Friday, March 17, 2017

The New Boss Starts Off With a "Bang" (Episode 4.3)

Previously on: Monica was brought in to replace Edgar-veda. Dutch and Claudette were blackballed by the D.A.'s office because the latter is reopening cases tried by a drug-addled legal aid attorney. Monica is starting a new gang task force and gave Vic a week to convince her that he should run it. Lem quit the Strike Team, mostly for health reasons, and transferred to Youth Authority. 

Antwon Mitchell fancies himself as a reformed gangbanger, but Vic knows he's still calling shots for the One-Niners. Shane stole a dead dealer's Blackberry because his name was in it and may be in bed with Antwon. The One-Niners started selling off all their crack to make the jump to heroin. 

Julien tapes off an accident scene. A car is wrapped around a streetlight. One of the casualties yells out, "What's up with my legs, man?" "I think that's Betty Johnson's boy," mutters a female witness. Another man lies dead on the sidewalk. Rap music is still blaring from the wrecked car. A uniform turns it off and we see a man dead in the passenger seat.

"Drive-by in the hood, that's original," Billings remarks as he arrives. Julien tells him all the victims were members of Spookstreet. They couldn't find the SUV's driver, but they did find half a key of heroin in the backseat. The paramedics don't think the guy asking why he can't move his legs will make it. No witnesses, also original.

Vic splits a pitcher of beer with Lem and Ronnie. He asks what the junior gangbangers are saying about Antwon. Lem confirms what Shane told them about the heroin shipments. Vic tells Lem his suspicions that Shane is involved in Antwon's business ventures. "Well, he's not my problem," shrugs Lem. Vic reminds him that Shane getting investigated by Internal Affairs could mean very bad things for all four of them; he could give them up in exchange for a lighter sentence.

In spite of all the bad blood between them, Lem is sure Shane wouldn't rat on them. "He was ready to go to jail for Mara when she almost killed Tavon," Vic says. Besides, Shane has more to lose now that he's a daddy. Ronnie says they have to cozy up to Shane again to keep an eye on him. Lem hasn't talked to him in months. As his bestie, Vic plans to deal with Shane himself.

Vic also went behind Lem's back and talked to his supervisor. Tomorrow, he'll be riding with Danny and Julien, who are looking into the One-Niners. Vic wants to be the first to know if they pick up any kids who start talking about Shane or Antwon.

Today is Monica's first official day as captain, which calls for a speech. She finds it unfortunate that everyone knows about the Barn's scandals, but not its successes. She knows the Barn is "full of wonderful people who want to make a difference." Monica starts to get nervous; she's not a good public speaker. "They say you should imagine your audience naked, but with this crowd, I wouldn't suggest it," Vic pipes up.

That turns out to be just the right tension-breaker. Monica puts down her note cards and speaks from the heart. She knows what it's like on the streets and thanks the officers on behalf of the public. Lem is watching her from the very back of the room. Monica believes the problems are not the employees' fault; it's bad policies and she wants to change them. The assembled cops applaud.

Farmington's denizens are mostly poor and some don't speak English. They only know three things: drugs, gangs, and fear. The police may not be miracle workers, but it's no secret things are too easy for the criminals. That too must change. People clap again.

Monica talks about the gang war brewing between Spookstreet and the One-Niners; five people are dead as the result of last night's drive-bys. She asks what Billings knows. He admits not much. The SUV's owner/driver is still in the wind.

"Starting today, all drug and gang-related homicides will go through Vic Mackey," Monica announces. She's assigned 10 detectives and 20 uniforms to work under him. Their job is to gather data on the 50 or so gangs who operate in Farmington. This is all deja vu to Lem.

Monica adds that everyone will also be enforcing federal asset forfeiture laws. Seized property will be sold at police auctions with profits split between the D.A.'s office, community programs, and the police department. Every guy except Lem cheers the grand reopening of the men's room. Monica plans to hire more people, authorize more overtime, and buy "equipment that actually works." Everyone laughs at the last one.

Informants will also get a cut of seizure profits: "Citizens whose fear and silence the gangs depend on. We are gonna make them a better deal than the bangers." Monica's aware that people are resistant to change, but they'll all make the community better.

Vic interrupts the speech to tell her about another gang shooting with two dead and one in critical condition. Monica wraps up by saying, "The job is impossible, but I can't do it without you. So let's get started."

Vic tells Monica, "I didn't think you could top fixin' the men's john." Monica warns him not to be too impressed; she still hasn't figured out how to set up her new voicemail. Vic wants to sweep for open warrants, send out extra patrols, and get as many Spookstreet and One-Niners off the street as they can. The gang war might only last a week or it could drag on for a year. Monica orders him to put a stop to it.

Edgar-veda's office has been turned into the gang task force's command post. Everyone has been assigned gang territory to map and will be issued a Polaroid camera to document gangbangers and their ink. Danny, Julien, and Lem are going to One-Niner turf to find out what sparked the war. I hope somebody told the uniforms to throw a few dozen packs of Rolaids in their glovebox. Danny thought Lem had transferred. "Half the Niners are under 17," Lem explains, "I mixed it up with the other half on the Strike Team."

Ronnie has a rap sheet on Choppa, the owner of the ruined Escalade. Teams are staking out Choppa's house and other places he hangs out. Vic tells him to have someone sit on his mom and girlfriend too. Stank runs the One-Niners and might know something.

Vic knocks on Antwon's door and it takes him a while to answer: "Tough getting up without a prison guard bangin' on your cell door?" Or has he been up all night calling shots in a gang war? Shootings probably spook the drug customers. Antwon claims to have no idea why everyone is warring. Vic knows they both want the same thing for once. Why don't they scratch each other's backs?

Danny and Julien stop a group of One-Niners. Big Crane, one of Lem's juvies, says they're just walking. "You wouldn't be 'just walking' to beef with Spookstreet, would you?" asks Julien. He wants to take their pictures, a new policy for people "dressing like they're representing." "They're just threads, man," argues Big Crane. Lem tells the kid not to make trouble for them.

Danny snaps photos of the kid and his numerous tattoos. She asks for his real name. "You mean my slave name?" he asks before giving it up as Tremaine Harris.

Vic sees Army and Shane doing a perp walk with a suspect. Vic casually mentions he didn't see Shane at Gilroy's funeral. Shane had bigger problems, "but I'll send Nancy a fruitcake if it makes you feel any better." He unwraps his order from a taco truck: a tortilla stuffed with money. Vic wants Shane's help with any drug-related reasons the gangs may be feuding; he covered his ass about Dead-Eye's Blackberry.

Billings has tracked down Choppa, who ran home to Mama, as Vic predicted. Vic goes to the door and lies they're looking for Choppa because his car was in an accident. He asks Choppa's little brother where he is. "He's in his room," the kid offers. Billings, Vic, and a couple of uniforms head that direction.

Boxer-clad Choppa, it seems, got his nickname due to the grill he sports. One of the uniforms finds a gun in the room. Vic asks who shot Choppa's car and friends. Choppa replies that he wasn't there. "Where are your clothes?" asks Vic. A beat, then, "You don't live here." Vic marches Choppa into the next room, opens the washer, and pulls out a bloody T-shirt. "Told you to wash my shirt, Mama," says Choppa.

Monica sends Claudette and Dutch to an armed robbery that was committed with a deadly weapon. The victim is at Mission Cross, suffering from burns after being splashed with scalding coffee. Claudette thinks a uniform could handle the case. Monica can't assign them to anything more important until they make nice-nice with the D.A. "Impressive. Only 6 months into our unflinching moral stand and already the results are devastatingly effective," says Dutch.

Choppa admits to being stopped at a traffic light when someone started shooting at the passenger side of his car. He bolted as soon as the gun went off. Vic asks if he's sure it had nothing to do with the heroin he was driving around. Choppa makes the classic Cops argument: "That shit wasn't mine." The drugs belonged to his dead friend.

Monica is sure Choppa knows more than he's saying. If he didn't see anyone, how did his guys know who to retaliate against? As if the guy even knows the meaning of that word.

Dutch thinks Claudette should apologize to the D.A. because "I deserve out of the doghouse." Claudette refuses. "You don't have to mean it," says Dutch. Rodrigo, the convenience store clerk, describes the attack. A customer asked if the coffee was fresh and after being assured it was, he bought a cup. Rodrigo opened the register to make change and the coffee was thrown at him. The robber grabbed cash out of the drawer.

Suddenly, gunshots ring from somewhere else in the ER. The female uniform with Rodrigo calls it in. A security guard in the waiting room has been shot in the leg. Someone else lies dead nearby. When Vic gets there, his first question is, "Where's Corinne?" Fortunately, she was off today.

Dutch lays out what happened. Harold Pinker AKA Oink of Spookstreet was in the ER to have a broken finger set. Two kids in One-Niners colors came in and told the nurses they were there to visit a friend. Once they were let in, they opened fire on Oink. Monica asks why the hospital doesn't have metal detectors. "They can't afford thermometers," says Vic. Monica tells Dutch and Claudette to stay with the convenience store robbery.

Back at the Barn, Vic throws the remainder of Choppa's soda into the gangbanger's face. He informs Choppa that his cousin Oink was shot dead by One-Niners in the ER. The police found more heroin in Choppa's house. Vic wants the name of who started the war. Choppa is going to prison whether or not he cooperates. Doesn't he want to do right by his cousin? Shane sticks his head in to tell them that Choppa also goes by Goldie G and is a wannabe rapper.

On the balcony, Vic makes the introductions. In the observation room, Shane shows them a DVD that's half rap video and half amateur porn. Choppa's costar has tattoos that signify she's a One-Niner girl. Her moans were used to make the backbeat of the song. "Never thought of myself as a prude, but it might be time to reconsider," says Monica.

Danny and Julien walk up to a park where teen girls with babies are hanging out on benches. "You met the guys, get ready for their better halves," says Lem. A sign on the fence declares the park is a crack-free zone. Danny remarks, "Heck of a place for a Mommy and Me class."

One of the girls, Tanika, wishes Lem had brought Julien around sooner, then she wouldn't have a broke baby-daddy. One could argue that she still would, given how little cops are generally paid. Lem asks if Antwon had anything to do with the drive-bys. "Nah, he's straight up. He built this park," Tanika says.

She doesn't know Antwon personally, but she does know three (count 'em, three) of his baby mamas. Danny is curious how many he has. "Why? You lookin' to get knocked up?" asks Tanika.
Danny's reaction
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Vic sits Choppa down in front of the DVD. Choppa says he never caught the girl's name. "Bet you caught something else," quips Monica. Choppa knew she was a One-Niner's woman, but "we don't throw down over bitches." Charming. Choppa made the DVD as a demo: "Y'all always jawin' about gettin' a job. This is my resume." Vic chuckles at the idea of this making Choppa famous.

Choppa gestures at the TV: "Check it out. I'm about to get it on with this other ho." "6 people are dead. Why are you smiling?" Monica asks in a chilly tone. Choppa shrugs that you can't buy street cred. Monica tells Vic to hurry up and find Choppa's pressure point. She's done, pardon the pun, screwing around. There's a reason she gave Vic a second chance.

Dutch is still griping about not being assigned a "real" case. Claudette suggests he pretend the robber is really a multiple murderer. "Well, now you're just getting me aroused," says Dutch. The scary part is he's probably not kidding. Dutch thinks fleeing on foot means the guy lives in the neighborhood; he might have priors and has learned from those mistakes. Claudette smiles that it's a good start.

Vic introduces Stank to Monica. Stank swears the One-Niners didn't start the war. The cops take him to the observation room and show him the DVD. Stank recognizes the girl, but doesn't say who she is. The DVD was made by the aptly-named Ghetto Bang productions, owned by a Terrence Ross. Shane offers to look into him, but Monica says no because he's not under her command. However, she's fine if Vic rides along.

Vic knocks on Terrence's door. Ghetto Bang is certainly ghetto with its advertising, using a single sheet of 8x11" printer paper for a sign. Inside, Terrence is previewing another porno film featuring a young black man having sex with a middle-aged white woman.

Vic is more interested in Choppa. Terrence is afraid to talk. Would he rather the cops check the birthdates of all his porn girls? Choppa wanted a demo and Terrence had everything he needed: cameras, girls, and Viagra. Terrence isn't just a smut peddler, though: "I do weddings and confirmations too." Choppa's costar is Bounce, "a video ho looking to hook up with the next Nelly." Terrence has her address in his Rolodex.

Dutch is at a different convenience store. Paramedics are tending to the owner, who only speaks Arabic. His niece translates that someone threw coffee in his face and robbed the store. Claudette asks for a description. The niece relays the question in Arabic. Uncle gets louder and more agitated. "Calm down. This is an investigation, not a goddamn jihad," says Dutch impatiently.
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Claudette looks like she wants to disappear.

"You might not recognize Bounce with her clothes on," Shane says to Monica. Bounce glares, "I don't do porn. I was dancing." Is that what they're calling naked doggy-style these days? Vic smiles and tells Shane this reminds him of old times. Shane suddenly has to leave.

Monica asks how Bounce got a black eye. Bounce is no snitch. Monica knows the girl has a 10-month-old baby and is on parole. If Bounce goes to prison, she'll lose her baby and Monica doesn't want that. Bounce doesn't understand what she did to violate said parole. "It's called consorting with a known felon," Vic explains.

Bounce was punched by Peter AKA Puppethead, her One-Niner baby daddy. He didn't like seeing her on video screwing another guy. "This war, it's about you?" asks Monica. Bounce cracks her gum: "Guess I'm the bomb, huh?"

Dutch sits down with Kyle, a convicted convenience store robber. They're running his prints against the coffee cup they found at the scene. "I always used a knife," says Kyle.

Monica pulls Dutch into the gang force command post so he can apologize to the Arab store owner. She assures the man that Dutch's comments in no way reflect departmental opinions about his culture or religion. The store owner and his niece both seem to accept this. He asks if they've caught the robber yet. Monica tells him they're still working on it.

When they leave, Monica turns to Dutch: "Borderline racism aside, I don't have time for this nonsense." Dutch is sorry; it's just so hard not seeing action. "It's my first day, I'm already tired of hearing it."

Vic warns the guys with him to be careful; Puppethead is bound to scare easily since his gang pissed off Spookstreet. Puppethead runs out the back and into an alley. Vic gives chase, throwing him up and over the fence he tried to jump, cheerleader-style.

Next time we see Puppethead, his face is all bruised up. He's having an interrogation room war council with Stank. In the observation room, Monica asks Choppa if Stank's the guy who shot his car. Puppethead won't admit to anything and Choppa isn't talking.

Monica wants to know if Vic has anything they can use as leverage. Ronnie looked into Choppa's financial situation. In addition to his apartment, Choppa owns a house. He made the down payment with cash and pays the mortgage with money orders. "Drug money," Monica muses. Choppa's mom and two siblings live in the house; she knows he's never had a legitimate job. "You're gonna tell Choppa we're takin' his mom's house?" Vic guesses. If he doesn't talk, they will.

The problem is that Choppa's siblings are both fairly young. "Be a huge PR nightmare," mutters Monica. The chief only okayed asset forfeiture because no other tactic has worked. Monica doesn't want to "give the naysayers any ammo" by evicting a family of three.

Monica and Vic go back in and announce to Choppa that they're taking his mom's house. He doesn't believe they can. Cut him outside watching the place get cordoned off with crime scene tape. Monica educates him about asset forfeiture laws. If Choppa wants to fight this, he has to pay out of pocket for a lawyer.

Vic and Ronnie tell Antwon that Puppethead started the war over his woman stepping out on him. Vic needs Antwon's help keeping the One-Niners from killing the rest of Spookstreet. If Antwon can convince people he's no longer gang affiliated, that should be a piece of cake.

There's been another coffee robbery, but this time, the beverage wasn't hot. The clerk got a picture of the robber with his camera phone. It's Kyle. As he's thrown in the cage, Kyle protests, "I was done with robbing 'til he [Dutch] put it back in my head!" Monica asks if they got the coffee slinger. Dutch confesses to letting too many details slip; Kyle's just a copycat.

Vic hears the tail end of this and says, "Way to go. Get assigned a simple robbery, cause a crime wave. Remind me never to put you on a murder case." Dutch hopes Claudette is happy, even though she had absolutely nothing to do with this mess.

Vic unlocks the cage. Choppa's dentist said he paid for his grill with cash and now "tooth fairy wants 'em back." I start having flashbacks to the Justified episode about the dentist who extracted someone's teeth without anesthesia...or permission. The kid removes the fronts and drops them in a plastic container Vic offers.

Lem has it on good authority that Antwon doesn't "strap his shit up. Guy's fathered a dozen children from 6 different mothers." He even impregnated a couple while he was in jail by smuggling out sperm. "You hit up that many women, you're bound to leave some serious scorn behind," says Vic. He asks Lem to find out their names. So far, nobody on the streets has mentioned Shane.

Choppa's mom bursts in with his siblings in tow, barking his Christian name: Aloicius. She demands to know what kind of trouble he's gotten them into. Who's in charge? Who put her and her babies out on the street? Monica is all too happy to take the blame for that. She's sorry for the way things worked out, but she found a place for the family in a shelter. Social Services can help them look for a new permanent home.

"You wanna help? Gimme my home back," says Mama Choppa. Her elementary-school-aged daughter is on the verge of tears. "My boy got shot at! He's innocent." "Your boy bought your home with drug money," Monica counters. Mama Choppa tells Monica she doesn't know what it's like trying to survive in Farmington; she's sure the captain doesn't have kids because "no mother could do this." Monica reminds her that the six people killed in drive-bys were also someone's children and she's lucky a house is all she lost. Mama Choppa screams at Monica to shut up.
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Lem shows Danny and Julien where the kids who act as gang recruiters hang out. He greets Lil Bull, who seems to be their leader: "I got some people here wanna take you guys' picture. Gonna make you all famous." All smiles and big-brother attitude, Lem is not cut out for juvie. I know because one of my best friends used to work at what was basically kiddie prison. He was a decorated combat veteran and said those juvie inmates weren't to be underestimated.

One of the kids takes off down the block. Julien catches up to him pretty easily. The kid doesn't want his picture taken. Julien advises him to stop hanging around gangbangers and sends him on his way. No doubt he's seeing some of his stepson Randall in that boy; they're about the same age.

Vic is concerned about going into even more debt by suing the vaccine company. Vaccines DO NOT cause autism, okay??? Instead of hiring an expert witness, Vic wants to save money by getting Corinne's friend Gail to testify; she's the head pediatrician at Mission Cross.

Dutch interrupts Claudette, who's eating dinner by herself in the breakroom. He opines that reopening those cases isn't about right and wrong to her anymore; it's just about her pride. Said the self-centered loudmouth to no one in particular. He thinks she chose to shoot herself in the foot rather than become captain. She tells Dutch that if he feels that way, he's free to get a new partner. Dutch doesn't want to, but she's not leaving him much choice.

Upstairs, Monica surveys her gang turf maps. Danny thanks the new captain for putting her on the task force; it's nice to have a mission. Monica says, "Thank Vic. He recommended you."

Gail tells the Mackeys the same thing I said a few paragraphs ago: There is no scientific proof that vaccines and autism are linked in any way, shape, or form. She refuses to be associated with the lawsuit. Gail attributes the rise in cases to doctors getting better at recognizing autism. If Gail were in their shoes, she'd drop the lawsuit and love Matt and Megan for who they are.

Vic gets angry, sure this is a case of a doctor covering other doctors' asses. He storms out. Corinne accuses Gail of not wanting to help a friend. The double diagnosis cost her kids their future and Corinne her marriage. Maybe somebody should sit her down with autistic young adults who've gone on to lead happy, productive lives.

Julien goes to the junior gangbanger's house. He offers not to put the kid's picture up on the Wall O' Gangs if the kid considers making smarter choices. Not stays out of police trouble, just the considering. Julien knows how it is growing up in Farmington. Has the boy thought about church or sports? The kid isn't interested. Julien suggests the Police Explorer's Program. Shades of Southland.

Julien thinks the kid ran away earlier because he was scared and knows what he's doing isn't right. "You need to chill, Oprah," the boy sasses, "I ain't never gonna be no sellout cop." Julien leaves and takes the picture with him.

Monica looks at all the gang Polaroids the task force has managed to get. "We're gonna need a bigger room," she quips a la Chief Brody. She just heard that Antwon put up 10% of Puppethead's quarter-million-dollar bail. He probably has lethal designs on the rival banger.

Sure enough, when Vic, Monica, and Ronnie get to Puppethead's house, the front window has been smashed. In the bedroom, Puppethead's baby mama is packing a suitcase. She tells them that Antwon supposedly chained her baby daddy to a car and dragged him behind it.

Monica doesn't believe Antwon convinced his rivals to give up one of their own. Of course, they won't know until if and when his body turns up. Mama Choppa checked into the shelter and Choppa himself still isn't cooperating. Monica wonders why she feels like they already lost the war. "Well, we did," Vic says grimly. But at least they got the shooters. Nothing says Monica can't return the house.

Vic goes to Shane's new apartment, bearing a gift for baby Jackson. Vic thinks it's a good thing Jackson looks like his mom. Speaking of, Mara enters, still in her PJ's and bathrobe, holding a bottle of formula. She more or less shoves it in Shane's hand and walks back to the bedroom. Shane says Mara's still adjusting to motherhood.

Vic follows Shane to the kitchen. As Shane reheats the bottle, Jackson starts crying loudly. Reenter Mara, demanding, "If it wasn't warm enough, why didn't you say so?" Shane assures her that he can handle this. After he finishes feeding Jackson, he'll make Mara some lunch.

Vic tells Shane about the seizures and how they won't happen without the best of the best. Shane likes being on Vice and tosses out, "You killed our team, not me." That's debatable. Shane's attitude is a huge part of why Lem resigned, which ultimately led to the department pulling the plug.

On the gang squad, Shane would be working under Monica, not Vic. Shane still isn't tempted; he likes his new partner Army. Vic can try to have Army brought in. He keeps trying to sweeten the deal. The Barn is less of a commute. "Shane's doing just fine without you," says Mara, sitting on the couch.

Vic can tell he's getting nowhere. He compliments the couple on their beautiful baby. Shane promises to think about it. Once Vic is gone, Mara tells Shane she doesn't trust him. "It's not about trust anymore, baby," Shane whispers. Then what the hell is it about?

In the cage, Choppa shouts names at Monica for seizing his mom's house.

Dutch asks A.D.A. Insardi what Claudette can do to get out of the doghouse. Short of begging on her knees, nothing. "What if I control her?" asks Dutch, "She listens to me." Keep telling yourself that. Insardi expects Dutch to do her favors if she asks. I'm surprised he doesn't inquire as to whether these favors are sexual in nature.

Vic has unsuccessfully swept Choppa's house for drugs and didn't find anything. The family's property is still there. Monica initially expresses doubt about whether seizing the house was the right thing to do, but ultimately stands her ground. Offering considerations for special circumstances sounds too much like Edgar-veda to her.

Outside, Monica signs a paper and says, "Take it." Fade out on a moving truck backing up the house. End of episode.

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