Common Law: Doggone It

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Common Law S01E08: “Joint Custody”

A botched sting led to a shooting that ultimately led to Travis and Wes being responsible for a police dog named Hudson after his handler was injured. Travis was initially delighted with the new responsibility, while Wes was more apprehensive, even pointing out that Travis would ditch his half of the commitment as soon as it got hard.

He wasn’t wrong.

Hudson the German Shepherd stole most of the show this week, which admittedly isn’t hard since the highest compliment I can give Common Law at the moment is that it isn’t the worst thing on television. The concept was kooky from the start, but that isn’t necessarily the problem. TV would get boring pretty fast if everything was the same, right? Right. But my season-long complaint with Common Law continues to be the fact that episodes have persistently mired in hit-or-miss territory. While many of the series’ USA Network brethren have come into their own recently, either heading off in bold new directions (a la Covert Affairs and White Collar) or fleshing out former background faces into fully realized characters of their own (Suits), Common Law takes a few steps forward, only to fumble again a week later.

Earlier in the season, I wondered whether an overarching plot centered on a Big Bad villain or conspiracy might go a long way toward improving my enjoyment of Common Law and now, over halfway through the show’s inaugural season, I’ve returned to that stance. Maybe I’m just a sucker for serials (I totally am), but week after week, I feel like we’re going nowhere, plot-wise. Wes and Travis solve the often-forgettable case of the week. They go to therapy. Wes is grumpy. They reluctantly learn some sort of life lesson, but they continue to bicker. They have to bicker. The counseling schtick is the only thread we have that ties every episode together.

But hey, PUPPY.

“If you died in your sleep tonight, that animal would eat your face.” Clearly, Wes was the less enthusiastic daddy in their pan-species family, and the detectives still had to solve their case o’ the week while caring for their new addition. Their search for the shooter and the Desert Eagle he used to take out the officers on duty led Travis and Wes to a white supremacist gun club. However, Wes and Travis hit a roadblock when their top suspect presented a pretty tight alibi about where he was when the shooting occurred—a gay bar. And just to make sure we understood how hilarious the idea of a gay skinhead is, he instantly morphed into a ridiculous caricature of both camps.

Really.

The cracks in Travis’s façade of responsibility began to show when, after expressing his excitement over an upcoming booty call, he proceeded to tire out the dog so it wouldn’t bother him during sex.

Really.

It didn’t work out well for him and he ultimately ended up calling Wes in the middle of the night to take custody of the pooch so he could go back to getting laid. He invoked the mighty Bro Code, which had zero bearing on Wes because he doesn’t live in a frat house. Wes agreed to come get Hudson if Travis agreed to tell their counseling group that Wes was right about Travis sucking at responsibility.

Yet despite all of his protestations, Wes reluctantly warmed up to Hudson. Aww, of course he was the big spoon!

The next day, in counseling, Travis kept to his side of the bargain and admitted that he was the fun and flaky dad. Dr. Emma suggested that rather than fight over yet another thing in their lives, the guys split custody of Hudson. Travis got him during the day and Wes took him at night so his partner could totally get his freak on. They still bickered. Travis fed the dog cheesy poofs, cementing his position as “the fun one.”

Another lead, another exonerated suspect. Wes got kicked out of his hotel because Hudson kept busting the potheads on Wes’s floor. He headed over to Alex’s place because we hadn’t seen her in a while and she’s awesome. So awesome. The exes bonded over the dog and made a cuddle pile on the sofa. Alex reminded Wes of how much they had wanted to adopt a dog when they were still married, how he shot it down because poor Wes is forever doomed to be Bad Cop.

Back at the station, someone fed Hudson poison, immediately looping the suspicion around to Wes and Travis’s coworkers. Hudson survived his attempted murder, but Captain Mike made the announcement that the dog had died in an attempt to root out the wannabe assassin and give Travis and Wes a chance to let Hudson sniff around the locker room. He zoomed in on the locker of Officer Hawkes, who we all remembered as “that douchebag from the beginning of the episode.” I was half expecting Hawkes, upon arrest, to exclaim that he would have gotten away with everything “if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your mangy mutt!”

Sadly, Hudson was returned to his handler at the end of the episode. I wouldn’t have minded him sticking around a little longer, though.


What did you think of this week’s Common Law?