Friday, June 30, 2017

"Tapa Boca" and a Very Unhappy Birthday (Episode 5.4)

Roughly translated from Spanish, the episode title means "top mouth." I'm guessing that has something to do with Emolia.

Previously on: Vic learned that Kavanaugh of IAD has been talking to Corinne (and lying that he too has an autistic child). The rest of the Strike Team was made privy to the fact that Kavanaugh pressured Lem into wearing a wire. Emolia, a CI of Vic's, turned and is now helping Kavanaugh.

In Motel Hell, Lem does a quick mic check. Kavanaugh reminds him that he needs recorded admissions of wrong-doings by the Strike Team. "Questions make cops suspicious," says Lem. Kavanaugh is onto our blond friend: "You walk outta the room every time he opens his mouth and says something more than 'Good morning.'" "Vic and I aren't attached at the hip." True, that would be Vic and Shane.

"Dragging this out, trying to have it both ways, you're torturing yourself." Kavanaugh actually has a point there. Lem already has a stress-induced ulcer (his current predicament certainly can't be helping). Kavanaugh reiterates that Lem made his bed and now has to sleep in it.

Since threats and yelling haven't worked, Kavanaugh tries the aren't-I-a-great-pal angle. He knows it's Lem's birthday and has a gift for the big guy: a set of fishing lures. While listening to the tapes, Kavanaugh discovered Lem enjoys fly-fishing. Lem's thank you comes across as less than sincere. Kavanaugh is all "I know ratting on your friends is hard, but everything's gonna be okay, son."

Vic goes to the office of Becca the scummy defense attorney. He starts by telling her, "Everything I'm about to say falls under attorney-client privilege." IAD has painted a bullseye on Lem's back. "I don't represent cops, especially corrupt ones," she says sweetly. Well, you're in luck because Lem is clean. Vic thinks this could provide karmic balance for a woman who pays bills by getting gangbangers out of trouble.

Becca, now intrigued, wants more details. Vic tells her about the heroin Lem supposedly stole and how Kavanaugh is in charge of the investigation. He can't look into IAD himself because it'd raise too many eyebrows.

"There's the first real truth I've heard." Oh, you are very perceptive, Becca. Nobody would suspect her of working for "the man." She agrees to ask a few questions of her ex-boyfriend in the city attorney's office.

As they investigate a car accident, Dutch advises Claudette against taking a tropical vacation due to the threat of typhoons. The driver's seat is spattered with blood. Dutch speculates somebody pulled a gun during a road-rage incident. A look at the eviscerated victim tells Claudette otherwise; the thing Dutch just picked up off the ground is an umbilical cord. Oh dear God.

Billings snaps at Claudette that they don't have enough information to file an Amber Alert on the missing baby. The dead woman's boyfriend works nights in a machine shop and nobody's seen him since the murder. Dutch points into the lobby at several reporters: "The vultures are gathering." However, he still wants to use them to pull the public's heartstrings.

Danny tried to call in officers from Wilshire to join the search; their watch commander said no way until someone proves the baby is alive. "That's bullshit," Billings fumes, "Call again."

Becca talked to her ex and some A.D.A.s she went to law school with, but nobody offered to help. According to her, this "means they know something major's in motion." Vic asks if any of her friends mentioned Edgar-veda; he's their old boss and has been working with Kavanaugh. Edgar-veda had Vic cross legal boundaries to catch murderers when he was trying to sell himself to voters. Helping IAD absolves him of that by casting Vic as the villain.

Becca is curious about the real story behind the heroin. Vic hasn't asked Lem yet because Kavanaugh's got him wearing a wire.

Dutch uses Danny as a visual aid to demonstrate how one might perform an amateur C-section. He doesn't think it would require medical training. The people who do this sort of thing are usually women who have recently lost a baby or have been lying about being pregnant. Danny is now officially freaked out: "I'm never gonna sleep until I have this kid."
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Claudette may have a lead. A 911 hangup was traced to a payphone a block from the crime scene. They'll have to persuade the anonymous caller to come forward.

In the clubhouse, Ronnie is chugging coffee. Lem arrives at work, asking if the Strike Team's been assigned to the missing baby yet. Vic mimes pulling his pants down. Lem doesn't get it. Shane holds up a piece of paper with SAY YOU GOTTA TAKE A DUMP written on it.

Vic thinks Dutch and Claudette are handling the case. "Captain wants us available to round up all the other miscellaneous sickos," adds Shane. Lem repeats the line Shane fed him and passes the recorder off to Ronnie.

As Ronnie hustles out of the clubhouse, Vic gives Lem 5 minutes to talk about Kavanaugh. "He thinks I've been protecting you. I've been helpful, but not too helpful." Lem realizes Pitarrio or Emolia could've seen him take the heroin. Vic trusts Emolia. Pitarrio, on the other hand, had a very physical run-in with Lem and would have reason to snitch to IAD.

Lem worries what'll happen to him if IAD successfully makes their case. Shane is confident Lem would only do about 5 years since he's a first-time offender. "Shane!" Vic scolds. Lem's expression says it all.
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Shane has a plan. Lem could refuse to wear the wire and let himself be arrested. The rest of the Strike Team will find information they can use to undermine Kavanaugh. Lem's response is instant: "All the shit you've done and I'm the one going to jail? Are you kidding me?" Vic tells him to settle down, nobody's going to jail. The Strike Team has beaten every rap that's been thrown at them.

"Nobody jumped ship when Antwon had your balls in a sling," Vic reminds his best friend. Shane was willing to kill to protect the others. "We got you out of that before you had to go through with it," says Vic. Shane wants to do the same for Lem. But if they can't, is he willing to be the sacrifical lamb? Are your ears fucking painted on? Lem's answer to that was a huge goddamn no.

Lem, however, doesn't see anyone else in his corner and agrees. Shane promises Lem that things are gonna be fine. He and Ronnie will find Pitarrio. "I hate this," Lem says bitterly, sweat beading on his forehead now. Vic sends him to the men's room to get the recorder back.

Driving along, Lem asks the question of the day: "What kinda person cuts a baby out of its mother's stomach?" Vic stops to talk to Edgar-veda, telling Lem to stay in the car. Lem cranks up the radio because Vic's voice carries. Vic pretends he wants to talk about bums living on furniture the city trash collectors haven't picked up.

The car's police band crackles. Lem calls, "Hey, we got a 187!" In certain jurisdictions, that's dispatch code for homicide. Edgar-veda says trash is below his pay grade; call Waste Removal. Vic says he'd hate to see the councilman's district turn into a big fire hazard.

It turns out Lem wasn't fibbing about the 187. Hank, a man in a business suit, was the victim of a drive-by while leaving a diner after breakfast. His toupee is lying beside him. "Nice piece," Shane quips. He and Ronnie stopped by Pitarrio's house, where, according to Shane, "Only sign of life was a coupla squatter crackheads." A telephone lineman gave Lem the license plate number of a potential witness to the murder.

Vic tells Shane and Ronnie to keep looking. He and Lem will "find out who's got a problem with the Hair Club for Men." I think Vic's just pissed 'cause he's bald.

Billings gives a statement to the reporters: "That baby is still out there. This disgusting crime occurred at approximately 5:15 a.m. this morning." He implores the public to come forward with any information; it could save the baby's life.

Claudette is still popping pills. Maybe the work environment at the Barn finally gave her an ulcer too. Dutch ran background checks on everyone who worked with Isabel the victim, but nothing sticks out. Isabel's boyfriend is there to be interviewed.

Dutch goes after him: "Your neighbor told us Isabel was screwing someone else. Baby probably wasn't yours." Dutch himself was in the same situation once upon a time. Isabel's Boyfriend is positive Isabel was having his child. "If the baby's alive, tell us," says Claudette.

Isabel's Boyfriend mutters, "Oh God. Please let him be alive." Dutch asks if he noticed the baby's gender during the butchery. Has he really never heard of an ultrasound? At the very least, they can now put out an Amber Alert for a newborn black boy.

Dutch will have someone give the guy a ride home; he should stay by the phone in case the police have more questions. Isabel's Boyfriend is understandably angry about being accused. He wants to know who killed her and what happened to his son.

Hank the drive-by victim served time at Lompoc for an unspecified crime and worked at a pet store. He had no family or known enemies. Lem is working on a list of matches to the partial license plate. Shane waves Vic over: "Pitarrio hasn't been arrested in 6 months. That's the longest he's gone since he turned 18. He's off the grid." "If the feds picked him up and he made a deal to give up Lem, that arrest wouldn't be on his record." says Vic.

Lem holds up a folder. Their possible witness is Hank's neighbor Leon. The two of them were in the same GED class at Lompoc. On their way out the back door, they run into Julien and Tina, who have just arrested Leon.
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Julien and Tina were canvassing for the missing baby when Leon threw a bottle at their windshield. She adds, "Then he asked if he could smell my sweet spot." "Even Shane stopped using that line," says Vic.

Upstairs, Vic remarks, "Pretty stupid thing you did to get yourself arrested." Leon tries to use the I-was-having-a-bad-day defense. Did it include seeing Hank killed? "If a friend of mine was in trouble, I'd do everything I could to help him out," Vic says pointedly. Leon was scared by the gunshots and ran. Maybe if he sits around long enough, he'll remember something else.

Vic guesses the bullets were meant for Leon. "You get yourself arrested 'cause it's safer in here than it is out there," says Lem, a statement that should be hitting home. They're not willing to be his bodyguards. Vic grabs Leon by the jacket and hustles him out of the interrogation room. Leon suddenly remembers a green SUV.

Vic tells Danny he's overriding bail to release Leon on his own recognizance. Leon whines that Vic is gonna get him killed. That's a chance Vic doesn't mind taking. Back upstairs, Leon explains that a pool hustler client fell behind on his payments. They used to go to Gary's Tavern on Sunset. Is his name Dean Winchester?

"Cut to the part where someone wants to kill you," Vic says impatiently. Leon's boss Gus wanted Leon to crowbar the delinquent's arm, which would ruin the guy's pool game. Leon gave the guy an extra 24 hours to pay and was sure Gus would never know. The delinquent disappeared along with the $40,000 he owed. Gus thinks Leon has half of the money.

Leon makes it a point to say how sorry he is that Hank got killed by mistake. "Some ass-suck" who works for Gus probably shot Hank. Leon doesn't know his real name. Shane summons Vic for a private chat. Lem stays behind, listening to the lowlife gripe about how nobody wants Leon to get ahead.

Ronnie tracked down Pitarrio through an INS database. For the last 2 months, Pitarrio's been working construction. Shane is further convinced he made a deal with the feds.

Kavanaugh is once again at the kids' school. Corinne asks how old Kavanaugh's son was when he was diagnosed with autism. "Around 3," he lies smoothly. Corinne confronts him, "There's an Andy at this school, but he's not your son." She was married to Vic and cops come to the ER every day; she knows one when she sees one.

Kavanaugh tells her he's with Internal Affairs. He tries sucking up by saying she'd make a good detective. Vic is in trouble and the two of them have to do a lot of talking until he's convinced she wasn't involved. Kavanaugh threatens to charge Corinne with obstruction of justice if she tells Vic about the investigation. Does she want to go to prison?

Billings' press conference produced a witness. Isabel made a sudden turn and almost hit another car. The other car's driver started shooting and 911 put the witness on hold. The other car was white with a decal on the back window that said R.I.P. Jevontrey.

Kavanaugh listens to today's tape. Edgar-veda comes in. "Lemansky's birthday is today. His pals, they either don't know or they just don't care," announces Kavanaugh. That doesn't prove anything; guys usually aren't good with dates. My best friend remembers my birthday because ours are 3 weeks apart.

"That's the update?" Edgar-veda asks incredulously. Kavanaugh would be pissed if his best friends forgot his birthday. Come on. For all he knows, there's a surprise cake in the break room or an after work trip for beers.

Kavanaugh asks why Vic stopped by Edgar-veda's office. "Some bullshit sanitation complaint. I think he just wants to rub it in my face that he's de facto running the Barn," says the councilman. Kavanaugh apologizes for wasting his time. He'll call with the next birthday alert.

Kavanaugh rushes to Emolia's safe house to let her know it's now unsafe and she needs to pack. She shouldn't answer the phone if Vic calls.

The guy Vic and Shane meet at the construction site isn't the real Pitarrio. However, he has Pitarrio's Social Security card. Vic asks, "What'd Pitarrio get for his papers?" "He got dead," says Fake Pitarrio. Three months ago, a heroin deal in El Salvador went south and Pitarrio was murdered.

Shane thinks Emolia could be their mole (pun intended). After all, she has "a messed-up kid" and no job. Vic is adamant that Emolia wouldn't betray him; he's hung out with her and her son. Shane suggests Vic call her to "check in." Emolia's not at the safe house when they get there. The next door neighbor saw her leave with a black man earlier today.

Dutch has put the word out to decal places about special orders. Claudette brings him 3 years' worth of coroner's files. Corinne calls Dutch, saying she wants to meet. She didn't know who else to talk to. Corinne tells Dutch about Kavanaugh trying to get her to say things about Vic: "He threatened to send me to jail if I say anything or if I don't cooperate." She wants to know if it's legal or just a scare tactic.

"A lot of times, the person who goes down didn't have anything to do with the original crime." Dutch starts. (cough Lem cough) The trouble comes later on from lying and covering things up. Corinne can't be compelled to talk due to spousal privilege. But if she knew about any of Vic's, uh, extracurricular activities, she could be charged as a co-conspirator.

Corinne is their best leverage. Dutch advises her to be upfront and honest about being in the dark. Before leaving, he has a medical question for the resident nurse: Why would someone take prednisone? Corinne lists off reasons the steroid might be prescribed: lupus, asthma, Crohn's disease, arthritis.

Shane is getting frustrated as Leon looks through mug books in the clubhouse: "You don't have to memorize every picture." "Cut the guy some slack; he's got a target on his back," says Lem, who's all too aware of how that feels. Vic still can't reach Emolia. Leon ID's "ass-suck" as Justin Lamott.

In the hallway, Vic tells Ronnie about Emolia being seen going somewhere with a black guy. If Kavanaugh got to her, Vic is sure he can get her back on his side. IAD must've come to her when Pitarrio got killed. Emolia doesn't know about anything other than the mess Lem's in.

Kavanaugh has been using anything and everything he can to tear the Strike Team apart. "Prick talked to Corinne at our kids' school," says Vic, "Warn Mara. Ronnie, tell whatever you're banging this week, don't talk to strangers." The investigation will go away once they find Emolia and coach her. And just how do they plan to find her?

Vic has an idea. He asks Billings about putting Leon in a safe house. Billings has a list of available addresses, but it's eyes-only, captains and above. Let's hope Vic doesn't try robbing the captain's office again...

Danny comes upstairs. "They found the baby." Her tone is grim. Billings hands over the list. When he leaves, Vic runs it through the copier.

The coroner gives Dutch and Claudette the cause of death: trauma, most likely from a fist. In his unique horrified/interested way, Dutch asks, "Somebody punched a newborn?" The baby also had a cut leg. "A typhoon in Fiji's looking pretty good right now," Claudette mutters. Take Lem along. God knows that poor guy needs a vacation.

The baby's been dead for hours, probably since right after Isabel's murder. "It's a special kind of monster," says Dutch. Thanks to a decal shop, Billings has a name for said monster: Devares Glade. He had the decal made in honor of his uncle Jevontrey and drives a white Monte Carlo. Devares has 6 violent priors, 4 of which were committed with a Sean Deeks.

The baby's body is covered in fingerprints, at least three sets. The big ones were made by men, the smaller ones most likely a woman.

Shane disses Justin's marksmanship: 4 rounds in a wall and 2 in the wrong guy. "Loan shark shoulda hired a professional," says Lem, dropping the hint: "Some shit to be dealing with on my birthday." Shane had no idea it was today: "We should get wasted."
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They catch up to Justin. Shane plays like they're fellow legbreakers; Gus is pretty pissed about Justin shooting the wrong guy. Justin argues that he didn't, even saw the guy drop. Lem sticks a badge his Justin's face: "You just confessed to murder." Where can they find Gus?

Lem hands his recorder to Vic while Ronnie downs more coffee. Justin and Gus both confessed, clearing Leon's name. "Freak tried to hug me," Shane sounds disgusted. Vic guesses Shane insisted on oral sex. Lem is all "Boy, I must've eaten something that really disagreed with me." The wire gets passed to Ronnie. What friends won't do, huh?

Once the designated pooper is gone, Vic informs Lem that Pitarrio is a literal dead end. That leaves Emolia. Vic is sure he can sweet-talk her back into the fold. She's not in a safe house, but Vic knows where her son Sebastio has occupational therapy: "I chased down this therapist's unfaithful wife in exchange for sessions." Emolia never lets Sebastio miss an appointment.

The best thing for Lem to do right now is go home, put his feet up, and have a beer. Kavanaugh's turning up the heat. No kidding, Lem's been sweating all day. If Kavanaugh formally arrests Lem, the other guys will pool their funds to bail him out. Shane smiles and gives Lem a fist-bump.

An older man has reported a scam: A guy driving around in a camper decked out with patriotic decor has been selling bogus body armor and care packages for the troops. Grandpa paid $300 for a vest to send to his grandson in Iraq. I guess he wasn't in the military or he'd know those things are standard issue. Anyway, grandson told him it was a fake.

Julien found out Tina missed her baton training class. Tina's sorry, but she was stressed out that night after "almost having to blow a van full of skin peddlers." She didn't miss the other 3 classes, though. Why is Julien being so hard on her? Julien tells Tina point-blank that he doesn't feel safe riding with her. They find their suspect's camper with relative ease.

Before opening the cage, Tina actually follows procedure by handing over her gun. "What's a little bit like you doing being a cop?" the suspect taunts. Tina asks Danny if she can be reassigned; she's really trying with Julien, but things aren't working. Another inmate bitches about how he's a drunk and doesn't belong in holding with rapists and murderers.

"We don't have a room. This isn't an inn," Danny snaps. The guy's cellies are there for resisting arrest and "scamming grandpas into buying bogus body armor for their grandkids in Iraq. Don't get your panties in a bunch." To Tina, she adds, "Same goes for you."

In separate rooms, Dutch and Claudette talk to Devares and his female accomplice who looks like a teenager. His fingerprints were on the baby. Did she get frustrated because the baby cried too much? The detectives confer. A good attorney could convince a jury the suspects found the baby in a Dumpster and the fingerprints were from CPR. The girl is their best shot. Claudette has an idea of who she might talk to.

Danny offers to let the accomplice feel her baby bump; she didn't ever think she'd want to have kids, but now she feels maternal. She's willing to bet the girl did the cutting because she knows more about female anatomy. A man lost his son and girlfriend on the same day.

"Bitch brought that on herself," says Female Accomplice (FA). They didn't know Isabel was pregnant. She almost ran them off the road and "my man don't stand for that." To FA, shooting Isabel was self-defense. The menfolk wanted to drive off, "but I said, 'No, we gotta save the baby.'" The guys planned to sell the little boy afterward.

FA's sister has had two abortions and decided she wants a baby. The doctors botched the second abortion to the point where she can't have kids. FA thought she could surprise her sister with a stranger's baby. The baby was having trouble breathing, "so we did the stuff you see on doctor shows. We tried to clear his mouth out, turned him upside down." When that didn't work, Devares tried CPR, crushing the baby's chest in the process. Danny's heard more than enough.

Becca has learned Kavanaugh has carte blanche to investigate the Strike Team. This can't just be about a misplaced brick of heroin. Vic tells her that Edgar-veda chose him to the "posterboy for corruption to sell [a] softer, gentler voice to the voters." Vic pushed the envelope with Edgar-veda's blessing until it was no longer convenient to his political agenda.

Becca agrees to represent Vic. He explains they're a package deal by basically quoting "Good Night Saigon" by Billy Joel: "We said we'd all go down together." Becca looks almost impressed by his nobility.

Danny notices the drunk fighting other inmates in the cage and calls for help. Tina charges in...without removing her gun like she's been trained to do! Julien quickly drags her out: "Someone could've grabbed your weapon!" Is she trying to get an inmate or a fellow officer killed?

Tina runs off to have a private cry by the evidence room. Danny brings her a tissue. However, she doesn't tell the rookie that big bad Julien shouldn't have yelled at her. "You know why you're so dangerous? 'Cause this isn't real for you yet." Part of being a cop is recognizing and admitting your mistakes, then learning from them.

Of course, Tina interprets this as another attack. All she's done is try to be nice to all her coworkers: "You used to be the queen bee around here, but now you don't get so much attention with those stretch marks. So you're gonna make my life miserable." Danny's expression is one of excuse-me-bitch-what-the-fuck-did-you-say-to-me. 

Tina argues that every cop in the Barn has made mistakes; surely nobody was as mean to them as everyone is to her. Danny warns that the guys won't respect her once they see the red eyes and runny nose. Depends on the guy. Lem would probably invite her out for his birthday. As a parting shot, Danny says, "It's bitches like you that make the job harder for the rest of us."

The Strike Team stakes out the occupational therapist's office. Emolia exits with Sebastio and gets into a car with Kavanaugh. Vic decides to tail him.

Claudette's watch beeps and she takes more pills out of her desk. Dutch catches her off guard by saying, "I know you're not going on vacation. You're sick. How sick?" Claudette shrugs that she feels good enough to work every day. Dutch wants to know what's going on; they're partners. She doesn't answer.

Vic and Shane turn off their headlights as they turn down a street. Kavanaugh drops Emolia and Sebastio off at a house. When the Rat King leaves, Vic knocks on the back door. Emolia lies that she hasn't answered her phone because a dealer is harassing her. Vic pats Emolia down for a wire, wondering what Kavanaugh wants with her. Emolia claims not to know who that is.

"Why are you lying to me?" Vic sounds genuinely wounded. Did Kavanaugh threaten her with jail if she didn't play ball? Vic can get her out of this if he knows exactly what Emolia told him. "That I saw your guy take the heroin. That's it," she says. Vic knows her statement will be worthless if she skips town. Sebastio can stay with Emolia's mom until she's settled.

Emolia apologizes; she didn't know Vic then. He realizes Emolia was the one who tipped IAD about the heroin. "If I had it to do over again, I'd say no. You've been good to me and Sebastio," says Emolia. Vic yells at her for not warning him 6 months ago. Emolia brandishes a knife, warning Vic that Kavanaugh checks on her.

Vic shouts that everyone on his team could wind up jail. Didn't it mean anything to Emolia that he helped her son? Her own knife now at her throat, Emolia promises to leave. Vic doesn't trust her not to call Kavanaugh. She cries that Vic knew what she was like from the beginning. Does someone who's trustworthy turn people into the police for money?

Vic slowly realizes he can't bring himself to kill Emolia. His phone starts ringing. They come up with a story that Emolia's earlier call to her cousin had a purpose: getting a message to Vic so he could find her. The door opens. Vic whirls around with his gun out. The Rat King has returned. They stare at each other.

Kavanaugh asks why Vic is there. Vic's more interested in why Kavanaugh has been talking to his CI. Kavanaugh gives Vic a bullshit story about her helping bust a Salvadoran drug ring. "I got spooked," Emolia pipes up, "Called my cousin. She called Vic for me." Vic advises, "Next time you hide one of my CIs, put a car out front. This isn't safe."

End of episode (and end of what was probably the worst birthday of Lem's life). Seriously, I hope somebody brought him some cake or at least stopped by his house so he wasn't drinking alone...

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