NYPD Blue, Season 3, Episode 19,
Auntie Maimed

Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Michael Watkins

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PLOT ONE: SPECIAL DELIVERY

Sylvia's nearing her delivery date, which has Andy predictably tied up in knots. She's already had one false alarm, and is again feeling pelvic discomfort. She promises to send a "911" message to Andy's beeper the minute she's positive that she's actually having contractions.

Andy spends a good portion of his work day stressed out over Sylvia's condition. When Greg mentions that Marie sent him a 911 page to pick up one of their daughters from ice skating, Andy yells at him for violating the sanctity of the 911 code. When Donna's a few minutes late getting back from a coffee break, Andy complains, concerned that there may be a phone message that she's neglecting to tell him about. Sylvia calls at one point, saying that their doctor said that while she's dilated a bit, it's still not time.

Finally, as Andy's in the middle of interrogating Leon Brodus (See Plot Two), he gets the 911 page. Bobby takes over for him, and Andy and Andy Jr. (See Miscellaneous Threads) take off for the hospital. Andy's nearly apoplectic, interrogating anyone who even tries to enter Sylvia's hospital room. Finally, he gowns up (leaving Andy Jr. to "guard" the door), and goes in to watch the delivery. His joy at seeing his newborn son turns to panic as Sylvia begins hemmorhaging after the baby's out, but the doctors quickly fix the problem and pronounce both Sylvia and the baby to be in good health. After embracing the little tyke, Andy goes out to talk to Andy, Jr. and tell him that even though he'll be spending a lot more time with the baby, doesn't mean he loves his other son any less.

PLOT TWO: THE WRONG MAN

Amidst all his angst over Sylvia's condition, Andy has to work a murder with Bobby. A middle-aged woman named Etta Stubbs was found in her apartment with a paper bag over her head, apparently bludgeoned to death by a hammer. Several checks from her checkbook are missing, and all her neighbors seem of the opinion that her junkie nephew Billy is the killer.

Bobby and Andy track Billy down, and after spotting him boost a camera from an unsuspecting senior citizen's minivan, they bust him. He has several items of his aunt's jewelry on him, but claims a friend stole them and asked Billy to hold on to them for him. Bobby rapidly blows holes into the paper thin story and suggests that Billy's conscience is nagging him - otherwise, he would've sold the jewelry to get enough money to score some drugs instead of having to steal the camera. Billy seems very broken up, but asks for a few minutes before he'll talk any more.

When Bobby and Andy return from backing up Greg and James (See Plot Three), Billy admits to stealing the jewelry, but claims his aunt was dead when he showed up - he was the one who put the bag over her head, so "she couldn't see" him steal from her. Bobby gets very angry with this, and bullies a grieving Billy into saying he killed his aunt. Fancy tells the detectives that someone named Leon Brodus was arrested for trying to cash one of Etta's checks, and suggests that they wait on taking an official statement until after they've talked to Brodus and made sure Billy's fingerprints match the bloody prints found in Etta's apartment.

As it turns out, Billy's prints don't match. Bobby interviews Brodus, a handyman who claims the check was for some carpentry he did for Ms. Stubbs. Bobby lies and says they found some printsin the bathroom (they were on the front doorknob), and tells Brodus that if he allows himself to be fingerprinted, they can clear up the mix-up quickly and let him go. Brodus, feeling confident, agrees to this, and his prints match the ones from the doorknob - he's their guy. Bobby, feeling guilty over almost putting away Billy, decides to let him walk on the robbery charge. He suggests that Billy spend the money from the jewelry on a funeral for his aunt rather than more drugs, and offers to get him into a methodone program after the funeral.

PLOT THREE: ASHTRAYS TO ASHTRAYS, PERPS TO BUST

Greg and James catch a robbery-homicide at a strip club. The bouncer was beaten to death, and the bartender nearly so. The club owner claims he doesn't have an enemy in the world. When the bartender comes to at Bellevue, he describes his attacker, who he doesn't recognize, as well as a heavyset biker called Pig who watched the whole thing.

Pig claims he was watching TV, until he finds out that the bartender survived. He quickly blows the whistle on the killer, Jay Delinkey, who got out of prison a week ago, only to find out that his girlfriend was sleeping with the club bouncer. Greg gets the address of the girlfriend, who was a stripper at the club, from the owner. When they go to her apartment to interview her, she acts very threatened - a state that's explained rather rapidly when James finds Delinkey hiding in one of the bedrooms with a gun pointed at the stripper's sister. It's a stalemate, until the stripper picks up a heavy ashtray and whacks Delinkey in the head, knocking him out.

PLOT FOUR: ABANDANDO AU REVOIR?

While getting coffee in the morning, Diane spots Donna studying an employee orientation kit from Apple Computers. Donna explains that part of her computer training from a few months back involved free enrollment at a City College job fair. As a "lark," she applied to Apple, and was surprised to be offered a job, one with similar responsibilities to her current PAA job, but with no promotion ceiling. Diane comments that the opportunity sounds terrific, but Donna's skeptical - the job would require relocation to California's Silicon Valley area, and would a New York gal like her fit in out there?

She spends the day mulling over the offer, even asking Adrianne for advice at one point, but when the Apple recruiter calls up, she tells him she doesn't think she wants to do it. She does, however, agree to meet him in between periods at that night's Rangers game to discuss the matter further.

PLOT FIVE: BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

James knows that this is a large nation, but apparently it's not large enough for both he and Adrianne to be together. Fed up with her clinginess, he's decided to break up with her, but keeps putting it off. His latest excuse is that he has to spend time with his parents, whose building was recently robbed, but Adrianne can read the writing on the wall and asks James to find time to talk with her during the shift.

After returning from busting Jay Delinkey, James finally sits down with Adrianne, who decides to ease his discomfort by telling him that she knows what he's going to say. She apologizes for all her behavior of the past few months, ascribing it to the fact that her father treats her mother the same way she treated James. James asks her not to beat herself up, and assures her that he'll always be her friend.

MISCELLANEOUS THREAD:

Andy Jr. shows up at the House to have lunch with Andy, and winds up spending the rest of the day getting on-the-job training from Andy and Bobby. They let him observe their interviews for the Etta Stubbs case, and Andy invites him along to help them back up Greg and James when they go to arrest Pig at his biker club.


I learned a long time ago to avoid advance information on shows that I watch. Magazine interviews, newspaper reviews, even mere commercials can all give away crucial information, and I'd much rather be surprised then have any element of the story ruined for me.

Because of this, I've been trying my best to avoid the rampant speculation on this newsgroup about what's going to happen in upcoming episodes, but when some inconsiderate person puts stuff like "Who's Going to Die?" in their subject header, it's pretty damned hard to do. I've done as good a job of spoiler avoidance as I can under the circumstances, but I'm still very much aware that some bad times are upcoming for our heroes.

With that knowledge in the back of my head, certain scenes of "Auntie Maimed" had an extra connotation for me. What was going to happen to Andy Jr. during the bust at the biker joint? Was Sylvia going to die once she started bleeding, thereby making it much easier for Sharon Lawrence to go do her sitcom on NBC? I spent a good deal of this episode holding my breath, only to be relieved when things turned out alright for the Sipowicz family. Still, it's pretty clear that this show is the calm before the storm.

And what a wonderful calm it was. This was another terrific episode, regardless of what comes after it.

Andy's increasing panic over Sylvia's impending delivery was, in a way, a rehash of his pre-wedding jitters from last year's season finale, but handled much better here. For one thing, it didn't interfere with his police work, though he was very much subservient to Bobby on the Etta Stubbs case. For another, there was more of a comic payoff here, in the form of that hilarious scene outside the delivery room. If he ever decides to give up drama, Dennis Franz has a very promising career in screwball comedy to look forward to. :)

And the ending was really touching, especially Andy's final words to Andy Jr. Maybe it's because I'm afraid of what may be in store for young Andy, or maybe it's just because I'm so happy about how far these two have come in their relationship since the first season. Either way, I care very much about what happens to Andy Jr.

The other storylines were all very much subservient to the birth, but they were all interesting in their own right. Jimmy Smits was gangbusters in the first interview scene with Billy - if I'd been in that room, I probably would've confessed to anything just to get Bobby to stop talking to me. The presence of Andy Jr. also added quite a bit to this, as we got to hear a bit more of Andy and Bobby's philosophy about potentially arresting the wrong guy. It reminded me a bit of the first season, when The Other Guy was always explaining the detective trade to the rookie Martinez, and any opportunity to get inside the detectives' heads a bit more is very welcome in my book.

The James/Adrianne romance storyline seems, at long last, to be at an end, much to the relief of many of us. If you really want to stretch things and consider the fact that James cast a longing look at Adrianne when she first walked into the 15th squadroom, then this has been going on for nearly two full seasons. I'm glad Adrianne has been redeemed a bit here - she not only acknowledged what a bitch she's been, but also managed to remain calm upon hearing about James' "adventure" with Jay Delinkey - and hope her image gets rehabbed more next season by concentrating on aspects of her life beyond romance.

Donna's job offer from Apple is almost certainly the escape valve that'll be used to write her off the show. Her "relocation remorse" makes sense, as she's very much a New Yawkuh - the line about Californians not being able to understand her speech made me chuckle quite a bit. Gail O'Grady actually got a good amount of screen time this week, what with her clashes with Andy about phone messages and her brief attempt at comforting Adrianne. It's just a shame that she's only now getting more material.

James and Greg's case was easily the fluffiest of the night, but it contained a bunch of fun scenes: the argument outside the biker bar, the interrogation of Pig, and the ultimate resolution of the hostage crisis were all winners. Plus, I just like watching the two of them playing off each other, as they're far more light-hearted than Bobby and Andy - sarcastic barbs from James sound far gentler than they would coming from Andy. That contrast is nice.

In all, a very well-written, well-directed episode that makes me glad the show's back with fresh episodes. The storm's apparently rolling in next week, so be ready for it.

Shorter Takes:

See ya next week, folks, and try to put spoiler warnings in your subject headers if you're talking about upcoming events.


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