Antwon's criminal enterprises are having a rough week. He lost half a million dollars worth of heroin, the El Salvadorans cut off his supply, and several of his top guys are in jail. "You're a drug dealer. Why don't you consider it the cost of doing business?" asks Shane. Antwon thinks he might need a new partner. But either way, he wants $20,000 by tomorrow. He knows Shane has it after skimming from the till all these years.
Elsewhere, Lem, Ronnie, and Vic casually plan to bug the car of a Russian (?) Armenian (?) gangster named Kozodav. Very similar last name to Kenny Johnson's character on Sons of Anarchy. Must be a Sutter touch. Anyway, Lem doesn't think the guy looks so big and bad. Vic reminds him that appearances can be deceiving: "Half his enemies are fish food in the L.A. River."
Actually, they're watching Ronnie's back while he replaces the hard drive in the surveillance equipment. It's a horrible idea, given that Kozodav and company are at a sidewalk table not 30 feet away. Lem tries to point that out, but nobody ever listens to the poor guy. Ronnie's stealth mode looks more like Pink Panther.
Lem's curious about what Shane and Antwon discuss. Ronnie hasn't found anything incriminating on the tapes yet. Not sure I'd be trusting Vic to dig up dirt on the guy who's basically his little brother. Ronnie is still working on the car when the Russians finish their coffee, so the other two scramble to distract them.
Lem badges them and Kozodav is very cordial. Vic notices their Russian mafia ink and "new policy says I gotta get your name, rank, and serial number, comrade." Kozodav tells Vic to save his shakedown tactics for people who can't afford good Jew lawyers. Lem finds a gun on the other comrade. "Might be a good time to get that Jew on the phone," says Vic. Kozodav argues that his bodyguard has a permit.
Ronnie rolls out from under the car. Vic checks their permit and apologizes for the inconvenience.
Vic brings Monica a video of Kozodav hiring someone for an insurance scam torch job on a building. However, our Russian friend didn't mention when the fire would take place. Vic thinks the target "sounds residential. Shithead joked there were only Mexicans living there." If they go ahead and arrest Kozodav, he'll be facing at least 20 years for extortion and racketeering. He might give up the arsonist for a lighter sentence.
Monica agrees to the plan, then praises Vic's multitasking abilities. "I couldn't have done it without Ronnie," says Vic modestly. This is true; his ass couldn't squeeze under a car to plant bugs. Ronnie, who hears "Attaboy" even less often than Lem does, beams with pride.
In the parking lot, smoke is pouring from under the hood of Vic's car. He fans it, doing a B-movie Native American impression, "Big Chief Vic need him new driving machine so he can catch him bad guy." Danny jokes that she didn't realize Vic knew smoke signals. Vic wants a seized vehicle as a replacement and promises Lakers tickets to whoever brings him one.
Danny asks what he has in mind. Vic calls out, asking what Dutch drives. "A Subaru," Dutch replies. Vic says, "Anything but a Subaru." I'm sure Lem would let Vic borrow his Jeep for the day. Vic adds that he doesn't want a car "that goes zero to 60 in four minutes." Danny turns to Julien, "Let's find the big guy a new car." Have you seen Lem? I think you mean "the other big guy."
Speaking of Lem, he's all gung-ho to take down some Russians. Somebody hands him a shotgun and it's like watching the kid from A Christmas Story unwrap his Red Ryder. Shane doesn't look pleased about this development. Vic lies that bringing Lem back wasn't his idea: "Captain wanted someone from Juvie in-house." Monica tells everyone not to go anywhere.
In the command center, she, Vic, Edgar-veda, and Deputy Chief Phillips watch surveillance footage from the church raid. It seems to show one of the officers shoving a civilian woman to the ground. Shrieks echo from the TV. "That is not how it went down. Nobody was screaming," says Monica. She wants the whereabouts of the real tape. Assistant Chief Phillips doesn't know, but this is the version that will be on tonight's 6:00 news. Edgar-veda denies that his press secretary has it. Wait, this guy has a press secretary? Who does he think he is, the President?
Anyway, the tape is a PR nightmare waiting to happen. John Sullivan of the Organized Crime Unit will be taking over the Kozodav raid. Deputy Chief Phillips can't afford to send Monica or Vic knowing they're about to be tonight's top story. Never mind all the heroin recovered from the church. Edgar-veda gloats that crime has gone up 4% since the seizures were instituted. He'll be reviewing each case individually and wants full access to their files.
Monica tells Vic to find the original tape. In the meantime, he'll be working with Shane. A Byz Lat in state prison wants to turn informant so he can get released early. The inmate is friends with the gang's number-one contraband distributor: Ernesto Dienta. Monica wants Lem to ride along so she can get an idea of how the former Strike Team works together. Well, this oughta be a fun road trip. There's still no progress on Angie and Monica senses an unhappy ending.
Dutch gets a phone call from Mission Cross. A 7-year-old girl was brought to the ER by her foster dad. The doctors think she drank something highly acidic. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood all the way around. Monica, much more hands-on than the previous captain, wants to join him.
Army wires their informant, Hielo, for sound. He went to prison to protect the Byz Lats, who thanked him by visiting a grand total of once in five years. Hielo and Ernesto are meeting an Indian casino busboy in Echo Park. Indians buy cigarettes tax-free and the Byz Lats resell them at face value. Because they cross state lines, it's federal. The guys can then use RICO to sweep up the Byz Lats. Vic is impressed. Shane shrugs that he learned from the best. You can almost hear Lem's eyes rolling.
Shane assigns car pools. Naturally, him and Vic are together. Lem, Army, and Hielo will be in the other car. Vic quietly tells Lem, "Stay cool and play the good soldier." Maybe not the best choice of phrase to use on someone with very Aryan features.
In Echo Park, Hielo meets with Ernesto and Garcia the busboy near the lake. Hey, It's That Guy! Ernesto is none other than Lombardo Boyar, a character actor I know best as the voice of Lars on Rocket Power. He was also something of a crime drama regular in the late '90s and early-mid '00s with bit parts on shows like Walker, Texas Ranger and Without A Trace (usually as a gangbanger). Interestingly, Lombardo is a real-life Gulf War veteran who served in the legendary 82nd Airborne.
Anyhow, the guys listen in from the van as the Byz Lats haggle their cigarette deal.
At the ER, Corinne is the assigned nurse; she hopes Dutch doesn't mind that she called his cell phone. I'm sure he's thrilled and thinks she'll sleep with him now. Joya, the foster child, is on a ventilator; she suffered burns to her esophagus and may have stomach damage. "There were also signs of sexual assault," Corinne whispers. The substance little girl drank was some kind of household cleaner.
The three detectives stand around the bed, looking grim. A case worker from Child Services is on the way over, for all the good that'll do.
Monica and Claudette go to Joya's foster home. Liz the foster mom reports that she and her husband Frank are taking care of 7 children, all of whom were home with Frank when Joya got hurt. Liz herself was at the grocery store. She leads the detectives to the bathroom shared by all the foster kids: "Sorry about the smell. Joya threw up."
Monica heard Frank found an empty bottle of drain cleaner, but doesn't see it. Liz will ask Bibi, the oldest foster child, if she's seen it. There are at least a dozen prescription bottles in the open medicine cabinet. According to Liz, all the kids are on meds for one reason or another.
Monica notices a padlocked door next to the kitchen. "The closet is our safe place," Liz explains. She opens it; pillows and blankets are heaped on the floor. According to her, they use it for the occasional timeout. The kids have behavioral problems and this gives them someplace to calm down where they can't hurt themselves or anyone else. Looks more like Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs to me.
Monica informs the woman that this qualifies as child endangerment. Frank told Liz this was no different than sending a naughty kid to their room. Claudette asks if it's possible one of the older kids hurt Joya and made her drink Drano. "Take your pick," shrugs Liz.
Claudette has a preliminary report from the hospital stating Joya was raped that morning. Dutch believes Frank is a control freak and isn't surprised by the "closet-o'-horrors." Child Services sent over information on the other six kids: "[The files] read like the Marquis de Sade." Dutch corrects that there are seven suspects. According to Child Services, 17-year-old Darnell also lives with Frank and Liz. The boy is bipolar with a history of violence. It might be a good idea to see if Lem had any dealings with him.
Upstairs, Frank tells them Darnell ran away 3 months ago. He called Child Services and sent an email, but never heard back. Monica wants to know why he kept cashing Darnell's aid checks. Frank claims his wife handles the finances. When he noticed the mistake, he emailed Child Services.
Frank isn't too bothered about Darnell being gone: "He belonged in a hospital or a prison, not my house." "Sounds like your closet therapy didn't take, huh?" Dutch says lightly. Monica will be recommending that he and his wife lose their foster care licenses. Frank admits he saw Darnell a few weeks ago; he stole groceries and other kids' meds.
Does Frank know where the kid went after that? Frank suggests talking to Darnell's biological mom, who's a junkie. He suspects the kid is using: "Only meds he didn't take were the ones that might actually help him."
Monica asks Darnell's caseworker Paul why he never filed a missing persons report. Paul supposedly didn't know Darnell had run away. Monica shows him a copy of Frank's email. Paul's been to the house twice in the last 3 months. "And you didn't notice one of the kids was missing?" asks Monica. He says Darnell wasn't flagged for followups.
Monica lets him have it with both barrels: "You know who ends up doing that followup? My cops or the M.E. Half of these kids are gonna end up in the penal system. They're time bombs. We shuffle 'em around from place to place, lose track of 'em until they explode." "If you wanna lecture about the foster care system, teach an extension class at UCLA," Paul says nastily, "If we've got a missing teen, stop taking it out on me and do something to find him."
The captain had a lot of dealings with Social Services when she worked with the domestic violence unit. She saw more concern for "filling federally funded beds than in helping reunite families." Paul tells her this is just one mistake. "This is a kid," Monica argues, "so is the one in the hospital with half a throat." Paul taunts her to call his supervisor. The captain will...to explain that he's been arrested for negligence and child endangerment; that family was his responsibility.
Dutch asks what Monica is doing. "Standing on her soapbox," says Claudette. Dutch wonders if Monica has her own or if she borrows Claudette's.
Danny pulls over a car with expired Illinois license plates and smells pot when she walks up to the window. Danny finds some gang ink on the driver, who protests that he's just visiting his cousin. Julien finds a bag of drugs in the glovebox.
The Illinois car, a sporty black Pontiac, is towed back to the Barn. "Looks like we found your new department-issued ride," Danny tells Vic. He admires the leather interior, offering to throw dinner in with the basketball tickets if the charges stick.
The Russian mob bust didn't go as planned. Kozodav wasn't there, but Sullivan went in anyway and arrested his associates. According to Sullivan, he had no choice because the Russians were gonna burn down a residential building. Assistant Chief Phillips and Sullivan ask for the ersatz Strike Team's help transcribing videotapes from the surveillance operation. Vic, of course, is less than pleased about this. Monica tells him to follow the assistant chief's orders.
In the parking lot, Phillips tells Vic there's nothing he can do. Edgar-veda is using his political leverage on Chief Bankston. Phillips advises Vic to keep backing Monica's plays: "The chance she's giving you, it may be the last one you've got on this department."
Monica and Claudette make a house call to Darnell's biological mother. They delicately tell her there was "an incident" at his foster home. "Whatever it is, he probably did it. That boy's no good," says Mom. Darnell steals her things and sells them to buy drugs. He also hustles on 4th Street.
In the interrogation room, Darnell insists, "I didn't mess with Joya or make her drink anything." Dutch wants to take a DNA sample to confirm it. Darnell says no way, but Frank is still his legal guardian and overrides that. The kid gripes that he never gets to have sex; he's always the one helping somebody else get off. So what if Joya is only 7? "I hope you fry," Frank whispers.
Darnell pounds the table and shouts at his foster dad, "This is your fault! Locking us up in a closet and shit!" Frank argues that it was only a temporary timeout and calls the kid an animal. At this point, I'm inclined to agree with Frank's assessment. Darnell claims the foster parents referred to the closet as "the hole." The oldest kids were put in charge; the younger ones would cry in there for hours. Darnell himself had nothing to with the Drano and blames Bibi.
Shane instructs he needs Ernesto on tape admitting to selling the stolen cigarettes across state lines. Hielo is sure Ernesto won't suspect a thing, adding, "Before I went away, I banged his 14-year-old sister. Took her virginity. Fool didn't have a clue. Told him I was helping her with her history homework." Lem tells Hielo to keep that shit to himself. I bet him and Vic both wanna kick his ass.
Hielo keeps talking about how Ernesto's sister was plenty old enough, physically speaking. Lem gives him a shove. Shane steps between them and tells his former friend exactly who's running this show.
The Strike Team listens in as Garcia pays their informant. Hielo asks if he'll get more money when the cigarettes get to St. Louis. Ernesto's done talking business. He whistles and a girl comes out of the house. "All dressed up with no one to blow," as Ernesto puts it. The girl looks too old for Hielo's taste, but he goes inside with her anyway.
Monica found out who filmed the church video: a woman whose nephew works at Antwon's rec center. Edgar-veda feigns surprise that Antwon might've doctored the tape and sent it to the news stations. She asks for help burying it. "You can't unring this bell," says Edgar-veda.
Monica knows he inflated the crime statistics. Edgar-veda ignores that, suggesting she find a way to stop the seizures. She flatly refuses. Edgar-veda thinks she'd better practice begging the chief, who's having trouble explaining why Vic was put in charge. Monica stands by her decision; she doesn't take orders from the city council. Edgar-veda still plans to get the policy overturned, Vic or no Vic.
Danny and Julien have pulled over a car for making an illegal U-turn. The white driver apologizes; he's not from Farmington and is trying to get back to the freeway. The rain is making it hard to see. Danny gives him directions, then asks for his license and registration.
Through the window, Julien spots a bottle of wine in the cupholder. Said bottle doesn't have its original cork. The driver explains he's coming home from lunch and didn't want to waste a $400 bottle. Julien informs him that it violates the open-container law, then tells him to get out.
The driver protests that he had one glass of wine 3 hours ago; he isn't too drunk to drive. Julien finds bootleg DVDs on the passenger seat and inquires whether the guy intends to sell them. The guys says no, he bought them for himself.
Julien asks if the driver's gang-affiliated when he sees a tattoo peeking out of his sleeve. The two men scuffle when Julien demands to see the ink. He wrenches the guys arms behind his back and cuffs him. Danny watches disapprovingly. She quietly asks what he thinks he's doing. Julien sanctimoniously replies, "I'm gonna document his ink. I'm gonna tow his car in. If his lawyer can't prove he didn't intend to sell those DVDs, we'll seize his vehicle. That's what we do, right? Might even get me some Laker tickets."
Ronnie pulls Vic and Lem into the clubhouse, hissing to lock the doors. He shows them last night's surveillance footage from Shane's car. On screen, Antwon asks, "How'd you like to get that little girl's body back, your bullets and all?" He wants to trade Vic's body for hers.
Shane basically tells Antwon to go to hell and turn Angie's body over to the police. With silky menace, Antwon wonders who'll protect Mara and Jackson if Shane goes to prison. This is a one-time offer. Shane eventually agrees to do it. Antwon wants to know when the job is finished. It's hard to tell if Lem or Vic looks more angry and betrayed.
Monica knocks on the door and Ronnie quickly shuts off the TV. Vic whispers for everyone to keep their mouths shut about the tape until he says otherwise. He gives Monica the old "whoops, didn't know I locked the door" excuse. The other guys hurry past the captain. Lem, no doubt, is on his way to toss his guts up in the men's room.
Monica tells Vic he has to take a temporary step back. There's a lot of outrage about the church incident. Vic doesn't like being offered as the sacrificial lamb. He thought Monica believed in him. Monica explains she's protecting the policy; Edgar-veda has the chief in his pocket and is out to hurt Vic. This isn't about cowardice. Vic begs to differ; the only difference between the former captain and Monica is she pretended to have a spine.
Monica is a little taken aback, but calmly says, "You were the redheaded stepchild when I arrived here." She gave him a second chance that nobody else would. She knows this isn't fair, but there's a bigger picture.
Vic goes into the men's room, so pissed he tries to rip a stall door off its hinges. He ends up calming himself down with cold water to the face. Shane pokes his head to say Hielo's ready to make a buy. And geez, for being newly renovated and reopened, the men's room is filthy.
The female detectives sit down with Bibi. Darnell admitted to raping Joya while the older girl was in charge. They also know about the closet. Bibi apologizes to Frank; she really tried to stop Darnell. Bibi poisoned Joya because the little girl was gonna tell her teacher about the rape. The teenager was terrified about the prospect of being sent to another home. She was molested by some previous foster dads and Frank has never been inappropriate.
Danny takes down the latest picture from the gang wall. Julien made his point that not everyone gets equal treatment. Her partner repeats his opinion that the seizure policy is inherently racist. Danny points out that the black kids had enough pot in their car to make it possession with intent.
Julien thinks they've potentially created another dealer. How is the guy supposed to get to his job without a car? You mean his job in Illinois, AKA way out of your jurisdiction? He adds more to the Taking Things Very Personally column by saying that guy could be him if he hadn't gone to church.
Monica interrupts the argument. She understands how Julien could feel conflicted about arresting young black men, but he's a cop and needs to get over it. Like it or not, enforcing the asset forfeiture policy is part of his job now. She'll be putting his name in for an administrative transfer.
The former Strike Team waits for Garcia's van in a vacant lot. Shane and Vic will make sure Hielo is okay; he wants Lem and Army to stay with the van. Lem doesn't know if he can trust Hielo and wants to join the dynamic duo. "I told you to stay," Shane tells him sharply. Vic doesn't stick up for Lem.
As they walk off together, Vic makes an after-you gesture. He's clearly very tempted to shoot Shane in the back. And who could blame him, given what he now knows? Shane and Vic crouch behind a nearby Dumpster, waiting to make their move. Shane keeps glancing nervously at his best friend.
Paul's supervisor asks Monica why he was arrested. Caseworkers are stretched too thin and not liable for what goes on in the homes. Pretty sure she's wrong about that. Monica remembers working a domestic abuse case with this supervisor, in which the other woman promised to get the kids out of the house. Dad got released from jail and beat his daughter Lisa with a golf club; 2 years later, the little girl is still in a coma.
"His psych history didn't come out until after the attack," says the supervisor. It isn't Paul's fault that a 7-year-old was raped and murdered. And that's how she sleeps at night? Monica will release Paul, but the next negligent caseworker will spend the night in county lockup; the one after that will serve a full sentence.
Shane wants to follow Garcia's van to St. Louis. And how do you plan on handling that little jurisdictional problem? "This is gonna be a hell of a bust by the time this thing through," grins Army. Drinks are on him tonight.
Ronnie calls Vic about a coyote mentioned on Kozodav's tapes: El Callado, translation "the quiet one." He uses the guy to ferry in mobsters from St. Petersburg. Vic wants to wait an hour before Ronnie passes the info to Sullivan. He hangs up and says he'll have to miss happy hour; he has overdue paperwork.
Vic is lying about that. He meets up with Ernesto and offers to tell him who's acting as a police informant. In return, he wants El Callado's real name. The coyote plans on sneaking Kozodav out of the country. Ernesto says it's not that easy; Callado isn't a Byz Lat, so it'd take a lot to get a message relayed. How does he know Vic is for real, anyway? Vic adds that he'll make sure the cigarette van doesn't get pulled over.
Ernesto gives Vic the address of where Kozodav is waiting alone for his ride back to Mother Russia. Vic says the informant is Hielo. Ernesto doesn't believe him; the two of them are practically brothers. Well, is Ernesto aware that Hielo did a hell of a lot more than tutor his 14-year-old sister in history class? Ernesto gets in his car and slams the door. Vic tells him, "You do whatever you feel is appropriate with that info. I'll make sure it doesn't blow back on you."
Kozodav is sleeping when Vic puts a burlap sack over his head. He catches Vic in the ribs with a lucky knee. Vic wrestles him to the ground and puts a gun to roughly where the Russian's forehead is, asking for the arsonist's name and address. Gregor is our torch.
Claudette goes to Joya's hospital room. Monica is already sitting at her bedside. The captain realizes she went over the edge earlier. Claudette is understanding: "We've all got burrs under our saddles." Case in point, Julien.
Monica explains why child abuse is Very Personal to her. The captain's childhood friend was beaten by her father on a regular basis. Monica felt powerless to help. If Claudette is staying, the captain has some seizure paperwork to handle.
Vic brings in Gregor, also with a bag over his head. Both are handcuffed to a piece of furniture. Vic cocks his gun and fires, deliberately aiming a few feet over the Russians. He drops his gun on the couch.
"I'm not a great cook, sorry," Corinne apologizes. Dutch pours her a glass of wine and says he liked it. His mind is still on Joya; there's just something about living victims, especially kids. Corinne pulls him close.
Suddenly, Megan comes in, holding a picture book. Dutch asks the toddler, "You want me to read that to you again?" He sits her on his knee and begins reading out loud. Corinne smiles warmly. Oh, Vic would love to see this...
Shane is fuming that Hielo isn't answering his phone. Army guesses their informant is probably getting laid. Who wouldn't be after 5 years in prison? "If this guy goes ghost, I'm gonna look like an asshole," says Shane. Uh, actually, you do that just fine on your own.
Sullivan enters with Kozodav and Gregor. They were found cuffed and gagged at the scene of a shots-fired 911 call. Monica gets a wonder-how-that-happened look on her face.
Vic walks the streets alone in the dark. A police car pulls up alongside him, bright lights aimed right at him. Vic peevishly moves aside his coat, showing them the badge clipped to his belt. He continues on his way, seemingly without a destination in mind. End of episode.