"Guns and Hoses"
Season 9 Episode 15
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Craig Zisk
Another super episode. A little thin on cop stories maybe, but the personal stories more than make up for it. Everyone's very busy this week! (Including me: see personal note below.) Now for the summary; the review follows.
A few dead ends later, they run across a woman who's husband had been calling and making threats. Mrs. Stancil answers the door with one of her brood in her hand and the other three screaming in the background. She's got a huge shiner. She tells Andy and John she has no idea where her husband is but assures them he'd never call and harass the clinic. They tell her they have her number on caller ID. Oh, she says. They get her to tell that she had an abortion behind her husband's back (because four kids and a black eye are much too much) and that he was angry at her for it. Then they tell her about the fire bombing. She says he'd never do something like that. Andy plays her the 911 tape and she recognizes her husband's voice. She turns the bastard in right away.
With Mr. Stancil, Andy and John J. are a little more crafty. They play along like they'd be the kind of guys who would agree that women should be home barefoot and pregnant and not allowed to go to doctors of any kind without consulting their husbands. This fools the poor fool who gives away his true nature pretty quickly. He says he'd buy a beer for the guy who blew up the clinic and starts to go, but Andy stops him. Still pretending to be his friend, he plays him the 911 tape. Then John J. and Andy convince him he needs to get his side of the story out.
The patient list causes some controversy of its own, not only for Baldwin (see below) but for Andy, John J. and Tony. The clinic doctor marches in with her lawyer demanding to know where they got the list, but the detectives refuse to tell even though it's going to mean a court order. Tony says he's up for the fight.
Rita looks around the apartment and finds a photo of Gloria with her husband when it hits her where she's seen this woman before: on top of her own husband Don. And she knows Gloria's husband Roger, too, because he came to the station house to tell her about the affair.
Rita begins to panic. Connie tells her there's no need to tell the boss about the connection yet and that she'll help to find Don. But Don is no where to be found. He's not answering pages or messages or any of his phone numbers. Rita thinks he's dodging her because of the divorce.
In the midst of this, another homicide call comes in with a connection to their case: this body is found shot to death in Roger's car. Connie and Rita go over to Brooklyn to find out what's up. They look in the car and find Roger there. The cop from Brooklyn says it looks like a suicide to him.
Rita's panic grows. She think Roger may have also killed Don and she wants to go to his apartment to find him. Connie assists her and after a tense few minutes getting in the door and looking around, they find nothing.
Back at the station, Rita is getting Gloria and Roger's phone records. She finds a call to one of their phones from the same motel that Don and Gloria went to. She grabs Connie and they go to the hotel in search of Don. They find him there, dead on the bed in his undies riddled with bullet wounds. Rita's prediction was correct.
At the end of the day, Connie decides to take Rita out for dinner and make sure she gets home OK. While Rita heads off to the locker room first, Connie invites anyone from the squad who is free to go along and help surround Rita with support. Everyone is free and everyone jumps at the chance to go. When Rita exits the locker room, she sees all her new coworkers standing around. Andy tells her they thought they'd go along with her and Connie. Rita gives them an out, telling them it's not necessary, but Andy says there's nothing more any of them want to do; they're a squad and they stand together. As they all begin to file out, Rita stands and watches. Connie swings an arm around her and walks her along, too. Rita is overwhelmed at the show of support and lets go some quiet, grateful tears.
He says that Don's coworkers heard Don saying he had a fight with Rita in the squad. Tony tells him it was handled, it was really nothing more than a marital spat. He says Don's coworkers heard Don saying that Rita was having an affair with someone in the squad. Tony says he's seen no evidence of that and doesn't think it's true. Then Fraker squeezes in: The coworkers says it's Tony who's having the affair with Rita. Tony gets really pissed off then. He denies it and invites Fraker to dig around all he wants in the squad because he'll find nothing.
Fraker leaves but gives the impression that Tony has not seen the last of this thing yet.
Greg and Baldwin run the gun and it matches one used in the five-year-old murder of a girl named Laura. Laura's dad is called in and says he hasn't seen his daughter in a very long time. He says she got mixed up with a bum and got into drugs and would never call or come home. They lost track of her and a few attempts to find her were not fruitful. Greg shows him pictures of the dead girl and he recognizes his daughter.
The bum boyfriend, Sonny, is called in. He plays like he can't remember Laura and never knew she had a car, but his record indicates he was arrested trying to break into the police impound lot the day her car was towed there from an illegal spot in the jewelry district.
After a few rounds with Baldwin in his face and Greg cooking up some scary stories, Sonny finally admits that he stole Laura's necklace. She found out and tried to turn him in so he killed her (by accident, he says). He tucked the gun under the seat of the car and drove it down to the jewelry district where he tried to hock the necklace. The car got towed and he got picked up trying to steal the gun back.
Later, after Rita's trouble, Connie cancels the plans. John J. hears this too. But in the next breath she mentions that they're still on for the zoo tomorrow. She smiles and walks away. Andy peers over at John J. who is also smiling.
Baldwin is stunned and angry. He gets a few minutes alone with Valerie and immediately accuses her of lying to him. Now she's stunned. She tells Baldwin that she went there for counseling while she was considering her options but that she did not have an abortion. She also tells him that she can't believe he'd think she lied. He then lays into her about not including him in her options. He says she left him out of the whole thing and didn't consult him when all he wanted to do was help. He reminds her that he was ready to marry her.
Valerie then asks him if he was going to marry her out of love or out of duty. Baldwin has no answer for that. She says she thinks it's probably a good thing that she lost the baby because it's clear things wouldn't have worked out with them.
Baldwin stays mad after Valerie leaves. Greg, thinking they've just had a little spat, tries to give him advice about love. Baldwin brushes him off.
Later, when they have to run a case for Valerie, Greg tries to talking Baldwin up to her, pointing out what great interview skills he has. Seeing it went nowhere, Greg leaves. Baldwin is sulking still and he and Valerie decide to cool things off for a while.
The story itself steered clear of many of the real issues surrounding abortion and focused instead on the law: fire bombing anything is illegal. That made the whole thing a little less than controversial for me, though I suppose there are those who will complain that it was very slanted in favor of abortion supporters. For my money, neither side of that issue was portrayed in a positive light: the freaks who harass these doctors and patients didn't look good but neither did the doctor or any of her patients. Even the nurse who reached out seemed a bit like an oddball. There wasn't a personal side of things, no character for whom you felt any kind of sympathy at all. That made it fall a little flat. There were some choices, I suppose, to make it more personal: Connie, Andy the dad, Greg the dad. None of those was explored. Even the connection with Valerie and Baldwin wasn't about abortion, it was about lying.
I can finally say that I have a feeling for Rita. I like her now. That final scene with everyone going out with her and her tears as she walked down the stairs with Connie did the trick. That was a stand out scene: perfect all the way around. It was just the ticket to make Rita a part of the family, and Jackie's reaction in that scene was spot on. I had a few tears myself. Nothing is so overwhelmingly lovely as a big group hug like that when your chips are way down. Super, great and wonderful!
Also very good was the scene where they're searching Don's apartment: there was a lot of tension in that scene. The way it was shot, the music and the look on Rita's face combined to bring us to the edge.
Now Rita can move on, hopefully get her game on in the cop department and we can enjoy having another full character in the squad.
As for Tony's situation: I loved that scene with the IAB guy, too. This Capt. Fraker is perfect. Tony handles him well but Fraker has a slight upper hand (being that he's IAB and can make Tony's life miserable), and he walks out having left that impression. I don't think we're done with Capt. Fraker yet. Great, because I love seeing Esai in action. Even though we don't know much about Tony, Esai plays him with many layers.
The combination of Greg and Baldwin is superb. They're so opposite: age, size, race, style -- but they blend together so well. They balance each other and the whole thing seems real. The previous cartoon aspect of Greg and James is gone -- thank God. Baldwin treats Greg with respect even when Greg is being goofy. Tonight, we had Greg totally in the dark about what was going on with Baldwin but trying to be his friend and help him. This time it was Baldwin who was acting a bit childish.
I'm going to say this once for all you who just want to believe the worst of Val, but no, she did not have an abortion. She did not lie, is not lying, so just drop your theories on why you think she is. I mean, think about it: To have had that happen, as I've written before, would be tantamount to killing this character. She could never be redeemed if they'd have made her do something like that, and the writers are not stupid people.
So what we have here is Baldwin just as ready as many of you to believe the worst of her. He jumped on her with both feet right from the start and accused her of lying. Wow. That's pretty harsh. Certainly he had his reasons to think that: she was distant with him, she put him off and went away after the miscarriage, but she explained that in one beautiful line: (something akin to) "Were you helping because you love me or out of sense of duty?" Bam! That's it. She drew away because she knew it wasn't love. She wanted to believe it was, but she knew it wasn't. And when she lost the baby, she realized it was a blessing. She's not blameless in the pain because she was distant, but -- right or wrong -- it makes sense that she was distant. Baldwin was too in his own way. He held back his emotions the whole time.
And the main thing that stood out to me was this: in all his bitching at her about not being included in things did it ever occur to him that he could have asked her more about it? Or done a little more than tell her "whatever you want?" He never made his own feelings known. He offered to marry her out of his desire to be a better father than his father, but that was it. Hmmm. I think she gets the marks on this one. Baldwin acted a little immaturely here, and I think he knows it.
What's nice about this is that by putting that off on this established, well-liked character (whom we'll never dislike) we get to grab a little sympathy for a character who's not been so well received or likable. It worked for me. I'm sure those of you who didn't like it will let me know, but before you write, think about it for a while. Put yourself in Valerie's shoes -- pregnant by a man who doesn't love you -- and then tell me this wasn't written well.
Good job by all: Garcelle, Henry and the writers.
* You know what else I loved about this episode: everyone was very busy, like back in the old days. Great.
* Save The Babies! That's funny!
* Interesting choice of words by the nurse describing how she's been followed home and bothered by the pro-life extremists: terrorism. I agree that's what it is, and I think it's mighty bold to have used that word. (It was the only edgy thing about that story, really.)
* Everyone's always keeping Tony in the dark! Last week, John J. and Andy didn't want to tell him about the cop connection to the rapper shooting. This week it's Rita and Connie keeping the Don angle out of things. But he always manages to find out....
* I'm seeing a story arc with Tony and this Capt. Fraker. I'm hoping for one, anyway. There's tons of really great potential here.
* The interview with Mr. Stancil was fantastic. Well-written and MPG and DF played it perfectly. What makes it even better is the actor who played right up to their level: Paul Perri as Mr. Stancil, who gets my vote for Best Guest this week.
Susan Egan (Jennifer Martin): A Broadway actress, Susan also played in one of my all-time favorite movies: Galaxy Quest! I can watch it over and over and over and over....
Isabella Hofmann (Dr. Watchel): You know her from H:LOTS, or maybe Beggars and Choosers, or Dear John. She's been a guest on ER, The Practice, The Division and SB's LA LAW.
Kieran Mulroney (Andrew Sloin): He was in From the Earth to the Moon. He's also done Enterprise and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He came down to Earth to do ER and Seinfeld, and his brother is the actor Dermot Mulroney. JF Pryor (Luke): He's one of the Mountain Dew Dudes! He's also done The District and Once and Again.
Gerard O'Donnell (Det. Young): His cool connection is that he had a bit part in the TV movie Babe Ruth in '91 which was directed by Blue Executive Producer Mark Tinker.
Dendrie Taylor (Mrs. Stancil): She was in Star Trek: Generations and was also once on Frasier.
Paul Perri (Mr. Stancil): This talented guy has been in a ton of movies including The Insider, A Bronx Tale, Manhunter. He's been a guest on Blue before, too, back in '95. He's also done JAG, West Wing, ER, Seinfeld and Frasier.
Casey Siemaszko (Capt. Fraker): Another gem. He's been in a lot of movies, too, including Stand By Me. He's done L&O, and did Blue in '96. He was a guest on St. Elsewhere three times.
Rounding out the cast: Larry Udy as Victor Razo; James Keane as Noal Thomas; Wendy Braun as Marjorie Rookard, Burke Roberts as Sonny and Ivan Brogger as David Hyatt.
Andrew Sloin of the anti-abortion group: "'For do I now persuade men or God?
Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the
servant of Christ.' Galatians 1:10"
Andy, glancing at his watch: "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Sipowictz 10:42"
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