Season 4, Episode 1 “Grave”  

Air date:  3-22-05

Having hung around as long as possible, Aceveda spends his last, last, last day in the Barn being as much of an ass as possible to everyone.

Most notably, he went out of his way to screw over incoming Captain Rawling.  The ongoing sting with the cameras installed at the local car dealership/money laundering operation has been compromised, and he's determined to just shut it down and put the owner in jail.  With a little wrangling, Rawling has got the dealer back on track, ready to give them even better than they had started out. Rather than just pushing it off a couple of days and taking all the credit, she went out of her way to bring in Aceveda.  Aceveda repays her by going behind her back to the chief, taking all the credit for himself- and hamstringing her ability to use Vic on top of that.  

Besides which, he's bitching her out even for getting the toilet fixed.  Besides being a practical thing, this non-working toilet has been an ongoing symbol of the dysfunctionality of the place.  The men's john has not worked in the entire run of the series.  They were bitching about this in the pilot.  Hard telling what kind of mess she's going to get into running the place, but at least she's got enough sense to get the toilet fixed.


Aceveda really outdoes himself, though, with a rape victim.  This part really plays more interesting on repeat viewings, seeing where it's headed.

Some poor HIV positive prostitute has been just beaten into hamburger in the back alley, with the whole attack captured on surveillance video.  When Dutch and Claudette have trouble getting her needed co-operation in identifying the guy, Aceveda moves in to play "better cop."  He turns on his best politician skills, holding her hand and offering "compassion."  He gives a very convincing performance. "I'm SO sorry."   It's quite a scene

Yet later, he's holed up in his office, masturbating to the surveillance video of her brutalization- and taking a copy home with him at the end of the day as he leaves the office for the last time.

Being forced at gunpoint to blow some dumb convict as Aceveda was last season would, well, SUCK.  I for one, however, am rapidly losing sympathy for Aceveda in the aftermath.  It's been most of a year ago, and he wasn't even hurt- other than his ego.  The perpetrators have been long since dealt with, and hardly anyone ever found out about it.  Jebus Criminy man, get a grip on yourself.  No wait, that's just what he was doing with that video.  Try something else.


The "grave" in the title belongs to ol' Ben Gilroy.  After his fall, nay leap from grace in the first season, Vic sent him packing to Mexico in the "Coyotes" episode of season two.  He shows up in the morgue during the pre-credits sequence here, having drunk himself to death and choking on his own vomit.  

This works well for the show for starters as a way of tying up a fairly big loose end, as Gilroy was a fugitive and a continuing risk to Vic.  Moreover, this situation made good dramatic material for Vic, making his last efforts of loyalty to someone who had betrayed him particularly badly.  It certainly showed Vic in his most noble light, working to get some cops to show up for his funeral.

Also though, Vic's actions reflect his yearning for redemption.  Gilroy long ago became an object lesson for Vic, a warning of what could lie ahead for him.  It's noteworthy that Shane, the person on the team most needful of the lesson, did not show up for the funeral, despite Vic's pleading.

Also, Aceveda made his worst petty, vindictive parting gesture by tearing down Vic's handbills in the Barn about the funeral.  It might look like the department was sanctioning attending a funeral for a disgraced former member. That's a real low.


Shane thinks he's Vic now, but he certainly is not.  He apes (and that's just the right word) Vic's toughness and brutality, but hasn't a clue how to do it.  Consider his display with the dealer in the diner.  For starters, he has to screw with him in a public place, and in front of all his women.  The guy hasn't done anything to cross him, but he insists on publicly humiliating him, insists on having his best girl blow his partner, ruins two sets of dinner, and then bluntly threatens him with assassination at the first peep of indignation.  

Vic would never have acted this damned stupid, or this needlessly hostile.  This was just pointless thug brutality, and needlessly generating ill will.  This combination of death threat and ritual public emasculation not only won't do any good, but seems like just the kind of thing to cause someone to consider taking out a cop.  Hell, it's a wonder the owner of the restaurant didn't call cops in on the scene he was making.

Even worse was the final scene of the episode, with Shane giving hell to Antwon's underlings late at night in an alley.  He's crappy about not getting info that he figures he should have, and demanding an increase in his protection money.  

For starters, Vic would not have been volunteering to have a confrontation with a bunch of bangers in an alley all by himself.  On top of which, Shane insists on antagonizing the spokesman unnecessarily, calling him a "slow witted bitch" and drawing his gun.  He could have gotten himself real dead right there for no needful reason.

Worst of all, for all his abusiveness, he's in no kind of control.  Antwon, the actual leader is sitting in the car, making Shane deal with his subordinates.  Vic would certainly not be getting punked like that.  Damn, but Shane's an idiot, besides being corrupt and racist and two or three other bad things.


They're also sprouting a new storyline this week, with the Mackeys being recruited to join a class action lawsuit claiming that their children's autism was caused by a preservative in vaccines they took.  We'll see where this goes as a dramatic story, but it certainly taps into an ongoing real world issue.

I don't know the science to begin to judge the validity of claims that vaccines have been causing autism, but I'm naturally suspicious of the trial lawyers and litigants pushing these claims.  Particularly, note Corrine's line, "I know somebody should pay."  Exactly.  Somebody should pay, whether it was any fault of their own or not.


Dutch can't win, not even with his own partner.  Claudette comes telling him about some woman her boyfriend thinks would be interested in him.  After a minute, it occurs to Dutch to ask if the woman is black.  This immediately makes Claudette completely withdraw her offer of introduction.  Why?  Is it inappropriate to be curious?  I could very well see Claudette reacting in this negative manner, but is that reaction appropriate?

Granted, though, that Dutch doesn't really help his case with his responses, explaining that he thought Halle Berry and Beyonce are hot.  Oh Dutch, you're so broad minded!


If you wanted to be churlish, you could complain that these first two episodes of season four have been somewhat light with the actual criminal cases at hand.  It's more a question of emphasis, though.  These first two episodes have tipped more toward exploring very intriguing cop politics, and setting up the new relationships and situations within the ranks, rather than arcane serial killers and such.

The principle actual criminal case in this episode involved a 17 year old kid going off on the rock, and getting involved in a killing.  The kid, Cyril, frankly isn't very interesting, nor does he have any particularly interesting moves or lines.  He barely says two words.  What would he really have to say, anyway?  "I like crack" would probably be the height of his wit and wisdom.   The telling of his mundane story, however, really only takes five minutes or less of screen time.

The real point of interest was Cal, his older sponsor and apparently not quite lover.  This good, respectable mature businessman gets driven to his limit.  The power of this must belong in significant part to the actor, cause I bet some of his confession to Vic about dresses and operations could look pretty cheesy on paper.  The performance of this confession scene really sells the material, and more than justifies the whole setup with the boy.  The old man's shame and desperate grief are quite striking.


They made a particularly good musical transition in the final segment, where the lonely bagpipe playing "Amazing Grace" at Gilroy's funeral segues into a punk rock version of the song that covers the final montage.  It climaxes as commentary on the action in the final seconds, with hidden Vic observing Shane's dealings that he had denied with Antwon, "was blind but now I see."

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