Common Law: Shacking Up

Common Law S01E09: “Odd Couples”

The concept of having an entire episode dedicated to the idea of Travis and Wes as an “odd couple” seemed pretty redundant given the fact that the entire premise of Common Law hinges on their conflicting personalities and yet... ”Odd Couples” was oddly satisfying. When the partners ended up forced to room together during a stake-out, every insignificant personality quirk mutated into an overwhelmingly insufferable, all-encompassing pet peeve. It was hilarious and in the end, it was even touching.

A man who spent the last decade in prison for robbery, the $5 million haul still unaccounted for, escaped during a work detail and made his way to Los Angeles and also to the woman who wrote a bestseller about his exploits. Wes and Travis (correctly) theorized that there might be a connection to the author, who had spent a considerable amount of time interviewing the thief for her book. They convinced the captain to set them up with a nice place across the street from her apartment where they could easily run some surveillance and chaos ensued.

Oh, it started out well enough. Wes turned out to be a pretty fantastic cook. Travis complimented him on their awesome-looking dinner and a confused Wes claimed that he’d cooked for Travis in the past and didn’t understand why this particular time was so special. Travis explained that he always thought Alex cooked and Wes just took credit for it. Careful, Travis, Wes is what I like to call “a keeper” and if you want to keep noshing on those good eats, doesn’t matter because between that little prank with the microphone and Captain Mike dropping in for some brewskies, Wes was in a bad place. He’s the anal retentive one and Travis is the chaotic one, and while those dynamics often make for a difficult working relationship, they made for a disastrous living arrangement.

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced a similar problem? I bet there are quite a few palms up out there in Internetland, mine included. I like to think that I’m like Travis, but I know deep down, I’m more of a Wes, right down to my inability to communicate effectively with roommates. It’s a politeness thing, for me, and I think that fits Wes’s personality as well. Deep down inside, we know that leaving a dirty plate out isn’t a world-shattering thing, but it’s still something that bothers us. So we clean it up, because to harp on our roommate to DO IT RIGHT THIS SECOND, even though it isn’t really hurting anything, would be rude. But after repeatedly doing “the polite thing,” Wes and I are, understandably, sick of being the only person doing the dishes. So we get passive-aggressive about it, because still, to flat-out demand that the dishes be done would be rude.

And then we freak out because, well, we’re freaks.

Wes chose to lash out at Travis’s “laziness” in therapy, in a rant that was funny, sure, but still sincere. Wes was clearly bothered by his perceived “taken for granted” status with Travis. Meanwhile, Travis seemed genuinely hurt by the fact that Wes called him out for something he didn’t even realize was bothering him (much) without first talking about the issue in private. Welcome to my freshman year of college, guys.

“This is why you and Alex didn’t work—nobody knows what you’re thinking.”

Cue the stunned silence. However, this is not the cathartic moment you’re looking for. Move along.

At least when my freshman-year roommate and I decided that we hated each other, we could still basically function without acknowledging each other’s presence. Unfortunately for Wes and Travis, they still had a stake-out to finish, despite their disastrous counseling session. They went on to break the thermostat while arguing over the perfect ambient temperature and Wes decided to cook Travis’s favorite dish... and eat it all by himself. Or at least, he tried to. Never get between a man and his chicken parm, Wes.

Meanwhile, the author across the street revealed her involvement with her subject matter’s escapades by gunning him down in her apartment. Upon arrest, she claimed self-defense, and without any evidence to the contrary, the police had no choice but to let her go. Travis and Wes had words when Travis played the “instincts” card and claimed that he had a gut feeling that she was involved. Somehow. For once, I was actually kind of concerned that Travis was walking into a confrontation without backup, especially when it was revealed that not only was the crime writer indeed a criminal, but she had roped one of the prison guards in on her plan as well.

But luckily, Wes showed up to save the day and made amends by complimenting Travis’s instincts and promising to support them better in the future. Travis reciprocated with an apology about being a pig and an explanation that hinged on reminding us all that he was a foster kid because I think the writers forgot to pay that detail lip service last week.

Anyway, minor complaints and initial apprehension aside, I thought “Odd Couples” was good fun. It reminded me of an episode of Starsky & Hutch, an influence that I think Common Law often tries to emulate with limited success, but this time around, might have just gotten something right.

Case Notes

– Aw man, Captain Mike’s B-story about trying to set up a nice dinner for his wife, only to have her cancel on him, was sad. C’mon lady, I’m sure you guys had your issues in the past, but nowadays, the man is a giant teddy bear. Give him a chance, if only so we can skip the sad panda scenes at the fancy restaurant in the future, okay?

– I really think that Travis’s storyline could benefit from a “show” approach, rather than the current “tell” approach. If I hear something openly blamed on foster care ONE more time…

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