NYPD Blue: Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Episode 15, Season 6
"I Have A Dream" 4/6/99
Double Dennis! Now I know why he showed up at the SAG awards without the fur on his lip....(more on that later)
All Jung Up On Racism
Andy has a dream at the start of the show that Jung would surely love. He's an adult in the dream, but he's remembering his father (also played by Dennis Franz, sans mustache) who lost his eye in a fight with a black man. We learn that Andy's dad was a meter reader, and that his boss was not happy with him missing a few clients due to his drinking. Andy's dad takes off that evening to read the meters he missed, promising to bring his son "a stupid goldfish." He returns with his left eye missing, blood pouring through his hand, (and no goldfish, by the way). The black man whose meter he was reading attacked him with a hammer. Andy's dad blames it all on the "nigger" who attacked him, and shows his empty eye socket to Andy. Andy's dream dad reveals much when says to Andy "What kind of son are you? Now your nigger friend Dornan just cost me my eye!" In the dream, Andy sits in a corner with his hands over his own eyes. He wakes in a sweat.
Later, he tells Danny of his dream, and he uses his near-famous symbol for blacks, drawing his hand down over his face. (Bobby and Sylvia had negative reactions to this the first time they saw it, too) Danny tries to confirm that means a black, and Andy chastises him for using that word, calling it "language like that." Danny tells Andy that maybe he should call Dornan--maybe the dream means he should talk to Dornan. Andy scoffs at the notion, but later meets Dornan in a bar.
Dornan is characteristically steely at their meeting. Andy just launches into the story of his dream. And he tells how he's realized through this dream that his father's problem was his own fault and not the fault of a black man--since he was a drunk and he missed the meter readings. He realized that his father was attacked because he'd returned to do the meter reading late at night and the tenant thought he was a burglar.
Andy then apologizes to Dornan for being so hard with him and thanks him for helping out with the Suarez case and for helping him figure out the dream. Dornan responds in what we've come to know as typical Sipowicz behavior, even using a Sipowicz line: "Pin a rose on you." And he calls Andy a "piece of Pollock crap." He continues his Sipowicz parallel by downing a shot of whiskey and telling Andy's he's fallen off the wagon after 11 years. He tells Andy to pay for his drinks and they'll call it even. As he swaggers out of the bar, Andy flashes back to his own father walking much the same way and blaming the "niggers" for losing him his job.
Andy is shocked by this flashback, but gets up to go home, promising himself he won't drink.
In this story, we meet our new young uniform friend Neil Baker again. (We first met him in the Peabody Award winning episode "Raging Bulls," where he accidentally shot an off-duty cop.) This time, Baker has shot a suspected drug dealer. He swears the dealer had a gun, but after the shooting, neither the dealer's drugs or gun can be found. Baker is very nervous, but glad to see Danny, who helped him out of his last jam.
Danny's also got a snitch on the scene whom we've met before: JB, the singer wannabe who gave Danny some info in a previous ep. hoping it would help him out in the future.
Danny tries to calm Baker's nerves by telling him that it's likely the drug dealer's gun and stash are missing because it's common on the street for one little gangster to call the cops on another, hoping that when the cops show up the gangster with the drugs will drop them where they can be easily picked up (or "glommed," as Danny put it). Baker's still nervous, and every bit of it shows as he talks to the cheese-lovin' fella from IAB (Martens). He says he was on foot patrol when he saw the dealer, and that the dealer pulled a gun on him. He fired twice.
Meanwhile, JB cracks open with some information on credit. JB tells that things happened just as Danny described to Baker. Danny wants a name, and tells JB that if he finds the guy who did it, he'll help JB get some time in a recording studio.
After his sit-down with Martens, Danny tells Baker that he was too nervous and that Martens could smell it.
Danny later tells Andy he's worried about Baker's state of mind. Andy replies that "not everybody's supposed to be a cop."
JB calls in later with the name of the little gangster (Purcell) who called the cops on the dealer and probably stole the gun. Danny tells him he's going to be an accessory to murder if he doesn't spill it. Andy reminds him what happens to little guys in the joint, and he admits making the call. He names Jerome Banks as the guy who took the dealer's gun.
Jerome, age 16, "a man since he was 12," and a new father, finally gives it up after being told he can skate on his crimes. (And after Andy tells him that if he doesn't his "nuts are gonna look like that scavenger dog's after he gets flattened on them cartoons." ) Jerome says he saw the dealer reach for the gun, and that the gun is hidden now in the apartment of his other girlfriend, under the mattress of the crib of his other baby. Danny tells Andy it's Wile E. Coyote in the cartoons.
Shannon arrives with news that JB got himself busted along with another guy. Danny thinks it's so he could bring this other guy in for Danny to talk to. Danny goes to the lock-up and meets JB's friend. He's the dealer's running buddy. Andy comments on how neatly the case wrapped up in favor of Baker, but Danny says he still questions whether Baker is cut out for the job.
Martens and Danny talk later at Martens' suggestion. Martens tells Danny he's going to clear Baker, but that he can't tell Baker yet because he hasn't taken it through IAB yet. He lets Danny do it, after commenting that these kinds of cases make him lose sleep because the cops he makes right are the ones who maybe shouldn't be on the street.
Danny tells Baker he's cleared, but tells him that he needs to get himself together. He tells Baker the skels can feel his fear and doubt, and that he needs to figure out if he's really cut out for it. Baker tells how his son is sick and needs constant care. Danny tells him he can't bring his worries on to the street.
That evening, Danny has a nice friendly chat with Diane and Jill in the squad after Andy's gone home. He tells what he likes about his snitch JB. He asks twice if Andy's left yet, seeming to look for a little more of a foothold in feeling comfortable, but Jill and Diane are very open and accepting. He doesn't need anything extra with them.
The Cop Formerly Known As Vince
Former 1-5 detective Vince Gotelli shows up in the squad asking for help with one of his insurance cases. No one is happy to see him, least of all the women (who've likely heard the story of the "tit cup.") Sadly for them, Russell and Kirkendall are catching. Vince explains that one of his insurance company clients insures a car belonging to a "mobbed-up" guy named Messina. Messina's car keeps getting trashed, and he keeps making claims. Vince knows it's Messina's neighbor, Grotowski, and wants Diane and Jill to get that on the record so the insurance company can make someone else pay.
Messina comes in asking for "Russell Kirkendall." Diane and Jill introduce themselves. He thinks he's being set up by the government and goes into a lot of spy theories by way of explaining that he's not going to cooperate. Diane suggests the simple answer that maybe it's his neighbor who's mad about the laundry and that he should just file a criminal complaint. Messina tells her that it'd be ridiculous for a mob guy to go to the cops to solve a problem, and asks if the cops would go to a mob guy to solve a problem.
Grotowski comes in. He doesn't admit to much except that the way the Messina's do the laundry really bugs him. He's got quite a temper.
Later, Jill and Diane are called to a homicide at Messina's building. They expect it to be Grotwoski--but it's Messina. Grotowski was found over the body with a baseball bat. The Messina family is quick to blame the cops for not preventing the crime, but Diane shoots back that they'd couldn't do much since Messina wouldn't file a complaint. Grotowski, meanwhile, throws up.
All Jung Up On Racism
Ok, so everyone says a show is on the skids when you start seeing dream sequences. I'll suggest two reasons for that: 1) A dream story is usually a cop-out---a short-cut toward exposing vital information about a character's inner process. 2) Most of the time, they insult the intelligence of the audience, as if to say "We knew you wouldn't figure this out about this character unless we spelled it out really slowly for you..."
In this case, I'd say the first of those two things is true--it was a short cut. We could have learned the truth about Andy's dad's experience in a much different way (having him investigate a case connected to the man who hammered dad's eye out, as an example, and hearing the real story, or coming across the ancient old cop who probably investigated the assault....).
But I can't trash it completely because, thankfully, I didn't feel as if I was being "talked down to" by this sequence. Cheated out of a more interesting way to reveal this information, yes, but treated like a dummy about it, not really.
The symbolism in the dream interested me a lot. Andy sat there with his eyes covered. Jung would ask Andy why his eyes were covered, and Andy would likely respond with "so I couldn't see." Ah ha! That's it! Simple answer which reveals so much about Andy. He couldn't see the truth when he was a child (who can?). He had to rely on his father, as we all do, no matter what his flaws. It's only in adulthood that we have the wherewithal to look back with an objective..um..eye and see what really was. (Of course, not everyone in adulthood is that lucky--namely, Andy's father.)
Andy also got a really good look at that empty eye socket. It's revolting, and he was repulsed by it. As if to show that Andy's father's own "inner eye" was gone forever, meaning dear old dad would never have been able to see his own problem. Andy is indeed luckier than his father. It seems to be that awareness that brought him to his meeting with Dornan.
I've written before that Dornan is Andy in a different sack of skin. How true that turns out to be--but it's the Andy of the past, not the Andy we know now. It seems more accurate to say now that Dornan is the old Andy--the Andy his father raised him to be. But now that Andy knows better, he can look at Dornan and actually see his own father and his own future if he'd not woken up at some point and put down the booze. Andy is walking farther away by also putting down the racism as much as he can. Dornan still clings to both tightly--he could have been Mr. Sipowicz's other son, couldn't he? And what an irony that is.
My favorite little bit of symbolism in this whole thing might have been an accident of fate--but seeing Andy sitting opposite Dornan in that booth at the bar, it struck me like a thunderbolt how much Dornan dwarfed Andy. Andy looked like a little kid sitting there, which made Dornan as the father symbol that much stronger. Richard Gant must be a huge man to be able to make Dennis Franz look that small. Or maybe he was sitting on some phone books....I never noticed that much of a difference in their size before.
A few little problems with all of this: I enjoyed seeing Dennis Franz get to do something different, but he might have overdone all of this just a tad. My only complaint about Dennis is that once in a while he gets a little...well, I've always called it "eye-bally" before, but that doesn't seem right in light of the storyline here...maybe this time I'll say "gaspy"--rolling his eyes, gasping, just a little too much. He could probably play it a little more subtly and make the same powerful points.
Another thing: When Andy walks in and starts telling Dornan about the dream, there's a line of his that threw me totally. I can't recall it at this moment, but it seemed to me that Andy was talking to Dornan as if he expected Dornan to know a lot of background that he couldn't possibly have known. This made me wonder if that scene in the bar were also a dream. My mind was rolling with that right up until I saw Andy's flashback at the end, and by then I wasn't sure at all if the Dornan meeting was dream or reality. I've since found out that it was reality, so if you're also wondering, there's the truth.
I have the feeling in this story (as I did in the dream story, by the way) that this was something once dreamed up for Bobby Simone. I have nothing on which to base that--it's just a feeling. This is a Bobby, or even Kelly, type of story. Mr. Cool calms the nerves of a young buck and highlights the fact that not everyone is cut out to be a cop.
That said, I have to take my hat off Rick Schroder and bow deeply because I found him totally convincing playing this role. It may have been out of synch a bit, however, for someone who admittedly has problems with "getting stirred up." I don't have a big problem reconciling that, though. I'd like to forget, actually, that Danny doesn't like getting stirred up. I'd much rather see him like he was in this episode.
More fine work here from Kevin Dillon as Baker. He's got a lot of talent, and I enjoyed seeing him again. (Also saw "Platoon" again recently--he does a knockout job in that film.)
Yes, the case was wrapped up neatly (even Andy commented on that), but solving the case wasn't the point of this one. What does it take to be a cop? That is the question. Maybe Baker doesn't have it, but Sorenson seems to.
The Cop Formerly Known As Vince
I guess all the Vince fans were happy with this one. Frankly, it didn't do much for me. Maybe it's because I could care less about insurance companies--combine that with the old windbag Gotelli, and I'd rather be snoozin'.
Since we've gone full-tilt and back a few times with the racism thing, I was kind of hoping for a little more of the sexism angle to be played out here, Vince being a well-known perpetrator of sexism and all, but beyond a few groans and eye-rolls from J & D, this didn't go anywhere.
Please note, however, that this case had a really different twist in that it ended with a homicide rather than beginning with one. And since we all knew who-done-it, we didn't have to see the easy wrap-up back at the House after Grotowski washed his mouth out (as planned by Diane, you may recall.)
LINES OF THE WEEK:
A few candidates:
Andy to JB: "Excuse me stubbing my toe on your high moral standards."
Cop at Messina crime scene describing the vomiting Grotowski: "The perp with the heaves is the downstairs neighbor."
CAST LEGACIES & SUNDRY INFO:
Returning to our beloved Blue:Scott Allan Campbell as Martens, Kevin Dillon as Baker, Carmine Caridi as Vince Gotelli, James McBride as Shannon, Mike Sabatino as Martelli, Richard Gant as Dornan, Jeff Cahill as JB.
Blue Newbies (from what I can tell, anyway. Apologies if any of the following have appeared before): Eric "Ty" Hodges II as Purcell (most impressive, I might add), Samuel Jones as Jerome, Harvey Silver as Jackson, Johnny Williams as Anthony Messina (also impressive), and Dave Florek as Joe Grotowski. Dave must be the brother of Dann Florek, who's played in Blue, but may be more familiar from his roles on Law & Order and LA Law. I'm not certain of this--just going on an unusual last name and what looks like a family resemblance.
A little personal note: From now on, I'll be posting the summary/review most weeks on Wednesday afternoons (eastern time.) My "morning drive" hours and a few other work-related things will keep me from staying up late on Tuesdays to watch and then write about the show. It's a labor of love, doing this, but if I don't get some sleep, I'm going to crash in a bad way. (When the planets are aligned just right, I am the recipient of great generosity in the form of an advance copy of the show--at those times, as now, I'll be able to write early. I won't post early then, so as not to spoil it for you, but I can post it Wednesdays I get up in the morning. Since that's way before the crack of dawn, you might find it on a Wed. morning)
My thanks in advance for your understanding.
Amanda Wilson (Puedo01@aol.com)