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 several reasons:

  • 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.


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