Case #2.12: "Fear & Loathing With Russell Buckins"

When the episode opens, Tom's car is being worked on in a body shop. Doug pulls Tom into the garage office to talk to Fuller. Tom's Mustang is being rebuilt as a hotrod to bust an illegal drag-racing operation. Tom is not at all happy that the car he inherited from his dad has been chosen for this assignment. (For some reason, they couldn't just grab a car off the impound lot).

When the mechanics start the rebuilt engine, Tom complains that the Mustang is making his ears ring. He and Doug drive off in it.

At Tom's apartment, his friend since kindergarten, Russell Buckins, is crashing on his couch. He and Tom do a secret handshake. Russell, interestingly, bears a passing resemblance to Doug. Tom learns that Russell has been fired from a job yet again. Russell explains the reason for his unexpected visit: Tom's high school girlfriend Debbie is getting married.

The same Debbie wrote something vaguely romantic when she signed Tom's yearbook. Tom is over Debbie; after all, high school was a long time ago and they only dated for 3-and-a-half weeks. Russell's thinks that Tom's fear of commitment kept him from making any more moves.

Tom and Doug leave for the drag race. On the ride over and at the race, Doug asks Tom a laundry list of questions about high school: Did Tom ever shoplift? Get detention? Drag race? "Borrow" someone's car? Get in a fight after a football game? Not surprisingly, the answer to all of the above is "no."

Tom finds the main drag racer and places his bet: his pink slip against $500. Doug doesn't think Tom can win, but they can't arrest the kid for drag racing if he doesn't actually do it. Fuller and the rest slip into the crowd.

Tom is up against a red car and doesn't look worried. He reaches down to turn off the walkie-talkie he was issued to communicate with his backup. Naughty, naughty, you'll get caughty. When the flag drops, Tom floors it, racing the red car. Doug screams, "What the hell?"

Tom pulls over when he sees the police cars in his rearview mirror. The other driver doesn't and runs into a truck.

At the hospital, the father of the red car's driver raises holy hell. Cap'n Rufus is uncharacteristically cold and tells the father that his kid shouldn't have been drag-racing in the first place. He will be charged with that offense if he recovers.

Doug and Tom are both in serious trouble. In addition to an Internal Affairs investigation, they're both being sent back to the police academy for a refresher course. Doug is upset and says, "Since when did I become my partner's keeper?" Cap'n Rufus responds coldly, "The day you were sworn in."

Doug still thinks it's unfair; how was he supposed to know Tom would actually race the kid? Tom tries to help his best friend by saying Doug didn't do anything. That's the whole problem. Doug (in theory) could've stopped Tom, but he didn't. Someone else will have to take Tom home because his beloved Mustang has been impounded as evidence.

The next morning, Doug sits in an academy classroom. His patrol uniform and sticks out like a sore thumb next to the cadets' uniforms. The instructor calls roll and pauses at Doug's name. He tells the cadets that Doug is a prime example of what they don't want to become. None of them should ever have to be recycled through the academy.
The instructor calls Tom's name next, but Tom isn't there. Doug nervously looks down at the tabletop.

Russell's Jeep speeds down a back road somewhere. They're taking a road trip to Debbie's wedding. Russell wonders aloud what the police department will do to Tom for blowing off the academy refresher course. "Fire me," Tom answers simply.

Cap'n Rufus tells Judy and Harry that the academy called to say Tom never showed up. He wants them to find Tom. Harry informs their boss that he and Tom have been subpoeaned to testify at a hearing the next day. Just wonderful.

The cadets do push-ups on the floor of a basketball court that, for some reason, is part of the police academy. The instructor comes over to pick on Doug: "You were a screw-up the first time you were here and you've been a screw-up since you left." Doug is clearly angry but trying not to let himself be provoked. The instructor accuses Doug of acting like a low-life due to his undercover work.

Doug has been partnered with another cadet for the academy. Said cadet asks to work with someone else, but the instructor refuses; Doug isn't the first lousy partner the kid will have. The instructor thinks Doug isn't being a team player and tells him to stay in the gym doing push-ups while his classmates get a coffee break.

Harry and Judy arrive. Judy asks Doug if he knows where Tom is; they've already checked Tom's place, his mom's house, and Amy's. Doug takes a wild guess that Tom is with his old friend Russell Buckins.

Tom is driving Russell's Jeep now and admits to still fantasizing about Debbie. He wonders if the real thing could match his expectations. "It was better," says Russell, who had sex with Debbie while they were both in college at Michigan State. He adds that Debbie moaned Tom's name during their encounter.

The two stop at a bar, where Tom hustles Russell in a game of pool. Russell dares Tom to wrestle Sheila the grizzly bear; if Tom lasts 60 seconds in the ring, he'll get a $500 cash prize. Tom agrees to wrestle the bear, but doesn't go the distance.

At the academy, Doug and his cadet partner Pryor go through a training scenario about clearing a building. They are berated by the instructor for botching it. Pryor blames Doug; he thinks Doug should know better since he's already been through the academy. 

Judy has been calling hotels trying to find Tom but without success so far. Harry testifies in court and the judge decides to continue the case at 9 A.M. the next day.

Back in the Jeep, Tom is sleeping off a hangover on Russell's shoulder. He wakes up when Russell hits a bump. Russell is proud of Tom: "You blow off your job, you wrestle a bear, you get a tattoo." Tom looks horrified and pulls up his right shirt sleeve, revealing Johnny Depp's real tattoo of an Indian chief's head. Tom demands, "Why did you let me get a tattoo?"

Russell starts scheming up ways to crash Debbie's wedding. Tom has changed his mind about going and they start to argue. Russell doesn't notice the cow in the middle of the road until it's too late. They run it over and end up at the local sheriff's office, charged with "vehicular cowicide." The sheriff has contacted Fuller so that Tom can go back to testify in court.

After Tom testifies, Cap'n Rufus bitches Tom out about running off with Russell. At 22, Tom is too old for such childish rebellion. 

Elsewhere, Debbie is getting ready for her wedding. When she answers a knock at the door, she finds Tom. Tom suggests that she dump her fiance and leave town with him. She refuses and can't believe what Tom is saying. Tom can't believe it either and wisely decides not to stay for the ceremony.

Russell announces that he's decided to be a writer. He thinks their brief road trip has given him enough material to write a book and says he'll make Tom famous. 

End of episode.

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