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

Comments (15)
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I thought the back-story could have been told better. For a while, I had no idea why or what had happened in the past between Travis, Wes, and Phil.



Having the son as one of the carjackers was also really obvious as soon as they first introduced him on screen. If Common Law really wants to be a cop show (which it seems to) they need to work a bit on the surprising factor of the, uh, surprise.



Aside from that, I actually really liked this episode. I thought the banter was a lot better, the pacing and directing was a lot better, and the overall chemistry of the main cast was better. Pretty good episode. I think the show is starting to find its ground.
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I think it was mentioned that the break-up happened when Phil refused to look into a lead Travis had on a massive serial killer case. Afterward Travis was still so upset over it that he basically told everyone, which go Phil fired.
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wow u don't really pay much attention while watching this show!?

no foster brother of travis was arrested.

it was mentioned how travis and wes became partners - travis was on to a serial killer, his current partner phil didn't see it/care/back travis up. travis found a partner in wes, and they two had their first case together ...
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You're right, it was the employee of the foster brother, not the actual foster brother. We can totally update the article to reflect that. However, while they did mention the case that brought Wes and Travis together, I didn't feel that it was a deep enough exploration into what ultimately drove Travis away from Phil. They disagreed on a case. Wes and Travis disagree all the time, but still manage to work through their cases. I'm sure we'll get more info later though! It's still a very young series.
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The problem was not that Travis disagreed with his partner, it's that he had a lead, showed it to Phil, who ignored it, and it happened to be an important lead that lead to the capture of the bad guy. It was the fact that Travis told anyone that Phil hadn't wanted to investigate the lead that split them up.
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It's easy to see how you might have missed it, because it was mentioned somewhat in passing, but they did say what brought Travis and Wes together. They teamed up to catch a serial-killer. Travis even said to Phil at one point in the episode: "You should have listened to me about those missing girls." That's what brought them together. Wes was looking into the same thing, and they must have partnered-up at some point.



So, I'm reeeeeally looking forward to them flashing back to that case (they have to, right?).
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I'm holding out for a flashback too! They can't just mention it in passing and move on, right? RIGHT?
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I have used this comparison before but felt like The Good Guys Lite. Decent episode but still lacking the bite of a good comedy. Ultimately it still tastes like a flat Pepsi even though there are some bubbles in there.
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I absolutely LOVED The Good Guys. Hanks was the perfect comedic foil to Whitford's crazy Detective Dan. Shame it was cancelled. However, I don't think these two shows are aiming for the same thing. Though I will say I got more laughs from TGG.
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Dan Stark was a phenomenal character. I miss that show and wish it would have had more of a chance.
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Ugh, why did everyone love the Good Guys? I hated that show. That was the buddy cop genre at its worst. It passed being stupid-funny and strayed too far into stupid-painful.
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I thought the show was just okay. Fun enough to watch, but not good enough to really care much for it.



I thought the character of Dan Stark was great, though.
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I loved this show from the start. Apart from loving the guys threads( which wasn't so awesome in this episode) I love the witty dialogue and the newness of the premise.

I hope more folks give it a try so it doesn't get cancelled.
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This was the episode that did it for me. I thought it was great. They need to keep the BHPD guys around for them to team up against.



But the line that did it for me was Wes' "I am too hungry to be mature about something like this". That was too funny and made the episode.
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Haha, I was going to state that that was my favorite line as well. It's simple, but I laughed fairly hard when he said that.
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