NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com

NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson
"Below The Belt"
Season 10 Episode 8
11/18/02
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Mark Piznarski

If you made it past that ridiculous opening scene, you got a really good show.

SUMMARY

COP MURDER:

Andy and John catch the murder of a beautiful 17-year-old girl who works as an auxiliary cop in the 15th. Heather Peterson has been found dead in an alley, naked and with two pellet gun wounds in her neck.

A search of the girl's room turned up a diary and a talk with her mother turned up an ex-boyfriend that she got a protection order against.

The boyfriend, Quentin, has a record. He tells the cops that Heather was his girlfriend but that her mother got the protection order because he's 25 and Heather is 17. He says he hasn't seen her in six months. He has no alibi, however.

Greg has been reading the girl's diary and has found a list of names and phone numbers of cops in the 15th she was sleeping with. They're all appalled and Tony orders that no one get any slack. He says they can bring in IAB if they need to.

The first guy they talk to is the captain of the auxiliary squad, Robert Lang. Lang is 50ish if he's a dayish and starts out trying to be helpful. He says he had a good relationship with her but nearly falls over when they ask if he slept with her. He starts huffing and puffing a denial until they slam her diary down in front of him.

By way of an excuse, he tells them the girl was really mature and that she threw herself at him and that he wasn't the only one and that she had a thing for cops. None of that goes over with Andy and John who remind him he's older and her boss. They don't get much info out of him, but they do take a minute to kick him off the auxiliary squad.

The next cop they talk to is our old friend Shannon. He's much more cooperative after he sees the diary. He says he didn't ever screw her but he did play around with her a bit. He tells the same song about how she threw herself at them and didn't act 17. Shannon knows he's done wrong. He says she never hinted that she'd turn anyone in or that she had any problems with any cop. He agrees to confirm names in the diary.

Greg, meanwhile, has run all the cars in the lot where the body was found. He's come up with two guys who had records and is checking both of them out.

Andy and John keep working the cops and next up is Ed Laughlin, the uniform John beat up in the boxing match. He's got a major attitude and keeps demanding to have a delegate and a lawyer present. After several rounds like that, Andy tells Ed that if he stops being an asshole for a second they might avoid getting IAB involved. Ed finally admits that he has an alibi for the time of the murder but won't say anything else without representation. Andy gets pissed off and kicks him out of the room.

Greg brings in one of the guys he ran from the parking lot. Craig Rahl thinks he's in trouble for parking there without paying. After he's assured that's not it, he tells Greg that he was there doing some grocery shopping before work. He explains that he works at a bodega that he doesn't shop at. When Greg asks him about his assault arrest he explains that once he was taking some allergy medicine that he had a bad reaction to and that it made him hit his mother. The guy is totally creepy and Greg decides to search his car. He finds nothing.

Shortly after that, Laughlin comes back after an attitude adjustment. He says the guys in the uniform squad have assured him that the detectives aren't trying to jam anyone up over the girl's age. He goes on about how he was afraid of that and all and he's pissing John and Andy off even more with his whining about it. Finally, he tells them that the girl complained about some guy who had given her some trouble including following her home. Laughlin can't remember the guy's name. He whines again that he couldn't help her out by looking into it because he was afraid that would lead to someone finding out he was sleeping with the girl. This makes Andy and John even more mad. He can't tell them anything more except that he thinks it was some guy from a bodega near where the girl lived. Just having had the talk with Greg, Andy and John put it together and ask if the guy's name was Craig Rahl. Laughlin thinks that was it, and Andy and John bust out of the coffee room hoping to catch him.

It's too late, though. Rahl has already left the building. Greg turns over the address and off they go to Rahl's apartment.

They knock on the door and hear him moving around. He opens with the chain on but won't talk. He slams the door and they hear a gun. They break through the door and see him standing there with the gun pointed at them. Andy wings him and then rams him into a chair. Rahl is crying about his bleeding arm but Andy has his face pinched in one hand and is demanding to know what happened. John says he's going to call an ambulance but Andy tells him not to. John shuts the apartment door and Andy applies as much pressure as he can to the guy and tells him he'll die if he doesn't talk.

Rahl tells them Heather had a thing for another guy who worked at the store but that she wouldn't give him the time of day. He hated her for that. He admits killing her after she called him a creep. He also admits, with a smile on his face, that he raped her after he killed her.

Andy and John tell ADA Heywood that the girl's death had nothing to do with her work as an auxiliary cop. They've kept that whole angle of things out of the records, but they're not done with Laughlin. They call him upstairs after his shift and lay into him right and proper about how he contributed to this girl's death by not helping out with her stalker complaint. They give him a choice: turn in his badge quietly within two days or they turn him over to IAB. They tell him he's not fit for police work. Laughlin freaks out. He tells them they're just like rats and that word is going to get around about it. Andy throws him out of the building.

RUN AROUND:

Connie and Rita catch the fire bombing of a car outside an apartment building. The owner of the car and his sister are not cooperative at all about what happened. They both seem to know who might have done it but they don't say much. They give up the name of a homeless guy the detectives will check out but throw away Connie's card when she hands it over. Later they find out the homeless guy doesn't exist.

A short time after that there's word of a stabbing across the street from the firebombing. The stabbing victim, Joe Whittaker, says some guy in a mask burst through his door and stabbed him. Joe has also been beat up recently but tells Connie and Rita that it happened a week ago. They don't believe him, and they don't believe that he knows nothing about who stabbed him.

Just as soon as they get back to the squad, Tony sends them out again for a shooting in the same neighborhood. They show up and find it's the owner of the car and his sister again. Some unknown person has opened fire on their front door. One of the stray bullets has injured their grandmother. Connie and Rita have had it by this time and drag both of them down to the station house to try to force them into talking.

Raymond has a warrant and so they threaten to toss him in jail if he doesn't talk. Raymond finally tells them he's got a dispute going with Whittaker. His sister came home after being out all night. Raymond's supposed to be watching her while their father is out of town and wants to know where she's been. She told him Whittaker tried to rape her.

Raymond then went over and beat on Joe for a while who returned the favor with the fire bombing of Raymond's car. Raymond then stabbed Whittaker who later came over and shot through Raymond's door.

Raymond's sister has a different story, though. She tells another tale to Connie and Rita who unravel it pretty quickly. The little sister was out with her boyfriend and was afraid to tell her brother, so she made up the lie about Whittaker. She picked Whittaker because her family had an ongoing dispute with him when he lived next door to them about his stinky cigar smoke. Connie and Rita think they've got it all sorted out until the sister tells them she's worried that her dad is going to do something bad. Seems Raymond called and told him about the shooting and he's on his way back into town. She thinks he'll kill Whittaker.

She's right. When Connie and Rita get to Whittaker's apartment, they find him standing in his living room with his pants around his ankles and a knife aimed at his crotch. Dad is standing there too with a gun pointed at Whittaker telling him to cut off his own balls. Connie and Rita draw down on them and do their best to talk the dad out of killing Whittaker. After several tense moments, they convince the dad that his daughter lied. The dad demands Whittaker apologize for the cigar smoke, which Whittaker does, and all is right in their world again.

BALDWIN & VAL:

Valerie stops by the squad to see Baldwin and ask him for a favor. Her grandmother has apparently been taken by a telephone scam artist. Valerie told her she thought the thing was a scam and grandmama got really mad about it and told Valerie if she kept saying that she'd never speak to Valerie again. Valerie wants Baldwin to talk to her on the Q.T. and he agrees. As she's writing down the address, he compliments her on the way she looks. She responds well.

Lovely little grandma Estelle Heywood lets Baldwin into her apartment when he says he's a cop there investigating telephone scam artists. She denies at first that she's been called by anyone then asks him about the 15th. She wants to know if he knows Valerie. He says he doesn't. She seems to believe him but before she can ask anymore questions he brings up the lottery scam.

She hears him and tells him she's given the people five-thousand dollars already. He asks if he can look at her phone records and she consents.

He finds 15 calls to gramma's apartment from one of her neighbors and brings the guy in to talk. He's a smallish, roundish white guy who seems scared of Baldwin and threatens to sue before Baldwin even opens his mouth. He denies knowing Mrs. Heywood and denies calling her. Baldwin brings up the lottery and he denies that, too. Baldwin tells him flat out to give the money back or face the wrath of Mrs. Heywood's granddaughter who is a Manhattan DA. DA? the guy asks. Then he says he has only half the money left but will give it back.

Later, Valerie stops by to thank Baldwin. He spends a few minutes convincing her not to say anything more to her grandmother. She agrees, then asks him if he's free for dinner sometime. He says he is, and she says she'll call him.

ANDY & CONNIE:

Andy, Connie, Theo and Stilla are at Chez Sipowicz for a rousing game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Theo wins what likely is the 10th round in a row and wants to play another. Andy has him hop up on his lap instead for a little chat.

Andy then tells Theo that he and Connie have been thinking how nice it would be if all four of them lived together in Connie's house. Theo doesn't like this one bit and says so. Andy pushes on telling Theo how nice it will be to have a little sister. Theo still objects and says he likes his room and doesn't want to leave. The more Andy talks the more upset Theo gets until he jumps off Andy's lap, shouts that he doesn't want to go and runs off to his room.

Andy tells Connie it may take a few days. They sit quietly together while Stilla looks happily on.

THE CLARKS:

After his brutal day at work, John goes to see his dad and maybe talk things over. He finds him at his usual bar haunting his usual bar stool. He's half trashed and quoting the Godfather.

John wants to believe things are OK and tells his dad about the case. His father is supportive but it's obvious how drunk he is. When he gets up to go to the bathroom, John questions the bartender and finds out his dad is there every night getting trashed.

TONY & ANGE:

Tony starts the day unusually early and is in the squad room all alone when Angela walks in with some coffee. He's surprised to see her. She tells him she does need something after all. Disturbed, he asks what. She stands up, puts one foot on a chair to reveal her thigh high stockings and tells him she needs him to investigate a scratch on the back of her leg.

She suggests they find a more private place to do this and Tony takes her into the observation room. She slams him up against the two-way mirror, tells him to "freeze" and "assume the position," and then unbuckles his gun belt and drops it to the floor. She then slides down his body and unzips his pants. Tony leans back onto the mirror and as a look of total bliss comes over his face, we can see the cleaning man polishing the floor of the pokey room on the other side of the mirror.

That evening, Tony is at Angela's very nicely appointed apartment. She's served him up some dinner and he's nearly shocked at how good it is. Apparently, she wasn't all that domestic during her days as his drug-addicted wife. They discuss how much fun they're having being together again. Tony suggests they take it slow.

REVIEW

COP MURDER:

I think this is the beginning of a fun arc that may, if we're lucky, wrap into the John Clark, Sr. story. The pace of this one was terrific, and it was great to see a few of our usual uniforms back and involved. Laughlin's threat to make sure everyone knows what Andy and John ought to stir up some good stuff.

The only hitch with this one was that while Ed's lack of responsibility and inability to think of anyone but himself led to Rahl still being on the street to kill Heather, Greg once again came off looking like less than an astute cop.

The scene with Rahl and Andy was great all around. Both actors were completely involved and it came off creepy and intense. Great stuff. I really can't wait to see how this continues. Hope the conflict with the uniforms is just as intense in future episodes.

RUN AROUND:

I liked this one too. What made this interesting was how hurried the detectives were. It seems to me that real life cops get this kind of run around a lot. It gives you an appreciation for the frustration cops must feel a lot of the time when people won't cooperate but they have to investigate anyway. Then they find out all the hell of the day was created by a teenage lie. Connie giving the girl shit about going home during her interview was a great moment: a fun line delivered really well.

And the ending wasn't too shabby either. It had an element of humor shoved right up next to the terror. That's a hard combination of things to convey but it came off really well here. The guest actors in this story were really topnotch.

BALDWIN AND VAL:

Well, what do we have here? Garcelle playing a whole person! It's working, too, at least for now. Gone is the pretense; I no longer get the feeling that she's trying to be the 21st century version of Joyce Davenport. Even her tiny little lines regarding cases are much more relaxed and human.

There's the chance that she seems so much better because we're just coming off the horrific scenes with Maya and because when we see Valerie it's not for more than two minutes, but I'm willing to give this another go. I am not ready to see weeks on end of this relationship, but as long as Valerie remains this accessible, I'm all for a little of it. It certainly makes Baldwin and Valerie a much more attractive couple this way. It's important to like the characters so you can root for them to be happy. I've been liking Valerie this season, so yeah, let's see where this one goes.

And I loved her grandmother. She gets the best guest actor of the week award. I do want to see a two-second scene someday where she meets Baldwin as Valerie's squeeze and realizes she got scammed, albeit in a good way, by her own grandkid.

ANDY & CONNIE:

I feel like Theo. I love Andy, always have. I really, really like Connie and think she's totally cool. The baby is just as cute as a button! But do we want to move in with them? NO! All Theo and I know is that once a week or so Connie comes over and makes us happy with those fun things she does (Theo likes the games; I like it when she yells at people). We know that Connie and Andy spend time together and have sleep overs and stuff like that, but we don't really get what it's all about. We know we didn't see much of Connie when the baby was born (Theo missed the games; I missed her yelling at people and instead calling her babysitter every ten seconds). We know we like the baby. Theo liked holding her and I think she's just about as adorable as a baby can be, but giving up our rooms to move in with them? I don't want to go either!

And, like Theo, I don't much like the hammer and nail approach to the whole issue. He's being shoehorned into this by Andy and Connie; I'm feeling it from the writers. They've given us no context for this thing. To Theo, it's not a marriage and he's not calling Connie Mom, yet Andy mentioned the baby would be his little sister. To me, I haven't seen one whit of chemistry between Andy and Connie since they double-teamed a suspect a season or so back and only one moment of tenderness that seemed reciprocal: the one where Connie came over after Andy got taken hostage. If this relationship is going to be foisted upon us (clearly, it is), how about fleshing it out a little bit? Theo and I need a little more depth here or else we're going to stay in our rooms for a really long time and not feed the sishes or anything. (Wouldn't it be cool if that worked?)

THE CLARKS:

Two minutes with Spano and MPG are like 10 minutes with anyone else. Talk about chemistry. There just isn't a scene these guys do that's wrong.

This scene was clearly a set up to something else, and that's cool in and of itself. It's two minutes well spent because it makes me want to see more. I'm thinking it'll be good: Johnny's in the soup with the uniforms, his Dad may be an IAB fink (why else is he drinking and waxing sentimental about how it's always a tough call when other cops are involved, son?) and I think this is going to blossom into something really cool. My only hope is that when it's all over (which I hope is never) Spano is still around to play with the company every week or so. He's the best.

TONY AND ANGELA:

Let me cut to the chase here: the opening scene sucked, pun intended but not meant to diminish the original meaning.

I cannot believe the same people who put that great scene with the Clarks together and that great scene with Andy and Rahl together are also doing stuff like this. It's as if they took a scene from Beverly Hills 90210 or something equally cheeseball and inserted it into our usually cool, smooth show without even kissing us first. I mean, "Freeze, detective...assume the position..." Oh. My. God.

Two things:

1) It seems to me that Tony, the coolly intense and serious fellow that he has shown himself to be, would never fall for a chick like that. And he'd never in a zillion years take her into the observation room at 7am for a blow job because he's far too smooth, smart and in control to be that disrespectful of his own squad room. People who work there might use that space in such a way (Bobby and Diane did it in the locker room), but not the boss we're supposed to respect. So to me, the writing of this one was way off the mark.

2) I think this actress playing Tony's wife has it all wrong. These things might have worked a little bit if she were playing it sexy rather than playing it like someone who's trying too hard to be sexy.

Yes, we want to see Tony's life. No, we don't mind a few smoldering scenes with Esai Morales. But are there other, more convincing ways to achieve these goals? Oh, hell yes. How about making her attractive, for starters, not just by changing her look (the clothes are just beyond hideous), but by changing her manner. This girl couldn't sell sexy to a drunken chain gang. Second, we could have these little interludes taking place outside the office where they belong so that there's less chance of the audience losing respect for Tony's authority. (That's what makes him believable to us as boss.)

I think she should be so irresistible that we totally understand why Tony falls for her. I'm no guy, but my guess is that beige thigh highs under an 80s reject polyester skirt isn't doing it. As I said last week, and as many of you also thought, this probably isn't going to end well. You can see it a mile away: she's still doing drugs, and she'll end up in jail or dead. And I think I know that because the actress knows it and is telegraphing it in her every movement and word. Too bad. It might have been really interesting had there been some sizzle and some mystery.

I feel sorry for Esai. I've seen him act some amazing roles (La Bamba and Mi Familia to name two), and I feel like he must be in pain doing these scenes.

QUICK HITS:

*Overall great pacing in this episode. It moved, and speed is good. There were so many stories going on and we got them all cleanly and quickly. Great transitions and streamlined writing. I hope everyone stuck around after the opening scene to see it.

*Great how they were out of the house a lot this week.

*Someone do the math: Shannon has two-year-old twins. The same Shannon who wanted a date with Danny's sister how long ago?

*Another math question: if Tony lives in Brooklyn and works at the 15th and went to work early and his ex went to his house and missed him then went to the 15th to catch him there before anyone else got in, what time did Tony have to arrive at work? New Yorkers can factor in traffic and/or subway speed.

*I'd have figured Tony for the kind of guy who would be embarrassed by getting flowers at his office.

*The belt loop thing was funny. Especially since Dennis delivered the line without any garnishes. He just said it like he'd tell anyone something like that.

*What was Junior's brooch all about? I couldn't see it very well.

*This bears repeating since it struck me so strongly tonight: Austin Majors could be the real-life brother of Michael Deluise. It's uncanny how much they look alike. Theo is a dead ringer for the dearly departed Andy J. That's some lucky casting!

*Speaking of cute: little Stilla is a doll. What a totally beautiful baby! Too bad her parents call her only "the baby." (OK, so they really have named her. I have it on good authority that the baby's name was cut from the show last week in the course of the usual editing. In other words, they weren't sitting around plotting to keep the child nameless; they just cut a part out that happened to contain her name. I know what it is, but I feel honor bound to stick with Stilla for now.

*I thought Greg looked mighty handsome in his solo interview with Rahl. He needs a woman!

LINES OF THE WEEK:

John describing the dead girl to Andy: "Strange wound, looks like she got bit by a vampire."
Andy: "Seeing how that's impossible, why don't you tell me what we're looking at."

Andy explaining Theo to Connie: "Resisting change is a strong Sipowicz trait."

NEXT WEEK:

Things heat up between the uniforms and the detectives and things start to go south in a whole *new* way with Tony and Angela.

Stay well -- Amanda Wilson