"You're Bugging Me"
Season 12, Episode 5
Teleplay by Greg Plageman
Story by Bill Clark & Greg Plageman
Directed by John Hyams
Before you start bellyaching over PAB, consider all the angles, and note where the *real* holes are.....but first, a fun little summary:
Andy isn't seriously wounded, but the entire squad begins investigating the incident. Rita and Murph talk to the bartender who tells how Clark has been arguing with several people--mostly over women. He also gives them the name of a cop who works the door in his off-duty time thinking he'll know something.
Andy returns to work. He doesn't think the shooting is connected to the PAB incidents, but isn't entirely sure. A group of his AA pals are waiting for him in the coffee room when he returns to the squad; they were told he'd been out boozing it up at the bar where he got shot, and he's powerless to get them to believe he wasn't.
Lt. Bale is in on the shooting investigation as well, and begins with talking to Clark. Clark tells him that he had a few beers and that he didn't fight with anyone that night.
Meanwhile, Greg comes up with what turns out to be the key to the whole PAB mess. He's managed to find out that Andy's credit card number was hijacked by a private investigator. He doesn't have the PI's name, but knows he works for the firm that employs Stan Hatcher. Greg thinks this makes Hatcher look good for the shooting as well.
Bale lets Andy pretty much run his own day for a change. He actually tells Andy to go home, but Andy says he'll do some paperwork after he runs out to get a prescription. Bale tells him he can do whatever he needs to do as long as he spends a few minutes with IAB on the shooting.
Clark tries to tell Andy he feels bad about the shooting, but Andy is thinking of other things. He takes off to Hatcher's PI firm. While there, he asks the receptionist a few questions about the camera system installed there, wanting to know where it was purchased. Stan welcomes him in an unusually friendly way. He feigns shock that someone at his firm misused Andy's card number and suggests there could be several legit reasons his firm obtained the number. After telling Andy the information is confidential, he promises Andy he'll look into it as a personal favor.
Andy spends some time with Martens of IAB. Bale looks over his shoulder the whole time. He tells the story of the shooting, but makes sure he protects Clark by saying he was not drunk. Bale also denies knowledge of Clark misbehaving, but assures Martens that if there is any police misconduct, he'll report it.
The cop who works the door of the bar talks to Rita and Murph. He tells them Clark has had a couple of fights over women, including one that very night. Clark was making out with a chick when some guy walked in and tried to drag her out of there. The cop had to step in before it got ugly.
Rita and Murph ask Clark about it. He's not happy they're investigating, and tells them there was nothing to it. When they tell him they have to investigate, he snaps to for a minute and digs in his pocket for the girl's phone number. After fumbling through several little slips of paper, cards and torn up cocktail napkins with phone numbers he extracts the one he thinks is the most recent and hands it over to Rita as he walks away. Rita clearly wonders how in God's name she ever fell for this guy.
Andy checks out the security shop where Stan's firm got the security cameras. He's really there because he wants to know who bought the bug that was found in his car. He threatens the owner with court orders and charges for various things if he doesn't reveal that information. The owner doesn't buy it. He knows better. He asks Andy politely not to try to intimidate him. Andy pauses, then tries a completely new tactic: the truth. He tells the story about Theo's kidnapping. The owner promises to dig up the information ASAP.
Clark's most recent squeeze, Christine, is brought in to the house. Rita and Murph get from her that she met Clark, but she swears she doesn't have a boyfriend who dragged her out. She does, however, finally admit that it was her father who dragged her out of there. She's underage. Clark sees all this from behind the mirror and his shame is intensified by the fact that Bale is standing there watching as well.
Andy's pal at the bug shop gives him the name of a mechanic named Bert who bought the bug. This time, Andy's threats work: Bert admits he installed the bug for Hatcher. He says he did it to work of a five-thousand dollar PI debt. The number seems high to Andy, so he presses for what else Bert did. Bert admits kidnapping Theo for Stan, but says Stan told him it was all part of a plan to test a surveillance system and that "the kid's" mother knew all about it.
The bartender, meanwhile, comes back to the squad to tell a story he'd forgotten about earlier. He remembers that not long ago, there was a little nerdy dude in the bar trying to make time with a cool, leggy, blonde. He was buying her drinks and dinner and trying to do her taxes or sell her insurance or something. He'd made quite an investment in her when nature called and he had to leave her alone for a few minutes. During that time, Clark moved in like "a panzer division" and wooed the girl away. Nerdy dude returned and tried to reassert his claim, but Junior and blondie ignored him and glided out of the bar together on a platinum rail to the promised land (her apartment). Anyway, Nerdy dude showed up again last night at the bar. He didn't make trouble, but seeing him reminded the bartender that last time he looked pretty devastated.
For the second time, Clark's colleagues have to ask him to cough up the name of some sleazy barfly he nailed (or tried to). His memory is a little more fuzzy on this one, but he finally gets what he thinks is her name. He remembers a little more accurately where she lives, and from this, Greg and Baldwin find her.
Andy, meanwhile, takes the information he's learned and an untraceable gun, and kidnaps Stan. He drives Stan to a remote location, holds a gun to his neck and explains how he will kill Stan. Stan isn't sure if this is going to happen right away. After scaring the wet stuff out of Stan, Andy tells him that if he ever does anything to anyone in Andy's family again, Andy will kill him. Andy gets back in his car and leaves Stan kneeling in the mean street.
Next day, Blondie arrives at the 1-5 and is pretty happy to see her old f-buddy Johnny. That is until it dawns on her that he has no idea what her last name is. She's not too upset, though, and goes back to talk to Greg and Baldwin. In order to give them Nerdy Dude's phone number, she ends up sorting through nearly as many slips of paper and cards as Johnny had earlier. What a couple o' sluts.
Andy isn't at work long when Bale tells him IAB needs to see him right away. Naturally, Bale feels the urgent need to tag along. The two of them sit in a room with Martens and listen to a tape of Andy threatening to kill Stan. Andy gets a chance to explain what Stan has been up to. Still, Bale and Martens tell him he could face charges and lose his job. Bale asks Martens to sit on the tape for 24 hours.
Nerdy Dude comes in to talk to Greg and Baldwin. His name is Larry. He tries very, very hard to make these two men believe he is a play-ah. Yes, he tries to convince Baldwin, who could have virtually any woman he wanted, and Greg, who knows all too well what a play-ah is and what a play-ah isn't. Larry does not succeed, not even when he tells Greg he dated a Hooters waitress and that *he* dumped *her!* When confronted with the story of how he lost blondie, he tries at first to make them think he actually nailed her, then he denies there was another guy there. In the middle of this pathetic display, Baldwin leaves to bring an eyewitness to the door. It's PAA John holding his coat and acting shocked to see Larry. He stammers--afraid--but admits that's the guy he saw firing shots outside the bar that night. The ruse works. Larry's eyes grow wider with every word and nearly pop when Baldwin informs him the man he shot was a cop. He explains that he hates being ignored. He went back to the bar that night thinking that maybe this girl wasn't the cheap, icy, whore she really was and that maybe, just maybe, she was sitting there at the bar wondering what happened to him. She wasn't there, but he did see the smug bastard who swooped in and took her away. And what was this prick doing? He was mauling another chick. Larry went home, got his gun, and waiting until Clark walked out of the bar. Larry gasps as he asks how about the condition of the officer he shot. When Greg tells him he's going to be OK, Larry's sigh of relief is choked by sobs. He apologizes and cries like a baby. Clark looks on from behind the mirror, humiliated and looking like a first-class bastard.
Bale isn't there to witness Clark's latest shame. He's down visiting Stan's uncle the chief. Stan is there, too, looking for all the world like the wounded party. Bale tells the chief the entire, sordid story. Stan whines that Andy threatened to kill him, but that doesn't fly in light of his multiple felonies and the fact that he trapped Andy into the tape. Bale suggests the tape be made to go away on the condition that no charges will be filed against Stan. Stan blows up. He screams how he wants to take Andy down once and for all. His uncle tells him to shut up, and then reminds him that if he pushes the thing, Andy would probably lose his job, but Stan would end up locked up for a decade or more. Uncle tells Stan that he's going to leave NYC forever, move to his firm's Miami office and never talk to Andy again.
Bale returns to the squad. His first order of business: giving Junior a spanking. Clark obeys Bale's summons into his office. Bale reminds him that he nearly got his partner killed. Bale tells him he'll get transferred if there's one more story about him whoring around, coming to work hungover or drunk. Shamed, Clark says only, "Yes, sir."
Andy walks into Bale's office seconds later. Bale explains the deal with Hatcher and then tells Andy he can leave. Andy starts to go, but then stops and expresses his appreciation to Bale. This olive branch is snatched from Andy's hands and quickly snapped in two when Bale tells him clearly that if Andy ever fails to follow rules again (i.e., not obeying when Bale told him to stay out of the PAB investigation), he'll find himself off the force a lot sooner than he expected. He tells Andy he doesn't want his appreciation. He wants his rules followed. He says also that it make him sick to have to broker the deal he made on Andy's behalf, and warns Andy not to think for even a second that they've reach some kind of understanding.
While Bale continues charming Andy in the above manner, Clark tries to find a friend. Any friend. He wants Baldwin to go to the gym or to dinner with him. He's apparently forgotten the crappy little "slave" comment he made earlier (see below), but Baldwin hasn't. Baldwin tells Clark his behavior is disrespectful and that he's not been the best company lately. Andy comes in a bit later, while Clark is at his lowest and staring into the black hole that is his locker. Sheepishly, he asks Andy if he's started the paperwork on the divorce. Andy says no. Clark asks if Andy could hold off a bit, and maybe give him another chance. Andy agrees. Clark seems a little surprised. Andy leaves and Clark shuts his locker door.
Before I get to that, however, I feel compelled to point out the stark fact that this arc had some really serious holes. For example, why Andy walked away from the man who kidnapped his son instead of arresting him. And why no one noticed Stan creeping up the stairs to poison the fish (or, if it wasn't Stan, why Andy didn't endeavor to find the *other* accomplice). These are the kinds of holes that sink ships for some people, and if you're one of those people, I guess I can't blame you for lamenting the credibility you're used to. But before you take off, consider the new Lieu for a few minutes.
Bale is a wonderful character. He's creepy. He's a jerk. He's rude. He's a major buttkisser. And I absolutely love him from the top of his AquaNet head, straight through his chewy little heart and right down to his pointy, spit-shined shoes. I'm certain that were I able to transport myself from Audience Land into his imaginary world to buy him a congratulatory lunch, he'd find a way to have me arrested for showing up without an appointment.
Part of what makes Bale such a great character is that he's something completely foreign to the culture of the squad, and that makes him unpredictable. He's rule-bound, tightly wound, and probably about as emotionally secure as a zit-faced teenager at the prom. I imagine he used to lie awake at night sweating over his lack of skill as a cop. Then there was the day he decided that if he followed all the rules, just like Joe Friday, he'd never have to fear making a mistake. Bale is convinced he's right. His conflict is that he lives in a black and white world but that no one else does. Only right now, he doesn't even know it. Bale refuses to see complexity in things. He defies complexity. The fun of it is that sometimes, he is right. He was right on the money with Junior, for example. But when it came to doing the right thing for Andy, he was repulsed by the complexity of it and used it to threaten Andy. Look at what's different. Blue's pattern--the formula I hear many of you complaining about--would have been Bale begrudgingly helps Andy, Andy begrudgingly thanks him and an uneasy peace ensues. Did that happen? Not only no, but hell no! Bale helps Andy, Andy thanks him, and a fight erupts that has Bale threatening for the third time to toss Andy out on his ass.
Another part of what makes Bale so good is the actor playing him. Currie Graham nails that guy in every scene. The way he talks, the way he walks, the way his eyes seems to shrink up: every inch of him goes to illustrate Bale as the square peg who's determined to make that round hole fit him, but he also plays a layer of desperation under all that control. With Clark, he was forceful, sure. That was a clear cut situation. With Andy, he was more angry--perhaps even fearful that his perfect order might be upset--and in defense, he had to blurt out how he lives by rules and how, by God, everyone else is going to do that, too.
So, Bale admits he's rule-bound, clings to it openly, and threatens to destroy anyone who doesn't toe his line, but he's not living in a world where things are that simple. If the writers keep that conflict alive rather than throwing us a weekly list of Bale's rules, we've got something.
Back to Bale and Clark: great scene from the standpoint of the Bale character. Not such a great scene from the standpoint of the Clark character (though it was one of MPG's standout scenes, which I'll get to in a minute.) The problem I have here is that this cannot be the thing that snaps Clark back into reality. Yeah, he got spanked, he deserved it, but the boy was out drinking and trying to catch the crabs for a *reason.* If getting Andy shot up and almost losing his own career weren't enough to wake him up, how the hell is a good talking-to from the boss going to do it? Junior needs to deal with the troubles he's got. He needs something more than Bale to wise him up. I have my doubts on this score. After all, I still can't figure out why a prosecutor would take such a major hit for a drunk, 'ho-dog cop who ruined her murder case, or why Andy wouldn't be a little more pissed off about how close his kids were to being fatherless on account of Junior's...uh...junior, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
That said, I think MPG is doing a great job with this. He had three stand-out moments. One was the scene where he watched Larry's confession through the mirror. This was aided in large part by the actor playing Larry (Tony Colitti), who had me feeling sorry for Larry in spite of the fact that he shot Our Hero Andy. (It was the way his sigh of relief on hearing the cop he shot was going to be OK was broken up by his mournful sobs--excellent!). So I'm watching Larry, then I see MPG sunk low into Junior's guilt and shame, and the word "bastard!" comes to mind. Two was the scene with Bale. After making a lame attempt to defend himself, Junior crumbles under Bale's correction. MPG's face went from a liar's defiance to sagging defeat in 0.2. Three was the scene in the locker room. He stands friendless, peering into the dark of his locker (where he seems to be thinking the ghosts of decidedly better men linger), and from this place he limps verbally back to Andy to ask for another chance. He had Junior all over the map emotionally tonight. Oh, and the man falls from a barstool like he was born to it.
And our Jackie O. had a stand-out moment. It was less than a moment, actually, but it's worth rolling back the tape to catch it if you missed it. It's the scene where Junior shuffles through ripped cocktail napkins, condom wrappers, whatever it is he's got in his pocket, for the phone number of his latest conquest. He finds it, lays it casually on Rita's palm and says while walking away, "I think that's the one from last night." Her face at that moment is amazing. It's only a profile, but you can see her recalling how she once loved him and saying to herself now, "What the hell was I thinking?"
Another scene I liked a whole lot was the one with the store owner. Andy goes in and tries his usual tactic--a threat--and it doesn't work. He pauses, then tries a new tactic--the truth--and doors open. Of course, he's back to being a tough guy with Bert who, in spite of his decision to spend $5k uncovering his wife's infidelities, wouldn't respond to truth unless it threatened to rip his legs off.
*Hats off to the leggy blonde (Samantha Smith) who played the leggy blonde. She was the perfect combination of icy, slutty power whom women the world over hate/admire and whom men truly hate except between 7pm-8am weekends. I loved how she coolly noted Johnny's inability to recall her last name--her mind briefly circled his mistake considering whether to throw a cold bolt of lightening in his general direction, then cast it off without care, deciding that she'd already gotten all the pleasure she wanted out of him. She then sauntered on in to the coffee room and fished her well-stocked purse for Nerdy Dude's phone number just as Clark had earlier fished his pocket. Well played!
*Did anyone else catch that the evil Stan Hatcher was exiled to Miami, home of David Caruso's current TV persona? Coincidence? You decide.
*I spied a bit of blonde (looked like a wig) hair in Andy's bed and heard a faint, female cry of annoyance when the phone rang. I issued a rather less faint female cry of annoyance at that and wondered why Andy couldn't have been instead laying in a supply of 2am diapers when his cell phone rang.
*Medavoy! A little action for him tonight. He handled Larry perfectly. When Larry asked, "Why am I not a player?" I expected Greg to respond, "Because I'm not a player, and it takes one to know one."
*I'm also very happy Greg was not impressed by Larry's claim to have dumped a Hooter's waitress. (Is that supposed to be impressive?)
*I am now terrified of AA people. Why wouldn't they believe him? For a minute there, I thought Andy was stuck in an episode of Green Acres.
*Theo is 8, and Andy's never heard of Jessica Simpson. Is that possible? How about this, Andy's partner is 28, and Andy's never heard of Jessica Simpson. Hell, Andy's 50, Connie's 30 and....oh forget it.
Previously on NYPD Blue:Scott Allan Campbell as Martens, Scott William Winters as Stan Hatcher, Michael Potter as Chief Don Hatcher.
Previously on NYPD Blue as someone else: Mari Weiss (Norma) -- played a doctor in Season 5's "It Takes a Village." Since then, she's also been on "X-Files," "City of Angels," and a lot of voice work for cartoons and video games
Joe Maruzzo (Burt Suervo) -- appeared in Season 6's "Raphael's Inferno" and Season 4's "Unembraceable You." He also played Joe Peeps on "The Sopranos," and had a role in the recent season premiere of "Enterprise"
Not previously on NYPD Blue: Ed O'Ross (Scott Garvin) -- character actor whose TV credits include "The Handler," "Six Feet Under," "Chicago Hope," "Seinfeld," "Frasier," and the cartoon show "Men In Black." He's also appeared in movies like "Dick Tracy" (Itchy), "Full Metal Jacket" (Lt. Touchdown), "Lethal Weapon," and "The Cotton Club"
Dean Hill (Al) -- he's played on "JAG," "ER," "L.A. Law," and "Night Court," as well as a role in Jack Nicholson's "Chinatown" sequel "The Two Jakes," and as one of the Illinois Nazis in "The Blues Brothers"
Fitz Houston (Chuck) -- you've seen him on "JAG," "Robbery Homicide Division," "Philly," "Judging Amy," "Seinfeld," and "X-Files"Brian Goodman (Mickey Cole) -- has appeared on "24," "Boomtown," and "Line of Fire," as well as the films "Catch Me If You Can," "The Last Castle," and "Blow"
Richard Fancy (Howard Seigal) -- he's got a very long resume, including roles on "General Hospital" and "It's Garry Shandling's Show," guest spots on "The District," "West Wing," "ER," "ST: Voyager," 'L.A. Law," and "ST: Next Generation," and roles in the films "The Girl Next Door," "Being John Malkovich," "Nixon," "And the Band Played On," and "Tango & Cash"
Samaire Armstrong (Christine) -- she's had a recurring role on "The O.C.," as well as guest spots on "Judging Amy," "X-Files," and "ER," and a role in "Not Another Teen Movie"
Samantha Smith (Corrine O'Malley) -- other roles include guest appearances on "Dead Like Me," "Philly," "Just Shoot Me," "Dark Angel," and "The Pretender"
Tony Colitti (Larry Mytelka) -- he's appeared on "Monk," "Nip/Tuck," "Judging Amy," 'Seinfeld," "L.A. Law," "China Beach," and "thirtysomething"
Jonah Hill (clerk) -- has a role in the new film "I Heart Huckabees"
Cheryl Francis Harrington (receptionist) -- had a recurring role as a bailiff on "Philly," as well as roles on "Boston Public," "X-Files," "The District," "The Sheild," and "L.A. Law"
Jamie Foss (female friend) -- she was the winner of The WB's "Superstar USA," a sort of Bizarro-world spoof of American Idol, where the worst performer wins, but is made to labor under the delusion that they can actually sing.
Junior, in a slut glut but confidently remembering the blonde: "Yeah, I remember. Her name was Corrine." (pause) "Or Collette."
Hatcher introducing his girl-child friend: "Andy Sipowicz, Jessica
Andy: "How do you do?"
Get out and vote! (Unless you're not an American, in which case, I vote you have a nice day)