NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.

"The Brothers Grim"
Season 11, Episode 18
4/13/04
Teleplay by Keith Eisner
Story by Bill Clark & Keith Eisner
Directed by Rick Wallace

We've got a new arc to play with! Hatcher who? First a summary, because I love you even when you don't set your damn VCR. Then a review, because I love to write whether you set your damn VCR or not. Here we go:

SUMMARY

RE-PEELER

Valerie informs Andy an 18-year-old case of his involving the rape and murder of 12-year-old Cindy Clifton is being challenged. The witness in the case, Earl, is dying of AIDS and has recanted his old story that the perp, Leonard Peeler, confessed in jail. Peeler got a new DNA test and it came up negative.

Andy's convinced it was a good case and that Peeler is the right guy. He thinks maybe there was an accomplice. Peeler's alibi didn't pan out and he'd been seen with the girl an hour before the assault.  Andy goes to see Joe, his partner at the time. Andy was a young pup in the detective bureau (though in his 30s in the 80s) with his brand new shield, and this was his first homicide. Joe was the dinosaur with the great reputation back then. But Joe won't help. He refuses to believe anything was wrong, and he's pissed at Andy for bringing it all up.

Andy goes to see Earl in the prison hospital and hears a very solid story about how and why Earl made the story up and why he's recanting on his death bed. Still, Andy has the alibi and the fact that Leonard was with the girl. He still thinks there may have been a second man involved.

It's this theory Valerie tries to push at the hearing on the defense's motion to vacate the sentence. She asks the judge for time to investigate; he gives her three days.

After the hearing, Cindy's parents come to see Andy at the squad. They want to know if he arrested the wrong man, if Peeler will be let out, who really did this. Andy can't answer any of those questions. He goes to see Peeler who tells him without question that he did not do the crime. He's thrilled with the DNA evidence and is convinced it will free him. He says he knows nothing about the crime, is hiding nothing, and never did know anything about it.

Later that night, Andy exits his apartment building to meet Junior. He didn't want to talk in front of Connie and kids. He's sweating and his hands are shaking as he tells John he's now almost certain that he did put the wrong man away 18 years ago. He can't believe what he's saying; the case was wrong, Peeler is innocent and spent 18 years locked up for a crime he did not do.

Junior reminds Andy he still has evidence against Peeler, but Andy explains that one of those things was the time line Peeler gave about when he left the bar he'd been in that day. The time he gave was one Joe forced on him, and it turned out to conflict with what witnesses later said, so it made Peeler look like a liar when he really wasn't.

Andy is deeply rattled by this and tells Junior he's going to talk a walk. Junior asks if he should worry. Andy says there's no need, and he walks off past the laundry.

DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION

Gary Keller is found dead in an alley with an empty wallet. Gary's brother, Hugh, and his Mom come into the station and tell the cops Gary was a great guy leading a clean life in some clean Connecticut town. He'd come into The City to get his younger brother, Eric, off drugs and on the straight and narrow. It's clear Hugh hates Eric and that Mom loves him and will make any excuse for him. The two are feuding constantly. A check with Gary's wife in the Nutmeg State confirms the Keller family makes the Manson Family look like the TV Nelsons.

A check on Eric's background turns up a lot of information Mom and Hugh left out: Eric is wanted in Florida for check kiting. Mom bailed him out for ten grand, but he skipped. The cops get a lead on Eric's perch and find a bail bondsman named Roy sitting there. Andy pegs Roy as suspicious immediately and shakes him down. Roy admits he's actually seen Eric. He was at a flea bag hotel that morning. Roy pretended to be housekeeping and saw Gary open the door. Roy tried to rush Eric, who was exiting out a window and down the fire escape, and knocked Gary over. He followed Eric out the window but lost him. He swears Gary was alive when he left. He also says Hugh is the one who told him how to find Eric.

Greg and Baldwin go after Hugh, meanwhile, and ask him why he left out all the colorful information about Eric. Hugh says he didn't want his mother to know he knew, and didn't want her to know he and Gary were trying to get Eric to straighten up. Hugh is a supreme asshole.

Uniforms find Eric in a bar and bring him in. He's stoned and generally calm about the whole thing, just a happy-go-unlucky junkie. He's as upset about Gary's death as the booze and drugs will let him be. He explains that he hates Hugh but loved Gary. He says as soon as they heard someone say "housekeeping" on the other side of the door, he took off out the window while Gary promised to block whoever it was. Flea bags don't have housekeeping, naturally, and he and Gary were smarter than Roy on that score. He says he made it out the window and no one followed. He has no idea how Gary ended up dead in the nearby alley.

The cops have an idea, though, and they bring Roy back in. He's still playing at being a cop and on their level, but Baldwin and Junior are having none of it. They present him with new evidence: Gary was found with stun gun wounds. Roy admits he carries one and says he zapped Gary a time or two. Then Junior tells him there were five wounds, and that Gary was able to stumble as far as his heart would let him before it seized up and he collapsed in the alley cracking his head open.

Roy asks if he's going to jail. Baldwin tells him in so many words five hits with the stun gun makes him a cowboy-wannabe and that, yes, he's going to jail. He says Hugh is the one who told him to expect violence and that if Hugh hadn't done that, he'd never have acted in such a way. Eager to get something on Hugh, they tell him to write that down.

BABY GONE, DETECTIVE FOUND

The squad is introduced to a new detective, Kelly Ronson. She's a doe-eyed slip of thing who's studying law at night but Eddie swears she's a good detective. She comes from Brooklyn North Narcotics.

Partnered with Rita, they get to work when a woman named Alissa shows up to say her baby is missing. How long? A year, maybe three.

Alissa's girl Zoe was one when Alissa went away for three years. She left the baby with her friend Carla. Now that she's out and off the drugs, she wants Zoe back. She can't find Carla, however, and says Carla never contacted her in prison or answered her letters.

Rita and Kelly find her, but there's no child with her. It looks, in fact, as if she's lost custody of her own kids. She tells the cops Alissa left the child with her for what she said would be two hours. In the space of those two hours, she got arrested and never came back. Carla gave the child to Alissa's cousin Jason. Carla tells them she tried several times to reach Alissa about the baby, but Alissa kept putting her off and finally stopped talking to her.

Turns out Jason is also locked up, but before he went in, he gave the kid to his hooker-junkie friend Tonya.

Rita and Kelly bring Alissa back in to explain the discrepancy between her story and Carla's. She's drunk. She tells them Carla is lying. She gets very riled up, however, when they tell her Social Services has called because she's been hassling them about her ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) check. She nearly cries when she hears they've told Social Services they're trying to find the child. Alissa explains that means she won't get her money. They nearly crawl down her throat at this, asking if it's a welfare scam. She's indignant.

Tonya comes in next, jittery and snuffling her nose and swearing she's not a coke head. Rita threatens to lock her up until she gets real crazy and she spills that she did have the baby for a while, but that she couldn't stay clean. She couldn't handle the kid and her screaming all the time and she didn't know what to do. It looks like she killed the baby until it pops out that she dropped the infant off at a soup kitchen where a woman named Gloria promised to help.

They track down Gloria and arrive at her house to find a little girl playing happily in the living room. Gloria senses right away that her house of cards is about to come tumbling down. She sends "Emily" out of the room. She tells Rita and Kelly the same story Tonya did, but she adds that she and her husband love the girl. They couldn't have any of their own, and Emily was a Godsend. He's a CPA, she stays home, Emily is a happy, happy child and has been for the last two years.

Back at the station, Rita and Kelly talk again to Alissa. They tell her they have bad news: her child got passed around to several people, ended up in Ohio and died a year ago of pneumonia. Alissa is disappointed. Then the news gets worse: Their boss wants them to arrest her for the child's death since she didn't do anything to provide for her while she was locked up. Alissa is scared. They tell her, though, they'll make a deal with her. If she goes away, never brings any of this up again, they'll let her go. She considers for a moment, and then asks if there's anyway she can get some death benefits or something. They tell her again to drop it, go away. She does. They tell Eddie the baby is still missing.

Eddie tells Kelly at the end of the day not to worry that her first case in the 15th was a bust. Outside the squadroom, Rita apologizes for having Kelly have to participate in a secret-till-death pact on her first day. Kelly doesn't mind. They agree they did the right thing and are glad to be partners.

REVIEW

RE-PEELER

We've got a new arc now, so I guess I'm going to get over the too-short Hatcher arc. I like this one very much. It's just the kind of story I've been whining about: it's a cop story that makes the characters look inside and discover things. This one is furthering Andy's long journey by calling into question for him all the things he and everyone else thinks he's so great at.

It'll be very, very cool if there is some small thing that would turn out to be all Andy's fault. Just a little something to dull the shine and make him a little more the struggling human we've all enjoyed watching all these years. I have my doubts: they could blame it all on Joe or find some other way to mitigate the mistakes, but I'm hoping they leave just enough of it at Andy's feet to make our hero and everyone around him squirm.

The aspect of having everyone around him squirm is important: it's not enough to just have Andy question himself, but we need to deepen the impact by having others question him a little, too. Like Clark. Andy has been riding high on the respect and trust of everyone for so long, I wonder what the dynamic of the squadroom would be if suddenly they all thought of him as a little less than God. I'm also expecting to see a little of Andy's old racist ways come back to haunt him. Maybe someone will suggest he railroaded this guy because he's black. Junior has never seen that side of Andy; how would he react? If Andy's become in any way a replacement Dad for his own cop Dad, what would it do to Junior to see that side of Andy at the same time he's reevaluating Andy's skill?

They've left us doubting Andy's sobriety once again. I have to say how incredibly well Dennis Franz played this final scene. If anyone ever looked in desperate need to tie one on, it was Andy at that moment. The good work from this man goes largely un-commented upon here, and I'm ashamed. He had an Emmy moment in that scene in my opinion. I don't think Andy will drink, though. He's been through far worse and not fallen off the wagon. While I realize people fall off the wagon for a variety of reasons, I don't think the writers are going to make this character get through his wife's murder sober and then slip up off and old case he may or may not have screwed up.

However it goes, I'm looking forward to watching this one unfold.

DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION

The story here was, in my opinion, mostly about Roy and how he wishes he were a real cop but isn't. How that point makes our real cop characters ever more proud of their own skill. There was, however, not nearly enough time spent on that. Roy screwed up so much: he was the most obvious person in the room while he was trying to be sneaky while looking for Eric; he pretended to be housekeeping in a hotel that hasn't been cleaned since the Kennedy administration, and then he went apeshit with his stun gun. He's a tiny little fellow who probably doesn't meet the height requirement for Magic Mountain never mind the police department. But these were things mentioned only briefly in favor of all the twists and turns with the Brothers Grim. The problem here is that the Brothers Grim story didn't do much to shed light on our detectives. No so the next story...

BABY GONE, DETECTIVE FOUND

I loved this story. It hit every single mark. It was very well put together, and I loved the way it ended. Lots to think about here: the story and the new actress. Let's start with the story.

It's the kind of thing we all want to do but are mostly afraid to do: throw out the rule book when the rule book just doesn't work. These cops did a true community service by breaking the rules--breaking the law themselves--and saved a little girl's life. It was brave and bold, and the deeper layer that make it all tick was that these two detectives chose to trust each other in a way they've probably never trusted anyone before. Rita has never connected in this way with another detective, and I can't think off the top of my head if any other detective in the 15th has ever done anything quite like this. It's a scary thing they did, and the ACLU would be all over it.They'd be asking if we want our police officers deciding who should and shouldn't be parents. It's clear in this story that Rita and Kelly made the right decision, but the question of whether cops should make those kinds of decisions is something that can be debated forever. Cops are not allowed to do those kinds of things, even when they're right, so the secret is indeed one they'll need to keep until death.

This story shed a lot of light on who our detectives are, and it was a great way to introduce us to Kelly. Considering the fact that we've never gotten to see this much of the inside of Rita's head, it was a nice introduction to her as well. Good idea to have a little casual conversation between them, too. Kelly explaining her pursuit of a law degree fit right in. Now that they're fast friends with a whopper of a secret between them, they can dish about things like how Tony's doing, why Andy is being such a bastard this week, the messy little Clark affair, why Greg stutters, the rumor that two detectives once did it in the locker room, and PJohn's wardrobe. They might also discuss how difficult it is to be a woman in a detective squad, or how much better that is than being a woman in uniform. There are a lot of possibilities here to add to the realism. The writers are off to a great start with this one.

Now, our new actress: I've never seen her before, so I'm not going to judge her on skill. She seems fine, which is saying that she didn't blow me away in her first show. Charlotte Ross did. So did Mark Paul Gosselaar and Henry Simmons and Jimmy Smits. Our new bombshell didn't have to take off her bra to make a mark, but I don't think that's why this first outing fell a little flat.

It's far too early to really judge--after all, I didn't care for Kim Delaney when she first started out, and Garcelle had to really grow on me--but the fear I have this time is that this may not work the way I think the writers want it to. What I mean is that I didn't see between Jessalyn and Jackie the kind of chemistry I so wanted to see, the kind of chemistry I believe the writers have assumed between Rita and Kelly. The story was there, but the spark between the characters that only actors can create wasn't. The first time Charlotte Ross was with Dennis Franz, sparks flew (they were just partnering up then, no romance) and they created a dynamic team I wanted to watch solve every case every week. The story here was so, so good that I kept hoping I would see a similar, incredible bond of personality. I didn't. I don't know where to lay the blame for that--hell, maybe it's me--but I didn't see what I wanted to see and what I think was actually in that script. Both characters here seem to me to be exactly the same. You could have switched all their lines and it wouldn't have mattered. Their approach, their manner, their personalities were exactly alike. There wasn't any chemistry and there wasn't any tension. Rita is totally straight and serious all the time, so Kelly might be more outgoing, for example. (Compare the different personalities of Diane, Connie, Jill, even Mary.) I'll hope for a better outcome in the future because I've always liked the female detective pairings.

QUICK HITS

*We have a John (two, actually) and now we have a Kelly. What we don't have is a John Kelly. Enjoy it, Caruso fans, because I'm betting this is as close to getting John Kelly back as you're going to get. (One wonders what Dr. Freud would think of this naming of characters issue.)

*Anyway, Kelly is sitting at Connie's desk. She may be filling the chair, but this detective has one hell of a long way to go toward filling those shoes.

*Eddie's still smarting from his little screw up with Hatcher. He has to make sure Andy knows Kelly wasn't a favor.

*What's with the warm welcome? Aside from Andy, they all usually *do* welcome a new person with lots of handshakes and good-to-see-yas. If they're all still stung from Hatcher, fine, but maybe a mention of that would have fit in. Otherwise, no one said a flippin' word to the girl which seemed really strange.

*So Andy didn't become a detective until he was in his 30s? 1986? I don't know why, but I was under the impression he'd had a lot more years in plain clothes than that when he was partnered with The Other Guy whom he "raised." Seems now like Andy didn't have much time as a detective behind him when The Other Guy was new.

*No Victoria mention, again.

*Not a word on Baldwin's kid from him or Valerie.

*Nary a hint of Eddie's kid, James, who was so near and dear to Junior's heart.

*And speaking of Junior's heart, no mention of what's her name. Janet? I forgot her name already.

*Connie and the kids got a mention. This is the way things will go regarding Connie, by the way. Heard of but not seen. The same is not necessary for Theo, however. Perhaps we'll get a glimpse of him from time to time.

*Very nice touch having Andy walk away at the end past the laundry. The sign over his head read "laundry" as if to also assure Clark Andy was clean.

*A nursing student who smokes found the body when he went out for a puff and is very disturbed at the sight of the body. Think he's considering a career change?

CAST LEGACIES

by J.L. Garner:

Let's begin with The New Girl: Jessalyn Gilsig (Det. Kelly Ronson) -- past roles include a recurring role on "Nip/Tuck," a regular role on "Boston Public," and guest spots on "The Practice" and "Without a Trace."

Previously on NYPD Blue: Philip Angelotti as Uniform.

Previously on NYPD Blue as someone else: Katie Rich (Carla Nichols) -- had a part in the Season 9 finale, "Better Laid Than Never." Has also appeared on "Robbery Homicide Division," "JAG," and in the "Silence of the Lambs" prequel "Red Dragon."

Karina Arroyave (Tanya Taylor) -- appeared in Season 5's "I Don't Wanna Dye." Also had the role of Jamey Farrell in the first season of "24," and guest spots on "Judging Amy," "L&O," "Brooklyn South," and "The Practice."

Ron Dean (Joe Brockhurst) -- played the parent of the kid who did the school shooting in Season 2's "Double Abandando." You've also seen him as a Chicago detective in the 1993 movie "The Fugitive" and as a different Chicago detective on "Early Edition," along with guest spots on "Frasier," "West Wing," and "ER."

Lorinne Vozoff (Sharon Clifton) -- was in Season 5's "Sheedy Dealings." Other appearances include "Murder One," "ER," "L.A. Law," "China Beach," and "Six Feet Under."

Not previously on NYPD Blue: Jason Blicker (Roy Wingate) -- has had roles on "State of Grace," "Ally McBeal," "Brooklyn South," "Michael Hayes," and the late '90s "Fanasy Island" reboot.

Blu Fox (Royce Purley) -- guest-starred in one of the last "Boomtown" episodes this fall.

Jayne Taini (Elaine Keller) -- made appearances on "ER," "Malcolm in the Middle," and "Strong Medicine."

Eamonn Roache (Hugh Keller) -- you might have seen him on "What I Like About You," "The Parkers," "90210," "ER," "Babylon 5," or "Seinfeld."

Chad Lindberg (Eric Keller) -- other roles include "L&O: SVU," "CSI," "X-Files," "ER," "Buffy," and the movies "October Sky" and "City of Angels."

Penny Balfour (Alyssa Huber) -- guest-starred on "L&O," "L&O: CI" and "Malcolm in the Middle."

Tatum McCann as Emily Dawson

Bruce A. Young (Leonard Peeler) -- has had roles on "E/R" (the Elliot Gould one) and "The Sentinel," as well as guest appearances on "Boomtown," "Highlander," "L.A. Law," and parts in "Jurassic Park III" and "Hot Shots!"

Joe d'Angerio (Earl Bezdek) -- has been spotted on "West Wing," "The Practice," "Melrose Place," "ER," and "St. Elsewhere."

Scott Alan Smith (Defense Attorney Gimble) -- played Jerry Bingham on "Philly." Also appeared on episodes of "Judging Amy," "CSI," "The Handler," "Boston Public," and "The Practice."

Michael Bofshever (Judge Carrazo) -- made appearances on "JAG," "The Practice," "Total Security," "Ally McBeal," "Star Trek: TNG," and "DS9."

Francis X. McCarthy (Gerald Clifton) -- had recurring roles on "The Practice," "Melrose Place," and "Bodies of Evidence," as well as guest parts on "Babylon 5," "Frasier," and "3rd Rock," and roles in "Summer School" and "Deep Impact."

Dakin Matthews (Simon Clifton) -- a long, long resumé that includes guest spots on "King of Queens," "Judging Amy," "The Practice," "L.A. Law," "Newhart, "Remington Steele," "St. Elsewhere," and the HBO TV-movie "And the Band Played On." Movie roles include "Thirteen Days," "The Siege," and "The Fabulous Baker Boys."

Katie Mitchell (Gloria Dawson) -- other appearances include "Six Feet Under," "Judging Amy," "Ally McBeal," and "The Pretender."

LINE OF THE WEEK

Our beloved Medavoy, foot in mouth, described the Kellers: "That family's like the Hatfields and McCoys....you know, if the Hatfields and McCoys were all in one family."

(Note in Greg's defense: They *were* in one family, technically, when a Hatfield married a McCoy. But I can't remember if that ended the feud or started it.)

NEXT WEEK

Peeler's future is revealed as is Andy's past, our new female detective team stumbles into a big case, and Eddie studies up on amnesia.

MINI DEADWOOD REVIEW

In case you're living in a cave, it's NYPD Blue co-creator David Milch's new project over on HBO, and it's outstanding. Four episodes have gone by, each more compelling than the next. I'm hooked. Incredible writing, outstanding performances, both typical of Milch. Another couple of themes he's touched before are present, too: alcoholism and exploring the bond between men of good will as they struggle with the rights and wrongs of getting along in the world. There are a few moments when the characters dip into that confusing Milchese, and that's a bit of a drag, but these characters are beautifully drawn and they are powerful. I think the foul language is a tiny bit excessive (in the aptly named Swearengen, for example), but in most cases it's a vehicle for exposing the conflicts these people face, like having to live so hard in such a harsh environment where weakness gets you killed. Another example of how the foul language works was in the scene this week where Jane is trying to make a connection with Alma Garrett, who is quite a refined lady in spite of the fact that she's got a serious addiction. Jane is anything but refined, but is just as good-hearted as Alma (and also has an addiction), and wants to make a friend by telling Alma that the saloon keeper who was behind her husband's death is "the very same cocksucker" behind the deaths of the family of the little girl Jane is caring for. She says "very same cocksucker" and is immediately ashamed because Alma is a bit shocked. Jane truly can't find another way to say it and is lost for a moment. After lowering her eyebrows, Alma unjudgingly accepts this news with all the appropriate sympathy for the child and that gladdens Jane's heart. Alma has accepted Jane and Jane is so pleased that she wants to make the connection again. Of course, she utters the phrase "very same cocksucker" again because she knows no other way to do it. Alma accepts her again. It's just a perfect scene that says so much about the characters.

So, Sunday it's Deadwood on HBO, and Tuesday it's NYPD Blue on ABC. Have fun!
Amanda Wilson