Common Law: A Mile in Someone Else's Shoes

Common Law S01E07: "Role Play"

Dr. Emma finally managed to get Travis and Wes to do their homework. All she needed was to perk their interest with an assignment that could easily be turned into a competition and used as an insult. Good for her!

Wes complained about constantly being picked to play the stern authority figures during Role Play Week at couples' counseling, not because he was insulted by everyone's sentiment that he was a total killjoy, but because he was disturbed by his fellow couples’ “authority problem.” Emma explained that the week’s activities were all intended to serve as training wheels for the culminating assignment—taking on the role of one’s partner. Travis was stoked about the opportunity to show Wes what it was like to work with Wes. Wes was, as usual, not at all amused.

Meanwhile, our case of the week was a literal case of mistaken identity wherin a local shopkeeper, Beth Boyd, was strangled in the middle of a 911 call during which she clearly named her assailant as her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Kevin. It all seemed fairly cut-and-dry considering their history—a messy divorce, a history of court battles and past violence. However, Kevin turned out to be an oddly complacent suspected killer. Having blacked out at a bar the night of the murder, he had zero recollection of his actions. Disturbed by what he may have done while under the influence, Kevin cooperated willingly and offered DNA samples. The DNA matched that at the crime scene, but the circumstantial evidence painted a spotty timeline that just didn’t make sense to our two detectives. Not to mention the fact that Kevin just didn’t come off as the sort of guy who would strangle his wife. Devastated by the revelation that his DNA matched the crime scene, a heartbroken Kevin even devised a gory suicide plan—turning the gas on in his bakery and flicking a lighter—but not before he called the police to evacuate innocent people from the vicinity of his shop. Yup, totally the actions of a hardened killer.

Physical evidence aside, Wes and Travis couldn’t shake their reservations and dug a little deeper into Kevin’s timeline. They learned that he'd only had maybe two drinks at the bar that night, a bar owned by Beth’s sister Suzanne. Typically, two drinks aren’t enough to get anyone drunk enough to karaoke, let alone black out, and upon questioning Suzanne, Wes and Travis learned that Beth had given her a special bottle from which to serve Kevin. Suzanne and Beth had planned to roofie Kevin and frame him for an assault against Beth so that she could take over some real estate they'd been battling over. From there, it was just a hop, skip, and jump to the conclusion that Suzanne had done more than just drug Kevin in her role as an accomplice in Beth’s scheme. Further analysis of the 911 tape that implicated Kevin revealed that there was a second female voice on the tape and that whomever tied Beth up was left handed—she and Kevin were both rightys. But not Suzanne! And did you know that her bar was hemorrhaging money and headed toward total failure? And that Beth and Kevin were her landlords? Means, motive, and opportunity. BAM. Commence with the obligatory chase and congratulations, gentlemen, on another successfully closed case.

However, Travis and Wes also earned applause for another accomplishment—one that, on a personal level, was far more meaningful than another closed case. Dr. Emma declared that their role-playing experience heralded their first real breakthrough in therapy. With a little help from Janelle, the medical examiner (who also pointed out that Travis made an excellent grown-up while in his Wes costume), the partners realized that in order to be themselves, it's essential that they allow the other to exercise the same individual freedom, to let Wes have his jazz and Travis have his hip-hop during car chases, for each to let the other have his desk as messy or as neat as he wants. Neither one of them will be happy if they both continue to demand that the other assimilate into the “ideal partner,” which is true, I guess, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder what it meant if Travis just plain annoyed Wes by being himself and vice versa. You can still respect someone’s right to individuality...and be completely irritated by their personality.

Of course, I’m a big believer that Travis and Wes aren’t annoyed by one another nearly as much as they claim to be—they’re just stubborn, and occasionally hilariously impulsive. What are your thoughts?

Case Notes

– The inclusion of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” as the background song during Wes and Travis’s investigation of the high-class-but-still-illegal casino had me shooting lemonade through my nose. Which burned, actually, but still, I thought it was amusing because it’s a terrible song, but also because the show airs on Fridays. I’m entertained by the small things (like Dean Winchester’s guardian angel being Castiel, who in real-world mythology is the Angel of Thursday...and Supernatural originally aired on Thursdays blah blah blah whatever, my point is that silly little meta nods entertain me a lot).

– Both Wes and Travis were amusing as exaggerated representations of one another, but I have to admit, I thought Wes’s take on Travis was just a smidge funnier. “That’s right, I just broke a glass for no apparent reason,” and his over-use of the term “douchebag,” paired with Travis’s exasperated reaction that was more “Dude, you’re doing it wrong” than “Dude, stop making fun of me,” was the highlight of the episode for me.

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