Last week’s episode was more of a standalone episode than part of the whole story arc. It starts out with Vic and Shane continuing to incite gang war between the Armenians and the Mexicans. Pezuela puts a hit out on Rezian (the Armenian leader) and the boys try to keep him alive. Vic is worried that other people know about his involvement in the Money Train heist and doesn’t want Rezian dying before Vic finds all the pieces of the puzzle.
I enjoyed the Dutch/Billings story this week. The lead singer of a band was killed when a cinderblock was dropped on her head during a smoke break. Of course, none of the tenants of the apartment building where they practiced saw anything. The “Billings minimum” involved him hitting female tenants while Dutch tried to sweat them all for info. But, he did provide the one or two sentences back at The Barn to help Dutch close the case.
There is a sudden eruption of other gang violence brought on by the mayor’s “Top Ten” list of dangerous gangs in LA. Of course, bangers treat these like MLB standings and up their game to rise on the list. It provides the boys cover to enlist the help of their old pals the One-Niners to bodyguard Rezian. Eventually, they track down the guys involved in a couple senseless killings: Spook Street bangers upset that their gang was left off the Top 10. Claudette’s interrogation of a juvenile suspect lends the writers opportunity to delve into social commentary contrasting the current hip-hop culture with the aims of the Civil Rights movement. Claudette’s dressing down of the kid is a powerful scene.
On to this week. Vic interjects himself in Shane’s dealings with the Armenians to speed things along and get his family out of danger. He takes credit for the Money Train heist and says his accomplices were Lem and two of Lem’s buddies from out of town. Throwing himself into the fire, he absolves Ronnie and Shane of any guilt as far as the Armenians are concerned. Back to his old ways of giving a deal and expecting someone to take it (rather than negotiating), Vic says he will grant the Armenians three wishes in return for his family’s freedom. Wish number one is to steal a cache of weapons from police lockup.
Shane’s the inside man and Vic’s the lookout, but Vic gets called away for a family emergency. His daughter was caught drinking underage and his wife is put under arrest. Meanwhile, Ronnie is working with Julian and Tina on a sting operation. A local porn producer is paying his actresses with drugs, so Julian and Tina go undercover to bust him. When they find out the producer’s supplier is a drug kingpin the cops have been tracking for months, Ronnie calls Vic in for backup. Vic is busily dealing with the family situation, so Ronnie and Shane are on their own. Shane makes out OK, but Ronnie gets attacked by a vicious dog and has to go to the hospital for 19 stitches.
Vic tips off ICE about the gun heist, but shows up in time to get Rezian out of danger. With the guns now back in police hands. Vic convinces Rezian that he has a mole in his operation. Rezian hands over the list of his most trusted people; a list that Vic believes contains the names of anyone who knows about his involvement in the Money Train heist.
Billings sits out most of this episode, so the B story involves Dutch and Danny working a kidnapping case. Danny goes into interrogation with the kidnap victim and discloses a disturbing story about her past. Dutch, feeling protective of both Danny and Claudette, tries to get Danny a desk job as Claudette’s assistant.
Aceveda shows up only briefly. Vic was going to use the blackmail box in his gun heist plan, but the box is missing. He shows up at Aceveda’s office and berates him for taking the box. Aceveda, correctly, says he couldn’t trust Vic not to be tempted with the box. Their alliance appears to be falling apart.
Ronnie once again grows in this episode. He makes some mistakes, but looks to be coming into his own as leader of a new Strike Team. At the end, he tells Vic that he’s not going down for any of the crap Vic and Shane are involved with. He said every time they try to get out, they end up getting deeper.
At the end of the ep, Shane hands over the “last copy” of the blackmail file he has on Vic (he still has a copy in a safe spot) to gain back Vic’s trust. Vic knows Shane is lying, but shows gratitude for the handover of the file. He also says he understands why Shane felt he needed to kill Lem. But after Shane leaves the room, we can tell it’s just another Mackey Mind Game ™ to keep a close eye on Shane.
After last week’s one-off, we get back to an arc episode. More pieces were added to the puzzle and the narrative is getting more focused. I’m already looking forward to next week’s installment.