"The Cleaner" The Turtle & The Butterfly (TV Episode 2009) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • In the wake of a meth lab explosion, William and his crew travel to the desert, where a desperate mother hopes to save her son from his debt to a big-time dealer. In this town fueled by the meth industry, they discover a corrupt police force and a boy sold into a life of drug-running.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Looks like the Cleaner is talking to God again. He wonders if God wonders why he is asking for His guidance again after all these years. Got that? In any event, something tells us we'll soon find out. We cut to William talking to PK. "I'm not your sponsor anymore," she says. "So what am I doing here at 2 o'clock in the morning?"

    We FLASHBACK to William meeting a middle-aged woman named Gale. She hands him $10,000 in cold, hard cash. Looks like the Cleaner has himself a job. Gale takes William and Arnie for a drive in her fancy sports car. The woman's son is being held in jail on $50,000 bail. The Cleaner explains that her son wouldn't be held at such a high price if the boy was just using meth. He has to be producing or distributing.

    The clan arrive at the out-of-the-way sheriff's station. "Thirteen months ago, Travis was clean ... then he just, you know, wasn't," mom explains. Arnie emerges from the station with news: a fire burned down the meth lab, meaning there isn't enough evidence to hold Travis. Just then, Travis emerges looking askance at William. "Who's this guy?" he asks. Mom threatens to cut her son off if he doesn't submit to the Cleaner's special brand of caring. The boy reluctantly agrees.

    But first, the entire clan visits the site of the meth-lab fire. Turns out Travis is living with his girlfriend Jenny, who appears as strung out as him, and Miles, a young boy. Neither is happy to hear that ol' Trav is just stopping by to pack before heading to William's garage. Arnie loads Travis into the car and steps out to chat with William and Gale when -- suddenly! -- the car pulls away. Travis has escaped and William is FURIOUS at his wisecracking assistant, who takes off after the car on a bicycle.

    Much later, a soaked-with-Arnie arrives at an office park to find Travis. "Give me the keys!" an exhausted and frustrated Arnie screams. "I've been all over town looking for your ass!" Just then, a creepy drug dealer named Riley appears. Arnie knows the man from his own sordid past. Turns out Riley has decided to take possession of Gale's car. "Understand this: one way or another he's got to give back what he owes me," Riley snarls. "His lab blew up. Who do you think foots the bill on that?" The bill, by the way, is $500,000. Arnie wisely decides to leave.

    Back at the motel, William watches as Miles arrives back in town on a bus. He hands Jenny a package and receives an envelope in return. The boy is an obvious drug mule. William and Gale confront the boy. "I wonder if you could tell us what's going on with Travis?" the worried mother asks. The young boy launches into a complicated metaphor about snapping turtles and butterflies (we won't go into it) before storming off. Bottom line: Miles is an angry young man unwilling to help. "We're gonna wait," William says.

    Mom doesn't like that idea and bursts into Miles' motel room. She finds Miles snorting drugs off his PSP. The boy has been using for a year and he is CRAZED. He goes on and on about some new Japanese video game (we won't go into it) while Gale gently pumps the boy for information. They are developing quite a report when Travis and Arnie suddenly enter. Turns out Travis got away from Riley -- but has a gashed eye to show for it. "We can't do this anymore!" mom moans. Travis just nods. Whatever.

    William asks to talk to Travis alone. "What's Miles doing in the middle of the night heading to Palm Springs?" asks the Cleaner as if he already didn't know. Travis explains that Miles mother -- just a kid, too -- owes Riley a whole bunch of money. "She leaves Miles with Riley to pay off her debt?" William asks. The Cleaner is furious. Just then, Jenny arrives. We learn that she is being paid by Riley to watch the boy, who is the perfect mule because he looks so innocent. William ushers everyone but Jenny into Gale's car and drives off. It's Jenny's turn to be furious

    The Cleaner doesn't care. After all, there's cleaning to be done.

    But somebody does care. Namely, the town's dirty cops. Flashing lights appear in the rearview and William pulls over. The officer appears at the drivers side window. "Give me the kid!" he yells. William tries to explain that the boy is being used as a meth trafficker. "What were you saying about meth, Mr. Banks?" the cop asks. He then drops a baggie of the stuff into the front seat. Uh oh. He takes Miles from the back seat by force. "I see anyone of you again for any reason and its the end of your freedom," the cop growls. "Understand me?"

    Back at the garage, William gives Travis drugs (legal ones). The boy says that he'll never be able to stop using meth. He also feels guilty about getting Miles hooked on drugs (illegal ones). "I gotta help him!" Travis screams. Mom accuses her boy of just wanting to get high. "It's what I do!" he yells back. "It's what I'm good at!" Gale slaps her boy, who storms out. William is in such a fix that he calls PK. So THAT'S what she is doing at the garage at 2 a.m. "If you're all twisted up about this kid, you need to get off your ass," she says. "You need me to suit up?" William says no. He'll handle this one alone. Even the Cleaner needs encouragement sometimes.

    So William heads out. He quickly finds Travis walking alone down a lonely road. The Cleaner takes him straight to Riley's hideout/ lab, where he confronts the small-time (but still dangerous) drug kingpin. "I just want the kid," William says. Riley agrees to disagree and pulls a gun. "You want to buy him back?" the scumbag asks. Suddenly, Travis enters. He offers to give up himself in exchange for letting William and Miles go. "You let them go and I'll work for you forever," Travis says. William begs the young man not to give himself up. "Tell my mother I'm so sorry," Travis tells the Cleaner. The trade is made: Miles for Travis.

    As the sun rises, William enters the garage with Miles. Gale is heartbroken. Her boy is gone. But Gale feels a bit better when Miles hugs her. "You're safe," she whispers.

    No one can win em all -- not even the Cleaner.

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