NYPD Blue, Season 2, Episode 4,
Dead and Gone
Written by Leonard Gardner
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
PLOT ONE: RED-BALL
An 18-month-old baby is shot dead in her car seat in an apparent drive-by
shooting. The mother is nowhere to be found, but her boyfriend Duane was
driving the car. He claims that he didn't see the murderers - that it was
just a random act of meaningless violence. Kelly doesn't buy it,
especially after he finds out that Sandy, the baby's mother, has been
busted recently for prostitution, and that Duane has a long rap sheet,
including drug related offenses.
The problem is, Our Hero doesn't have enough evidence to prove that Duane
knew the killers, and Duane isn't easily intimidated like your standard
skell. Fortunately, James manages to convince the mother to help them out
for the memory of her baby - she tells him that Duane was dealing crack,
and that he got into financial trouble with a supplier. She only has a
first name, but it's enough for Kelly to use to con Duane into fingering
the killers, who are promptly busted.
PLOT TWO: JAMES COMES INTO HIS OWN
Young James feels very sorry for Sandy, and is convinced that if she
stays with Duane, he'll keep her doped up and walking the street. He asks
her if she might want to go see her sister in Florida, but Sandy doesn't
have the money. Duane does, though - he gets $2,000 over a period of time
for fingering the killers. Martinez asks Kelly if there's any way they
can keep some of Duane's money and give it to Sandy, but Kelly says it
has to be Duane's decision. So James pulls Duane into an interrogation
room, gives him $300 of the $500 he's due at that point. When Duane asks
for the rest of the money, and claims that James is trying to break him
and Sandy up, James tells him, "If you don't let her take her money and
leave, I'm gonna take you back to your hotel room, lock the door, and
kick your ass."
PLOT THREE: HOWIE HORNBECK'S DEAD
Even though Andy is supposed to be going to see his AA sponsor Dan Breen,
he gets interrupted by a call from Lois the Hooker (the one who set him
up to be shot by Giardella last year). Seems that while Lois was
servicing a cop from night shift named Howie Hornbeck, Howie passed on
from a heart attack. Howie was married, so Andy has to take great pains
to make sure he's not found _in flagrante deceasedo_. Andy and Lois get
him dressed, and Andy takes him to his car. Unfortunately, he still has
to see Dan - he's already cancelled on him twice - but figures he can
just leave Howie slumped in the passenger seat for a minute while he
tells Dan he'll talk to him later. Dan is angry at Andy for missing their
repeated appointments, and is even more upset when he finds out that Andy
and Sylvia are thinking of moving in together (Andy isn's stupid enough
to mention his marriage proposal). While they're talking, Buck Naked
(an old Hill Street Blues bit character, a homeless flasher), spots Howie's
slumping corpse in Andy's car, and tries to make a big stink, so Andy
bails on Dan and gets out of their quickly.
He enlists Medavoy to help him, and they get Howie into his own car in
the parking lot. Andy then claims to have "discovered" Howie's body
resting in his car. The only problem comes when the medical examiner
realizes that Howie had to have died in a prone, rather than seated,
position, but Andy explains the circumstances of the death in a
roundabout way, and the M.E. agrees to look the other way.
PLOT FOUR: THE TIT-CUP
Det. Adrianne Lesniak is upset; her ex-boyfriend is becoming more and
more harrassing, even threatening to come after her with a gun if they
don't get back together. Her mood does not improve when she meets night
shift Detective Vince Gotelli - or, more importantly, his personal coffee
cup, which has a pair of breasts on the front. She asks him not to use it
in her presence, but after another nasty conversation with her
ex-boyfriend, she comes across Gotelli again, and quickly smashes his cup
in a fit of rage. Bad move. It turns out that the late Howie Hornbeck had
given Gotelli that cup, and he's all worked up about it.
PLOT FIVE: HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU, JOHN
IAB is still at work harassing Kelly - now they're interviewing people
involved in his old cases in the middle of the stationhouse to embarrass
him. They still don't turn anything up - other than the bit with the
notebook, which is unprovable, Kelly's been mostly clean. So Commander
Haverill takes the only route he has left - he has Kelly transferred to
Dispatch, where he'll sit around and answer phones until IAB can find
something on him. Fancy tries to fight him, but doesn't "have the juice."
Sipowicz tries to blackmail Haverill again, like he did to save Fancy's
job last Christmas, but after Sipowicz did it the first time, Haverill
took care of the embrarrassing incident in question.
Kelly has his pride, and he refuses to accept what's essentially a
demotion - he'll resign. Andy tries to talk him out of it, telling him
to ride it out, but Kelly's convinced that eventually, if IAB can't find
something on him, they'll make something up, and he's not about to be a
glorified telephone operator until then.
As he's leaving the stationhouse, he bumps into James and congratulates
him on getting Sandy the money, then tells him about his resignation.
James, who's always idolized John, can't quite deal with this, but Kelly
tells him to keep doing "what we've talked about" and that James can call
him anytime he wants for advice. James, more than a bit upset, decides
to avoid the subject, and walks up to give Sandy her money. Kelly walks
out of the 15th Precinct quietly, with only Sergeant Agostini's "Good
night, Kelly," to wish him goodbye.
Well, for once I'm writing this after already having read the group's
reaction to the show (I usually write these after midnight on Tuesday),
and I'm surprised to find that I'm one of the only people who liked
Kelly's exit. I thought it was very classy, and very touching, for
The whole "passing the torch" subplot with Martinez trying
to emulate Kelly with Sandy, was very nicely done, and
helped underscore the fact that the department needs people
like John Kelly.
Caruso, after seeming very lethargic the first three weeks of
the season, finally came to life. The interrogation scenes
with Duane, particularly when Kelly threatened to "close the
door and pull down the window-shades" were all electrifying.
And the final locker room scene between Kelly and Sipowicz,
with Caruso just sitting there dejected, was amazing.
The final shot was appropros, I thought: Kelly is a hero, a good
man (if a bit of a self-righteous buttinsky) who deserves
a hero's send-off, but the department's screwed him over so bad
that all he can do is slink off into the night. That's the tragedy.
Say what you will about Caruso's monetary demands, make all the Shelley
Long/MacLean Stevenson jokes you want, and complain about the walking
cliche that Kelly seemed to be turning into half the time - the man was a
helluva dynamic presence, and the show may suffer for it, unless Smits is
a lot better than I'm expecting.
But wait, you say, what about young Nicholas Turturro? Well, while I am
eternally grateful that the writers finally gave Martinez something to
do, Turturro still has a long way to go before he's another Caruso. His
performance on this episode was the best I've seen so far (granted, the
spotlight has almost never fallen on Martinez), and the scene where he
threatened to kick Duane's ass if he didn't leave Sandy alone was great,
but there were also moments where Turturro's usual lack of inflection
really hurt the scene - like Kelly's goodbye to James. Martinez idolized
Kelly, and I was hoping that Nick would've shown a little more emotion
than he did. Still, I hope we see even more of James in the weeks and
(hopefully) years to come.
With regards to the rest of the show, the less said about the Howie
Hornbeck storyline, the better. I never thought I'd live to see the day
that NYPD Blue would be cribbing from Weekend at Bernie's.
The one scene of that story that worked was Sipowicz's meeting with Dan
Breen. If I was Dan and didn't know about Andy's situation (the body in
the car), I would've started thinking that he was on the sauce again,
too. And anytime Buck Naked makes an appearance, I'm happy, even if he
didn't drop trou or say, "I'm BUCK NAKED!!!!!!"
And I happened to like the little Lesniak subplot. I don't think her
problem with the night tour guy revolved around his sexism - I think she
was still upset over all those conversations with her ex, and listening
to the detective mouth off and staring at his mug certainly didn't help
improve her mood.
A few shorter takes:
Anyway, I just want to wish David Caruso luck in any of his future
endeavors. He may be an arrogant ass, but he made for some great
tv watching for over a year, and I appreciate that.
- Finally, someone said "reach out"! I just wish it didn't have to come
in the final Fancy/Kelly scene, which was very serious otherwise (at
this point, anytime someone says "reach out" it seems like a joke).
- Line of the Week: "That was my tit cup!" No contest on this one.
- It was nice to see some old faces again, particularly Anna Gunn
as Kimmie (in case you forget who she was, she appeared last year
in the episode "Zeppo Marks the Brothers" where her boyfriend was
testifying for Kelly and Sipowicz and got killed).
- Was the actress who played Sandy the white daughter on "True Colors,"
the interracial marriage sitcom that was on Fox a few years ago?
- Nary a glimpse of Sylvia this week. I would've liked to hear
about the "moving in together" idea from the two of them, instead
of just having Andy explain it to Dan.