A suited Latina instructs her suited Latino male counterpart to read a prepared statement and then ask for questions. He assures her he doesn't need his notes. In a police roll call room, the Latino is introduced as Captain David Aceveda. He exposits that the Farmington District of Los Angeles, which he commands, is notorious for being crime-ridden; some reporters have called it a war zone.
Elsewhere, several plainclothes cop chase a suspect down the sidewalk. A fourth cop stays with the minivan they're utilizing for reasons unknown. The suspect shoves something in his mouth as he runs. Back in the roll call room, Aceveda announces that violent crime is down in Farmington. The officers under his command do neighborhood outreach work. Part of this outreach apparently involves chasing people through indoor/outdoor flea markets. One of the plainclothes cops almost faceplants after leaping off a display.
Outside, an iron fence blocks the suspect's escape. Back to Aceveda telling reporters that mothers feel safer about going shopping. The four plainclothes cops have caught up to their man. They're lead by the very burly and intimidating Michael Chiklis. The suspect gloats that the police are too late. More of Aceveda's speech, then back to Chiklis punching the suspect in the stomach. Chiklis hauls the suspect to his feet and yanks down the dude's shorts and boxers. "Looks like you've got some kinda third nad goin' down there," Chiklis remarks. He reaches down and yanks, producing a small baggie of drugs.
A blond cop who seems to be wearing a Kevlar vest and no other shirt thinks he has an evidence bag on him somewhere. Chiklis pockets the baggie and drags the suspect back toward the market, the guy's shorts still around his ankles. In the roll call room, Aceveda grins from his podium, "Any questions?"
"You do not see a pair like that every day," remarks a homicide detective as he stands over the body of a naked woman. His black female partner informs him that it's called "rigor." A white female police officer in uniform enters the kitchen and says the victim's sister is outside and wants to know what happened. The black woman tells her awkward partner, Dutch, to go talk to her. Dutch seems like he'd rather stay with the naked corpse, which is disturbing. The female uniform tells Dutch she and her partner Julien were first on the scene.
Dutch immediately begins profiling the killer: inexperienced and underachieving. I'd also hazard a guess that the killer knew the woman. Outside, the victim's sister is trying to push her way past the uniforms guarding the steps. She asks if Nancy is dead and describes her as pretty with long blond hair. "That sounds like her," Dutch confirms. Nancy's Sis begins crying loudly and her knees buckle. She's right in front of Dutch, eye-level with his belt. From the right angle, it looks highly inappropriate.
Nancy's Sis clutches at the hem of Dutch's sportcoat. Dutch is very aware of all the eyes on him and clearly has no idea what to do or say. Julien, the female cop's partner, looks uncomfortable but doesn't seem to know how to pry Nancy's Sis off his fellow cop. "Where's Jenny?" sobs Nancy's Sis. Jenny, it transpires, is Nancy's young daughter. Dutch immediately gets an "Oh damn" look on his face and makes a beeline for the house.
In the kitchen, the black female detective is looking at a framed photo of a blond girl who's 8 or 9 years old at most. "Guess who's missing," Dutch says. She voices everyone's thoughts at this point in the episode: "Oh shit." Best case scenario is the little girl is terrified and hiding somewhere in the house.
Michael Chiklis and Company get buzzed into the anteroom of the precinct by the desk sergeant. Chiklis has to make a pit stop and tells the others to meet him in "the clubhouse." He declines the pretty Latina's offer of an interview, even though his team is apparently a big reason for the downturn in crime. Chiklis is frustrated to see the men's room has been cordoned off with crime scene tape, apparently a longterm issue: "If the city wants to thank us for a job well done, how's about making sure we don't all have to cram into the same goddamn stall?" Men around the squadroom clap and cheer.
The only option Chiklis has at this point is the women's room. He's waylaid by Aceveda, who reveals Chiklis's character is named Vic. Reluctantly, he follows the captain up to his office with a definite air of What in God's name did I do now? Aceveda asks if Vic remembers a suspect named Miguel Esteana. Vic knows Miguel is a scumbag drug dealer. Miguel's lawyer if that's the kind of attitude Aceveda promotes. Miguel, surprise of surprises, has filed an excessive force complaint against Vic. Miguel shows us a large bruise on his elbow. Vic smiles and asks Miguel if it's a hickey from his boyfriend. Miguel claims Vic caused the bruise with a set of pliers.
Vic doesn't remember any tools, just the bags of heroin Miguel was caught with. Miguel's lawyer plans to contest the search because that's what drug lawyers do. He's free to ask anyone on Vic's squad what happened during the arrest; they won't mention pliers either. The drug lawyer calls Vic a disgrace and leaves with his client in tow. Aceveda gives Vic a fake smile and asks if he's lying. Vic says that's what dealers do to stay out of jail and can he please be excused to the ladies' room. Aceveda points out that there have been 4 complaints against Vic since he took over the precinct. Vic leaves with a wink, cheerfully reminding Aceveda to smile for the cameras and get the mens' room reopened.
Dutch and Claudette (his partner) stop at a taco truck for lunch. She tells Dutch she quit listening to him several minutes ago. Dutch just plows on: Their unsub (unidentified suspect) is disorganized and probably has a record for nonviolent offenses. Dutch spots the female uniform from earlier getting out of her patrol car. He asks Claudette, "You think Danni would go out with me?" He rattles off stats about how many women in law enforcement meet their husbands through work.
Claudette is glad Dutch is interested in dating again, but doesn't think a uniform from their own station house is a good place to start. She provides some alternative suggestions: dance classes, a personal ad, hell, even a book club: "Show some imagination. No wonder your wife left you." Dutch protests that his ex had "intimacy issues unrelated to me." They're buzzed into the squadroom. Dutch asks why Claudette has been divorced twice. Shots fired, shots fired!
Dutch and Claudette fill the captain in about the missing 8-year-old. Jenny's father was a crackhead and the crime has personal written all over it, making him their most likely suspect. However, Nancy's neighbors recalled seeing a local fence named Ponyboy knocking on Nancy's door the day before she was killed. Ponyboy, I know you had it rough with Johnny and Dally dying and all, but why'd you go and become a criminal?
Dutch goes into the breakroom and attempts to flirt with Danni by dropping cliche's about how lousy coffee is in a precinct. He's about to ask her out when Vic bursts in, shouting, "Look, it's the ladykiller!" He asks if it's true that Nancy's Sis gave Dutch oral sex at the crime scene. Dutch says he was just comforting her, which causes the teasing to get that much worse. Shane, played by the incomparable Walton Goggins, starts making sex noises and says, "If you can think of anything else you need, you just call 911 and ask for Detective Blow-Me!" Moment ruined, Dutch stomps away.
"That was real classy," Danni says, pouring sugar in her coffee. Vic tells her that Dutch thinks he's better than everyone else; he's just reminding Dutch that's not true. Vic invites Danni to have a drink with him. "Is your wife coming?" Danni asks. When he says no, she turns him down flat. Good for her. Danni has morals. Vic suggests she lose track of the morals tonight. Julien comes in to ask if Danni's ready to go out on patrol. She looks relieved.
From the van, a painfully young-looking plainclothes officer watches as Shane and Vic talk to a guy. The guy in question is washing his car and doesn't seem particularly interested in a conversation. Shane and Vic get back in the van. "Who was that?" asks Young Plainclothes. Vic cryptically replies that it's a guy he knows.
Later, Young Plainclothes secretly meets Aceveda in a local park. He has dirt for the captain: The guy Vic talked to at the car wash is a drug dealer named Rondell Robinson. Aceveda thinks Vic has been purposely taking out Rondell's competition and furthermore, he wants Young Plainclothes to help him prove it. Young Plainclothes agrees, even though Vic has a lot of friends in the LAPD. Aceveda introduces him to Hernandez, an old college friend who now works for the Justice Department. Young Plainclothes AKA Terry says that he didn't agree to be a star witness in a federal case. He points out the obvious: If he rats out another cop to the feds, he will be a dead man walking.
"He's right," says Aceveda, "It's too dangerous. He couldn't pull it off." Terry, offended, growls that he could so. Hernandez has guaranteed him a job in the Justice Department after they bust Vic. Terry drives a hard bargain: he wants to work in D.C. and have the feds pay his moving expenses. Hernandez thinks he can make that happen. Terry is no fool; he wants a guarantee in writing. Aceveda warns, "If we only wound him [Vic], his friends upstairs will crush both of us." What's Aceveda getting out of all this? Why, just a dirty cop being put in prison. "You wanna be mayor someday, you're gonna have to learn to lie a hell of a lot better than that," says Terry.
Claudette and Vic find the illustrious Ponyboy taking a bunch of VCRs out of his van. Said electronics came from a nearby Circuit City. Ponyboy is nattily dressed in a suit and fedora-ish hat. At the precinct, he insists he doesn't know anything about Jenny. He admits to being at Nancy's house to look for her old man Lonnie. Claudette informs him that Lonnie moved. Ponyboy has it on good authority that Lonnie is at crackhouse run by someone named Monty.
Claudette goes to a back room of the precinct, where Vic and Company are playing poker. She asks what he knows about Monty's crackhouse. "No can do. Monty gives me dirt, I give him safe passage," Vic tells her. Claudette says Monty might be able to find a missing child. Vic agrees to go talk to him.
Monty's crackhouse is as charming as the name implies, replete with a large pitbull on the premises. Monty lets Vic in. Without so much as a hello, Vic asks where Lonnie is. Lonnie, it turns out, is passed out on a couch in the back room. Vic spots two little boys, probably no older than 6, in adjacent room. Monty makes an excuse that it's a school holiday and the kids' mom is on a supply run. Vic tells Monty he shouldn't have kids in a crackhouse. Monty asks what he's supposed to do with them. "Stick 'em in a back room. Rent The Lion King," Vic says. Monty lamely mumbles that someone stole his TV. "Then buy 'em some crayons!" Vic orders.
Claudette gets the pleasure of interrogating shirtless, sweaty, Jonesing Lonnie. She knows he killed Nancy. Dutch says the crime lab found Nancy's blood on Lonnie's shirt. Aceveda watches the interrogation in his office via closed-circuit TV. Lonnie claims he went to the house to pick up Jenny and has no idea what happened to Nancy. Dutch guesses that Nancy made Lonnie angry and he didn't mean to do it. Claudette presses harder.
Lonnie went to Nancy's to pick up Jenny, but Nancy wouldn't let him take their daughter. He claims Nancy had a knife. Lonnie starts to cry. He admits to killing Nancy. "Why would I do that?" he sobs. "Uh, because you like crack?" Dutch guesses. He brags that he knew Lonnie was the killer. Claudette asks about Jenny. What comes out of Lonnie's mouth next shocks both her and Dutch: "I sold her." Lonnie can't remember who he sold Jenny to, just that the guy paid him $200.
"Search warrant!" Dutch shouts as he smashes a window. He finds a man, George, sitting in the kitchen. George is spoonfeeding an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Claudette asks about Jenny. George immediately looks shifty. In the interrogation room, Claudette has a pile of child porn magazines taken from George's room. George asks where his mom is because she needs her medications. Dutch promises she'll be taken care of and offers George coffee.
In the squadroom, Dutch addresses everyone present: "Who took my Ding-Dongs?" Really don't think you should be worrying about snack cakes right now, Dutchboy. Vic asks if Dutch is in kindergarten. Dutch, who weighs considerably less than Vic, warns Vic to stay away from his desk. Claudette asks what the problem is. Dutch tells her. Claudette rolls her eyes at Vic, "Come on, son, fork over his Ding-Dongs." Or I'm gonna have to hear about all night she must add mentally. Vic leaves.
Dutch wonders why everyone likes "that asshole" so much. Claudette reminds him they have an interview going and is sure she saw a box of Twinkies in the breakroom. "It's not the same thing," Dutch pouts. Personally, I think both snacks suck. Give me a box of Butterscotch Krimpets or cinnamon coffee cakes any day.
Dutch sits back down with George. The pedophile insists he has nothing to hide. Dutch gives him a history lesson about how the mental health profession used to think of homosexuality as a mental illness. Homosexuality is now thought to be genetic; perhaps there's a gene that makes some people attracted to children. Maybe someday, people like George will be accepted just as gays by and large are now. George looks almost hopeful.
Shane and Vic pull Miguel out from under the car he was working on. They briefly intimidate him, noting all the tools around him and the conspicuous absence of pilers. Back the precinct, Aceveda informs Vic that Miguel dropped his excessive force complaint. Aceveda wants Vic's incident report by the next morning. Vic says he doesn't answer to Aceveda even though the guy is kind of his boss.
Danni and Julien respond to a complaint of slashed tires. The complainant thinks it's his girlfriend's jealous ex Lamar. Lamar wasn't handling his responsibilities as a man, presumably in the fatherhood department, so New Boyfriend took his place. New Boyfriend didn't actually see Lamar slash his tires.
Vic goes to a park at night where a large group of Hispanic men are playing soccer. He collects some money from a pimp, which he gives to his informant, a strung-out hooker named Connie. Vic reminds her that she's out of free passes. Connie is sure something is going down with Rondell's rival, Two-Time, that Saturday night. Vic remarks that she's lost weight and tells her to go get something to eat. Connie doesn't want Vic's money. Vic insists and asks where her son is. Thankfully, Connie's son is with her mom.
In the interrogation room, Dutch tells George that he has a daughter who's about to turn 14. His daughter has friends who dress like pre-trainwreck Britney Spears. Dutch relaxes in a chair, tilting it back on two legs. He says, referring to his daughter's friend Natalie, "She may not but a woman yet, but you can't call her a girl either." Oddly enough, that's almost word-for-word a line from a Britney song. Dutch has the pervert's attention; George is practically drooling.
Watching the interrogation on TV, Aceveda remarks, "I didn't know Dutch had a daughter." "He doesn't," Claudette replies. Yikes. That whole scene implies then that there are VERY dark corners of Dutch's mind where sane people dare not venture. Aceveda asks what Claudette thinks of Vic. Aceveda knows his underlings are not fond of him; the captain earned his rank by taking tests, not risking his life on the street. Claudette doesn't think busting Vic will make people like him anymore. Aceveda calls Vic "Al Capone with a badge." Not a fair comparison. For one thing, Al had hair. Claudette reminds him that the public feels safer because Vic is cleaning up the neighborhoods.
Julien and Danni go to a motel to talk to Lamar the suspected tire slasher. Lamar gives it up right away; he's guilty. He was pissed off at his ex. He gave her $1,500 as a down payment for the car; the girl repaid him by kicking him out the next day and giving the car to her new boyfriend. If the ex has a problem, she knows where Lamar lives.
At the precinct, Julien collects Lamar's jewelry before he goes into the holding cell. Lamar can get out as soon as he is arraigned and posts bail. which will likely be about $300. Lamar protests that he doesn't have that much cash. "How are you able to afford all this jewelry then?" Julien asks pointedly.
George admits that Lonnie sold him Jenny. Jenny was too young even for George; he prefers girls who are 12 or 13. George didn't want to keep Jenny and Lonnie had already spent the money. So sick S.O.B. George traded Jenny to "this doctor I met on the Internet."
Elsewhere, Vic is hosting a backyard barbecue. It's a cozy suburban scene: people lounging on deck chairs, kids and adults splashing around in the pool. Terry arrives and compliments Vic on his boat. Vic says he uses it to take his kids to Lake Tahoe a few times a year. The older cop is wearing a black T-shirt (in this heat?) featuring a coiled snake on the front; the slogan reads "FARMINGTON DISTRICT STRIKE TEAM...STRIKE HARD, STRIKE FAST." STRIKE FIRST, STRIKE HARD, NO MERCY, SIR! Sorry, reflex from growing up on The Karate Kid.
Vic's wife exits the house and asks if Vic is allowing their son Matthew to keep a spider in his room. "It's for a school project," Vic explains. A likely story. Vic remarks that kids grow up fast, especially with his line of work. Terry's dad was a cop and always admired guys like Vic. Terry brings up the idea of being more than just the Strike Team's driver. He understands why he's been left out: "You guys are a team; it's all about trust. Otherwise, you end up dead."
Later, when all the wives and kiddos are elsewhere, Vic gathers the Strike Team around a poolside table. Two-Time, their target, normally doesn't keep drugs at his place, but there will be tonight. Two-Time's house has steel-enforced doors, meaning they'll have to go through a window. "We" in this case must mean "everyone except Vic." No way can Michael Chiklis get his butt through a window. "Knock, knock. Who's there? Strike Team, Mr. Drug Dealer," jokes Shane.
Vic claps a big friendly hand on Terry's shoulder. Tonight is the rookie's first big mission. Vic reminds Terry that the team comes first and they take care of each other.
Claudette and Dutch talk to Dr. Grady, the pedophile Internet acquaintance of George. He demands to be charged or released; patients are counting on him. Dr. Grady claims not to know Jenny or George and repeats, "Charge me or release me." In the office, Aceveda asks if Dr. Grady is capable of killing Jenny. Dutch plans to let the doctor stew and come back in a couple of hours. Claudette is not okay with this: "We got a girl who's been missing since yesterday morning. Who knows if she's got food or water?" Dutch is sure he can break the man by the end of the day; he's smarter than Dr. Grady. "This is not a quiz show, Dutch," Claudette reminds him, "Lose the ego."
Aceveda heads to the Strike Team's clubhouse, opens the door, and addresses Vic: "I need you." Vic goes to the interrogation room, locks the door, and closes the blinds. Vic has brought along a goody bag: a cigarette lighter, what looks like a fifth of cheap whiskey, a thick phonebook, and a boxcutter. "What's that stuff for?" Dr. Grady asks. Exactly what you think it's for, sweetheart. Dr. Grady guesses it's Vic's turn to be bad cop. "Nah, good cop and bad cop left for the day. I'm a different kind of cop," Vic replies easily.
Dr. Grady asks to see his lawyer. He also gives Vic a friendly reminder about the camera on the other side of the room. Vic gives a disturbing speech in which he offers Dr. Grady his own 8-year-old daughter Cassidy. Dr. Grady still denies knowing Jenny. Vic shoves him, then gives him a few good licks with the phonebook. In his office, Aceveda turns off the TV monitor.
Sometime later, Vic goes downstairs with a piece of paper in hand. Dr. Grady rents a basement apartment under a fake name; Jenny is there by herself and still alive as far as the doctor knows. Dutch doesn't even thank Vic for solving the case.
Dutch, Claudette, and Aceveda kick in Dr. Grady's door. They hear faint coughs coming from inside a small utility closet. Aceveda cuts the padlock off the door. Dutch opens it. Jenny is alive, naked except for the blanket she's wrapped in and clearly terrified. The three detectives are simultaneously horrified by the girl's condition and relieved that she isn't dead. Claudette sits next to the girl and hugs her. "It's okay, Jenny," she soothes. "You're safe now."
Back at the station, Danni has heard that Dutch found the missing little girl. Dutch describes Dr. Grady as a "domination-control sociopath." Danni says it's a good thing Dutch caught him. Danni is headed home after a double shift. Dutch invites her for drinks with him and some friends from his last precinct. Danni can't go; her friend has set her up on a blind date. Danni suddenly inquires about a bad smell. They find literal dog crap in Dutch's desk drawer.
Dutch is angry and accuses Vic of doing it. Vic plays innocent. Aceveda and Claudette survey the scene from the second floor. Aceveda talks about an old tradition: A cop who starts to get a big head gets dog crap put in his locker. I'm surprised nobody has hidden anything in Aceveda's desk yet. "You heard about that, huh?" asks Claudette, meaning she's probably responsible.
Montage time! This one set to the blaring scream of Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba." The members of the Strike Team stroll out of the clubhouse in black SWAT gear. It's clear they rule the roost at the station. Dutch is wearing rubber gloves and scrubbing his desk drawer. Claudette is greeted at home by her faithful Golden Retriever. The Strike Team van is loaded with a ladder and various weapons. Terry climbs in the driver's seat. At home, Aceveda bottlefeeds his infant daughter.
It's dark in the van. About all you can see is the glow of Walton Goggins' teeth. A blond guy in a backwards baseball cap pumps his fist and headbangs. Even just sitting here, you can feel the energy.
Danni looks herself over in the mirror. She's exchanged her police uniform for a red blouse and black skirt. She removes a pistol from her purse and puts the gun in the drawer. The doorbell rings. Danni fixes her hair one last time before opening the door. She shakes her date's hand and walks back to her chest of drawers. Surreptitiously, she slides the gun out of the drawer and back into the purse.
The Strike Team parks in front of Two-Time's house. The drug dealer is inside with a mostly-naked woman. They're playing a video game together, probably Grand Theft Auto. The Strike Team Member rocking a Tom Selleck mustache is first up the ladder and smashes the window. This startles Two-Time. He tells the woman on his lap to get up. They set about hiding the drugs.
Two-Time runs in the bathroom to flush his stash. One by one, the Strike Team awkwardly bellyflops through the open window. Vic sees what Two-Time is doing. Two-Time immediately shoots at Vic. The guys dive for cover. Vic and Shane put multiple holes in Two-Time. Vic takes the gun out of the dead drug dealer's hand, turns around, and sees Terry.
Vic pulls the trigger. The bullet hits Terry just under his eye and he crumples to the ground. Vic calmly stands over the dying rookie. We see a brief black-and-white montage of Terry's scenes in this episode. Terry closes his eyes and Vic sadly shakes his head. In the immortal words of Murphy MacManus, "I can't believe that just fucking happened!!!"