Wozniak’s suspicion and paranoia have been bubbling just under the surface for weeks now. In “Fall of Man,” things finally come to a full boil, and one of his crew members gets scorched.
Last episode, Harlee received a letter meant for Cristina from Miguel Zepeda (Antonio Jaramillo). It seems he never got the memo that Cristina has no idea who he is. To make sure it stays that way, Harlee goes to visit him in prison. Zepeda is still completely in the dark when it comes to Harlee’s role in his incarceration. Despite having beaten her to a bloody pulp the last time he was outside, now he’s all puppy-dog eyes and suggestive flirtation. He tells her that a recently paroled criminal, Frank Kovach, has been bragging about killing a girl in way that sounds very similar to the murder he was wrongly put away for. He asks Harlee to look into Kovach for him: This could be his ticket to freedom.
Harlee immediately takes this new information to Wozniak. Her lieutenant is pissed she’s even talking to Zepeda this close to his new trial. He orders her not to go looking for a new suspect, or they might wind up trading places with her ex. But Harlee’s feeling guilty. If Kovach did commit the murder, it’s her fault he’s still free. (I mean, she always knew someone committed the crime Zepeda was put away for. Young women don’t spontaneously develop fatal knife wounds all that often.) Anyway, Woz says they have more immediate concerns. He’s identified their rat: Saperstein. Sap lied about being with Tufo the day before, so Woz followed him and saw him handing off something to a Fed. That’s all the proof Woz needs, and besides, there’s no one else in the squad to suspect. As she leaves Woz’s office, Harlee bumps right into this latest theory. She needs to keep Saperstein away from their boss, so she suggests they go hunt down Kovach together, Woz’s orders be damned. On the way, Harlee tries to get Saperstein to spill where he was the day before, but Sap insists he never left his post.
Once they arrive, Harlee tries to question her suspect. Kovach isn’t exactly pleased to see her, though, and he slams the door in her face. She demands he open up, and he does…only to haul off and punch her in the face before fleeing out the back. Sap immediately calls Woz — the last person Harlee wants getting involved or getting near the other detective. Fearing Woz might kill Saperstein, she panics and calls Stahl. He tells her he’s on his way and that she can’t be there when he arrives.
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Back at the office, Loman arrives at work to find a row of bullets lined up on his desk. It’s a show of solidarity from his fellow officers: His shooting has been officially declared clean, and the details have been released to the press. He might not get a warm welcome on the streets, but the PD has his back. Harlee also makes it back to the station, still bleeding from Kovach’s surprise KO. Tufo and Espada have already gotten word about what happened, and they’re formulating a plan of attack. Kovach has an ex-wife and son, they tell Harlee, so she goes to check out that lead, downing a few Advil on the way. What the other officers have conveniently left out is that Kovach also has a girlfriend, and he’s much more likely to run to her than to the woman who divorced him.
Now that Loman’s name is in the papers, he needs to come clean to Jamarr’s cousin, Erica (Erica Ash), whom he’s been seeing under the false pretense that he’s just a concerned citizen and not the very police officer who unlawfully murdered her close relative. He arrives at Erica’s son’s little league game, all humbled and ready to confess. But Erica’s son stops him outside the ballpark. His mom already read all about it, and she wants nothing to do with him. Loman drives away in tears, slamming his fists against the steering wheel. It looks like he’s about to boil over, too.
NEXT: Are you my father?
Stahl and Chen arrive at Kovach’s house just before Woz shows up. As he enters through the front, they sneak around the back and surprise Saperstein. They silence the detective at gunpoint, and hustle him out of the building. As the Feds drive him to a safehouse, they explain: They’re investigating Wozniak, and they’re going to need Saperstein’s testimony to nail him. In return, Sap will be granted immunity for all his underhanded operations over the years. But Woz suspects him, so until he’s convicted, Saperstein has to disappear. The detective is, understandably, scared and angry about the danger he’s suddenly been thrust into. He demands they take him to his mother’s house first so he can say goodbye.
Back at work, the three stooges, Espada, Loman, and Tufo, have dug up Kovach’s girlfriend, Tiffany, who works security at a construction site. They arrive at her office/trailer (without a warrant), hoping to catch Kovach. No luck, but Espada wants her to sit tight. He tells Tiffany if she leaves the trailer, he’ll plant a crack rock on her. What a gentleman.
Ding-ding-ding. We’re halfway through this round. Let’s take a look at the Guilt-O-Meter:
Harlee: 4 out of 10, Sort of Innocent
Sure, it’s taken her close to a decade to realize that if Zepeda is innocent of the murder she framed him for, someone else must be guilty…and that the killer is probably still out there. But now that she’s finally connected those dots, Harlee is going out of her way to bring Kovach to justice, even defying Woz’s orders. That’s dangerous in itself, and she’s willing to take the risk to correct an old mistake.
Espada: 7 out of 10, Quite Guilty
This is the first time Espada’s made it to the Guilt-O-Meter, so congratulations to him for living up to his potential! He only threatened Tiffany with false incrimination, but coming from a detective, that’s still a serious offense.
Turns out, Harlee followed the right lead. She and Woz arrive at Kovach’s ex-wife’s residence at the same time. He begins berating her about losing Saperstein and defying his orders when he’s cut off by a crash from inside the house. They rush in to find the ex bound to a chair. They ungag her, and she frantically tells them Kovach is on his way to their son, Brian’s (Owen Asztalos) school. Suddenly, Harlee has a kidnapping on her hands.
In the midst of this crisis, Cristina calls. She’s discovered the letter Zepeda sent her, the one Harlee got last night. She’s royally pissed to find out, after all these years, that her father has always wanted a relationship with her. Harlee tries to explain, but Cristina says she’ll let Zepeda do that for himself. Woz sees the look on his friend’s face and tells her to go deal with her kid.
Meanwhile, back at the Saperstein household, David (formerly Stuart) hatches a plan. He gets his mother (Kathryn Kates) to fake heart palpitations, and when Chen goes to check on her, Sap overpowers Stahl and flees the house. This does not strike me as a well-thought-out plan: Sap is still going to have to disappear, only now he’ll have to hide from both Woz and the Feds, and he’ll be on the run, not living it up in a cozy safehouse. Stahl tells Chen to put a federal warrant out for Sap’s arrest. It’ll immediately tip off his crew that he’s dirty, but hey, that’s the price you pay for choking out an FBI agent. Sap takes his mother’s car and bolts to the precinct. He still thinks Woz will protect him. Tess (who hasn’t yet heard about the APB) tells him Woz is headed to the construction site where Tiffany works. The plan is to lure Kovach there, but Sap just got himself caught up in the same net.
NEXT: Man overboard
Harlee races to Zepeda’s prison, only to find Cristina isn’t allowed see any convicts without parental consent. Relieved, Harlee does some quick thinking. She tells Cristina that Zepeda believes he’s her father, but he actually isn’t. See, she was dating Zepeda when she got pregnant…but some other dude is the baby daddy. Cristina falls for it hook, line, and sinker. While she’s getting cleaned up in the bathroom, Harlee surreptitiously tells the guard on duty to make a special note in the system that Cristina is never allowed to see Miguel Zepeda. Ever.
Harlee is at home comforting Cristina when Tess practically busts down her door. She’s heard about the warrant out on Saperstein, and she’s freaked that she directed him right to Woz. The two detectives rush to the construction site. Wozniak, Kovach, and his son Brian are already on the top floor, at their determined meeting place. Woz tells Kovach to hand over his boy and in exchange he’ll give him $5,000 and a clean getaway car. But Kovach doesn’t want to play nice. Once the lieutenant hands over the cash, Kovach pulls a gun. Either father and son leave together or not at all. Woz is in a bind, until Saperstein steps from behind a pillar and tackles Kovach to the ground. They struggle, but Woz doesn’t step in to assist his squad member.
Saperstein manages to knock Kovach unconscious, just as Tess and Harlee arrive at the site four stories below. Sap thinks his troubles are over, until Woz tells him he knows he’s been talking to the Feds. He tries to explain he was just picked up that afternoon, but Woz doesn’t wait to hear him out. Instead, he pushes him over the side of the building — then shoots Kovach in the head. The impact sends him over the edge, as well.
Harlee makes it the top of the building just a moment later. Woz pulls a pained face and tells her both men fell to their deaths in their struggle for Kovach’s gun. She’s besides herself with grief…until Tufo calls up to them: Miraculously, Sap is still breathing. (Ah, the wonders of conveniently shatter-proof spinal columns. They really come in handy when they belong to fictional characters whose seasons are only halfway over.) Harlee is immensely relieved, but Woz is experiencing a whole other emotion. He thought he took care of his rat, but it turns out he’s the one who’s trapped now.
Woz: 10 out of 10, The Guiltiest
We all knew a Guiltiest verdict was coming. For goodness’ sake, Woz tried to kill a member of his own crew, one of his closest allies! On a hunch! Which turned out to be false! And we know he can’t let Saperstein live, not when Sap could turn the squad against him. I predict even more attempted murders to come.