwon skated on shooting three people at a crack house and stabbing a cop in the leg. Vic tosses Antwon's catchphrase back at him: "Respect." Antwon flips Vic off, but only after the door is safely closed.

Lem brings in a file on Chalindo, who's done time for robbery. Nobody's seen Chalindo for two weeks, but Lem can talk to the kid's mom. Dutch tells him that he and Claudette can handle it. Being Dutch, he also theorizes that the family sold Little Eddie into the sex trade. "Why?" asks Lem. Claudette replies, "Because that's how Dutch thinks." Dutch argues it's the way of the world these days.

Claudette asks Lem how he likes working for the Youth Authority. His response is a typical Lem-ism: "It's pretty cool. Lotsa kids." He hangs his head, clearly missing the Barn. On his way out, he stops in the clubhouse. Monica is there and tells him Ronnie and Vic are in the field. He asks her to tell them Lem stopped by.

The name Lemansky rings a bell for her, which it would for anyone. She remembers that he was on the Strike Team and introduces herself as the new captain. She read his personnel file and thinks the Barn lost a good man. Lem shrugs that he needed a change. Monica understands; she heard Vic can be hard to work with. Lem claims didn't have a problem with Vic. True, his beef was mostly with Shane. "Just time," he says lamely.

Chalindo's mom hasn't seen her son in weeks and didn't bother to report him missing, but has the gall to insist: "I couldn't have been a better mom." "Ma'am, this isn't about you," says Dutch. It's about a murdered family and a kidnapped toddler. Chalindo's mom claims she had no control over her son and what he did, no matter how hard she tried. "Well, yes, I can see that," Claudette lies.

Vic goes to Antwon's surprisingly sparse apartment and offers to have bars installed on the windows as a Christmas gift. Antwon chuckles, "13 years, you learn what you can live without." He just wants a view. He warns Vic to stop asking around about him; Vic should just come to him like a man.

Antwon presents a witness to the motel drownings: Elena, one of the maids. She supposedly saw two Latinos exiting the Venezas room with Little Eddie. She wrote down some of the license plate number from their blue Honda. Elena's only coming forward because Antwon promised protection. Vic asks curiously, "What kinda protection can an ex-con motivational speaker offer?" Antwon basically tells him not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe Vic can do him a favor someday.

Billings found out that Mr. Veneza was into a loan shark for $35,000. Claudette is looking into whether any Coronado Boys have ties to Chalindo. Monica sees the stack of mug shots and wonders why they're not in a database or on a wall. "The Barn's an apt name. We're low-tech," Claudette says. Hell, they only have one computer. Monica asks how Vic kept his gang data organized. Claudette says Vic isn't exactly organized, but she'll let the boss decide what Vic's strengths are.

Monica addresses the elephant in the room: "Whoever cost you that job, it wasn't me." The D.A.'s office has a right to be upset. Claudette's investigation has caused 17 convictions to be overturned; 40 more cases are being appealed. She's made her point and should get on with things. Dutch announces Vic might have located a suspect.

When they break into the apartment, cartoons are playing on a small TV in the kitchen. Little Eddie is crying and chained to a table leg. Monica unhooks the chain and picks up the crying toddler, attempting to soothe him. Little Eddie will be going to Mission Cross to be checked out. Vic has the cell phone number of suspected kidnapper Fernando. Dutch gets a warrant to triangulate Fernando's position. After that happens, Vic tackles a suspect after a brief foot chase behind a body shop.

Danny tells an injured man that the ambulance has arrived. The guy doesn't want to go to the hospital. "But you've been shot," says Julien. The guy tells Julien he doesn't have insurance; I bet there's more to the story than just that. ERs are legally obligated to stabilize you, insurance or no. The victim doesn't know who shot him anyway because it was a drive-by. None of the neighbors are talking. Julien's not surprised.

Monica tells Dutch that his name came up when Assistant Chief Phillips gave her background on the Barn. She knows about Claudette's personal Project Innocence crusade and warns that could drag Dutch down with her. Monica asks Billings to let Claudette and Dutch interview the suspect who's more likely to confess; they need a win.

Claudette doesn't think Fernando seems like the kind of guy who's capable of drowning a family one by one. It must've been awful for him to watch. She and Dutch go next door to tell the second suspect that Fernando is about to break, but not killing Little Eddie will count for something. He doesn't buy it, so it's back to Fernando. Why is his friend Tito acting like Little Eddie is dead?

Fernando says Tito held Mr. Veneza's head underwater. When he realized he went too far, Tito decided to kill the rest of the family. They were trying to find out where the $35,000 was. Mr. Veneza and his son had gotten into the heroin trade, or la cura, with Chalindo's help. The son never let on that there really was no heroin to be bought.

Fernando kidnapped Little Eddie to keep Tito from killing him. 3 years old or not, Tito said a witness was a witness. Fernando sounds panicky, "I didn't drown anyone and I saved a little kid. That's all good, right?"

Vic talks to Dead-Eye, a One-Niner who got kicked off his drug corner. Did he have differences with his boss, namely Antwon? How does Dead-Eye plan on feeding his two sons now? It'd be real easy to set him up. Dead-Eye sends his kids in the house so Daddy can talk business. If Vic gives him enough money, he'll give up Antwon.

Julien asks a bunch of boys on bikes about the shooting. All he gets are sassy answers. Julien asks if they really want to throw their lives away by joining a gang. Would they like to see what juvie looks like? I bet Lem could arrange a Scared Straight session. Danny sends the disrespectful shits on their way and asks Julien why he took that. Julien quotes, "'Jesus said, 'Suffer the little children unto me.'" That includes bad kids. "That doesn't mean we have to suffer too," Danny points out.

Thanks to the surveillance tapes, Ronnie now has enough evidence to nail Mike Winston. Vic thinks it has to do with Mike shaking down local store owners. Not exactly. On the tape, we see Mike beating his son, who can't be more than 12, for sitting in the driver's seat of his car. The kid cries and begs Mike to stop.

Mrs. Winston isn't in the picture due to being in a psych ward. But if they arrest Mike, they risk blowing their covert surveillance on him and everyone else. Vic is clearly bothered as he listens to the kid sobbing and Mike shouting, "Stop whining!"

Vic goes to a bar, asks to see their liquor license, and orders a beer. Mike walks over to confront Vic for stealing his seat. "You saving this seat for your boyfriend?" asks Vic. Mike punches him in the face. "Mike, he's a cop," the bartender cautions. Vic administers a sound thrashing.

At Mission Cross, Corinne brings Vic an ice pack for his head and asks him to wait while she gets the realtor agreement out of her locker. "I said I'd stop by," he says with a roguish smile. The plan is to sell while the market is still good, then send the kids to school in the district where Corinne's mom lives.

"You really did a number on Winston," says Ronnie as he sits next to his boss. Fortunately, the kid's grandparents in Simi Valley offered to take him in. Looking sideways at Vic, he adds, "I thought they were gonna fix your face?" "They're gonna hafta fix yours in a minute," Vic teases.

Julien and Danny are still waiting for detectives at the scene of the drive-by. The dispatcher tells them to report back to the Barn; someone else needs their car.

Vic tells Monica he's working on a CI contract for Dead-Eye. She asks about the bruise on his head. Vic shrugs that a drunk picked a fight. Monica advises him not to get off to a bad start by lying to her; she's aware of what happened with Mike Winston. He explains that he saw Mike on tape abusing his son. As a dad, he couldn't stand for it.

To preserve the Garage Sting, he let Mike throw the first punch. Assaulting an officer violated Mike's parole. Monica tells him that was equal parts smart and stupid. We learn Vic jumped on the Pavo Real Motel murders with both feet because he and the Strike Team were about to have the motel shut down when they were disbanded.

Monica respects his experience and admires his dedication. However, that doesn't wash away reading a confidential letter, insubordination, and "a bar brawl chaser." Is Vic trying to get fired? Edgar-veda's letter essentially black-balled Vic from any other unit in L.A. They're stuck with each other.

Monica plans to start a gang task force. Vic tells her, "Good luck. The department wouldn't fund another guy for the Strike Team." She's not using city funds; she'll bankroll it by seizing "houses, cars, businesses, anything bought with drug money." 1/3 of the money will be put back into the neighborhoods for after-school programs and that kind of thing.

All the new captain needs is someone to run things on the street..."someone who won't lose control." Boy, is she looking at the wrong candidate. Monica should put in a call to the Youth Authority; Lem always kept his head about the best. Vic wants the job, but Monica needs to be sure she can trust him. She gives him a week to straighten up, even though he already had 3 years on the Strike Team to do that.

Dutch tells A.D.A Insardi that Fernando and Tito keep pointing fingers at each other, but it shouldn't be hard to prove them both guilty. Chalindo's nowhere to be found: "Mom of the year probably tipped him off." Insardi praises Billings, who says he couldn't have done it without Claudette and Dutch. The A.D.A. brushes that off. Dutch, of course, is pissy about not getting credit.

Aurora tells Edgar-veda that it's a little difficult for her to do couples' counseling by herself. Has he decided he doesn't like this therapist either? "You need to get past it," Aurora goes on insensitively, "I'm tired of feeling like I was raped too." Edgar-veda snaps, "If I'm not good enough for you, then find someone else." Maybe they should get divorced. Aurora says no way: "Whatever it is you need to do to help yourself, do it already."

"God, I hope this guy's not bonin' us," Vic says as he and Ronnie walk up to Dead-Eye's house. He peeks in the window and tells Ronnie there's a problem. Somebody shot Dead-Eye in the head. When Vic and Ronnie walk into the living room, they hear something fall over. Vic takes cover behind the couch.

A familiar voice calls, "Freeze! Police! Come out!" "Shane?" Vic calls back. He asks what his best buddy is doing there. Shane claims one of his C.I.s tipped him off about a shooting. He doesn't have any backup and was about to call it in when Vic showed up.
Actual screenshot of Michael Chiklis.
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Vic sends Ronnie to watch the door as Shane rummages through Dead-Eye's shelves. When Vic asks why Vice was looking into the dead gangbanger, Shane changes to the subject. Mara had Shane's son 3 weeks ago and they named him Jackson. "As in Michael?" asks Vic. Good ol' boy Shane says, "As in Stonewall." He sure was sorry to hear Vic got shafted out of the street crime detail.

Vic tells Shane about the drownings at Pavo Real. The Strike Team could've had the place condemned if they hadn't been so busy covering their own asses. And remind me whose fault that was again? "Too many dickheads, too little time," shrugs Shane, pocketing Dead-Eye's Blackberry. Off Vic's look, he says, "I had dealings with this guy. You know how it is." Vic tells Shane to put it back. Shane refuses because his name is in it. Along with Antwon's?

Vic asks who killed Dead-Eye. Shane has a question of his own: "You wanna smell my gun?" I know he means it in the literal sense, but it still sounds so dirty. Vic presses. Was it Antwon? Shane decides to let Vic call in about the body and leaves. End of episode.

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