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

"Dead Meat In New Deli"
Season 9 Episode 21
5/14/02
Teleplay by Jody Worth
Story by Bill Clark & Jody Worth
Directed by Jake Paltrow

Not as great as the last two, but a fine episode. If you missed it, shame on you and curses on your damn VCR! Here's a summary:

DELI MURDER:

A deli owner is murdered when two men come in to rob the place. The owner's nephew, Gary Montaneri, is a witness who swears he can identify the guy.

Back at the station house, Gary tells how it happened: He and his uncle have their hands in the air, the robber takes the money and then shoots the uncle. He says he ran after them to the door, which is slightly different than what he said at the deli. There, he told the cops he ran down the street after them. Gary seems a bit hinky on the details, but spends a few hours looking through mug books to find the guys who did it.

Meanwhile, Det. Frank Hughes from robbery is in Tony's office. He tells Clark and Andy that he's got their man. A guy he's been working for a while has a long series of similar stick ups, though no one has been killed in any of those. Frank says the guy's girlfriend has even given him up. Andy busts his chops about not having picked the guy up already and maybe preventing today's murder. Frank lowers his enormous ego for a second to admit he made a mistake, but says he was busy. In the midst of the explanation, his phone rings and he chatters into it using rapper street slang which is particularly annoying since he's a hefty, pasty, older white guy. He tells the detectives that the man they want is named Terence Cates.

Andy and Clark decide they're going to arrest Cates themselves. Hughes isn't too pleased, but doesn't make a fuss.

By the time they get back with Cates, they find Frank has been helping Gary with the mug books. Lo and behold, Frank has picked Cates right out of the mug book. Andy and Clark are a little peeved. They plan a line-up and try to exclude Frank from it. They succeed in excluding him from the interview.

Cates isn't saying anything about the robbery today. He swears he did nothing this morning but hump his girlfriend and have some Cocoa Puffs. He says he'll do a line-up, no problem. He gets even more agitated when he learns that he may be going up for murder. He's shocked.

Just before the lineup, Frank is telling Gary the perp is going to look just as he did in his photo. Heywood puts a stop to that and Andy tells Frank to shut up. Gary then picks Cates out in about one second. Andy tells Frank to leave. Gary sticks around to write up a statement.

In the meantime, some information from the crime scene evidence has landed on Tony's desk. Seems the pack of cigarettes the perp was "buying" when he robbed the store got left behind. The only thing is, the pack contains the fingerprint of another criminal.

Back at Gary, Clark and Andy are able to establish that the cigarettes sold at the deli are from the manufacturer and that yes, the shooter did pick up the pack. Gary is unable to explain how this new criminal, Daron Hodges, left a print on the pack. Gary states again that he's sure about Cates.

Andy calls Frank and tells him about the print problem and, much as he hates to have to do it, asks him to come back. Clark, meanwhile, has discovered from communications that Gary's 911 call about the shooting didn't come, as he'd said earlier, from inside the deli. It came from a pay phone two blocks away. Additionally, Gary was a cocaine collar a few years ago.

Gary's story is falling apart, and Clark and Andy are pissed off about it. Gary finally admits to them that the truth is he got really scared during the robbery and just ran away. He heard the shots and called the police. Gary also admits that Cates wasn't the guy, but that he was sure Frank wanted him to pick Cates. When shown a picture of Doran Hodges, Gary picks him out right away.

Andy and Clark bust through a door to get to Doran. He's arrested in front of his little brother. He admits he went to the deli but says only that he bought some cigarettes.

Andy puts a few smacks on Doran's head and Clark threatens him with a line-up. Doran agrees and gets locked up.

Heywood is uncomfortable with Gary's shaky identifications and says there's really not much he can do for the case.

Clark took a hunch and showed photos of some of Doran's running buddies to Gary. Gary picked out Doran's little brother as the second guy at the shooting.

This gives them a hook to go back at Doran with. Doran tries to play it cool at first, but when faced with the truth that he'd been sending his teenage brother to adult prison time, he spits it out. He says his brother knew nothing. He says he just decided to do it on the spur of the moment, and that he shot the uncle only after Gary got spooked and ran out the back door. He says it made him nervous.

Much later, Frank comes back. Andy and Clark bust his balls over being a lousy cop who gives other cops a bad name.

SISTER ACT:

A man named Enrique Lopez comes into the station house upset over a phone he and his father got about his missing sister. Connie and Rita help out.

Enrique says that a man claiming to be a priest called his father in Mexico and said his daughter was in trouble in New York and that he could help if the father sent one-thousand dollars. Being that the family is poor, the father couldn't afford it. He referred the call to Enrique who lives in New York. But Enrique is also somewhat poor, and he's very suspicious of this call. His sister Luisa has been missing for two years. She left Mexico then to go to the US with a man her family did not approve of. They haven't heard from her, but have been very worried about her.

Enrique has the priest's pager number. He says the priest told them not to tell the police, but Enrique isn't stupid. He agrees to wear a wire to the meeting.

Greg and Baldwin help out on the set up. The priest and Enrique meet on the street and the money is exchanged. The cops move in and stop the priest. He gives Rita a good hard shove, knocks her into Connie and then takes off. Of course, he runs right into the wall that is Baldwin and doesn't get too far.

At the station house, he's dealing with the wrath of Greg who is on fire over this scam because of his Catholic upbringing. Turns out the priest is indeed a fake named Fred Pescado.

Fred says Luisa owes a loan shark. Greg doesn't buy it and roughs him up a little. Fred then says Luisa has a big heroin problem. Greg trips him up in this by asking where the girl is. Fred says he doesn't know. Another smack from Greg and a little intimidation from Baldwin, and Fred admits she's a massage parlor.

At the massage parlor, Rita and Connie find Luisa and several other young, confused girls.

Back at the station house, Luisa is reluctant to tell Connie and Rita her story. She talks only a little after she hears that her brother is in the city and is worried about her. She begs them not to tell Enrique what happened. She's terrified that he will be killed.

Later, Connie and Rita bring Enrique in to see Luisa. They have a tearful reunion. Enrique tells her how worried the family has been and that it's OK for her to talk. She does. She tells them she came to NYC to work in a restaurant but ended up in the massage parlor working for a pimp named Hector Santos. Hector told her she had a three-thousand dollar debt to pay off and that she had to do it by sleeping with men. She wanted to kill herself.

Greg and Baldwin go back to Fred who's behind bars downstairs by now. They tell him that Luisa and several other women from the massage parlor have told the same story: that they were sold into sex slavery. Fred tries to deny it but knows he can't. He says he was trying to scam some money out of Luisa's family because Hector doesn't pay much. He agrees to flip on Hector.

CONNIE & ANDY:

Andy's been thinking. He tells Connie he's taking stock and figuring out what's important, and now he wants her to go to Florida with him and Theo next week. He says he no longer cares what anyone thinks; she's too important. Connie agrees to go on the condition that Andy spends at least two hours wearing mouse ears. He says it's OK as long as there are no pictures.

Connie informs Tony of her decision to take a week off and tells him flat out that she's going to Disney World with Andy and Theo. Tony plays around with her a bit, making her think for a minute that he's going to have some problem with is, then tells her to have fun.

Later on, in the middle of the squad room with everyone looking on, Connie gets a call from a travel agent. She's all set to go. Everyone stands around awkwardly doing the patented NYPD Blue eye thing when Andy stands up to announce to one and all that he and Connie and are taking Theo to Disney World next week and that if anyone has anything to say about it, they'd better get it out now. Twelve eyes dart in various directions around the room while six smiles are suppressed until Tony has enough stones to say loudly "Have a good time." Connie leaves the room awkwardly as PAA John nods approval to Andy.

Connie and Rita have a moment alone later. Connie says she and Andy are just good friends. She also says what a great guy Andy is, a great father, and how she thinks the relationship--if there is one--would last longer than six months. She says she feels safe with him.

At Andy's house later that night, Connie shores up her hotel reservations. She's got a room on the floor below Andy and Theo. Andy asks her why she'd want to go with him. She says that however she makes him feel, he makes her feel the same way. He says he can't believe his luck.

Theo, meanwhile, is having his own trauma: he can't decide which toy to pack. Andy and Connie wander off to the bedroom together to help him.

CLARK & RITA:

These two are much less open about their little side thing. After a dinner out, Clark asks her if they need to talk. He's curious about where she is given her recent situation with Don. She says she just wants to have fun, that she's not sure how long it's going to last. He's cool with that. They go back to Clark's place where they take their own personal amusement park ride.


REVIEW

DELI MURDER:

I wasn't much turned on by this story: the smarmy bad cop interloping in 1-5 territory didn't seem fresh. Too much like Mike Roberts, only not quite that much fun. Actually, the whole story made me miss Eddie Gibson. Plus, it didn't seem all that clear why Hughes was so hell bent on making Cates the man for this thing. Was it just out of his need to nail the guy because he'd missed him on the other 10 stick ups? Ok, but there wasn't a hard enough sell on that motivation.

That said, I think Daniel Baldwin did a fine job playing the scum. He could come back and do it again, and that'd be fine with me. Maybe a different kind of story, though. Better yet, make one of these rotating out-of-department goofs a permanent fixture in the squad. Hey, I've got an idea: how about Eddie Gibson. (Didn't someone think of that once before? Steven Bochco was it?) They had such a good, good thing going with that guy. How I do wish they'd bring him back. He's got a good soul, that Eddie, but he's just enough of a screw up to lower the Saint Factor appropriately. EddiE.EddiE.EddiE.

A good thing: I thought for a long, long time that Gary was involved. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to think that.

SISTER ACT:

Another good showing for Rita. She's starting to get the tough cop thing down a little more. Sure, she's got a long way to go to get to Connie's level, but she's finally starting to hold her own.

I liked this story because I thought it was cool that Enrique wasn't stupid. Most of the witnesses/victims are. Here's a guy who initiated this whole thing on his own. Good for him.

Another thing I liked a lot was how Greg was in there slugging. I know some of you are probably wondering why there was no mention at all of Greg's mishandling Andy's hostage situation last week. Let me enlighten you a bit: I've learned that there was a scene from last week's show that was cut due to time considerations. It was a pretty important scene. In it, Greg and Baldwin have a discussion about how it is not standard procedure to pat down a guy who's just coming in as a witness. The cops do it only when such a person seems off somehow. If you recall, Dave was perfectly normal at first and very cooperative. There was no reason for Greg to pat him down, so he didn't. So, while Greg could have prevented the whole mess by doing a pat down, he apparently didn't skip something that anyone else would have done. What made this cut so damaging was the scene left in where Tony asks Greg if he patted the guy down, and Greg says he can't really remember. This made many of us think Greg had missed a vitally important part of his job--the kind of thing that could have other cops shunning him for the rest of his career. Bad edit, to say the least.

So let's look at this week with that in mind: Greg, who did not sully his reputation, is back at it and using a little muscle to get his man. Amazing to me that Gordon Clapp can sell the quirky, bumbling Greg and the in-your-face Greg in the same show. He's created quite a wonderful character, and he and Henry Simmons are gold together. As always, I want to see more. I wanted to see him having dinner with his daughter and her new husband, and I still hope we can catch a bit of the wedding and his face down with his nasty ex-wife. After all, time spent on that would be far more valuable than the minutes wasted on the Valerie/Baldwin affair, don't you agree?

CONNIE AND ANDY:

I avoided writing this last week because I had a feeling it would all come up again, this thing between these two. Ok, dammit, I'm admitting it here and now for all the world to see: they're starting to grow on me. Now before too many fingers start pointing at me, let me qualify that a little. Last week, the final scene between these two just blew me away. That's when I started thinking "hmmm....maybe...." There's no denying the chemistry between these actors.

However, and I say again, However, I still think it would be better to explore that chemistry with the two of them on the job rather than in the sack. I say that for the same old reasons: it's just more interesting, and hey, where do we go with them when they're all lovey dovey? Then what? Remember, it's a cop show. With them partnered up from time to time, the possibilities are endless. With them partnered up as lovers, the possibilities seem to diminish. (Oh me of little faith.)

Note to Our Beloved Writers: I thought there was a little too much explanation tonight of why she's attracted to him. Come on! Only shallow people think a guy like him could never get a girl like her. Give us more credit than that. We've gotten to know the Andy you've created. We love him, too. No reason at all why Connie wouldn't. By the time a woman like Connie reaches her age, she's learned that the clothes don't make the man. If there's a need for a hard sell on their relationship, the age/looks difference isn't it. (Besides, I think Dennis Franz is totally adorable.) If you want to know why you have to sell it, see the above paragraph.

CLARK & RITA:

Aside from the sexy scene at the end (nice shooting Mr. Paltrow), this seemed like a little clean-up scene. They haven't dealt at all with what must be a huge emotional hangover for Rita, so they wedge in a little chat about it with Johnny. Given more time, this could have been a great window into Rita's as-yet-unexplored soul. There's still time for that, though. This should come up again.

QUICK HITS:

  • Nod to writer Jody Worth for the name Fred Pescado, which translates to Fred Fish. That cracked me all up.

  • Theo was outstanding tonight. Good job Austin! His exasperation over packing was like watching a junior Dennis Franz. Not only do they look like father and son, but Theo acts so much like Andy. I half expected Theo to swipe his hand from his forehead to the top of his head while giving his little "OK...." to the toy situation.

  • A great few private moments with Connie and Rita and again with Greg and Baldwin. You know the whole office is chattering about the Disney trip, and it's great we got to see some of it.

  • Another nice touch on that note: PAA John giving his silent approval to Andy's "coming out."

  • What ever happened with John's father, by the way? Have we dropped that ball entirely?

  • Tony's involvement in the Connie and Andy relationship was fun. He had her on the hook for a while but showed once again that he's totally cool. I don't imagine they pay all that much attention the office dating rule, anyway. After all, Executive Producer Bill Clark and his wife met and fell in love while working together in the NYPD. (So, yes, it does happen in real life.)

  • Hank and Josh! Maybe one day they'll get their own storylines: Josh is a hopeless drunk who steals from the evidence room and is in love with a heroin-addicted hooker. Hank, meanwhile, volunteers at a soup kitchen 6 nights a week....

    CAST LEGACIES:

    Previously on NYPD Blue: Austin Majors as Theo Sipowicz, Ray LaTulipe as Josh, Henry Murph as Hank.
    Ramon Franco (Enrique Lopez): He was on Blue in 95 and 96. He's also done Philly and Brooklyn South. You may have seen him on XFiles or Seinfeld or in the movie A Bronx Tale.
    David Batiste (Terence Cates): He was on Blue in 00, and with his pal Ramon, was in A Bronx Tale.
    Marco Rodriguez (Fred Pescado): This talented guy has been in tons of movies and TV shows, and is most recognizable to Steven Bochco fans as Rico from Hill Street Blues. He was also in LA Law a few times, and on Bay City Blues. He was in NYPD Blue's pilot and in an episode in 00. He did a fine job playing Manny Ramirez several years ago in a story about the serial killer.
    Shaun Baker (Daron Hodges)--He was on Blue in 94 and 97 and has also been a guest on Chicago Hope and The District.
    Rene Rivera: (Hector Santos, massage parlor owner): He was on Brooklyn South once, also L&O and XFiles.
    Director Jake Paltrow returns for a spot behind the camera. I think his sister is somebody famous....maybe his parents, too.

    Not Previously on Blue but nonetheless recognizable:
    Lillo Brancato, Jr. (Gary): He was on The Sopranos.
    Daniel Baldwin (Frank Hughes): Too many movies to count, plus H:LOTS. Oh, and he's got some brothers nobody ever heard of.

    LINES OF THE WEEK:

    NOTE: Kim Delaney's Philly has been canceled. I've gotten no word yet on whether she'll come back to Blue.

    NEXT WEEK:

    9PM TWO-HOUR SEASON FINALE. No spoilers for YOU! Oh, OK. Here's a tease: The entire squad works an urgent case; Connie and Andy do something with their lips (talking maybe? Maybe.); Baldwin may have his eye on a new chick, and Papa John meets Rita. Tune in 9pm Tuesday: It's a two-hour show.

    Amanda Wilson