Case #3.03: "The Currency We Trade In"

At a bar/seafood restaurant, a flannel-clad man invites himself to sit at a woman's table and orders half a dozen oysters. The ponytailed, bearded man shucking them behind the bar is Doug. Ominous music picks up as two more guys come in and seat themselves. Some equally suspicious-looking people eye the two from across the room. The man in the brown leather jacket grabs a gun from his waistband and puts it to the woman's head. "Back off! I'll scramble her brains!" he shouts.

Doug leaps over the bar, yelling, "Drop it!" He bashes the guy's hand against the counter a few times to disarm him. Someone who's presumably another plainclothes cop holds Brown Leather Jacket at gunpoint. Theme song.

In Doug's new house, Dorothy, in one of her cringe-worthy outfits, tells Doug to finish getting ready so she can drive him to work.

At the precinct, Deputy DA Jackie Garrett praises Doug for his work on whatever case he cracked (pun intended) at the oyster bar. Doug was just following his instincts. "Keep followin' 'em, sweetcakes, you'll be runnin' this joint," she advises. Doug asks Jackie not to call him that. 

"Oh, I love to make you blush," Jackie says, pinching his cheek. Doug smiles sheepishly. Jackie heard Doug's in line for promotion to Major Crimes and they should celebrate, asking, "How about dinner tonight?"

"Yeah, how 'bout it?" scowls Dorothy from the bottom of the stairs. Doug introduces her to Jackie. He adds that he was just telling Jackie that he was inviting her over for dinner that night to meet Tom. Dorothy doesn't look like she believes him, but says, "8:00. Bring home some wine, Dougie." before throwing his bagged lunch at him.

Blowfish knocks on the doorjamb to Rufus's office: "Hey, Captain, they towed your car." Rufus asks if he knows who the uniform was "because the deed to his butt just changed hands." "They were repo men," says Blowfish, "My dad had 2 Cadillacs, a T-Bird, and a refrigerator repossessed. I know what a repo looks like when I see one."

Doug enters the Chapel. Harry does a secret handshake with him. "Check out that beard," says Judy, "Boy, you look like a Hell's Angel." Apparently, the guy he busted at the oyster bar was a hitman, so Doug's now a minor department celebrity. Tom saw his partner on TV the night before. Doug wants to know how he looked. Tom's answer is quick and honest: "You gotta shave that beard."

Judy and Harry leave to finish a report, promising Doug they'll be right back and they can all go to lunch. Doug asks Tom about his evening plans; Tom has none. "Be at my place at 8:00, bring some wine, and get a shave." Doug says. Good call. That peach fuzz mustache is doing nothing for Johnny Depp.

Tom is immediately suspicious about Doug asking him to shave. Doug plays it off that Dorothy is making a fancy dinner, but Tom sees through that and says, "You set me up on a blind date." Doug tells him it's just dinner. Tom wants to know how many guests are coming. "Including me?" says Doug, "Four." Tom figures the fourth person must be female and starts to walk away.

Doug explains that he got caught flirting and told Dorothy he was fixing the girl up with Tom: "You don't show up, she's gonna...snip. You gotta help me." Tom finally agrees to come over. "YESS!! THANK YOU!" Doug cheers.

At Metro Police Headquarters, Doug and his female partner Fitzgerald are introduced as detective trainees to the Major Crimes squad. There's banter about them catching the hitman. Fitzgerald and Doug head to the captain's office for their first assignment. Their new boss explains, "A man's estranged wife has filed a report of child molestation." The man in question is Jeff Logan, who happens to be Doug's favorite local sports columnist.

Jeff's wife became concerned because the little girl was having nightmares after spending a weekend with Dad. A psychologist from Children's Services thinks it points to the girl being molested. It's kind of a stretch as far as I'm concerned, really. Kids have nightmares for all kinds of other reasons.

The wife and daughter will be coming to the precinct the next day to be interviewed. The captain warns them, "This is real dicey stuff. An overeager cop can misread it and a smart lawyer can chew up a 4-year-old witness in two minutes." 

Doug cracks open a beer and the doorbell rings. Tom is already there with a mixtape. Doug lets Jackie in and introduces her to Tom. Tom tells Jackie to call him Hanson. "This is an informal get-together. First names aren't appropriate?" she says. Doug abruptly changes the subject: "Anyone for wine?" 

Doug grills steaks while Dorothy tries to make small talk with Jackie. It's not working. Jackie "doesn't want to be a jerk" but asks if they can change the tape because the artist is too derivative; she'd rather listen to real R&B. 

Jackie sings Doug's praises about how his letter-perfect reports make her job easier. "Last year, we busted a major crack dealer. We had a pound of coke sitting in a locker and this idiot undercover cop totally mishandled the continuity of evidence. I couldn't even file." Jackie bitches. Tom asks, "That was you?" "You busted that kid in Piedmont?" she says.

Doug cheerfully calls, "Steaks are up!" Tom tells Jackie that he worked the case for 3 months. They argue over the finer points of the evidence. Tom says he has to leave. Jackie follows suit, thanking Doug and Dorothy for inviting her. More steak for Doug, I guess.

At police headquarters, Mrs. Logan comes into a nicely furnished office with blond-haired, 4-year-old Molly. Doug doesn't look like a cop at all in his flannel shirt and cargo pants. He immediately builds a rapport with Molly by crouching to her level and talking softly. He points to a chair and asks, "Is that your teddy bear?" Molly shakes her head and Doug whispers, "I think he's following you."

Fitzgerald interviews Mrs. Logan. Not the way I'd do things, but oh well. Mrs. Logan says Molly acted strange and distant when she picked her up from her dad's.

In another room, Doug talks to Molly while a female social worker watches. He asks what she did with her daddy last weekend. "We went swimming," Molly says. Doug wonders if it was too cold to swim. "Daddy's friends have a pool in their house," Molly explains.

Fitzgerald asks Mrs. Logan about Molly's nightmare. Mrs. Logan replies, "She said, 'Daddy scared me.' And then she started crying, this sad little whimper."

Doug pulls out a doll and asks Molly to show him what her dad did. Molly doesn't want to talk. "We can talk about something else," Doug says easily, then asks who is her favorite person at daycare.

Fitzgerald knows from public records that the Logans divorced because of infidelity. She asks Mrs. Logan about the affair. "He didn't have just one," Mrs. Logan says.

It seems that Molly has finally opened up to Doug about the abuse because he's asking her, "Could you show me again what happened?" She does and Doug bites his bottom lip.

In Jackie's office, Doug asks if she read their report. He thinks Jeff is guilty. Jackie says that since there were no signs of physical trauma, they need a confession. "I'll get it," Doug promises. Jackie says not to pick Jeff up until late. It's Friday and that'll give Doug all weekend to make Jeff talk.

Jeff, who looks disturbingly like one of my mother's ex-boyfriends (not a creeper, just no good for her), enters a crowded restaurant bar with his much younger redheaded companion. He's all smiles and handshakes. They order drinks at a table. Fitzgerald and Doug walk up behind Jeff. She flashes her badge. Fitzgerald cuffs Jeff and Doug says, "You're under arrest for child molestation." Fitzgerald leads Jeff out as Doug recites the Miranda Rights.

Doug's coworkers congratulate him on arresting Jeff. He goes into an interrogation room with Fitzgerald. Jeff insists he didn't do anything. Fitzgerald asks if Jeff will take a polygraph. "I think I want to speak to my lawyer," says Jeff. Doug breaks a couple of procedural rules by asking another question: If Jeff is innocent, why won't he take the test? Jeff repeats that he wants his lawyer.

Doug says they tried to get in touch with him the night before, but he hasn't returned the call. I'm not sure if this is a bluff or not. Either way, Jeff is disappointed because his lawyer is a friend. "He's an ex-friend now. See, people do not like to be associated with child molesters," says Doug, leaning over Jeff.

At a bowling alley, Tom is surprised to run into Jackie. She tells him she's on another blind date. "Worse than me?" Tom asks. She points out a bowling nerd squirting something into the holes in his ball, which I've never seen in my time around the lanes. Maybe it's a dead fad? Jackie offers a deal: If Tom gets her out of this date from hell, she'll push his next dicey case through. There's really no reason at all for Tom do it given how rude she was to him, but he agrees. 

Tom waits at the rental counter while she goes back to her date. He approaches and says stiffly, "Jackie, this is highly irregular. Who's with the kids?" Jackie improvises that they're alone. Her date's jaw drops, horrorstruck. Tom asks, "Didn't I say, 'If you're gonna cheat, don't cheat on my bowling night?' Didn't I?" He leaves and Jackie follows. Once they're near the front door, she giggles and thanks Tom. He mutters, "Yeah, I'm great in bowling alleys, I just can't catch criminals." 

In the interrogation, Jeff looks like he's either stoned or half-asleep in his chair. Doug suggests cutting this short and taking him to county lockup. He wonders if Jeff knows what other inmates do to child molesters. "Either way you look at it, you're a dead man," he sums it up. Jeff asks why he should bother signing a confession then. Fitzgerald thinks the judge might be more lenient if he cooperates. Jeff insists yet again that he didn't do it. Doug grabs the doorknob, looking pissed, and swings the door open. A uniformed officer comes to collect Jeff. 

Fitzgerald and Doug have a discussion in the squadroom over coffee. She's not optimistic about their chances of getting Jeff to talk. Doug thinks Jeff will beg to sign a confession once they get him hooked to a polygraph. "Look, Penhall, you've been doing a great job at this bad cop routine, but just watch your step," she advises. They're already in trouble if anyone finds out Jeff asked for a lawyer twice. 

Doug makes a tasteless remark about setting Jeff up with another kid. Fitzgerald shouts that she wants Jeff just as much as Doug: "When I think of what he did to that little kid, it makes me wanna puke!" She's going to talk to Mrs. Logan and find out if there's anything else she can tell them. Fitzgerald gathers up her coat and purse and leaves. 

Tom is waiting by the elevator in the precinct lobby and asks if there's anything between Doug and Jackie. Doug is adamant that he would never cheat on Dorothy. "Would it bother you if I took her out?" says Tom. Doug is confused; at dinner, Jackie and Tom were at each other's throats. Tom explains about meeting her at the bowling alley. Doug gives his blessing and heads back upstairs.

Doug informs Jeff that he failed every question on the polygraph except his name and address. Jeff's voice trembles: "I don't know what to tell you." Doug asks what happened between Jeff and his daughter, playing the "I only want to help you" card. Jeff, wild-eyed, says, "Then put a damn gun to my head and tell your boss I was trying to escape! My life is over." Doug promises Jeff will get therapy. Fitzgerald needs to talk to Doug.

Doug goes outside to see what's up. Fitzgerald tells him that she noticed an inconsistency in Mrs. Logan's story; eventually, she broke down and admitted to telling Molly what to say in order to make the police think she'd been abused. Doug tells her Jeff failed the poly. "Because you scared the crap about him," she rightfully points out. 

Doug gets upset that "we ruined a man's life because some angry woman lied about him." Fitzgerald says hell hath no fury like a nasty divorce/custody battle and they should've looked into that angle. Frustrated, Doug growls, "I broke the man! He almost confessed to something he didn't even do." Later in the squadroom, another detective tells Doug that it's a good thing Fitzgerald bailed him out. 

Jeff wanders through the newspaper's bullpen in a daze. Everyone watches him suspiciously. In Jeff's office, the editor apologizes for what happened to Jeff and for not bailing him out. He goes on, "I don't know how to say this..." "Don't know how to say, 'You're fired'?" Jeff guesses, "...That it doesn't matter if you're innocent?" 

In Jackie's office, the balding DA yells at her, "How could you be so irresponsible?!" As much as I hate to defend Jackie, she had no idea that Mrs. Logan made the whole thing up; neither did Doug or Fitzgerald. The DA informs Jackie that now she has to prove herself all over again. After the DA leaves, Tom comes in and invites Jackie out for a beer. She snipes that she's busy working. Tom exits, probably taking that for a no.

The Major Crimes captain offers Fitzgerald a spot on a conspiracy case, which she declines because she has a lot of paperwork to finish. The captain is sure Doug can handle it; Doug nods numbly.

Doug pays a visit to the Chapel, lovingly tapping a finger against his old desk chair. He has a paper bag tucked under his arm. Smart money says it's booze or Chinese takeout. He hears Fuller in his office yelling at someone on the phone; apparently, the captain's car was repossessed due to a computer glitch, but the repo will stay on his credit report. I'd be looking for someone's head too. Doug figures this isn't a good time to talk to Fuller and starts to leave.

On his way out, Doug runs into Harry. The mulleted Asian is sorry about Doug's predicament. Doug asks if Harry wants to split a 6-pack and play basketball, but Harry can't because he's teaching a self-defense class. "You can stop in tomorrow or call me," he offers. 

Shots of Jeff's cluttered house are intercut with Doug playing basketball by himself. He's not doing bad for a guy who's had 5 beers. He angrily tosses the ball away and finishes off the sixer. Jeff sits on his couch, looking despondent. 

Doug shows up for work in the morning wearing the same clothes he had on the day before. Fitzgerald has finished her paperwork and gone to work the conspiracy case. Another detective rubs salt in Doug's wounds by saying he's heard that Fitzgerald's practically running the investigation herself. A second colleague named Willis dramatically laments the loss of Jeff's daily sports column and deadpans, "You ruined my life."

"Willis, I'm gonna save your life with a warning," Doug says calmly before pushing Willis so he's on his back on top of a desk. Doug turns into a grizzly madman, screaming, "You ever say that again, I'm gonna kill ya!" It takes two cops to pull Doug off Willis. 

Doug gets hauled into the principal's, I mean, the captain's office. The captain asks, "Have you looked in the mirror lately? You trying to get transferred to a Skid Row unit?" Doug says it's been a rough few days. The captain tells Doug he screwed up. "And I've been reminded of that screw-up every second of every day," Doug reminds him. The captain is unsympathetic and says, "Welcome to the big leagues, crybaby." As if an adult would call another adult that.

The captain also lets Doug know that everyone has been waiting for the cocky golden boy to fall on his ass. "Oh, great guys!" Doug says sarcastically. The captain adds all the other detectives handled their first big screw-up a lot better than Doug. He suggests that Doug take a few days off.

Dorothy walks into Doug's living room in some surprisingly tasteful silk pajamas. She says, "It's 3:00 in the morning. Are you okay?" Doug wants to be alone and leaves to go for a walk. He ends up at Jeff's building, but stops himself short of buzzing the former columnist's apartment. 

Doug pays someone else a visit: a bathrobe-clad Cap'n Rufus. Rufus graciously invites him in, offering him coffee. Honestly, I probably would be that accommodating at roughly 3 AM because I'm not usually asleep then anyway. Doug needs answers; Rufus knows, but he might not have the right ones. 

"When I heard what that man did to his little daughter, I wanted to rip his head off," Doug says. That reaction just means you're human. Doug's lost faith in his abilities as a cop. Cap'n Rufus can't fault Doug for wanting to protect a child. Mistakes just happen. 

However, Doug is extra sensitive to the issue of child abuse because his alcoholic father used to hit him. "I loved him, but sometimes I wish somebody woulda stopped him," Doug tears up. Cap'n Rufus gently tells him that it took decades for effective child abuse laws to be passed and the laws are a good thing. Doug realizes this, but due in part to those laws, a vindictive ex-spouse has been able to manipulate the system against an innocent man and effectively ruin his life. 

"The currency we trade in is reputation," says Cap'n Rufus, "Everything we do depends on it. Unfortunately, in our world, a lie holds too much power." I think Doug knows that part pretty well now. I wonder why Rufus didn't suggest charging Mrs. Logan with filing a false police report. Doug asks what'll happen to Jeff. Rufus doesn't know. "Terrible things happen to people all the time, but they survive," he says pointedly.

Doug feels like he owes Jeff. "Don't try to pay it back," Cap'n Rufus advises. He knows Doug can't, no matter how badly he wants to. Time is the only thing that can heal either of them. "I really wish I could believe that," Doug says sadly.

Doug knocks on Jeff's door. Jeff looks distinctly worse for the wear and refuses to talk to Doug. Eventually, his puppy eyes win out. Jeff mockingly salutes and says, "Come in, stormtrooper. Welcome to hell." Doug eyes the mess and stupidly says he thought Jeff would handle this better. Jeff gets irritated and self-righteous and who can blame him at this point? Doug tries to smooth things over by telling Jeff how much he loved his column. "I'm touched," Jeff says sarcastically.

Doug asks if Jeff understands that he was just trying to protect little Molly. Jeff's in a waking nightmare and blames Doug. He declares his life is garbage and angrily upends his trash-covered coffee table. Completely broken, he orders, "Get out of my apartment."

Doug, now wearing the same clothes for 3 days running, goes to the newspaper building. He tries to convince the editor to give Jeff his job back. "A man's name is connected to something like this and he's tainted," the editor tells him. He printed a retraction, but nobody cares. He offers to talk to editors in other cities. 

In a tidy little living room, Doug confronts Mrs. Logan. He asks how she could lie about Jeff like that. Because she's an evil bitch? Mrs. Logan claims that she didn't mean for it to happen. Both parents wanted sole custody of Molly. When Molly had nightmares after a weekend with Jeff, Mrs. Logan "hated him so much she wanted to believe the worst." She claims she didn't know she was putting words in their daughter's mouth.

Doug asks what she plans to do now. "I can't put his life back together for him," Mrs. Logan says. Never mind that she set the whole ugly scene in motion. Doug draws himself up to his full height and tells Mrs. Logan she's lucky. The police are so embarrassed that they dropped the whole case and won't be coming after her for falsely reporting a crime.

Outside the Chapel, Tom runs to his Mustang in the rain. Jackie is already in the passenger seat and wants to explain her inconsistent behavior. Tom is wise to her. "You were always a bitch," he says bluntly. Being nice is inconsistent to her character. She says that nobody's described her that way before, which I seriously doubt. Jackie tells him about her boss yelling at her right before Tom came in. She admits it was over her filing a bad case.

Jackie wants to make it up to Tom and offers to buy him waffles. He doesn't want waffles. He also declines flowers. "Drive me to my apartment and I'll let you make love to me," she says. Tom automatically starts to answer "I don't want--" and is caught off guard. Dear God, this show is truly desperate for Tom to have a love interest. First Amy, now her. Jackie makes Dorothy look like the poster child of sweetness and sanity. Tom is all for this plan and guns it out of the parking lot, wet pavement be damned. 

"Doug, is that you?" Dorothy calls. No, it's the milkman. Doug sits on the couch, moping. The neighbor's toddler son appears, crawling down the hall. "Not now, Bozo," Doug mumbles. Nice nickname for the kid. The boy crawls closer. Doug whispers, "Go back in the kitchen." If there's one thing kids that age are great at, it's following directions. The little boy is at the couch now. Doug picks him up and holds him. 

In the hallway of Jeff's apartment building, Doug sniffs the air. He something must smell out of place because he pounds on the door and hollers "Jeff!" a few times. It takes a couple of attempts to break down the door. Jeff is sitting in the kitchen with the oven open. Doug reaches for the dial. "It's off," says Jeff. 

This has apparently become a daily routine for him. He hates his life, but he can't end it. Doug says, "You shouldn't." "You've proven what a wonderful, bighearted guy you are. Now leave me alone." Jeff says. Would it build a rapport if Doug mentioned his own suicide attempt? Probably not.

"Part of your life is over and I can't pretend that it isn't. You'll never be the toast of this town again." says Doug. Is that supposed to make him feel better? Doug reminds Jeff that he still has the most important part of his life: his daughter Molly. Jeff is now afraid to hug Molly because it could be taken the wrong way. "Do you think your daughter cares what the rest of us say?" Doug asks, "She needs you." 

Doug offers to do anything he can to help make this right: "You wanna punch my face in, I'm right here." I wouldn't tempt him. Jeff wants the one thing nobody can give him: his old life. Doug tells Jeff that it's okay to hate him "but love your daughter." 

Cap'n Rufus is on the phone with the car finance company again. A freshly shaven Doug enters, looking like he robbed Mel Gibson's "Lethal Weapon" wardrobe. "I wanna come back," Doug says. Rufus hangs up and asks if Doug is sure. He wants Doug back, but not because Doug got run out of Major Crimes. Doug wants to come back because he likes helping kids. Cap'n Rufus puts his hand out across the desk, Doug shakes it, and Officer Penhall is back on Jump Street. End of episode.