As you’ve been following along on our Life rewatch and blogs, you may have noticed that, for the most part, the episodes are standalone stories. They focus usually on the investigation of one crime o’the day, which rarely carries over to other episodes. What does carry over is the tenuous thread of Charlie’s own story, the back story of him being framed for murder, jailed, released, and now in search of the people who did him wrong. Sometimes that thread of Charlie’s story is more tenuous than others, and we see Charlie so happy-go-lucky, so FREE, we nearly forget about the revenge subplot. These three next episodes from Season 2 are ones where Charlie is free to be Charlie and we see the comedic side of Damian more than ever.
A woman is found dead, stabbed in the back, in a ritzy penthouse, littered with catalogues for high priced getaways and other things only rich folk would need to buy. Reese and Crews are on the case and in the space of five minutes put two and two together in the form of a keychain, a parking tag, and Reese’s own familiarity with 12 step programs that the initials on the victim’s keychain and a parking tag for a church naturally must mean she was a regular at some sort of anonymous support group that met at the church. Oh, and there’s a tattoo too, with the name Ben, on the victim’s upper left flank.
Our trusty duo take their hunch to the church and lo and behold, the group is meeting that very day. They learn that the initials LWA stand for Lottery Winners Anonymous and the members offering their support to each other are all winners of over $20 million. When the lottery winner in charge quite belligerently tells Reese and Crews that if they’ve won less than 20 mil they need to get the hell out, Charlie sits himself right down and makes himself at home. There you have the tenuous thread to Charlie’s back story. He didn’t exactly win the lottery, but he did come into quite a windfall when he sued the state for his wrongful incarceration.
Moment of Zen is a conversation Charlie has with the Lieutenant:
C: 80% of lottery winners regret ever winning
L: You made that up.
C: No, it’s true.
L: The truth is stupid.
C: Could the truth be stupid?
One of the guys at the meeting is named Ben and there’s another sorry sap who hyperventilates when given the news of the woman’s untimely demise. Turns out both Ben and the hyperventilating guy had relations with the woman.
There’s a sad side story of the belligerent lottery winner becoming a gun nut, holing himself up in his maximum security house, losing his best friend and apparently his mind when he won the lottery.
The hyperventilating guy has also chosen an interesting and equivalently sad way to spend his loot: a party bus that he parks on a Malibu cliff and fills with all kinds of beautiful people in a continuous state of party. Among the beautiful people in the bus is a fun cameo by Erik Estrada of Poncho-from-CHiPs fame (and now an actual police officer, I hear), playing himself. Damian has said that he grew up watching American TV shows like Dukes of Hazzard and CHiPs, so one can’t help but sense there is more than a little bit of Damian smiling thru in a scene when Estrada tells Charlie that he’s a big fan.
The hyperventilating guy also holds the honor of being in two of the episode’s three total fruit scenes: all apples.
Turns out the Ben tattoo is the biggest tell in this game of whodunnit. Spoiler alert: Ben tattoo’ed over Lenny, the name of the dead woman’s partner-in-crime and fellow grifter. Since Ben was the guy who took his place, Lenny stays close to Ben in the guise of a bodyguard in order to extort Ben with the threat of incriminating him in the murder (which, in fact, was done by Lenny). How is the crime solved? Charlie throws an apple at the supposed bodyguard and because Lenny doesn’t catch it right away Crews determines that he cannot, in fact, be a body guard. Thus, an apple saves the day.
Episode 8 – Black Friday
It’s Christmas time at the mall, or rather, the busiest shopping day before Christmas, Black Friday, and there is a dead body under the Christmas tree. Since the mall must open early that day, there is no time to process the crime scene and collect the body. While Crews and Reese try to keep the doors from opening, the body goes missing. No matter, the mall cop has already identified the victim as a shoe salesman from the second floor.
Most of the episode takes place inside the mall as our duo interview likely suspects. They’re lead first to an attractive young lady working at a kiosk who is suspected to have had a relationship with the victim. Her alibi is the guy working the fob kiosk next to her. Both of them insist the guy is alive. Then another kiosk kid is revealed to be living in the mall basement with his very young sister.
After following the red herrings and taking time to stop for papaya on a stick and to shop for Christmas gifts along the way, our detectives find the body in a vat of rabbit cage chips in the pet store. Also, they learn the kiosk kids are running a scam at the gift wrapping counter. When shoppers arrive with freshly purchased Xbox’s to wrap, the naughty elves replace the packages with fruit cakes. Charlie captures the fob-selling elf as he tries to run away, by, what else, a fruit cake chucked at him.
Moment of Zen: Charlie doesn’t get what could be so bad about fruit in cake, until he tries some. His conclusion: “There’s a distinct possibility that this is not fruit or cake.”
Eventually Crews and Reese learn the shoe salesman was no victim. He had the kids running the wrapping scam as well as doing other thievery in the mall. He also had a thing for underage girls, starting with the kiosk girl.
Cue the big brother of the sister he’s trying to protect coming out as the killer. Since the victim was in fact a bad guy himself (as many victims in this series are!), Crews refuses to accept the boy’s guilt and tells him what to say to get out of it.
This episode did have a bit more of Charlie’s back story with him meeting one of the cabal who was responsible for his jail time. The guy’s tell is that he likes tropical fruit gum. Oh, the fruit, it’ll get them everytime!
Episode 9 – Badge Bunny
Victims are a dead drug dealer and a dead teacher. The teacher’s extracurricular hobby is that she’s a cop groupie, aka Badge Bunny. Since she’s “one of them”, there’s more police on this case than just Crews and Reese.
The red herring to pursue first, though, is the drug connection. Our detectives are lead to the slimeball drug lord who the dead kid worked for. He’s a slimeball and has a tiger named Fluffy, but he’s not the killer.
Close second for a moment of zen for this episode was Charlie imagining his own wake: “Pretty girls in black dresses weeping quietly in small groups…or all by themselves.” Funny as heck delivery of this line by our dear goofball Damian.
With an episode rife for titillating scenes, we couldn’t have Charlie not approached himself by a trio of bunnies could we? He’s virtually surrounded and makes the very legitimate decision to get into a pool with them, but, alas, it’s bunny-hop interruptus.
The drug angle is a non-starter, so it has to be the cop angle. And it is. A cop who uses and is always there to console bunnies who have been passed over.
We see some evidence of Charlie not fitting in neither with criminals not with cops. The bad cop denigrates Charlie’s badge by implying it was part of the settlement. Charlie’s response is the main moment of zen for the episode: “It is not what we carry with us but what we let go that defines who we are.”
The episode ends with a revisit to Charlie’s story. He picks up one of the members of the cabal, only to be surprised by someone smashing his window. The show ends on a cliffhanger!
Fruit count: Pear and a fig