"Death By Cycle"
Season 10 Episode 5
Teleplay by Keith Eisner
Story by Bill Clark & Keith Eisner
Directed by Jake Paltrow
Lots of powerful scenes make this tearjerker a winner and a fine tribute to the director's director father, Bruce Paltrow. (More on that below).
Catch up with the summary or skip to m'review:
Back at the house, a man named Damien Bryant shows up with the bike. He runs an appliance store and says some kid he doesn't know sold him the bike that morning. He later heard about the murder, found blood on the bike and decided to turn it in.
Andy and John figure he's lying about not knowing the kid and pressure him some. He's afraid of retaliation from local gangs, but gives up a description of the kid and tells them he hangs out around a pool hall in the neighborhood. They go to the pool hall to find him.
The pool hall owner gives them a hard time, but they find the kid soon enough. He says his name is Mike, but his ID says he's Charles Cooper.
Charles denies that he had anything to do with the bike snatching. When he finds out there were witnesses, he coughs up the name of his pal Grover. He says he just ran into Grover on his way to the store and then they saw the kid on the nice bike. He says Grover tried to muscle the kid out of it and ended up stabbing him. Grover then ordered Charles to sell the bike, which he did.
Charles agrees to set up a meet with Grover in which he'll turn over the money from the sale of the bike. He gives them his car so Grover will buy the whole thing. Charles has a clean record, so they trust him on all this. Baldwin is going to put on Charles' signature hat and drive the car.
Greg and Tony get Charles to make the call to set up the meet. After he does it, Greg takes him back to the interview room to write up his statement. When he turns to get a notepad out of a drawer, Charles-with-no-criminal-record stands up, grabs a chair and whacks Greg in the side of the head with it. While Greg is dazed and bleeding, Charles jumps out a second floor window to the street below and runs away.
Medavoy is freaked out. Connie starts to put the escape over the air and Medavoy stops her. Tony agrees to hold off on that and the three of them go downstairs. Outside, they find a witness telling a uniform she saw the guy land and run away. Tony gets the uniform to leave and they find out from the witness that Charles left in a cab. Medavoy, who has blood all over his shirt, starts telling people he ran into a door.
Medavoy calls Andy on the stake out to tell him what happened. Andy tries to reassure him that he's not an idiot, then hangs up and calls him a numbskull. Grover approaches the car with Baldwin in it just then and they grab him up. His cell phone rings and Andy answers. It's Charles and Andy lets him know that they've told Grover he turned him in.
PAA John offers Medavoy some rose hips and aloe for the gash on his head, but Medavoy isn't having any of it. Tony tries also to comfort Greg, but he's nearly inconsolable. Nothing like this has ever happened to him, and he's worried about the endless ball breaking. Tony tells him if they can't find Charles by the end of the tour, he's going to have to let the story out. Greg gets on it right away, grabbing Grover's cell phone from Andy to trace the call from Charles.
John and Baldwin talk with Grover. He says he had nothing to do with the stabbing. He puts it all on Charles whom he refers to as Coop. John calls him Charles at one point and Grover just cracks up. He tells them that Coop's real name is Terrell Cooper, not Charles Cooper. Charles is Terrell's brother and Charles has been paralyzed for six months after a car accident. Terrell uses his name and ID because Charles has no record.
Not happy they got played, John and Baldwin explain the situation to Tony. Greg gets the best lead: he's traced Cooper's call to Grover back to a pay phone and says the next call from that phone was a woman named Monica. He's found that Monica is the same chick who bailed Terrell out a few months ago. John and Baldwin go to her place. Greg wants to go, but Tony won't let him.
Outside Monica's door, they can hear her getting it on with Terrell. Fearing he'll jump out another window--even it is five floors up--they break down the door and grab Terrell mid-hump. Monica's not sorry to see him go.
Back at the station again, Terrell is again putting the whole thing off on Grover. He seems to like playing the game until John shows him a picture of the victim. This is when he realizes it's a murder. Baldwin tells him he'd better explain it all or they'll thrown in the escape charge and let the DA throw the book at him.
Terrell considers for a minute then tries again to blame Grover. John blows up at him and makes one last offer to help with the DA. Terrell finally explains that he stabbed the kid so he wouldn't look like a wimp in front of Grover. He didn't mean to kill the kid.
Later, in the locker room Greg's depression takes root. Baldwin tries to comfort him, telling him it could have happened to any of them. Greg's not really hearing it though. He's afraid the uniforms are never going to let him forget it. Baldwin says if it makes him feel better, they can go in and beat the crap out of the guy. Greg takes this suggestion to mean that he couldn't handle it without Baldwin. Baldwin says he didn't mean it that way and offers to go get him drunk or something. Greg won't be consoled, though, and before he leaves just tells Baldwin not to worry about it.
Tony isn't happy Connie is spending more time on the matter and asks her to wrap it up. Connie agrees and goes off to the fleabag motel where Frank and Michelle have been staying.
Connie has a bit of a confrontation with the desk clerk at the motel trying to find Michelle. He gives up that Frank left a few hours earlier and then tries to give Connie a little bag of crap over it. She takes care of him with a few well-chosen words and gets the key to the room.
Inside, she finds Michelle bleeding on the bed. Her face is cut up, but she seems otherwise OK. Connie calls for an ambulance while Michelle tells her everything's going to be fine.
At the hospital, the doc says she's got severe bruising and concussion, and he wants to do some tests and keep her overnight. Michelle doesn't want to but Connie convinces her to stay. Connie also asks where she can find Frank and tells Michelle that she's going to bring him in. Michelle doesn't want that either, but really isn't up to arguing much over it. Connie shows her a pay stub from a telemarketing agency she's found in the motel room and says she's going to find Frank. They have a little hug, Michelle is wheeled away for tests and Connie leaves.
On her back to the station house, she calls in the information on the pay stub and Rita checks it out. She finds out two things from the telemarketer boss: first, that Frank hangs out a place called The Frosty Mug and second, that she has a "naughty teacher voice" that would be perfect for telemarketing. She acts on only one of these tips.
Back at the hospital, Connie is told to wait for the doctor. She knows something bad has happened. He asks her to sit down, but she won't. He tells her that Michelle had some abdominal bleeding that they hadn't detected right away and that it forced her into early labor. Connie begins to crack, sure the baby has died. The doctor tells her the baby is a girl and that she's in neonatal ICU where it's touch and go. Relieved, Connie smiles at the thought of the child and seems prepared to do whatever it takes to see the baby through.
As she breathes her sigh of relief, the doctor continues. He tells her that the bleeding was very bad, Michelle was under a lot of stress from the labor and the C-section, and Connie slowly begins to realize that there is some really bad news here. The doctor tells her Michelle didn't survive. Connie receives the news like a punch to the gut. She lands in a chair and sobs.
New reaches the squad when Connie calls Andy to tell him what happened. Now they're dealing with a murder, and Andy takes the case.
Rita is still working it too. At the Frosty Mug, she listens while the bartender tries to impress his daytime clients by harassing her. In a quieter corner, Rita threatens to shut his place down if she doesn't give up the goods on Frank. The bartender recognizes his picture and says Frank was there that morning talking about getting a bus to Pittsburgh to see his Mom.
Andy goes to the hospital to find Connie. She's making phone calls but falls apart again when she sees him. She's been calling family and friends. Andy offers to help but she says she wants him to help by getting Frank. She says she's going to stay by the baby's side and she wants Andy on Frank.
Andy and Rita stake out the bus station. Andy warns Rita that if Frank tries to make a move, she might need to walk away. Rita doesn't seem to get the warning at first.
They spot Frank boarding the bus and Andy grabs him. Frank turns into a wimp right away and says he's getting out of town like Andy told him. When Andy drags him off he starts blaming the whole thing on Michelle.
At the station house, Andy restrains himself. He holds back beating the crap out of Frank and also holds back telling Frank Michelle is dead. He and Rita get Frank to tell them how he fought with her the night before and again in the morning. Michelle was telling him he had to find a job and he got mad. He says he hit her but that she hit him, too. He says he left before things got really out of hand.
Rita makes him write it all down while Andy leaves the room. He's just about to add an apology to his statement when Andy comes in and takes it away from him. He checks it over to make sure it's all there how Frank beat her. Then he tells Frank that Michelle is dead.
Frank doesn't believe it. He's as shocked as Connie was and thinks the whole thing is just Andy messing with him. Andy tells him he's a collar for murder and Frank starts to believe it a little bit. He remembers the baby for a second and Andy grabs him up and warns him not to pretend he cares now. Andy slams him face first into the table and cuffs him. Frank begins to wail.
ADA Heywood stops in and promises Andy that she'll personally see to it that Frank goes away for as long as possible.
Andy and PAA John arrange Theo's evening, and Andy goes back to the hospital. He finds Connie in neonatal ICU where the news about the baby is good. Connie expresses guilt over Michelle's death and says she'll never let the baby down. They stand at the incubator together and Andy promises her that they'll work it all out.
On to the rest of the story: So this guy Terrell jumps from a second floor window and is OK! If I hadn't heard of this kind of thing happening in real life (a guy did it during a court case I covered once), I wouldn't have believed it either. Adrenaline is amazing stuff.
I was left a little cold by the sidestreets this story took. The victim's father was great, and I sort of expected to see more of him. I also thought Andy's pissy attitude with the old lady at the top of the show was going to go somewhere, especially when Baldwin walked up. But that didn't happen either.
In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if we aren't losing our grip on good old Andy a little bit. The show has always been about his evolution as a human--everyone remembers what a prick he was, but what few remember is that during that first season Andy also showed his caring side and his struggle with all of that. He fell in love with Sylvia then, after all (and after throwing her out in a drunken rage). So it shouldn't be a shock when Andy acts less than professionally or is downright mean to someone, right? Wrong. It doesn't fit any more. Andy referring to the old woman as a ghoul and John admonishing him before he spoke to the woman seemed really out of place. The problem is not that Andy has morphed into Mr. Perfect over the past 9 years; the problem is that we don't see Andy struggling with this anymore. We see him playfully goofing around with Theo, giving Connie tremendous support during her dark moments, etc. and then we see Andy being just plain mean. There's something missing: the conflict he's always had reconciling these two parts of his personality. Watching Andy slam a skel into a wall is one thing. We don't need any more context for that action, but just wandering up and calling the woman a ghoul is mean-spirited and needs a little fleshing out in order to make it fit. Don't get me wrong: I love it when Andy's mean, but it works best when there's a little depth to it. (Perfect example was the short arc where Andy is babysitting the freaky old lady who tried to make him sing--he was both nasty and loving at the same time.)
I'm just saying that I think we need another shot of Andy's inner struggle soon. I'll expound a bit more on that idea below...
I think Charlotte can submit the scene where she finds out her sister is dead for her Emmy bid next year. The scene was structured beautifully and she nailed it. You know right away that something's wrong. She knew it, too, and we saw that. The doctor started explaining about the baby and she thought the child had died. When she found out that it was just premature, she bounced back. In about a half-second you could see the relief she felt that everyone was alive and the resolve she had to see it out--she seemed so clearly to be thinking that even though this wasn't great news, it wasn't anything she couldn't deal with. She even smiled a little. Then the shocking news came that Michelle, who had seemed fine enough earlier, didn't make it. It was a big blow and she reacted as if she'd been sucker punched by life. Who hasn't felt that way at one time or another? I sprang a few involuntary tears at this scene. It was so good, it almost makes me forget how much I'm going to hate Connie and Andy with two kids...
OK, so, this is where we need a little more Andy angst. Angsty, we can call it, Angsty Slippingwits, because that's just the shot in the arm we need. Andy can be Mr. Supportive and Mr. Sensitive, but we need to see him climbing over rocks and getting cut by razor wire on his way to it.
We got some good Rita time this week. I was really enjoying her in that scene with the bartender. Well-written, and both actors were right on it. The scene in the car with Andy, however, made me wonder where her brains went. I think that either I missed something or this was put together all wrong: Andy was telling her that if he got the chance, he'd beat or even kill Frank. She didn't get it, so he asked her if she heard him. And a second time, she didn't seem to get it. She just kept talking about how she didn't think Frank would fight. Andy's point, which was pretty riveting, got lost in that.
I liked the wrap up of it. Andy restrained himself in order to set Frank up for a full ride in prison. That's evolved-Andy there, but old Andy couldn't resist slamming his face into the table at the end. (How cool would it have been to see a tooth come flying out then?)
A word about Nicholas Lea: he did such a great job in this episode. I wasn't all that impressed with him up until that last scene. He seemed so conflicted, as men who act on such brutal impulses often are: he felt love for Michelle, and that seemed clear, but he couldn't grasp the fact that his own anger would keep him from really knowing how to love anyone, and that in this case, it lead directly to a person's death. All of that got mixed up in there with real cowardice and selfishness and came sailing out in his pathetic sobs at the end. Lea and the lines written for him captured it perfectly.
*Several guest stars stood out this week: The guy who played the father of the dead kid (Isiah Whitlock), the bartender Rita dealt with (Robert Catrini) and the motel clerk (Googy Gress) were all superb. The value of this excellent casting can't be overlooked. These characters add so much to the show.
*I didn't really get Andy making the haircut comment. I rolled it back and watched it a few times to see if he was talking to the guy with dreds, but he wasn't. Something must have been cut from this, or what am I missing? I couldn't really see the guy's hair.
*Rita and her "naughty teacher" voice....OK. I wouldn't characterize it that way, but whatever. Was this supposed to make us think the guy had some weird sexual thing going on? If so, it didn't work. He wasn't quite slimy enough. Nice idea, though. I'm sure female cops get that kind of comment every day.
*Frank's from Pittsburgh, huh? He didn't have the trademark accent, an at. Wonner if he lived dahntahn, like on th' Sahth Side. Wonner if he called his mom so she could red up before he got there....wonner if he knows what red up means...or what a gumband is, an at.
*Great moment when Greg was hiding his head wound from Valerie. Of course, he couldn't hide the blood that was all down the front of his shirt...
*Ya know, Monica sure was making a lot of noise for a chick who was dealing with a sunflower seed....poor girl. The things we have to deal with...
*PJohn's shirt matched the top of his rose hips & aloe.
*This episode was dedicated to TV producer/director Bruce Paltrow who died just a few weeks ago. You may not get the connection since Mr. Paltrow wasn't involved in NYPD Blue. He has friends who are, though, and his son directed tonight's episode. Many probably know of Bruce Paltrow because he's got a really famous daughter, Gwyneth, but he made his name in television on shows like St. Elsewhere, The White Shadow (both of which he worked with Mark Tinker on) and others. His son Jake has been directing for a while. There probably couldn't be a better tribute to man's work than to have his son carry it on. Lucky Jake to have learned so well, and lucky us to have papa Paltrow's legacy living on in such fine style.
Jason Azikiwe (Damian Bryant)--An SPB alum from Murder One and City of Angels. He's also done ER, Chicago Hope, Judging Amy and CSI.
Goggy Gress (Otto Fleck the desk clerk)--He's been in tons of movies and has also done ER, The Practice and Frazier.
Fredro Starr (Charles/Terrell)--He did Blue back in 98. He was half of a hip-hop group for a while, too. He also played Quinton on Moesha and has done L&O and NY Undercover.
Ron Perkins (David Bender the telemarketer)--He was Dr. Wendell Stromm in Spiderman.
Ephriam Benton (Grover)--He was on Third Watch.
Robert Catrini (Lanny the bartender)--He did Blue last year and in addition to tons of other things, has been on L&O, Becker & Buffy the Silly Vampire Slayer.
Joan Copeland (the woman Andy called ghoul)--She played a judge many times on Law & Order (Judge Stein). She's also a soap veteran from Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life, One Life to Live, As the World Turns (God, who makes up these names?) and she was also on Cagney and Lacey.
Previously on NYPD Blue: Katherine LaNasa as Michelle, Nicholas Lea as Frank. Rounding out the cast: Joey Coco Davis as Manny the pool hall guy, Michael Holden as the doctor, Latasha Hutcherson as Monica, Brendan Conner as Uniform 1, James Eugene Davis as Uniform 2, Patrick Robert Smith as Uniform 3 and Michael Echols as Echols the 4th Uniform.
Baldwin trying to get Terrell off his girlfriend Monica and into
cuffs: "Shut up you little prick."
Monica, who would know: "Little prick is right."
Terrell: "Shut up Monica."
Monica: "Hung like a sunflower seed."
Drop me a line-- Amanda Wilson