Season 10 Episode 13
Teleplay by Greg Plageman
Story by Bill Clark & Greg Plageman
Directed by Donna Deitch
Outstanding. Here's a summary, which I had the most fun writing (and hope you enjoy reading even if you saw the show). A review follows that.
Andy, meanwhile, is working every junkie and dealer on the street. He's got one named Gordo face first up against a brick wall while he goes through Gordo's pockets. Gordo swears unconvincingly that he's given up dealing smack.
Andy begins to kick at Gordo's right leg, producing a hollow sound. Gordo swears there are no drugs inside it. Andy checks anyway, ripping off the prosthesis and dumping out a small package of heroin. Gordo says it's for medicinal purposes which prompts Andy to pin him back against the wall by slamming his fake leg against his throat with one hand; the other hand is busy pouring the heroin out onto the pavement while Andy instructs Gordo to tell everyone that Clark has been set up and that Andy will make it worthwhile for someone to come forward with information. He adds that Gordo will pay the price if anyone holds out.
The rest of the squad is pretty much helpless as Andy continues his Charles Bronson act all day. He, like John, is convinced enough that they need to look at Laughlin for setting John up. And their theory is proven right early on when Andy's investigation into some of Laughlin's suspicious stops turns up a dealer named Ignacio.
As Andy backs Ignacio into a darkened alley and bats a bottle of booze out his hand, Ignacio spills it that Laughlin said he was looking to take someone down for heroin and needed help. Iggy refused to help, though, because he didn't trust Laughlin. Andy has the confirmation he needs about Laughlin. Now all that's left is finding a way to catch him.
Clark Senior wants to help. He shows up to talk to Andy and begs to be allowed to do something. He's eaten up by guilt thinking the cop who set up his son did it because he thought Junior turned him into IAB for sleeping with the auxiliary cop. (You'll recall that Senior is the one who turned them all in and Junior has so far refused to tell anyone but Andy.) Andy, moved a little by Senior's teary plea, tells him to go talk to John's ex-partner in Narcotics to see if any dealers had it in for him. Senior knows he's being thrown a bone and protests a little but then takes off to do the only thing he can.
Meanwhile, another suspicious stop turns up Carl Pruitt, a druggie, who got pulled over by Laughlin. Greg and Baldwin find out from him that he was let go but he won't tell them why. He admits his car was searched but won't say the cop took anything. Andy walks in on the interview and finds out that Laughlin searched the car while his partner stayed behind in the radio car. All of Laughlin's activity on this score, it seems, he did alone, even if some of it was in sight of his partner.
Andy heads back out on the street later when a call comes in from a friend of Gordo's. On his way out the door, he's accosted by Laughlin who accuses him of being a rat for investigating cops. Andy reminds him he's only investigating one cop: him. Laughlin blows more smoke, chasing Andy down the hall shouting how the drugs are Junior's. Andy ignores him and walks out to meet the informant. All the other uniforms stand and watch silently as this happens and as Laughlin retreats down the hallway afterward, alone.
In a diner, Andy meets up with a puny little squirrel named Mike. Mike's got the shakes, a lot of legal troubles, and a large plate of pork barbecue before him. He tells Andy a cop took him off for drugs a short while ago. He doesn't know the cop's name but could pick out his picture. Andy asks how much dope the cop took. Mike says two ounces and watches Andy's face fall (John's accused of having four). He tries then for another answer, "three...four...you tell me." And then he rushes into a promise that he'll say anything Andy wants. Andy shoves Mike's face into the mess on his plate and walks out.
Back at the house, Baldwin reports he's checked calls made from the druggie Carl Pruitt's cell phone and found one to the station house shortly after he left. The switchboard says at the same time a man called and asked Laughlin was available and wanted to know when his tour ended. Greg and Baldwin go to get Pruitt back.
Before Andy can join them, Clark Senior shows up having indeed done what he does best: get shitfaced. He proves his desperate inadequacy with some information on a cocaine dealer. Andy remninds him that his son went down for heroin and then yanks Senior into the locker room and confronts him about being drunk. Senior tries to deny it, but you can't kid a kidder. Andy points out his slurring words, his old granddad cologne and his bloodshot eyes. Senior asks him point blank if it's his fault for ratting out the uniforms to IAB. Andy answers with silence and Senior buries his face in his hands.
Pruitt is brought into the house and Andy interviews him. He's teary eyed and nervous, convinced he's going to die. Andy surmises that he was muling heroin for a real bad guy when Laughlin pulled him over and took the drugs. Pruitt confirms this and says he knows he's going to die for it. He couldn't call the police and he can't pay the dealer back. The heroin in John's car was in little bags stamped with red crowns and Pruitt confirms that's what Laughlin took off him--four ounces of it. Then Laughlin made him leave. Andy's got a witness--albeit a weak one--and tries to get more. He tells the guy the only way to live is to wear a wire with Laughlin. Pruitt reluctantly agrees and meets Laughlin on the street while Andy, Tony and Martens look on. It's not going to be that easy, however, because Laughlin is on to the game. He tells Pruitt he has no idea what he's talking about, says loud and clear that he doesn't know Pruitt and then ends it by telling Pruitt to tell whoever sent him to kiss his ass. He says this last little bit right into the microphone hidden under Pruitt's shirt.
Andy is stunned by another dead end. Valerie is able to give them a small glimmer of hope by saying Pruitt's testimony may help a little. She does admit, though, that it's really going to come down to John's character.
Andy tries another avenue: a human plea to Laughlin's partner, Shannon. Shannon has been a good cop caught in bad places before, but he's really mad this time. He's angry that he and the others got turned over to IAB and he doesn't believe Clark and Sipowicz didn't do it. Shannon, who clearly knows the whole story and whose face betrayed his unease over it as he watched Laughlin confront Andy earlier, now says he can't help Andy. Andy tells him that's different from not knowing anything. Shannon quickly adds he doesn't know anything either, but it's half-hearted. Andy tries one last time by telling him Laughlin's a bad cop who's going to destroy him. He asks for Shannon's help. Shannon walks away.
In the midst of all this, the squad gets called to the scene of a street shoot out. A guy named DeToro has been busted for gunning a man down. Andy, Greg and Baldwin look under the sheet over the body and find the body of Carl Pruitt with three bullets in his chest. Pruitt refused protective custody and, the nails in his coffin may seal John's fate as well.
With all his efforts ending up bust, Andy goes to see Junior in the Little House. John's looking for hopeful news but hears about Pruitt's death. His only glimpse of a silver lining eclipsed, John asks Andy if he has to go to trial. His arraignment is tomorrow and after that, he waits for trial in the Big House with the real bad guys. He asks Andy for the truth: Will he be able to beat it at trial? Andy doesn't answer.
Terrell tells a similar story but it differs in that he says he was out cold for the whole thing. He says Annalise woke him up. Connie and Rita suspect Terrell knows more about the rape than he's saying. They know Annalise was a virgin and suggest Terrell had a lot more to do with the rape because he was sexually frustrated. Terrell gets angry and denies he was involved, but it seems he's lying about something.
Before they get too convinced it was Terrell, they get word that a girl named Tonya has been raped in the park in a similar fashion. She says she and her boyfriend James were sitting on a bench having cocoa when they were approached. The same thing happened to them, only Tonya tells the detectives that James was not knocked out like Terrell was. James was made to watch the whole thing and the rapist even talked to him the whole time. James, though, reacted like the type narcissistic twisty that is so common in his generation and kept telling Tonya how awful it was for him to watch that. He didn't comfort her, didn't cover her. He left her vowing to kill the guy or, failing that, himself because his girlfriend got raped. As Tonya gave the detectives his phone numbers, she asked them to tell James to go to hell.
Before they find James, they find out the rapist wore a condom. It confuses them since he'd been threatening to give the girls AIDS. They also get word that an ex-con named Will Corbin who was found jerking off in the park last week is being brought in. James will have to wait.
Will comes in with an attitude and a bunch of prison tattoos. He denies he was jerking off in public but admits to not having a steady girlfriend due to his prison time. He says only skanks aren't bothered by that. He was inside for two years for trying to crack open an ATM. He also denies he was in the park but refused to let the cops search his apartment. They take a Polaroid of him and send him on his way.
They finally find James. He went out for revenge and got drunk instead. They bring him in. He tries to act tough but Rita tells him to cut the Charles Bronson act (which I stole for the above portion of the summary...). When Connie tells him he's only confirming what a spineless asshole he is, James finally comes off it. He tells them he was made to watch and that the rapist wanted him to see it all. He even took off his stocking. Connie and Rita are really surprised by that bit of news and ask him to pick him out of a photo array. James is further humbled by the fact that even though he watched the entire thing, he can't ID the man because his glasses fell off and he can't see a thing without them. He meekly offers a voice ID, however.
They go back at Terrell now because they need a visual ID and they know he's lying about being knocked out. It takes a while for them to get him off his lie. Rita convinces him finally by appealing to his enormous ego and telling him to stand up and be the man who can end this. Terrell picks the man out. It's Will.
Will is brought back in to resolve a few mysteries: Why did he wear a condom while threatening to give the women AIDS? Why did he make the men watch? Why did he take off his stocking mask so he could be easily identified?
It comes out in his pathetic story: Too dumb to realize you can't really bust an ATM machine open without plastic explosives or something, Will gets thrown in jail at the tender age of 19. He's got milky white skin, a baby face and long, silky blonde hair. By the time he gets out, his skin is dirtied with tattoos, his face is rough and drawn and his hair has turned to strings and ropes. He's served as bitch for several of his fellow inmates, several times over. His rapes are attempt to get back at those who took his virginity and his pride and left him HIV. He made the men watch to act out retaliation. He wore a condom because he's "not a bad guy," he just wanted to make someone think he was. And he made himself easy to ID because going back to prison this time, he's not 19 anymore.
For my money, the return of Donna Deitch behind the camera was just as much a part of this success as Dennis Franz's incredible work. The cut to Gordo with his face in the wall at the beginning was excellent and the intensity kept going when Sip ripped off Gordo's fake leg and shoved it up against his throat.
Another stunning scene--the best of the show, really, and one of the best ever--was the interview in the alley with Ignacio. Everything worked in that scene: Franz had perfect pitch, guest actor Wil Calderone was not only superbly cast in that role but played it to a T, and the camera following them as Sipowicz backed him into a corner physically and verbally was just outstanding.
I hope no one is out there bellyaching now that having Laughlin be the bad guy is too easy. Because this isn't a whodunit, this is a howcatchem. The show, as always, is not about figuring out who did the bad thing, it's about the police work it takes to catch who did the bad thing. Over the last ten years, It seems we've seen just about every trick in the book four or five or maybe six times (everything from Andy smacking someone to offering them beverages to being their buddies, etc.), but in this one the whole thing seems fresh. I suspect that's because the show ended without Andy getting his man despite his every good effort. He did everything in this episode that's worked for him in the past--save offering someone a Coke, but that was really Simone's bag--and none of it worked tonight. The ending was powerful. It mirrored the beginning (same shot looking down into John's cell) only it was dark and it seemed there was no hope left in the day. Another difference, however, is that while John was with his ineffectual father in the opening scene, he ended the day with his much more powerful father-figure partner. You know Andy's going to work it out--he has to--but it's fun to finally watch him struggle.
It's human nature to try to predict the outcome; the thing that keeps us coming back is the chance that our predictions will be wrong. I will predict it this way: Shannon has a change of heart and tells the truth but somehow Laughlin dies before Shannon has to step and rat him out in front of too many people. Maybe I'm wrong, hope I am, will be watching to find out.
A note about Joe Spano: he's incredible. He was desperate, mad, pleading and heartbroken all at the same time. Did I mention he's also gotten kinda sexy in his silver years? (Did I write that outloud?)
Then there's the incredible stupidity of this guy who can now feel all these horrible emotions being raped brought about but who *still* can't think past himself enough to figure out that he's inflicting the same horrible pain on innocent victims.
Or, maybe I think too much....
*Now here's some history someone remembered: All the "Upstairs Downstairs" tension between the uniforms and the detectives was thrown way off in that scene between Sip and Laughlin in the downstairs hallway. Laughlin is wagging his finger at Andy like he's done so many times before, only this time, he's doing it alone. What made it even more eerie is that he didn't even realize it. Very cool.
*So why wasn't Rita a little more edgy this week, I wonder? Remember when Connie was having a big bad day because her sister was in so much trouble? She was, like Andy so often is, ready to rip someone's face off. Rita, however, goes through her day with her BF in jail like nothing's wrong at all. This is the same Rita who was so obsessed with her image when she was afraid someone would think her BF was screwing a hooker. Um, Rita? Being a dope dealer is a lot more serious. So, you must have missed that class at the academy, then, right?
*No, I don't know if Mike was really eating pork barbecue. I only wrote that because it looked like pork barbecue and pork barbecue sounds funny. (Say it five times outloud if you don't believe me. Go on.)
*I missed MPG this week. He must have been home taking down the Christmas decorations and playing tag with the kids because it couldn't have taken him more than one day to shoot his scenes. He was so good in his 3 or 4 minutes, though, wasn't he? He looked truly wrung out.
*OK, back to Greg for a second, but only so I can take a moment to say I fear for Baldwin's future now and Tony's as well. Maybe Esai really is leaving the show, and with scenes like he had this week, who could blame him? To paraphrase: Andy: "I'm working on this case single-handedly boss, and I'm on my white horse here and I have the big sword and I don't need any help and frankly, I don't need to even fill you in on details. Just trust me, I'm handling the future of one of your detectives just fine and you don't need to know about it." Tony: "Okey dokey, then." Wha?? And Baldwin, who used to have power in every single show is tonight actually getting nervous when Andy enters the room and acts it out by trying to seem tougher with Pruitt. Since when did Baldwin ever have to worry about not being tough enough?? I get it that Andy was the showcase tonight, but must we emasculate everyone else in order to make that work? I think not. Ok, that's my big disappointment tonight. I'll shut up (for) now.
Laurence Mason (Gordo of the Fake Leg): He was on Blue in 1997. He's also done L&O, Judging Amy, JAG and The District.
Kymberly Newberry (Camille, the mom): She's had a huge career but some highlights are two previous eps of Blue and roles in the movies American President, Traffic and Live From Baghdad.
Steven Kozlowski (Wil the rapist): He's done CSI and The Practice and the movies Southie and Good Will Hunting. At the premiere of Southie, he got arrested for failure to pay child support.
Jimmi Simpson (Mike): He was Chris on 24.
Rounding out the cast: Maya Goodwin as Annalise Grayson, Wil Calderon as Ignacio Delgado, Christian Belnavis as Terrell Sheppard, Christopher Gartin as Carl Pruitt, Natasha Pearce as Tanya Westbrok and Davis Henry as James Lomax.
PREVIOUSLY ON NYPD BLUE: Joe Spano as John Clark, Sr., Anthony Mangano as Laughlin, Scott Allan Campbell as Martens, James McBride as Shannon, Patrick Robert Smith as Uniform.
Will explaining his HIV-postive-rapist self: "I wore a rubber; I'm not a bad guy."
Have a great week, yous!