Breakups are never easy. Breaking up with family? Difficult. Breaking up with friends? Devastating. Breaking up with the state? Nearly impossible. This week, while Jerome and Louie canoodle in marital bliss in preparation for their honeymoon, a series of resignations and reunions unfold that pull the lovers away from romance and into harsh reality.
Finding the truce with Kane to be untenable, Louie made a deal with Officer Bo Buckley to have their business relationship permanently severed by assassination. At the beginning of “Departures,” Officer Buckley sets out to fulfill his end of the deal by running up on Kane and his men while they are outside socializing. Approaching them with his gun already exposed, Buckley and his fellow officers proceed to shoot at them, killing all of Kane’s associates and sending their leader running. In pursuit, Buckley learns that Kane has been taken to the hospital, where he is now “barely hanging on.”
With one job unfinished, Buckley soon finds his other job on the line when his lieutenant mandates that he be drug-tested before ultimately suspending him and taking his gun and badge. When Louie goes to her office at the club, she finds Buckley at her desk doing cocaine. Buckley wants the rest of his money, but she tells him he will get it only when his assignment is complete. “The deal was Kane dead, and he’s not,” she responds. Growing more emotional and unstable, Buckley informs her that he is at risk of being kicked off the force and losing his family. “I’m in a spot now, and you put me there,” he says. An expert in de-escalation, Louie is tender but firm. She tells him that it’s all going to be okay, that he hasn’t lost his life but rather gained a new one. “You got a home right here with us,” Louie asserts after extending an offer to put him on the payroll as an asset. “This ain’t the end of nothing. It’s the beginning.”
Louie’s initial decision to orchestrate the hit on Kane soon obliterates far more than its intended target. Leon, the primary advocate for working with Kane following his attacks on the family, is furious at Louie and Franklin. When he shows up at Franklin’s house to discuss the news of Kane’s survival and likely paralysis, Leon looks to Franklin for the fire of mutual outrage but discovers nothing but the fumes of ethical exhaustion following his hallucinatory awakening at the wedding. Leon is uninterested in Franklin’s feelings and more concerned with his passivity. They go back and forth about what is right, what is wrong, and what is important, disagreeing at every turn. As Leon storms out, hurt by his friend’s selfishness, he notices that the copy of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth he gifted him is sitting on a shelf untouched. “You ain’t even open it,” Leon notes as he turns his back on Franklin for good.
Unlike Leon, Veronique understands Louie’s decision is a protective one and even goes on to close some of the distance she had created between herself and Franklin in the name of family. When Franklin asks if she wants to get out of town with him, he and Veronique take a private plane (flown by our resident Red Tail Mr. Saint) to an undisclosed location where they sit on the sand and get real with each other about their respective sins and the role their love has played in their hope for salvation. “The truth is I’ve done terrible things … not just to survive but to win,” he tells her. V tells him about a scam she ran with her mother in El Paso as a 13-year-old that resulted in a murder. She shares her story to let him know he is not the only “monster.” Together, they vow to be redeemed by love, and if not love, then at least a final triumph over their enemies. When Franklin learns that Louie and Jerome are getting their cocaine from Teddy directly now, he learns that his enemies may be closer than he imagined. Infuriated, then overcome by quiet, he walks away from his aunt and uncle. “You wanted to be out in front, now you are. Good luck,” he tells Louie.
Rubén, who has had to shave his face following Cissy’s outburst at the wedding, meets up with Cissy to discuss the intel he got at the party (his people digging into Gustavo! Oh, no!) and the threat her anxieties pose to his efforts to help her. As it turns out, Rubén and Cissy’s ties go back to Cuba following Alton’s disappearance. Perhaps this is why he cuts her some slack even while telling her to cut the crap going forward.
Yet another inseparable pair with a transnational story, Parissa and Teddy are going strong. When Teddy visits Avi to negotiate an arms deal, he brings Parissa with him, about which Avi is positively thrilled. Teddy stays in business mode and informs Avi that he will need to triple the number of guns going south to Nicaragua within 60 days to arm the Contras to end the war with increased bloodshed. “I want this war sewn up,” he tells Avi. A true businessman, Avi agrees and nudges Teddy to keep doing business with him even after the war is over. “With everything you know about me, you don’t think there’s another war around the corner?” Teddy remarks (this gave me chills!). (Sidebar: Rubén and a Russian partner later break into Avi’s warehouse, where he gets the drop on them. Avi shoots the Russian, and Rubén knocks Avi unconscious, but it’s unclear if he has died.)
In an unusually good mood, likely thanks to Parissa, Teddy (or Theodore, as she might call him) remains upbeat throughout the episode. When he meets with Louie for a hand-off, he even takes a moment to congratulate her on her nuptials before going into his new rules for drops (you know the drill: No security and no surprises). Gustavo asks him if it’s smart to be selling to both sides of a family, but Teddy’s good mood does not budge in the face of a “blood feud.” As it turns out, only Franklin can bring the storm clouds to rain on his parade. When Teddy and Franklin meet for dinner to discuss business, they muse that if New York is the city that never sleeps, Los Angeles is the city that “sleeps in.” Franklin notes Teddy’s good mood before proceeding to crush it. After apologizing for the LSD-induced call on which he threatened to kill Teddy, Franklin explains his surprise at Teddy’s decision to work with Louie. Teddy assures him it’s not personal, but Franklin anticipates this response and is thus unsatisfied, given their history. “In the last three years, I made you almost $56 million to help win the war, during which time I’ve been beaten, shot, imprisoned, killed people, not to mention unleashing a plague and selling out my own father to keep the gravy train flowing, of course,” Franklin says. Teddy concedes this is all true but notes that “this ain’t charity work” and reminds Franklin of what he has gained financially through their partnership. Franklin cannot stomach the betrayal, however, and declares he is ending their deal. Teddy contains his frustration, but the tension is evident. Wishing Teddy good luck, he extends a hand as a sign of respect despite his resignation. Teddy pauses, then shakes his hand. Who would have thought, soon after the wedding episode, we would bear witness to the end of the show’s central union? Divorce is notoriously a messy affair. Franklin feels free now, but that’s all it is, a feeling. Teddy, on the other hand, has a great deal of power. And hell hath no fury like a Fed scorned.
Bops for Breakups and Makeups
• “Break Up to Make Up” by the Stylistics for Veronique: As Veronique and Franklin rebuild their relationship, they begin by airing out their dirty laundry. “I am the girl who lied and cheated and stole and left a man dead on the hotel floor,” Veronique tells him. “I also the woman who went to college and law school and moved to L.A. and met a man and fell in love.”
• “Heartbreaker,” ft. Jay Z, for Wanda and Leon: In this song, the elusive chanteuse Mariah Carey sings of a lover who keeps her coming back “incessantly.” There is perhaps no better word for the way that Wanda and Leon continue to be drawn back to each other. Setting out a path to healing their wounds, Leon finally declares his love for Wanda and invites her to travel abroad with him. “You the only girl I’ve ever loved. Come away with me, then we can see if we can get back what we had,” he tells her. If Leon breaks Wanda’s heart, I’ll show him a riot!
• “Back Stabbers” by the O’Jays for Franklin: “You went to the plug behind my back?” Franklin asks Louie after she informs him of her deal with Teddy. Later, when he confronts Teddy, he must leverage this betrayal to facilitate a break from their relationship.
• “Two Weeks” by FKA Twigs for Teddy: Even though Teddy is very much still in the throes of infatuation with Parissa, he is not unaffected by Franklin’s decision to break up with him. Federal agents don’t exactly have coping mechanisms for this kind of disappointment. Let’s hope he turns toward the classic “eat ice cream and watch rom-coms” route as opposed to the typical “kill the informant” route.
• “Trust Issues” by Rico Nasty for Louie: When Leon pulls up at the club to talk to Louie, he confronts her about going behind their back to kill Kane. Leon asks for an explanation and she explains that in understanding the ways of men and the nature of grief, she knew it was unwise to trust Kane’s word. “I don’t got the luxury of somebody taking a shot at me and letting it go … You think it’s hard being a Black man in this world, Leon? Try for five minutes living in it as a Black woman,” she tells him. “Every move I make gotta be iron-fucking-clad.”