Common Law: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Common Law S01E04: “The Ex-Factor”

I’ve been eagerly waiting for more insight into Wes and Travis’s partnership since Common Law's pilot and I’m pleased to announce that we finally got some of that in Friday's “The Ex-Factor.” A high-profile carjacking led Travis to reunite with Phil, his former partner and the “ex” he dumped to partner with Wes.

Apparently, it was a messy break-up.

“The Ex-Factor” could have been painful and cheesy and eye-roll-inducing to the Nth degree with all of the wordplay and the wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments. I mean, we get it, Common Law “is like a marriage, with bullets.”

The episode COULD have been painful and cheesy and awful, but it wasn’t. “The Ex-Factor” was actually quite a bit of clever fun and provided much-needed background information on how Travis and Wes came together and ended up where they are.

So, back in the day, Phil and Travis were partners. They were somewhat legendary. They had a secret handshake and Sugar Ray ringtones (“Every Morning” was my jam back in sixth grade) and nicknames. You know, everything his partnership with Wes has, so far to our knowledge, lacked. What would possess Travis to leave the comforts of working with Phil for the routine antagonizing of working with Wes? Well...we didn’t quite get an answer to that, outside of the standard excuse that they make an excellent team, but I think the revelation that they originally chose to work with one another is an important distinction to make in their history. It makes the whole therapy thing a little more palatable. At one time, these two were friends as well as co-workers, and with that in mind, I can stomach the rationale behind sending them off to couples counseling a little better.

After being dumped by Travis, Phil rebounded in Beverly Hills, climbing up the ranks of that police force and cultivating his own hero-worshipping followers, including a replacement partner named Morgan, whom everyone else called “Travis 2.0.” Creepy.

Wes and Travis ended up working under Phil’s supervision when a string of carjackings crossed over into the LAPD’s jurisdiction. Wes was determined to play nice and accused Travis of overreacting when Travis voiced his own apprehension about working with his old partner. Travis argued that Wes didn’t know Phil like he did. He insisted that Phil was still angry about being dumped five years earlier and that the man WOULD find revenge somehow. To compensate for Wes’s appeasement attitude, Travis went out of his way to get along with Wes in an attempt show Phil that he didn’t regret leaving him. It was a good effort, except for his insistence on chowing down on pure delishiousness while Wes agonized his way through a weekly cleanse. That’s just cold, Trav. COLD.

For a while, it looked like Wes was right. Things that Travis were certain would set his old partner off—specifically that time Wes and Travis stole Phil’s swanky, shiny rental car to chase a lead only to damage it in a shoot-out—seemed to roll off of Phil’s back. He invited Travis out for dinner and gave him a copy of Sugar Ray’s new CD (I was with Travis on that one—Sugar Ray HAS a new CD? REALLY?) and it looked like all was well.

Yet time and again, Travis and Wes seemed to have an edge on Phil and his team during their investigation and after a while, Phil didn’t seem nearly as sunny about the whole thing as he'd been before. He gave Travis and Wes crummier and crummier jobs to perform, and ultimately sent them on a wild goose (maybe chicken would be more accurate) chase in search of the mythical truck that simply MUST have existed during the heists, despite no one actually seeing it in person.

Ultimately, it was one of Travis's foster care brothers who came through with intel after one of his employees was arrested in connection with building the phantom truck. He revealed that the ringleader’s car was a high-end Mercedes with an “exempt” marking on the license plate. Further research revealed that the only fancypants car with an exempt plate belonged to Beverly Hills’ mayor, one of the victims of the thieving ring. That information, cross-referenced with Kendall the Awesome’s traffic cam pictures and a run-in with the mayor’s sullen son, put all the pieces together. Once again, Travis and Wes proved what an awesome team they are, despite their inability to get along with one another when they are in the same room.

Case Notes and Follow-up Questions

– Hey everybody! It’s Duck Phillips! Mark Moses guest-starred as the grumpy mayor of Beverly Hills whose son decided to start a carjacking ring to earn Daddy’s love, or something.

– I really appreciated Wes standing up for Travis when Morgan talked down about him behind his back. “No one talks about my partner like that but me.” Aww, now, why can’t you say nice things like that in therapy, hmm?

– Captain Mike burning incense in the office was pretty great. He got the Nag in the blue box too!

– Anyone up for more Phil? I liked Phil. I mean, I hated Phil, but I liked what he brought to the table—utter dickishness.

RELATED STORY: Therapy for the Common Law Viewer

Like on Facebook