Case #1.09: "Blindsided"

Doug is sitting on his desk looking over a file folder. He stops Tom and says he has something amazing to show him. "Yo, Blowfish!" Doug calls. A stocky janitor with curly black hair and glasses appears. Apparently, he's the something amazing. Tom asks what he can do. "I'm the human blowfish," the janitor explains. What does that mean exactly? Blowfish doesn't want to do his party trick because he has to fix the heater, the same one he fixed last week.

Doug begs some more and Blowfish relents. Doug tells Harry and Judy to watch. He provides a bit of a Capella fanfare. What follows is borderline indescribable and mildly disturbing. Just watch this video and see for yourself...

Next we see two very familiar people heading up the back steps of a high school courtyard: Doug and Tom. For once, Tom isn't dressed like a prep. He's wearing tight jeans, a denim vest, boots, and a do-rag that looks like it was made out of an old T-shirt. 

Doug is throwing practice punches and discussing a fight they're planning to get into. "We have to win, but we can't hurt 'em." he explains. Tom gripes that it's crazy they came to school early to fight. Doug says Tom shouldn't worry about a fight; after all, Tom did 18 months in juvie for manslaughter. Tom grumpily informs his partner that he didn't ask for that to be part of his cover story.

The partners are sharing a cover this time: the McQuaid brothers. I really hope they're posing as step-brothers or they say one of them was adopted; I'm not sure you could find two guys who look less alike than Peter DeLuise and Johnny Depp.  The McQuaids are tough guys who buy better drugs. "Well, let's buy some better drugs so we can get outta here already," snaps Tom. "3 weeks, it's gettin' kinda old."

They have to take it slow, gradually buying bigger amounts of drugs. Tom guesses that by midterms they'll have enough evidence to bust the president of Colombia. "The college or the country?" Doug wants to know.

Doug points out two guys in letterman jackets (which for some reason are two different sets of colors) and tells Tom to take the little one. The lettermen approach them. Doug and Tom begin punching and wrestling around with the boys. A girl who looks like she's wearing clothes from the '50s watches interestedly.

A teacher breaks it up and starts walking Doug and Tom toward the school building. Doug protests that the lettermen started the fight. The girl in '50s clothes (Diane) eyes up Tom and says, "No one thought you were gonna show." Tom says they had to because they're the McQuaid brothers.

Tom and Doug shout "HELLO!" as they barge into the boys' bathroom. Doug starts shooing everyone out. Two boys stay behind: a ginger and one with black hair tied back in a ponytail. Tom tosses a wad of cash to the ginger; Ponytail tosses Doug a plastic baggie of drugs. Doug wants to buy half a key next. Tom thinks they might as well go for a whole key. The kids will get a 10% finder's fee if they
 can arrange a joint meeting with their supplier. 

At the Chapel, Doug asks Tom why he increased the amount so drastically. Tom explains that they wouldn't be able to get up the ladder if they'd stuck with half a key; Ginger and Ponytail could probably get that on their own. 

Cap'n Rufus tells the officers to make sure they carry out the deal in public so they'll be somewhat safer. Uniformed back-up will be in place to bust Doug and Tom; they'll get bailed out as juvies. "And finally the McQuaid brothers will be history!" cheers Tom. He and Doug do a complicated high-five and shout "Hah!" at each other. Not so fast. They'll be staying undercover at West Union High until Ginger and Ponytail are indicted. That should take roughly 2 more weeks.

Diane walks into the school guidance counselor's office. She has another college in mind that she wants to apply for and needs to copy her letter of recommendation. She heads for the file cabinet. The counselor initially tells her that the files aren't open to students, but trusts Diane enough to just take what she needs. While thumbing through the drawer, Diane runs across two folders labeled Thomas McQuaid and Doug McQuaid.

At a diner, the four boys sit in a booth. Doug slurps up the last of his vanilla milkshake as the ginger's drug connection appears. Ponytail pulls a paper bag from between his legs and passes it under the table to Doug. Doug sits on the bag and asks if the dealer is planning to count the money. The dealer says coolly that he doesn't need to; he'll just kill them if it's not all there.

Cap'n Rufus and Harry walk into the diner wearing their uniforms. Fuller asks what the boys are doing out of school. Tom explains that honor roll students get free time at lunch. Rufus says his kids went to West Union High, so he knows there's no off-campus lunch.

When Doug gets up, Cap'n Rufus notices the paper bag he's carrying and asks to see it. Doug asks if Rufus has a warrant. Rufus grabs Doug by the front of his T-shirt and says, "I got probable cause to open your cranium just lookin' at you, kid." He pushes Doug face-first onto the table. Harry apprehends the supplier. Rufus opens one of the plastic bags and confirms that it contains drugs. He pulls Doug's arms behind his back and we hear the distinctive click of handcuffs.

Back at West Union the next day, rumors are flying. They're making the bust out to be a major raid that involved drug dogs and a SWAT team. People stare as Doug and Tom walk into school. Diane overhears all these conversations and seems starstruck. 

At lunch, Tom complains that he hates doing nothing, which is what's doomed to happen the next few weeks. They kick a boy with glasses out of his seat. Doug, who has 3 cartons of chocolate milk on his tray, swipes the kid's Jello. Tom thinks this is a waste of their time. Doug isn't paying attention; he's too busy tossing a fish stick across the cafeteria.

Diane joins them at their table. "Does your mama know you're here?" asks Doug. Tom gives his partner a pointed look. Doug gets up, leaving Tom and Diane alone. Tom asks if Diane wants to interview him about the drug bust so she can write an editorial for the school paper. Diane knows the rumors about the things McQuaids have done are true. Doug returns, his tray loaded with even more food. Tom tells Diane to get lost.

Doug observes that Tom's finally learned being a bad boy works, "especially with them Girl Scout types you like." He grabs a cup of green Jello and crushes the contents into his mouth. Charming table manners...

By the time school lets out, it's pouring rain. Without so much as a hello, Diane opens the door and gets into Tom's Mustang. "That's my brother's seat," he tells her, undoubtedly mentally calculating what it'll cost to repair any water damage to the leather. Diane asks Tom if it's true that he killed someone and whether he'd be willing to do it again. Tom would if he had to. Diane wants to know if he'd commit murder for hire; she has almost $1,700 saved.

Tom wants to know if someone gave Diane a hard time in study hall or something. Thinking he's haggling over price, Diane says that $1,700 is all she has. She drops a bombshell by choking out that she wants to pay Tom to kill her father. She could bring the money to school the next day if he wants. Whatever Tom was expecting Diane to say, it clearly wasn't that.

That night, Cap'n Rufus tells Doug and Tom that the drug supplier Gibb is out on bail. He has 3 prior felony convictions and would have no qualms about killing them if he found out they were cops. "And that generates massive paperwork," Fuller finishes, "so don't let it happen." Doug is stunned by that remark.

In the dark hallway of an apartment building, someone is fiddling with a door knob. Inside Casa de Penhall, Doug's life is imitating a Billy Joel song ("Sleeping With the Television On"). Whoever is outside finds the spare key on top of the doorframe. Doug doesn't wake up as they enter the apartment. The light clicks on. Suddenly, Doug is standing up with his gun drawn. "FREEZE, DON'T EVEN BLINK!" he shouts.

It's just Tom. Really? You sneak into your partner's house in the middle of the night when you both know a drug dealer might be after you? Dumb-ass. Doug shuffles sleepily to the fridge as Tom says he really needs to talk to someone. It's almost 4 AM. Doug cracks open a beer and asks Tom why he didn't call. 

"You wouldn't have let me in," says Tom. Doug replies, "I know. Why didn't you call?" Since Doug's already up and Tom's already there, he agrees to talk. They sit down on the mismatched living room furniture. Tom wants to talk off the record; he knows Doug wouldn't turn him in.

Doug asks what happened. Tom can only stutter about Diane at first, but eventually gets to the point: She offered him money to murder her father. Doug can't believe what he's hearing. Tom chews on his fingernails. Doug gets up and says he's telling Cap'n Rufus. 
"Wait a second!" Tom begs, "You're my friend!" Yeah, and now he's implicated.

The next morning at his desk, Tom finishes typing a report and asks Doug to sign it. He wants Doug to "forget" to turn it in. Doug doesn't like the plan, but agrees to sign the report. Fuller comes over and wants to know what they're doing at the chapel this time of day. Tom says the McQuaids can skip class. Fuller reminds them their assignment isn't over. "This is nuts, man," Doug hisses.

Tom struts down the halls of West Union. Diane spots him and leads him to an empty classroom her teacher lets her use to study. She opens her purse and Tom tells her to put the money away. Diane protests that Tom said he'd do it. Tom argues that he never agreed to it. She can pay him when the deed is done.

Tom wants to know the reason Diane wants her father dead. Diane says it doesn't matter. Tom asks if Mr. Nelson beats her. She tearfully pleads with him to just take the money and insists the reason doesn't matter. Her father's death is the only way out of whatever situation she's in. Tom tells her to keep an eye on the money and leaves. Diane starts sobbing.

At the Chapel, Harry asks why Tom is so interested in Diane because she isn't part of an official Jump Street case. Tom wants to know what Harry's found out. Apparently, there have been a couple of domestic disturbance calls at the Nelsons. The file is sketchy on details, which are easy to hide when you have rank. Diane's father, Clarence, is the head of the police department's administrative branch.

Tom goes to the records office in his patrol uniform, carrying a briefcase. He tells the desk sergeant that he's picking up the Nelson files for Captain Nelson. The desk sergeant is suspicious and wants to call Nelson. Tom says the sergeant probably just lost the release form and threatens to have Nelson put him on foot patrol. Sergeant Raskin quickly hands over the files.

Cap'n Rufus looks up as Tom comes into his office. Tom asks if he can trust Rufus and explains what Diane asked him to do. Tom hands over the report he's been hiding. He knows it was wrong not to turn her in, but he didn't know what else to do because he's new at this job. Soliciting murder is a Class A felony that could send Diane to the electric chair. Cap'n Rufus is angry at Tom for literally sitting on the report.

Tom admits this is all his fault and Doug filled out the report. Rufus yells for Doug to join them. Doug steps into the office and shuts the door. Cap'n Rufus tells them to never hold back felonies and asks if everything is in the report. Doug says yes but Tom says no; he left out that Diane's father is a police captain. Doug groans.

Tom explains how he tricked the desk sergeant into handing over Nelson's personal files. Tom compares them to Swiss cheese, especially where the disturbance calls are concerned. Cap'n Rufus wants to know if Tom thinks there's a case. Obviously, Tom does or he probably wouldn't have taken such a big chance. Rufus lays out the game plan: He'll call in favors to get the rest of Nelson's files. Tom will turn down Diane's offer and write a report, which Fuller will sit on. That way, Tom won't take the full brunt of any consequences.

The lettermen seen earlier in the episode 
try to ambush Doug in the bathroom. Doug tosses the one in blue into an empty stall and headbutts the one in gray. They knock over the trashcan. Doug tells them to stay down as the same teacher from earlier comes into the bathroom. Doug's sweating and has a bloody nose. The teacher send him to the principal's office and asks where McQuaid #2 is, but Doug doesn't answer.

On the school steps, Tom refuses Diane's offer. She asks if Doug would do it. Nope. Does Tom want more money? No. Tom wants to know why doesn't she just leave it alone. "You do it!" she demands.

Doug, the lettermen, and the teacher are all packed into the principal's office. The principal looks familiar; he played the same role in a TV movie called Kidz in the Wood. The principal wonders out loud why he didn't expel Doug after his arrest. Doug argues that he was just washing his hands when the other two "decided to redecorate the bathroom." The kid in gray says Doug started it.

"Enough!" barks the principal. He suspends the lettermen for a week apiece. Doug will be suspended for 2 weeks. As if Dougie wasn't in enough trouble already with Fuller...

In the Chapel loft, Doug wants to know where Tom was when the jocks ganged up on him. Tom says he was a little busy telling Diane he couldn't murder her father. "Oh, that," says Doug. Memory of a goldfish, that one.

Cap'n Rufus tells Tom and Doug what he found out after calling in his favors. Mrs. Nelson died 4 years ago and that's when the domestic disturbance calls started. Nothing was ever done. Diane had some problems with truancy and ran away once to live with an aunt. The file also contained a confidential recommendation for counseling.

Doug, of course, doesn't get what all that stuff means. To Cap'n Rufus, it sounds like Diane is a victim of sexual abuse. Doug looks pissed and says to Tom, "Maybe you should whack him. Maybe I'll do it for ya." Tom thinks they could be wrong. Cap'n Rufus will take the hit if they are. The only way to get Diane out of the house, though, is to convince her to file charges against her father.

At the grocery store, Tom finds Diane in the bread aisle. He shows her his badge. He lets her know that they've checked her dad's files and know what's happened. Diane says they made a mistake. Tom bluntly states Diane wanted her father dead because he sexually assaulted her. Tom can't help her if she doesn't file charges. 
Diane has tried to get help before but no one believes her. Tom says he believes her. Diane refuses to file charges and tells Tom not to bother her again.

Tom tells Cap'n Rufus that Diane won't cooperate. There's only one option left to get Diane out of harm's way and it's not a pleasant one: They'll have to arrest her for solicitation of murder and lock her up in juvie. If she admits to being abused while she's there, the charge will probably get dropped. Tom wants to be the one to arrest her. 

Tom arrives at the Nelsons and knocks on the door. A preteen girl in an outdated, oversized sweater and blouse answers; it's Diane's little sister Leslie. Captain Nelson asks what's going on. Leslie says there's a boy who wants to talk to Diane. She leads Tom in the kitchen.

Diane recognizes Tom instantly and tells him to go away. Tom tells her to get Leslie out of the house. Diane sends Leslie to stay with some neighbors. Tom lets her know he has an arrest warrant. Diane refuses to go with him. Tom says she doesn't have a choice.

Captain Nelson hears them arguing and comes into the kitchen. Tom introduces himself as a police officer. He says Diane is under arrest for soliciting Captain Nelson's murder, which they think was prompted by him sexually abusing her. 

Captain Nelson advances on them and tries to pull Diane away from Tom, knocking her into a wall. Tom pulls out his gun. The two men struggle briefly and Tom ends up shooting Captain Nelson. Cap'n Rufus comes in with back-up and asks what happened. Tom is in shock. He apologizes for shooting Nelson, but says he had no choice.

Cops, crime scene tape, and curious neighbors surround the house as Captain Nelson is loaded into an ambulance. An Internal Affairs detective thinks it looks like Tom tried to live up to his contract. Cap'n Rufus tells Mr. IA he's out of line. Mr. IA takes Tom's gun and badge. Tom is cuffed.

At police headquarters, IAD says that Captain Nelson won't die from his injuries. They ask if Tom has anything to add to his statement. No. IAD warns Tom he'll be tried in the press and will probably lose. I think they're overestimating how many people would feel sorry for a man who molested his own child.

Tom visits Diane in the hospital. She's there because the paramedics had to sedate her after the shooting. Diane seems oddly relieved that her father isn't dead. She's afraid no one will like her again because she was molested.

Tom ends up being cleared by IAD and the shooting review board. Cap'n Rufus says Diane probably won't go to jail for soliciting murder. Tom hates Captain Nelson for what he put his daughters through. He feels shaky because it's the first time he's ever had to shoot someone. Diane will most likely get off with probation and become Leslie's guardian. She'll get therapy and a cash settlement from the police department.

There's a loud "EEEEEEE" from outside. Doug opens Rufus's office door with a grin and asks if Tom got his badge back. He needs Tom's help taking down Ponytail and Ginger. He and Tom slap hands and yell "Hah!" 

In the West Union boys' bathroom, Tom and Doug are preparing to make their bust when the jocks arrive. They announce that they're cops and tell all 4 boys to get up against the wall.

The episode ends with Tom and Diane walking around a lake together. FUN FACT: Diane Nelson was played by Johnny Depp's girlfriend at the time Sherilyn Fenn.

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