"Great Balls of Ire"
Season 12, Episode 3
Teleplay by Tom Szentgyorgyi
Story by Bill Clark & Tom Szentgyorgyi
Directed by Mark Tinker
I was not blown away by this one, but it had its high points. Let's get to that after this summary business:
Andy conducts a rather frightening interview with Anna, Theo's nanny, who continually calls him "Mr. Sipowicks." Anna swears she had nothing to do with it. She says she looked away because she got a phone call, but then says her cell phone must have died shortly after because she didn't get the calls Andy and Connie were making to her.
Andy goes to see Hatcher again and makes more threats, this time promising Hatcher that if he's involved, he'll end up dead. Hatcher continues to deny involvement and even gives Andy an alibi which checks out.
Andy also visits Fraker who is, by now, a drunk and working at a bar. He puts a drink in front of Andy and tells him to drink it or leave. He's outraged at the very sight of Andy and maintains the rage the entire time they talk. He denies he did anything, but tells Andy, "What goes around comes around."
Theo is unable to identify either Fraker or Hatcher from a photo.
Andy enlists Medavoy's help running the names of perps who may have it in for him. Medavoy thinks he has a lead, but it blows up when he discovers the perp in question has been dead for more than a year.
Theo has a nightmare late at night and comes out to the couch where Andy sits looking over his old files for clues. He curls up next to Andy to go to sleep safe.
Bird's pal Drew DeRoche, who shared a cell with Bird, told the cops Blair had been bothering Bird, keeping him from getting jobs, etc. Drew himself talked to Bird the night before his death, but says nothing seemed out of whack. He was trying to get a Bird a job on the construction crew he worked on. Drew himself was working on a kitchen installation at the time Bird died.
Hillary Blair is hauled in. She's a little wacky, and she admits bothering Bird but points out she's done nothing illegal. She doesn't give a shit that he's dead and couldn't care less that she'd made his life miserable. She's extremely hostile. She admits also that she's been in contact with the other victim, Eliza Todd, but refuses to say they ever discussed Bird. She tells the cops she'd never help them catch whoever killed Bird.
Murph does a little Internet detecting and turns up a post in a rape victims' newsgroup that threatens Bird. It's written by a poster called "marksman," and the cops are issuing a subpoena to find out who that is.
Meanwhile, a conversation with Eliza Todd proves her to be a complete mouse. She's timid, can barely hold eye contact with Rita and Murph and says she's trying to work out her feelings with a therapist and remain constructive. One of the reasons for this positive approach, she squeaks quietly, is that she became pregnant by Bird in the rape. She has a daughter by him. What she doesn't have is an alibi.
Later, things begin to look even worse for Eliza when the Internet service provider coughs up (under court order) her name as the person behind the newsgroup post from "marksman." Eliza confesses she made the threat, but she calls it cheap therapy. She says she never meant it. Clark and Baldwin tell her they're going to search her house, and she freaks out. She finally tells them that she has a gun, but that she's never used it. She just bought it off the street when she heard Bird had been released.
While Clark and Baldwin get the search of Eliza's place going, Rita and Murph follow up on a bar tab they found in Bird's garbage can that morning. At the bar, they discover Bird had been in there the night before arguing with a man who looks a lot like Drew DeRoche.
Drew's boss Steve Pines is hauled in to confirm Drew's alibi. It's clear Pines has been threatened, and after a little pressure is applied, he gives it up that Drew threatened his nephew Ben if Pines didn't cooperate. He admits he lied for Drew to back up his alibi, that Drew also threatened Ben in order to get the construction job which he barely works.
The cops get Ben transferred to Rikers from the prison where he was in danger from Drew. In exchange for a permanent transfer to Rikers, Ben tells what he knows about Drew and Bird. Apparently, Bird was Drew's "boy" in prison. He wore dresses and, according to Ben, the two men seemed to be actually in love in spite of the fact that Drew loaned Bird out to other men from time to time. Ben also heard that Bird was upset when Drew refused to take his calls after the two were released.
Back at Drew, Baldwin and Clark taunt him about being attracted to men. Baldwin even asks if Drew is attracted to him. Drew becomes angry, insists he's not gay, but it doesn't go very far. He admits he asks Bird to leave him alone, but that he wouldn't. He admits he'd gone to Bird's house that morning, eaten breakfast, carried Bird romantically to the bed and then murdered him.
The women are in the clear, except for Eliza who had an unregistered weapon. (More on that below in Bales Rules)
Bale gets magnanimous for ten seconds when Andy returns from seeing Theo at school and tells Andy he'll let it slide that Andy took some time without reporting in. Andy tells him he needs a day to catch up on his paperwork and asks if Baldwin can work the Bird homicide with Clark. Bale doesn't like this idea--maybe he suspects that Andy is going to use the time for something else (and he does, to investigate Theo's kidnapping)--but he goes along with it after making it clear to everyone that he's not setting a precedent.
Later, the detectives bring Bale up to date on the Bird homicide. He instructs them to take two additional steps. Silence follows for a while, then they pipe up and tell him that they'd actually already taken those steps. They follow up by quickly informing him that he wasn't around at the time they discovered the new information and couldn't tell him about it. He squints around the room, unsure, but accepts this and tells them they don't have to track him down but they do (just in case they missed it) have to make sure he's kept up to speed. He seems calm enough until he notices that Andy is gone and has not signed out. He lands on Phone John with both feet over this and accepts no excuses. He has an actual hissy fit right there in the squad room.
When Andy returns, Phone John shoves the book at him posthaste and begs him to sign it as a personal favor. Andy makes a snide comment about Bale and signs the book.
When Murph and Rita bring Bale up to date on Eliza Todd, he tells them to go after her on the gun charge. Murph balks at the notion. She explains that it's wrong to charge her for such a small mistake. She was a rape victim, she was scared and desperate when she heard Bird got out of prison, and she bought the gun quickly in order to make herself feel safe. Bale won't hear it. Murph tries again later to bring it up and Bale tells her no again adding that if the person in question were a 20-year-old black kid, she'd already have him booked.
Later, Bale is seen on the phone with a scowl on his face that would shame even George W. Bush. He busts out of his office and marches over to Rita whom he begins to dress down in front of the squad for screwing up the gun case on Eliza Todd. Rita failed to follow proper procedure, noted that fact on her paperwork and, oh by gosh by golly, the DA says the gun charge won't stick. Bale is pretty pissed off. Rita says she's sorry, she made a mistake. It's clear to everyone that she did this on purpose so there could be no charge against Eliza. Bale is furious. Andy tells him he's the one who made a mistake, and he tees off on Andy.
It is at the crime scene that Andy gets word of Theo's kidnapping. Clark is seriously concerned and offers assistance. Andy blows right past him.
Later, Clark and Andy have a few minutes in the coffee room. The quiet of a cease fire is just beginning to settle over them as Andy fills Junior in on the details of what happened with Theo when suddenly, two East Coast bar girls come to the squad to visit Clark. They have heavy Brooklyn accents to match their heavy only-in-Brooklyn eye shadow. They wiggle excitedly in their sausage casings at the very sight of JC. He, on the other hand, is near death from shame and struggling mightily to remember just where in hell he met these women and what the hell he told them. Apparently, he told them to stop by and he'd give them a tour. Greg trips over his tie offering to do it, and Clark shuts that idea down. But the girls won't go away without a few pictures. Greg plays cameraman while Clark stands between the two with a wooden grin framed in a lovely shade of scarlet. Disgusted, Andy leaves the squadroom.
At the end of the day, Clark and Andy have a few moments in the lockerroom. Clark, who is much less of an asshole all day long, tells Andy he really wants to help investigate the threats. Andy turns him down, telling him outright that he's not got his head on straight, he's drinking too much and that he can't be trusted. Clark is upset by this. He reminds Andy that he cleared a case that day, that he's been doing his job just fine. Andy tells him again to get his head on straight first. Until then, says Andy, Junior can't be trusted. Junior slams his fist into a locker and walks out.
The hole: At first, I wondered why in hell Andy wouldn't want every cop in NY to jump on this case--his kid was stolen, after all--then I thought it was probably because if he'd made a real case out of it, he'd have been pulled out of it. On the other hand, I'm thinking that if a cop's child were kidnapped, all the cops working the case on Andy's behalf would surely find a way to let him question the people he wanted to question. Unless I'm missing something, this just didn't ring true to me.
Andy is way too calm: The phone call should have rattled him more, or rattled Connie (whom we didn't and won't ever see) enough for him to raise his voice a little in an effort to calm her down, i.e., "Connie! Stay there in case he comes home!" Even after Theo was found OK, he seemed a little low key. I've seen Andy get more pissed off at the sight of a battered woman. I realize he's grown and all that, but physical threats on family members--particularly children--have driven even the calmest folk right up to the edge.
And there wasn't anything new in the story this week. We heard the same denial from Hatcher that we heard once before. We heard Fraker deny it--big shock. We had a promising lead fall flat. It just didn't move the story arc along, and the low-key Dennis didn't do much to move Andy's emotional needle, either.
What I thought was outstanding was Fraker. What a transformation! Actor Casey Siemaszko made the absolute most out of his few minutes back on Blue. Every ounce of what we'd imagined Fraker's rage to be was there and consistent through the entire scene. He was one pissed off boy, and he didn't let go of that for even a second. I truly loved that scene. I originally thought it would have been cool to have Fraker knock that shot back at the end of the scene, just to show how far he's fallen, but on second thought, I'm glad he put it away. It was perfectly clear how far he's fallen and NOT taking the drink lends credibility to his rage. I think that's a big part of what made the scene work. Fraker being pissed off wasn't just the booze talking. It certainly seems as if he could have something to do with the whole mess.
Speaking of drunks, Junior seems to have cleaned up in a hurry. Where was our disheveled mess? I loved it when the girls showed up (weren't they the perfect pair? Clothes, makeup, accents..everything!), and it was fun to see Junior be so embarrassed and forgetful, but I'd think our rouge detective would have reacted with a little more of his fun-loving, still-half-drunk boisterousness. And wouldn't it have underscored his screwed up situation more to have him be just as much of a stinky, sleepy jerk with Baldwin as he was with Andy and Rita these past few episodes? He seemed his old self tonight. In the scene in the locker room where he's trying to convince Andy to let him help with the investigation, it would have made so much more sense if his actions (slurring his words, or acting like he's fighting a major hangover or something) had underscored Andy's reservations. Instead, we ended up with Andy telling a perfectly trustworthy-looking guy that he can't be trusted. Sure, the Theo thing would have sobered him a bit, but only a bit. I wanted to see Junior struggling a little more with his demon throughout this episode, but especially at that moment. It's going to seem a little odd if he's suddenly a slacker again next week.
I was also a little surprised at the animosity between Murph and Rita this week I could be forgetting something, but didn't Rita make amends last week? If Murph rejected that, I missed it. She took it coolly, to be sure, but I didn't get the feeling she was largely pissed off. Then this week, she's slinging the snide comments. It was fun, though. I really like this new chick's attitude. I'm not so sure I want her and Rita to be pals.
What I wrote about the PAB story line, ditto the Bale story. Nothing new here this week, nothing that carries the arc along. He's a rule-bound prick. OK, so what does it all mean? It needs to have an effect on a case soon or it's going to get old fast. He needs to be proven right or wrong, or both, at some point. For example, I agree that Eliza probably wasn't going to do anything with the gun, especially now that the man she dreamed of killing is already dead, but couple the gun purchase with the Internet message about killing Bird, and it makes you wonder. It's the kind of thing that would come up 2 years later when she kills someone else. "Two years ago, a simple mistake by a detective kept this killer on the streets..." I don't know what would work, but the story needs to move.
Aside from a few really solid guest actor moments, and some more good stuff from Henry Simmons ("Do you find me attractive?") the homicide story didn't do much to enlighten us on our characters. Junior wasn't drunk enough, Baldwin didn't have to do anything outside of his usual role (like taking care of Junior or blowing his car horn to wake him up ala Andy). It didn't further the Bale story, and it didn't add to the tension between Junior & Andy or Rita & Murph. It did absolutely zilch for poor Greg (alas, doesn't everything lately? What IS the deal?). All I can say about this one is that it also didn't do anything for PAA John, and for that, I'm glad. (See Quick Hits). The first two episodes spoiled me; they set the bar back up high again: I want stories that expose and/or enlighten the characters we see each week and move them along in their life journeys.
*How does the bad DNA in Eliza's case matter much if there is a child from the rape? I mean, I don't watch CSI or anything, but I'd think that even if the sample from the victim is corrupted, there's still the child. I'd think a positive paternity test would be at least enough to take it to trial and let a jury decide.
*Thank you, O Great Whomever, for not including the oft-shown "gay stare of sympathy/horror" from PAA John in the case that involved a gay relationship. Good call.
*I know I've said it before, but it still amazes me how much Austin Majors looks as if he could be Dennis Franz's son, and even more as if he could be Michael Deluise's (Andy Jr.'s) brother.
*So far, no fall out from Junior's tryst with the crooked nurse. I hope this one comes back to bite him. But, of course, he's going to have to continue to be a jerk for it to have any impact.
*I wonder if Rita was calling Tony on her way out the door? Be fun to hear her say his name.
*Alas, poor Medavoy...he's been in the squad as long as Andy has and still, no memories of the "old days." Give this character something to do, please! Please? We out here in audience-land love him. We love him more than Rita, for example. What more do I need to say?
*So, Ben is incarcerated at Clinton. They must have flown him to Rikers because that has to be a 5 hour drive from NYC without traffic.
*Josh! Where's your buddy Hank? We may have to change the drinking game. (Well, someone needs to do that anyway, but I fear he's too old to care about drinking games anymore.)
*I wonder where Murph searched the net for info on Bird. She must have used Medavoy's computer. This, along with an email from a viewer last week, also makes me wonder where on earth the NYPD is finding typewriter ribbons these days. I haven't tried to look for one for, oh, ten or 15 years.
Previously on NYPD Blue: Scott William Winters as Stan Hatcher, Austin Majors as Theo Sipowicz, and Casey Siemaszko as Pat Fraker
Not previously on NYPD Blue: Pamela Roberts (Victoria Brinker, the principal) -- you've seen her on "The District," "ER," "Lois & Clark," "L.A. Law," "Hill Street Blues," and "Joan of Arcadia"
Gloria Garayua (Anna) -- no film or movie credits, but she's done a lot of theater work, most recently a production of "Two Sisters and a Piano" at the Old Globe in San Diego
Bob Koherr (Drew Deroche) -- he's appeared in numerous guest roles including the series "7 Days," "Brooklyn South," "Party of Five," and "Ned and Stacey," as well as starring in and directing an episode of the short-lived Comedy Central series "Strip Mall"
Sue Cremin (Hilary Blair) -- credits include the films "The Tao of Steve" and "The Good War," as well as voice work for the anime series "Hellsing"
Sami Simkin (Kelly) -- had a recurring role several years ago on "7th Heaven," as well as guest appearances on "Pacific Blue" and "Dead Last"
Jamie Sorrentini (Angela) -- guest roles include "L&O: SVU" and "The Sopranos"
Kristin Shaw (Eliza Todd) -- played the character of Janet Malloy on "Line of Fire" (last year's mid-season fill-in for "Blue"). She's also been on "JAG," "Threat Matrix," and Bochco's "Total Security," as well as the films "The Contender" and "The Last Castle"
James Avery (Steve Pines) -- Avery is probably best known for his role as Will Smith's uncle on "Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Other roles on his long and diverse resume include "The Division," "Beauty and the Beast," "Soul Food," and the film "Fletch," as well as tons of animation voice credits, most notably the voice of The Shredder on the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
Jocko Sims (Ben Pines) -- guest credits include "Yes, Dear," "Cold Case," "10-8," and "The Shield"
Michael Shamus Wiles (bartender) -- you've seen him on "CSI," "NCIS," "Malcolm In the Middle," "ST: Voyager," "Murphy Brown," "X-Files," and "Melrose Place
Junior to Greg: "Take the picture."
Murph to Baldwin after Baldwin says he's going to pick up Eliza Todd: "You better get a hall pass from the teacher first."
Additionally, I'm out of town on beeswax next week, so cub reporter Alan Sepinwall will be filling in. Give him a chance. He's OK--plus, he watches a lot of TV. You can find out more about Alan, his oddities, mine and the show's here. Enjoy!!