Case #4.19: "La Bizca"

That's Spanish for "the cross-eyed," by the way. Anyway, the episode opens inside a bus in El Salvador. Doug and Tom are sitting in the very back. Tom is too hot and accidentally wakes Doug up when he tries to open the window. "When we get to the capital, I'm picking the hotel," Tom insists. They plan to leave as soon as they have Marta. Doug makes funny faces to entertain the little girl across the aisle until the little girl's relative makes her look the other way. "Friendly place," Tom remarks.

There's a montage of Doug and Marta's brief romance and Doug learning of his wife's disappearance. Back to the bus, where Tom is now sleeping on Doug's shoulder. Doug elbows him. The bus stops at roadblock where soldiers are gathered around a burning truck. One of the soldiers orders all the passengers to get off the bus.

Tom, Doug, and the little girl's relative are separated from the rest of the passengers outside the bus. One soldier scrutinizes the Americans' passports, another takes a picture of Doug and Tom. Everyone is let back on the bus except for two men and a woman kneeling on the ground. Doug asks what they did and is shoved further into the bus.

The bus pulls away. Tom watches through the back window as the three passengers are led to the roadside. He and Doug jump as gunfire erupts. Presumably, the three have been shot. Theme song.

A car drops Tom and Doug off at the United States Embassy. They show their passports to the Marines at the gate. Inside an office, a bearded man with glasses tells Doug that all he can do is file a report about the shooting. Doug tells him they can identify the soldiers involved. "They could've been rebels dressed as soldiers," says the ambassador. He goes on to explain that this is an embassy, not a human-rights office. He suggests they go there to check their books and start the search for Marta.

Tom flips through an album of black-and-white photos of people who've been executed and/or tortured and some of people who've been convicted of such things. Doug thinks the best place to start is a cooperative farm where Marta used to live. A priest working for the human-rights office advises them that means going through battle zones; war has made the locals very suspicious of strangers, especially Americans. Tom looks jet-lagged and says they can rent a car in the morning and take their chances.

In a dimly-lit bar, Tom and Doug split a bottle of tequila. Doug can't stand the taste. Right there with ya, big guy. They're joined by a third American, a black man in a Detroit Tigers cap named Ben. They split the bottle of tequila with him and a waiter brings a second. Ben asks what's brought them to El Salvador.

Later, Doug drunkenly staggers into their hotel room and collapses on the bed. Tom is suspicious that Ben might be CIA. (Johnny Depp, interestingly, would go on to play a CIA agent in the Robert Rodriguez classic Once Upon a Time in Mexico). "Relax," says Doug, "Tomorrow, we'll drive to the cooperative. Everything'll be okay." He turns off the lamp.

Cut to Tom and Doug being thrown down on the hood of their rental car by soldiers. They aren't dressed in green fatigues like the ones seen earlier. "Hey, man, what about our badges?" Doug shouts at the soldier who seems to be in charge. A few others shoot the rental car's tires. "Now what are we supposed to do?" asks Tom. One of the soldiers mimes walking. Tom blames his partner for their trouble, "If you woulda kept your mouth shut, we'd still have our car." Doug is more upset about their badges. Tom reminds him that those won't do them any good in El Salvador.

Doug gets a taxi driver to take them where they're going. Ben watches them leave. "Better get your passport ready," Doug says to Tom as they hit another roadblock. The mustached soldier from earlier makes them all get out of the taxi and asks where they're going. When Doug tells him, he says, "This road's not open anymore."

Tom and Doug watch as another group of citizens is lined up against the wall. A soldier puts them back in the taxi and tosses their passports through the window. As a soldier gets into a truck, a bloody arm slips out from underneath a tarp.

That night, Doug and Tom are startled awake by someone knocking on their hotel room door. Doug arms himself with one of the drawers from the nightstand. "It's Ben," says the voice in the hall. They open the door. Ben can get them where they're going, but they have to leave now. "We're not going anywhere with you because you're working for the people who keep stopping us," says Tom. Ben gives them 30 seconds to decide. "That guy is CIA," Tom hisses. Doug picks up his shoes and his backpack. "What choice do I have?" he asks, leaving the room.

Tom and Doug are soaking wet as they traipse through the jungle with Ben. Ben is now armed with a shotgun. "We don't even know who you are," Tom squeaks. Ben mysteriously replies, "I'm someone who can get you what you want. You just have to trust me." They hear a noise in the brush. Ben tells them to wait for him to come back. 

Tom walks a short distance away so he's not standing like a target. They duck behind a plant that does a bad job of concealing either of them. "This is good, sit here like a target," says Doug. Suddenly, about a dozen armed people appear from the jungle. The Jump Street cops put their hands up. Ben says the people are rebels and he's turning our heroes over to them; they're supposedly friendly.

The rebels set up camp. One asks why they want to go to the cooperative farm. "My wife disappeared," Doug explains, "We're looking for her." One rebel and his father were professors at a local university until the soldiers closed it down; his father was killed. A female rebel's mother and sisters were murdered by soldiers and their heads were stuck on road markers. Head Rebel asks whose side they're on. Doug repeats that his wife was kidnapped. That seems to satisfy Head Rebel. "Feed 'em," he tells Ben.

After dark, Tom and Doug help the rebels haul some heavy equipment through the jungle. They stop to rest. Tom's feet are killing him. Doug apologizes; he didn't know they'd be walking the whole way. For unknown reasons, one of the male rebels wants to shoot them. The female rebel stops him.

The rebels walk into a camp and greet women who are presumably their wives or girlfriends. Ben, Doug, and Tom sit around a campfire. Ben pours them coffee; he's been El Salvador a little over a year, most of it in the jungles and mountains. He doesn't explain why. 

Ben remembers being in a village when it was attacked by soldiers with planes, bombs, and napalm. The ground forces killed almost everyone. The experience brought Ben back to his days as a medic in Vietnam. The next morning, artillery shells rain down on the rebel camp. Everyone has to dive for cover.

Afterward, Tom and Doug bring an injured rebel to the camp's primitive medical clinic. The man is dying. Another rebel tells Tom, who's lost his shoes, to check to see if the wounded man's boots will fit him. Doug sees the head rebel talking to a woman and goes outside. "Marta?" he asks. The woman isn't Marta, but she turns and says, "Douglas?" all the same, "Marta carried your picture." Doug asks if the woman knows what happened to Marta, but she has no idea.

That night, Doug talks to the woman. Marta has been missing for 5 months. The woman is Amalia, Marta's older sister who crossed her eyes for fun when she shot her slingshot. Marta called her "la bizca." Doug guesses Amalia doesn't shoot cross-eyed anymore. Amalia has been with the rebel group for a year. She's widowed and has a son named Clavo at the cooperative farm.

Tom comes in wearing the dead rebel's boots. Amalia tells him that his name was Ricardo. Tom and Doug will be taken to the cooperative the next day; any news about Marta will stop there first. On the trail the next day, they try to teach Amalia the phrase "Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into" for some reason. Soldiers pop out of the bushes, shoot Amalia dead, and capture Doug and Tom.

The soldiers kick Doug around like a soccer ball; his hands are tied in front of him. One of the soldiers yanks him up by his hair. He accuses Doug of being a Communist, then kicks the back of his knee. Doug's legs go out from under him. He asks where the Communists are. "As far as I can tell, there's about 1,000 rebel soldiers...and they're all at your mama's house," Doug says. He gets another kick in the ribs for his trouble.

In the bathroom, the soldiers attempt to make Tom talk by repeatedly shoving his head in a bathtub of water. Then Tom is tossed into the same hay-filled prison cell as his partner. Tom didn't tell the soldiers anything. Doug piles more hay under Tom's head to make him more comfortable.

Later, a soldier comes into the cell. He takes a bundle of newspaper out of his helmet and opens it. Inside the newspaper are two tortillas. The soldier quickly leaves. Doug wakes Tom up and they each take a tortilla.

Outside that night, the soldier who gave them tortillas stabs another soldier on guard duty. He hangs a rope from the balcony for the approaching rebels to climb. Another rebel kills the guard at the front gate, then blows the gate up. Inside the cell, Doug is startled by the explosion. A screaming band of rebels drives a pickup truck into the compound and starts shooting at the guards. The rebels break our heroes out of their cell. Amalia, who apparently did not die, tells them they have to hurry. 

At the rebel camp, Ben inspects the weapons stolen from the soldiers. Tom fishes through a box and finds a pair of boots that fit. Amalia tells Doug he's about to meet his mother-in-law. The head rebel tells Doug to tap two stones together; it's a secret signal in the mountains that means you're a rebel. Doug thanks Ben for all his help.

It's after dark when they arrive at the cooperative farm. Clavo, who looks to be between 6-8 years old, runs to greet his mother. Amalia hugs Clavo and tells him that Tom and Doug are his uncles. The kid smiles and high-fives them.

Amalia's mother tearfully hugs her daughter. In Spanish, Amalia introduces Doug as Marta's wife and Tom as Doug's friend. "Mijo, mijo," Amalia's mother cries as she embraces Doug. Amalia's mother sobs in Spanish that the soldiers buried Marta two days ago. Grief-stricken, Doug turns away.

A bit later, Tom joins Doug at a picnic table and stupidly asks how he's doing. "About as well as anyone here," Doug replies. He's taken off his wedding ring and is playing with it. 

They go inside. Amalia and her mother cook. Tom makes Clavo laugh by playing with his toys. Amalia tells Clavo it's time for bed. "Cute kid," Doug remarks. Amalia tucks Clavo in.

The next day, Tom and Doug wander around the village. It's about a 4-hour walk to the town they were in before. Amalia asks Tom to watch Clavo for a moment while she asks a favor of Doug. Amalia wants Doug to take Clavo to America: "Here, he has nothing. You can educate him, help him grow." If only she knew how little Doug knows about parenting...

Doug is understandably bewildered by the request. Amalia knows Doug can teach Clavo about love and courage. Doug says, "This is crazy. You're gonna just give him up?" To a complete stranger, no less. Amalia explains that she has another sister who lives in the capital; she hates rebels and would never agree to take in Clavo. 

Even though Doug hasn't agreed either, Amalia calls her son over. She picks him up and hands him to Doug. Amalia leads Doug and Tom out of the village.

That night, Amalia, her mother, Doug, Clavo, and Tom walk by lantern light to the place where the soldiers buried Marta. Doug kneels beside the grave, holding flowers. "I finally found you...I don't know what to say," he begins sadly. "I don't even know how this happened. I love you, Marta. I didn't know you but 5 days...5 days."

Doug starts breathing harder, not able to hold his emotions in. He sobs that he misses Marta. He says Clavo is coming home with him. "This place is so full of cruelty. I promise you I'll love him he was my own." Doug lays the flowers on the grave and corrects himself, "Our own." End of episode.

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