Deadline
Perception

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Police Brutality

Nikki listens to Wallace's pitch, talking about Braxton's potential past offense and the fact that the police are covering for something. Wallace claims that the police are pretending there's more to Manny and Nelson's rap sheets than there really is. Nikki walks fast through the newsroom with a coat of arms painted onto her t-shirt. She's one of the Fighting Masuccis of Scotland, and she's ready to kick ass because the key grip put her Emmy in the candy machine as a lark. One of the extras bought it for fifty-five cents and got a Twix to fall with it. "Get me sources and confirmation" of the exaggerated rap sheets, Nikki demands. "I lost a slam-dunk because of you." Wallace gripes that he never knows if he'll run into Nikki the Bean-Counter or Nikki the Journalist. Instead, he runs smack into Si the Scandal-monger, who's effusing about Hildy's expose of Reverend Vinyl and the dominatrix disciples. Si calls Wallace's story "conspiratorial garbage," to which Wallace insists Brooke's piece is "Schnell." No, wait, he said "schmaltz." Same thing. Benton overheard Si praising Brooke for a piece on illegal pesticides, and he bristles because it was his source. "It's just business," Brooke grins. "Deadline, deadline." Wallace growls, "Trollop, trollop." I hate when he makes me laugh. I started out annoyed by the Wallace/Brooke dynamic, but now I find it greatly entertaining. Unless they're naked, at which point it borders on unconstitutional.

Benton visits Manny in prison. Manny says his rap sheet is silly, full of petty misdemeanors like shoplifting cigarettes -- nothing that warranted a full-scale arrest or shooting. And Nelson was clean. According to Manny, Brady hassled him about the contents of his pockets, and when the answer was "nothing," Brady tossed him onto the ground and cuffed him, complaining about attitude. "Can't win with those dudes," Manny shrugs. Wallace makes a tasteless crack about Nelson, then gets Manny to admit he was bothering Roth a bit on the night Nelson died. "That cop was gunning for us, you know that," Manny insists. Wallace implies there was some kind of deal made with the police, and then asks about Miguel Velasquez. Manny sighs and says he'll tell all he knows.

Schnell-a-vision. He's smacking golf balls into the night air and bantering with Benton, wearing an ill-advised floral shirt that telegraphs his intent to retire to South Florida within a week. Wallace suggests a deal: He reviews what he's found, and Schnell remains strangely silent if any of it is true. "Braxton killed Velasquez," Wallace begins. Schnell says he doesn't know, but Wallace presses ahead and contends the brass is nervous about something and is willing to let Roth walk because of whatever that something is. Silent assent. Schnell smacks a golf ball. "The Puerto Rican kid in [prison] didn't do anything," Benton says. More silence, more golf. Benton thinks Schnell phoned in the Velasquez tip because when the department went after Manny -- for reasons as-yet unexplained -- Schnell got irritated. Golf shot, part three. My guess, because I need this stuff laid out nicely for me: They don't want to prosecute Roth because it might result in digging up information about Braxton's shady past as a brutal cop who beat people for no reason. Schnell isn't listening to me, so he keeps bantering with Benton. Wally promises to leave Schnell alone forever in exchange for one more juicy tidbit. Schnell agrees, but it has to be quick because he's got a man to see about buying a bridge. "Roth is going to cop a plea tomorrow," Schell says. Murder two is out the window, and instead Roth will get six months on the gun charge. "Why don't I pick up some of those balls for you?" Wallace asks, elated. He's feeling generous -- Brooke helped him with his balls, and he's just spreading the good will.

Disco Computer is sitting on Wallace's desk again. It winks at me and spins around, flashing fuschia and yellow lights. He's recalling Roth's semi-racist attitude, the kids pushing each other around and Braxton's wounding (which he didn't see, but whatever - I stopped caring about this storyline half an hour ago). Mrs. Braxton appears in his office, having finagled her way past security. "I was married to a cop for twenty-two years," she scoffs when Wallace wonders how she accomplished this. A family man, Braxton was. Mrs. B. admits she's here to ask Wallace not to write the story. "He gave every part of himself to that job," she insists urgently. Wallace asks why Braxton killed Miguel. Mrs. B pulls out a photo of daughter Toni -- they call her "Raye," but who cares -- and says she's sixteen now. When Toni was twelve, Miguel -- then, "El Tiberon," meaning "The Shark" -- took her at knifepoint, cut her, and raped her. "She was twelve years old," Mrs. B repeats slowly. "Ed only did what you would have done." Wallace demurs that he doesn't know how he'd have handled that, but that he isn't the issue. "So every time he sees a Puerto Rican kid, he sees an animal, he sees another Miguel, he sees a potential rapist," Wallace theorizes aloud. Mrs. Braxton insists Miguel was an animal and defends her husband's state of mind. Wallace counters by insisting cops should arrest people, not execute them at will. "Hold onto the picture," Mrs. B says. "I know you'll do the right thing." She leaves, and Wallace stares after her. He gazes at the photo, then the whiskey, then the photo. He drinks whiskey and checks the photo again on the off-chance that it looks different this time and features at least three naked, nubile twentysomethings. It doesn't. Wallace picks up the phone. "Masucci, it's Benton," he says. "We have our story."

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