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

Episode 4, Season 6

"Brothers Keepers" 11/17/98

Teleplay by Doug Palau

Story by Steven Bochco, David Milch & Bill Clark

Directed by Donna Deitch


How does one television show consistently get the best writers, directors and producers in the business?



HEART IN TATTERS: Diane is engaged in a chilling dream. She walks into the bathroom in her apartment and hears the shower running. She calls to Bobby, who creepily replies, "No, Ramone!" She tries to appreciate the joke. He appears from behind the shower curtain standing stick-straight and looking very....stiff. He speaks to her with no emotion; a strange disembodied voice. He tells her repeatedly "I'm doing as well as can be expected." She asks if she can join him in the shower. He tells her the doctors wouldn't like that. She reassures him that she loves him, and he says that in some things, he's on his own. He pulls the curtain closed. She nods, and looks away briefly. When she looks back, he is pressed against the clear plastic just like a body in the morgue. She awakens, rattled.

 In roll call, the word goes out, via Fancy, that Bobby is in need of a heart transplant, and the officers to are get the wheels in motion if they encounter anyone dying who also fits the criteria for a transplant.

 At the hospital, we find Simone doing much, much worse, and Diane struggling to keep herself together. The man in the room next to Bobby dies, and Diane is totally shaken by this. The heart transplant specialist arrives at this moment, too cool. He begins to speak to them in medicalese. Diane works hard to make sense of it--the doctor is saying that a temporary implant wouldn't do much good unless the machine Bobby is currently on begins to "chew up" his body. This frightens Diane, and the doctor backs off a bit. Bobby is too out of it to really understand what he's saying, but has the wherewithal to tell Dr. Swann that he can skip the gory details and just do what he needs to do. This doctor's bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired, but we do learn that Bobby has now moved up to third on the transplant list. The doctor leaves.Bobby is breathing with great difficulty. Diane is terrified.

Later, Bobby has another dream about Patsy and the pigeons. He's back on his roof and he's thanking Patsy for taking care of the birds. Patsy tells him that the birds, and the other things in his life, are just there for a time. Bobby wants to know if he can come back when he's better. Patsy tells him he should know better than to ask that. Bobby tells him, "I'm coming back!" Pasty says happily, "That's the proper tone!"  

Jill stops by the hospital. Diane shares concern over Dr. Swann and wishes she could see Dr. Carreras again. She tells Jill there's no need to stay and that she'd rather be alone. Dr. Carreras shows up, and Diane is more hopeful now. She tells Jill that it's a prayer answered to see Dr. Carreras because "he doesn't talk down to us." She tells Carreras this too, and Carreras is clearly moved by Diane's reaction to him. He's also very concerned about Bobby. Jill leaves, crying.

By the end of the day, news comes that a Midtown uniform named Tim Gilliam has been shot in the head by a robbery suspect. They aren't asking for blood, and everyone in the 1-5 knows this is Bobby's chance. Fancy goes to the hospital to see Gilliam's wife, a young woman who has let her husband make all the important decisions in their lives. Fancy calmly and bravely tells her about Bobby. She says Tim never signed a donor card, and that he'd have to make the decision himself. They talk awhile more about Bobby. Fancy tells her he's a good cop, a man Tim would have admired. And he tells her that Bobby is a newlywed. Finally, Art tells the young woman that she's going to have to make this decision for her husband, and she consents to the transplant.

 Dr. Swann arrives in Bobby's hospital room to break the news, which he does quickly. In a matter of minutes, the orderlies are readying Bobby for the trip to OR where the surgery will begin. He asks them if they'll hold off giving him medication that will make him dopey. He says, "I want to keep my eyes open, so I can see my girl." And he and Diane hold each other's gaze while the orderlies swirl around them.

LADY IN TATTERS: Andy, Greg and James investigate the mutilation murder of an old woman. She's found with her head smashed in and her hands and feet cut off. They look at her two sons. Albert is an electronics store owner, and when told of his mother's horrific death displays no emotion. He couldn't care less. Andy is still simmering from his outbursts the day before (last week's ep) but he controls himself and concludes, unlike the others, that despite Albert's total lack of concern for the woman, he is not the killer. It's just Andy's instinct.

 Stanley, the other brother, is a sick junkie. Picked up, he is too confused to have killed his mother. He's so drunk when Andy is talking to him, that he pukes all over Andy's shirt. This sets Andy off, and he runs into the locker room, ripping off his shirt and frantically trying to clean off his body. The pressure of Bobby's illness is proving too much for him. In his frenzy, he finally breaks down and sobs, "Please don't let him die."

Later, Arnold returns and clocks Andy in the hallway, afraid that Andy is setting up Stanley. Andy literally throws Arnold into another room and they duke it out a bit. Andy's gotten in a few great slams when Medavoy knocks on the door. He's there to help Dolores, who is terrified of Andy, deliver the message that the ME found a .25 slug in the woman's head and another message that Arnold owns a .25. Andy goes back at Arnold with this information, and Arnold tells Andy that his mother killed herself. He says she called him on the phone first, and told him she was going to do it, and that she was going to wait until he came to stop her, so he would hear the gunshot. Through this story, he makes it clear that his mother, a drunk, abused him regularly and that he cut off her hands and feet and smashed in her skull during a rage at her final act of abuse.

Andy leaves this broken man, and goes to find out more about Bobby. Jill has returned to the squad, visibly shaken. The news is not good: Bobby is failing. Everyone is silent and sitting alone at their desks. Andy is bustling around, wanting to do something, unable to do anything. He returns to the room where he left Arnold and opens the door. He is shocked by the sight of Arnold hanging by his belt from the light fixture, his body jerking in the last throes of life. Andy slams the door and breaks into a sweat and he leans against it. His mind is racing. Medavoy walks up to ask what Arnold said. Andy tries to put Medavoy off, telling him he's not sure what he's going to do with Arnold. Medavoy asks if Andy is just letting him break furniture in the room. Finally, Andy's conscience gets to him and he pushes back through the door. Greg sees the hanging man, who is still jerking on the belt, and they both rush to take him down. Andy is pumping the man's chest saying, "I could have helped him, I could have helped him." Greg assures Andy that he is helping, but Andy corrects Greg: "I mean I could have helped Simone."

When the paramedics are taking Arnold out, alive, the call comes to the 1-5 about Officer Gilliam. Later, they are gathered when Fancy calls to relay the news that Gilliam's wife has consented to the transplant. They are torn--seeing one officer die is not easy for them, but they are all happy Bobby is getting a heart. Medavoy is the first to express this sentiment.


HEART IN TATTERS: How delicious that we STILL don't know if Bobby will live or die.

Jimmy Smits--he deserves every Emmy he was ever nominated for. How DOES he wheeze like that? (Years of smoking, probably!) And his voice--he takes it up a few octaves, cracks it from time to time, and with this labored breathing, convinces us all that it is Smits, not Simone, who is near death.

More credit to Jimmy: Seeing him in the dream sequences--the one with Patsy where he's perfectly normal and the one with Diane where he's half-dead--just drives the point home further. The contrast in these three performances is truly, truly remarkable. In one episode, such awesome, incredible range. Who else could pull that off? There's no one else in this cast THAT good, not that we've seen anyway. Dennis probably comes close, but Jimmy's the man.

It just breaks my heart, yeah heart, that Smits didn't have this much to do in most of his four years on Blue. I understand why, but this episode is evidence that we've been missing some really incredible talent by having Jimmy cornered into the role of Andy's good-guy...Andy's heart, really.

What of the dream with Patsy? I've been trying to sort out the significance of the birds, and I'm left with two ideas. They represent Bobby's body, maybe. Patsy says Bobby just can't take care of the birds anymore, and Bobby says he's got his wife and his job still. Patsy reminds him that all of these things are in his life just for a period time. And that makes me wonder if the birds don't represent Bobby's hopes for the future, rather than his body or health. Or maybe it's all of those things--after all, they fly away from us all one day, no matter how well we care for them. The significant thing here, I think, is that Bobby ends it with hope. He ended his dream last week in the same way. He told Andy last week that he wasn't throwing in any towels, and this week, he told Patsy he's coming back. So, Bobby is still fighting. And he's still taking care of Diane (his suggestion that she turn on the TV, probably to distract herself from watching him struggle), and his hopeful tone when he wanted to look at her as long as he could for what might be the last time.

(I don't think it'll be the last time, by the way, because they just can't end this show without one more Bobby and Andy moment, can they?? )

More amazing stuff from Kim Delaney, as well. And Andrea Thompson sure made the most of a little bit. Was glad to see Jill's heart breaking along with everyone else's. As usual, fine guest actor work. Did you want to punch Dr. Swann? Did you want to hug Dr. Carreras?

I loved the scenes with Art at Bellevue with Mrs. Gilliam. Wordless at first, as she was the center of the shot and he moved around outside her glass enclosed room talking to doctors and cops. He entered quietly, made himself comfortable, made her comfortable, and said just the right things to get the transplant approved.

LADY IN TATTERS: This story, woven so perfectly with the primary story, held many Bochco punches, the first delivered by Arnold, right to Andy's jaw, followed by the horrific sight of Arnold jerking on that belt, followed by Andy's admission that he was willing to let Arnold die in order to save Simone. This is the Steven B. who's brought us so many incredible visuals over the years. Rare is the TV show these days that can deliver one gasp-producing moment in a season, let alone two or three in one episode.

Another fine scene, Barclay-like in its stillness, was when Andy walked into the squad room to find out what Jill had to say about Bobby. Did you notice how quiet it was? I'm sure you noticed that everyone was alone, at his or her desk, not saying a thing. Andy was the bull in the china shop that he always is, desperate to do something. Very much in keeping with Andy's character to be clanging and banging around when everyone else would just rather keep their terrors to themselves.

Andy's clean up scene was good, but left me a little out of sorts. In all honesty, I'm not too sure just what it was that pushed him over the edge into his Bobby angst. I usually associate the frantic need to be clean with those who have been defiled in some more serious manner. Perhaps Andy was symbolically washing off the survivor guilt he expressed at the end of last week's episode.

Fine work by Wade Andrew Williams (Arnold) matching Dennis' Sipowicz anger, and then so finely becoming the child Arnold's mother abused. Andy seemed more in control this time around. Several times he could have become violent, but only did when Arnold threw the first punches.


Lines of the Week:

(Have a few candidates)

REMINDER: Next week's episode is 90 minutes. It starts at 9:30pm, EST, so prep your VCRs and put off all your noxious chores. In case you've been in a cave for a few months, it's Jimmy Smits' last regular episode, and you won't want to miss it.

 Let me know what you think!