Let's make a deal.

By Kelly Connolly
August 08, 2015 at 08:37 PM EDT
Vivian Zink/NBC

Out of all the offenses committed within the walls of the LAPD’s Hollywood precinct — lying to suspects, drinking, getting superiors drunk, Shafe’s hair — maybe the worst is that Charmain isn’t allowed to run the place. She’s the only one who consistently cuts through the bureaucratic nonsense and makes things happen. Charmain found Louise Mitchell, identified the source of the formaldehyde on the drugs, prepped for an upcoming trial, and stuck it to her chauvinist bosses in the time it took everyone else to not notice Sam spiraling. She could probably help Sam too, if he asked. He really should ask.

But of course, Sam is too busy ignoring his problems by burying them in everyone else’s. When Rachel, one of the dancers at the Peach Pussycat, is arrested for marijuana possession, Sam agrees to a deal: She won’t go to jail if she writes down everything she saw after Jimmy was shot. He can’t act on that information as long as Shafe is undercover, but he can at least look into (or, more accurately, have Charmain look into) the hearse they used to dump Jimmy’s body. It’s a start. Given 1960s drug laws and the way his hands are tied, it might not be enough to warrant the pardon that he offers, but Sam is a gentleman like that.

Sam even lets Rachel stay at his place to lay low, and he says all of the right things when she tries to sleep with him. She doesn’t have to do this; she’s just spinning; he knows she’s an adult; he’s going to help her anyway. The next day, Sam returns home to find Rachel hosting a party in his living room. After kicking everyone out (“So that’s your drug paraphernalia that you brought over international borders? Groovy”), he tells her to use her head. Rachel isn’t technically in hiding; she can go back to work. She just needs an explanation for her absence. Rejecting the suggestion that he punch her in the face, Sam delivers Rachel to the Pussycat himself, claiming that she’s his girlfriend. With a kiss passionate enough to seal the alibi, Sam warns Lucille that he’ll be keeping an eye on things.

Back at the station, Shafe reopens the Raymond Novo case in the wake of Chris Wagner’s murder. Digging through unsolved violent home invasions, Sam and Shafe find a case with similar details, but the surviving victim is a superior court judge by the name of DeMurray who once held Sam in contempt. They bring him in anyway. While Sam tries to get the judge to open up, Shafe calls the gay bar’s bartender to the station. The bartender recognizes DeMurray, who never enters the bar but has been known to pick up men outside it, and that’s all Sam needs to convince DeMurray that it’s in his best interests to help. The judge provides a full description of the killer.

It’s all so level headed that for a moment there, Sam almost seems to be pulling himself out of his spiral. He isn’t. He’s just that much better at dealing with problems that don’t concern him. Unfortunately, plenty of problems concern him. Walt is tired of waiting to go public with what he knows about the war, but Sam can’t find a reporter who’s willing to release it anonymously. After what feels like his last trip to church for a while, Sam goes to the most connected man he knows — Ken — and strikes a much more dangerous deal than the one he struck with Rachel.

NEXT: You’re on Candid Camera

The terms of the deal are as follows: Ken will use his contacts to ensure Walt’s immunity in exchange for classified information on the government’s illegal activities. In return, Sam will not launch a formal investigation on Louise Mitchell, whose house is so nice that she was definitely paid to keep quiet. Ken agrees, and Sam burns Louise’s contact information, which is already starting to look like a bad move. When Ken calls him the next day, it is to say that his friend, Charles Halpern, can’t promise anything more than a negotiation. This is why you don’t make deals with people you can’t trust.

It’s starting to look like Ken might even get Grace’s loyalty back as a bonus; she calls this a fresh start. Does she look at Sam differently now that she’s seen him let a killer go free for the sake of his son? “We’re exactly the same,” Ken tells Sam over the phone. “We’re covering for other people’s mistakes.” Are they the same? Aligning with a murderous pimp isn’t the same as protecting your own child, but is that an excuse? Sam drowns out these questions with plenty of alcohol in the workplace. Shafe confronts him about it, but Sam just insults him, claiming that he doesn’t have any real problems. They throw one punch each (Sam first), and Shafe walks away. I know this is a heated moment, but if Sam gets behind the wheel of a car, I am personally hunting Shafe down.

Elsewhere in the land of barely concealed rage, Charlie is at it again. Because he apparently doesn’t know how documentaries work, he agrees to let music producer Elliot Hillman make one about the compound — and while the film starts out as a feel-good story about kids who finally feel wanted, it takes a turn after Sadie mentions Emma. Hillman wants to know what happened to the girl who convinced him of Charlie’s vision, but Charlie doesn’t want to talk about it. He knows that Sadie’s story about the police station doesn’t add up. Later that night, Charlie confronts Sadie, accusing her of “feeding Emma to the man.” He beats her and drags her by her hair — and Hillman gets it all on tape. Charlie retaliates by throwing the camera through a car window. Movie’s over, fellas.

Meanwhile, Ken gets a late-night knock on the door. His coworker Hal is either bleeding or covered in blood. “It happened again,” he says. What happened?! That’s an answer for the finale.

Bits and pieces:

  • In other news from this totally mature precinct, Cutler takes it upon himself to get Lieutenant Priori drunk before the captain shows up. Why climb the ladder when you can just throw everyone else off of it?
  • Is Emma still in jail? Shouldn’t Sam mention that to Grace?
  • “He did hold me in contempt once, so we have shared a moment.”
  • “Of all the people I’ve ever met wearing paint instead of clothes, you were by far the most polite.”