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

Episode 9, Season 6

"Grime Scene" 1/5/99

Teleplay by Doug Palau & Nicholas Wootton

Story by David Milch & Bill Clark

Directed by Michael M. Robin

 

Tying up some loose ends and leaving some new ones to vex us....

 

SUMMARY

KYLE WITNESS: Jill's 9-year-old son, Kyle, is in a convenience store with his baby-sitter when he witnesses a stick up and murder. He is the only witness, since the baby-sitter was in the bathroom. The murderer saw him, and even pointed an intimidating finger at the boy as he left the store. Kyle, being the good cop's son, gives his very best general description of the man and tells in great detail everything he can recall about the incident. Diane does the interview with Kyle, with Jill sitting by. Kyle says with certainty that he could pick the guy out of a line up if he had to. Jill doesn't want that; Diane says she'll find a way to make it OK. Later, Jill relates her fears that Kyle will have nightmares about the murder and states clearly she doesn't want her son to have to testify and face the killer. She fears for his safety and his sanity. Diane offers to take Kyle totally out of the picture, but Jill doesn't want that because she wants to make the case. Diane knows they have to get the guy without having Kyle testify. Diane conveys this to Danny, who seems to understand completely the need to find the guy and get him to confess so that there is no trial. They will all do what they can to protect Kyle. After a few dead ends trying to locate the guy through other similar robberies, they get a break when a woman reports she was a hit-skip victim near the scene of the murder. She got the license plate, and from that, they find a suspect. Andy can't go get him, so that leaves Danny and Diane to work the case alone together. There is an awkward moment when this is realized, but professionalism prevails and off they go. The man they interview isn't cooperative at first, and during the initial stage of the investigation, Danny refers once or twice to Diane as "my partner," something that's not lost on Diane, who keeps glancing at Danny when this remark is made. They find out this guy is the wheel man, and that his passenger went into the store, stole some cigarettes, and then told his friend to drive away fast. While Diane and Danny go get the friend, Jill talks on the phone to her other son and assures him all is well, even though she is upset. She returns to the room where Kyle is waiting asleep to find Leo Cohen peering in on the boy. Jill steps in front of the door and demands to know what Leo wants. Leo tells her he was just checking on Kyle, but Jill is suspicious when Leo asks if Kyle saw the murder. She says it's not clear what Kyle saw--she doesn't want him to know that Kyle is a witness. He tells her he's not there as an ADA, but as a friend, and says, "We have a relationship..." She tells him that she can't trust his part of the justice system right now, and that if he wants to be supportive he should just leave. He does.

Diane and Danny return with the passenger, Vince. They begin by telling him he's there to talk about the hit-skip. He's kind of a jerk, and Danny comes down a little harder. They tell him they think he killed the store clerk, and Danny lies that there was a couple in the store at the time who can testify against him. He says there was no couple there and he knows it's a lie. He's put himself in the store for sure, but he's also uncovered their game and has an upper hand. At this point, Danny really takes over and tells him that there was a little boy there who can and will identify him. Diane is made nervous by this---Danny is taking a huge risk with Kyle. Danny plays it out, and Diane eventually helps, saying that if he's cooperative, they'll do everything they can to help him. And telling him that if he's not, they'll come down harder on him than on anyone they've ever dealt with and lobby to make it a death penalty case. The guy confesses.

Diane and Danny go to Jill, who is holding the sleeping Kyle on her lap (trying to keep him from sucking his thumb, but eventually letting him). Wordlessly, they tell her all's well. She and Diane hug, and through eye contact, they both exchange thanks with Danny. Danny leaves, and Diane and Jill sit stroking Kyle's head and arms. Diane is clearly moved by the mother-child relationship and silently mourns her own heavy losses.

 

CAN GAME: James and Greg investigate the murder of a homeless man, Vic, who's had his head bashed in. They get a lead that it might be another homeless man Vic had beaten up a few days earlier. This guy is brought down to the house in all his grimy glory, totally stoned, and Greg and James try to get serious with him. He's so trashed that he can't tell them much. He's got blood on his shirt, but he says it's his own. Greg and James try getting all Sipowicz on the guy's ass by telling him that they know he's been in a territorial dispute with Vic over where they pick up cans for resale, and that he better get on the right side of things. During their bad cop-bad cop routine, the man promptly begins to snore. Greg and James remove his shirt hastily, knocking the man on the floor where he continues to sleep. The blood on the shirt turns out to be his own after all, and just and James and Greg are lamenting the prospect of spending the evening interviewing the flea-bitten homeless of their precinct, one such fellow miraculously stumbles into the 1-5 asking where they keep the magnet used for "mind salvation." He tells them also that he's looking for his knife, which Vic threw into the sewer. What a break! He tells our two that he bashed Vic's head in and put him in a dumpster, and even describes the murder weapon. Greg and James take him into an interview room, promising him they'll take care of his request for "mind salvation" and barely able to hide their glee that they're going to get done with work today in time for a beer with the guys later.

 

SYLVIA'S GUILT: Sylvia and Dornan are at Rikers to interview a con who has information about the Lopez murder and the murder of Suarez. (Background: Suarez confessed to murdering Lopez and Dornan and Sylvia put him in prison for it. Later Suarez wrote Sylvia telling her he was paid off to confess and finger a dude named Freddie for the murder. He also said his life was in danger. She's been overcome with guilt over the whole thing, but Dornan and Andy couldn't get themselves together in time to save Suarez from getting knifed in the laundry room and dying, leaving Sylvia more guilt-ridden than ever.) The man they talk to at Rikers agrees, after he gets his teeth fixed and 250-dollars put on his commissary account, to relay the whole story. He tells that Freddie killed Lopez over a territory dispute (drug deals), and that he recruited Saurez to take the wrap for it. Freddie promised Suarez that if he fell for the murder, he'd pay Suarez's wife a weekly amount in cash. Suarez went for it, ended up in prison where he learned that Freddie was paying his wife in chorizo instead of in cash. Freddie had Suarez killed in prison. The snitch also tells them the name of a guy who will probably corroborate. Now Sylvia, Dornan and Andy are trying to figure out how they're going to get Freddie.

 

THE TWO FACES OF DOLORES: In a short scene, we see Dolores sitting up in Anti-Crime with Upstairs John, apparently getting advice from him on how to save her job. Only it seems Dolores is not really taking John's advice Instead, she's writing out a list of her demands for Fancy and expects John to deliver them. We learn that Dolores has called John at home the past three nights, in tears, and asking him what she can do to save her job because it's the only thing that will save her from a destitute life of crime. John, being the sweetest guy we know, is trying to be helpful. He knows if she makes demands of Fancy, she's going to be in trouble, and he tells her so. She gets angry and denies that she ever called him. He asks her if she's the nice person who called him in tears or the smart-ass (words he had a very hard time saying) who stands before him now. Dolores continues her belligerence and storms out, leaving John frustrated and upset. (And probably in position to finally become Downstairs John.)

 

THREE BEERS AND A SODA: James, Danny, Greg and Diane go out to a bar together to blow off some steam after a big day at work. Diane is sipping soda. James appears to have had one too many. Greg is on the phone with his new girlfriend, Annie, and relays the exciting news that Annie has finally quit the job she hates. He leaves to go spend some time with her, but not before realizing that his happy talk about his new girl has left the quietly-mourning Diane a little uncomfortable. He tries to comfort her by repeating a few times what an honest day's work they've done and by touching her shoulder. Finally, he leaves. James, a little in the soup, glows on with Danny about Greg's girl and then also realizes that it's probably making Diane a little uncomfortable. He touches her hand apologetically and then goes to the bathroom. The waitress arrives with a beer for James, one for Danny, one for Greg and a soda for Diane. Danny remarks on Greg's beer, which will remain untouched since he's already left. Diane says nothing, but caresses the glass and gives the beer a mournful look of longing. Danny continues to encourage her by saying, "Waste not want not." Diane, who wants more than Danny can imagine, takes her hand away and drinks her soda. They talk politely about how nice it was to work together that day.

Later, James and Danny are waiting the trains to take them home. James is being bouncy, telling Danny that if he's too late, Gina will have him sleeping on the couch. Danny asks if Diane ever drinks. James says he's never seen her drink, but has never heard her say she doesn't drink. James tells Danny he's glad Diane was out with them because it's the first time since Bobby's death she's been out. And he's glad to see they're getting along, breaking the ice with each other, and that Diane is backing off from her initial anger with Danny. Just before James goes underground to catch his ride, Danny asks him for Diane's phone number. James leaves, and Danny goes to a pay phone, practicing what he'll say to her when she answers. "You seemed a little iffy at the bar...not that it's any of my business...not that it's any of MY business..." he dials, it rings, he gets her answering machine and hangs up. He walks away, amusing himself with some of James' earlier antics.

Into a liquor store, Diane walks. Embarrassed and already ashamed, she silently purchases a bottle of Vodka and walks out into the night.  


REVIEW

KYLE WITNESS: Not a bad little story. Two main highlights for me: Andrea Thompson's portrayal of a shaken-but-strong woman and the little bit of tension between Diane and Danny as Danny took the risk of exposing Kyle.

I wouldn't change a thing about the way Jill was played. She cried the way most women like her do---without incessant sobbing and still totally in control of herself and the situation. I thought this very realistic, and a positive portrayal of the emotions real women in difficult jobs express. I didn't used to say this about Blue, but now, with the addition of Jill and the growth of Diane, I can't think of a television show that more accurately portrays the beautiful balance that strong, intelligent and still totally feminine women maintain. It's not something that garners much recognition in the real world, so hats off and deep bows of thanks to those who pull this off so well.

I do wish, however, that just a tad more tension could have been built into the risk Danny took with Kyle. His intentions were clearly right on, and he had no choice but to do what he did, but it was a risk. It made Diane nervous. Just one more step or two here would have made this tension a little stronger. Not that I'm an expert storyteller, but wouldn't it have been interesting (and plausible) to have Jill behind the mirror watching the interview? She would have been really pissed/scared that Danny had come so close to exposing her son. She could have watched the man perhaps threaten Kyle, and maybe could have had a little tiff with Danny in hallway over it before Danny found his way to get the guy to confess. It was a really good twist to the usual attempts to get guys to confess---we had a reason to be rooting for that (a reason beyond making it a short work day, or seeing the bad guy get it fast), and it would have been fun to be a little more nervous over it.

 

CAN GAME: Speaking of not caring whether the case gets wrapped up... I guess this story was a way to give James and Greg, particularly the increasingly un-useable James, some face time on our TVs. I wasn't much moved by the story. I suppose that's because the cops around here wouldn't have contemplated spending that much time on the murder of a homeless guy, especially if another homeless guy was suspected of doing it. When the initial attempt to get someone didn't pan out, they'd have gone home. (Unless they were desperate for OT) But, James and Greg have a higher sense of morality, I suppose (or bigger bills), and, even though they didn't want to, made plans to go spend their evening talking to homeless drunks.

The story did provide some comic relief, of course, but we've come to expect that. Greg steps in dogshit; James rolls his eyes; Greg pulls a guys ear; the guy falls asleep and tumbles on the floor. I suspect some of you were tempted to also fall asleep and perhaps tumble on the floor. Hope you stayed with it though, because aside from this storyline, there were some really good moments in this episode.

Which brings me to a greater point on the subject of Greg and James: I've always liked Greg, you know, he's truly one of my favorite characters. But I guess I like to see him displaying all his insecurities and oddities and still being edgy. They've done that with Greg a lot, and I think it's no small thing--it's got to be hard has hell to think up and write, and a challenge for Gordon Clapp to play it so well. It's just that when Greg is strictly playing with James the Laurel and Hardy thing, it gets a tad tiresome.

And James....what to do with James? He's not the character he once was, and really can't be. He can't have been a wide-eyed, eager kid all the time, and so now, just what is he? I suspect TPTB wonder this from time to time. They're sort of trapped here, because James is not a major character and there's not much time they can (or should) devote to developing him the way they've developed our primary three. Methinks that if it weren't for the occasionally brilliant lines and stories for Greg, James would have been gone long ago. (Greg, in my opinion, is just too interesting to let go!)

 

SYLVIA'S GUILT: This story continues to bug me. Seriously, if it weren't for Richard Gant (the actor who plays Dornan), I wouldn't even like it slightly. I'm vexed by Sharon Lawrence's portrayal of Sylvia here. She seems suddenly weak. What's up with that? Isn't she just too g*damn busy to be shedding tears over a murdered skel? Hasn't she seen some other really nasty things in her life? She wasn't that upset and shaky when she was talking to a room full of sociopathic preppies who had raped a mentally handicapped girl and were getting away with it. (Now THAT was the Sylvia I liked.) Her voice was all shaky when she was talking the snitch at Rikers.... yech. Sad, because I've always really liked Sylvia.

 

THE TWO FACES OF DOLORES: Oh, kill her already! OK, OK, I'll calm down. I'm hoping that this little exchange between her and John is the prelude to some really cool exit for Dolores. Is she a split personality who will off herself? Or will she just get fired? What can it be? While I'm getting a little tired of seeing Dolores be a bitch, I must say that I'm totally intrigued. This is the best "cliff-hanger" in the show for me. I can't wait to find out what's next. (Strong hope that John will come back).

And how about John, continuing to endear us with his great, big heart. So hard for him to be rude and use bad language. He's all about "family values", isn't he? At his core? He's a fantastic contrast to the expectations of "society" and the norms of the Blue World. Love him, love him.

 

THREE BEERS AND A SODA: Speaking of cliff-hangers.... I haven't checked the NG yet, but I think I can already hear the groanings of the anti-Diane faction. OK, I've pretty much always liked Diane, so call me biased, but I have no problem AT ALL with this storyline.

Real people with real addictions fight them every day. It can be argued that it's a miracle this child of God hasn't already tipped the bottle. And who's to say she will? She just bought it---none of us saw her drink it.

And what of Danny? I'm so enamored of this character right now, that I found myself (shockingly to me, the world's biggest Bobby fan) very OK with the notion that he might be interested in her as more than a work partner. Again, however, we don't KNOW that he is. He could have just been calling her because he wants to reach out to a new friend. That'd be very nice, too. I'm hooked on this thing---hooked on not knowing.

That said, I'll state my hope for Diane: I understand that she's tempted to drink, and I think it realistic. If she does, however, I hope she can get herself out of it. Bobby was her knight in shining armor--he saved her, took care of her. Now she's on her own. I hope she learns that she has to do this herself--she had to do it herself all along.

Another note: everything worked with Diane in this story. Her lines and Kim's portrayal were spot on. She's in deep pain, but she hasn't spoken of it. We know this through her actions, and mostly through Kim's face (a trick from the Smits School of Acting?). She did it marvelously well. Kim hasn't hit anything near a clunker this entire season. Very impressive stuff.

 

Quick Hits:


Again, apologies for the lateness of this.

Well, whadja think?

 

Amanda Wilson