NYPD Blue: Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Season 8 Episode 6
"In-laws Outlaws" 2/20/01
Teleplay by Buzz Bissinger & Jonathan Lisco
Story by Bill Clark & T.J. English and Steven Bochco
Directed by Jake Paltrow
HOMELESS MURDER: The story of Nicholas, the homeless man who witnessed a murder in last week's episode, continues as Nicholas' body is found stabbed in an alley outside a cafe.
Danny is shocked by the discovery because he'd set Nicholas up in a cell overnight to protect him from anyone who knew he'd witnessed Jefe's murder. The prime suspect is Diego, one of the men Nicholas saw with Jefe. Another man with Jefe when he was killed, Mauricio, has been in jail overnight. The detectives were hoping he'd be able to lead them to Diego.
Danny's anger mounts and when he returns to the station house he takes it out on Desk Sgt. Mahoney who released Nicholas when he needed the cell for some drug suspects. Mahoney says he had no choice. Danny argues with him in front of a large portion of the uniform division and ends up calling him an asshole. Mahoney threatens Danny with suspension and by the time Danny has made it upstairs, Mahoney has called Fancy and told him the whole story. Fancy is pissed off but agrees to try to talk Mahoney out of landing too hard on Danny.
Meanwhile, Fancy hears from Andy and Danny that Nicholas had been fighting behind the cafe with cafe owner Len Pluto. A waitress saw Len smack Nick around a bit and thought maybe he had a box cutter. Diane paged Len to get him in. Also, they're getting a phone dump from a pay phone in the alley since the waitress saw Nicholas using it. Fancy tells them to let Greg and Baldwin deal with Mauricio.
Fancy speaks with Mahoney and it becomes clear that Danny is taking the case personally but that the release was just a miscommunication. Mahoney says he thinks Danny's just bent because of his break ups with Franco and Russell which he says are the talk of the whole station. Mahoney is angry enough to suspend Danny for a while, but he owes Fancy who caught him drinking on the job once but let him work it out. Mahoney demands an apology, however. Fancy promises he'll get one.
Baldwin and Greg bring Mauricio in to get him to tell them where to find Diego. He appears to have enjoyed his stay at city expense. He's cleaned up, well-fed, shaven and happy as a clam. He tells them he can do time easily and that he's not even bothered by the ways prisoners have to deal with the fact that there are no women inside. He has no reason to give up Diego until Baldwin tells him he's going to be put back on the street and that the cops will make sure everyone knows he's a snitch. Baldwin and Greg even promise to harass others on the street in Mauricio's name jus to make sure everyone out there is really pissed off at Mauricio. At this, Mauricio gives up where to find Diego.
Meanwhile, Nicholas' family arrives the station house: The elderly Mr. Gilbert, his daughter Ellen and her husband Ross. Mr. Gilbert is dying of cancer. They tell Nicholas' story: he fell apart during college, becoming paranoid and schizophrenic and choosing to live on the street. They could not persuade him to get help for his bizarre behavior. His mother died and left him and his sister 3 million dollars each, but still, Nicholas chose to live under the bridge. Mr. Gilbert connects with Andy over the loss of a son and asks Andy to find Nicholas' killer.
Later, Diane is working on getting the cafe owner in to talk. Danny and Andy find from the phone dump that a seven minute call was made from the pay phone in the alley where Nick died to Ellen's house in Short Hills that night. They bring Ellen and Ross back in. Ellen is surprised by the news. Ross admits he did talk to Nick but that Nick was making no sense. He was rambling about how people shouldn't eat meat and how some Latino guys were after him. Ross says after he heard Nicholas was killed, he didn't want to tell Ellen and Mr. Gilbert about the call because he was too embarrassed that he didn't do more to help Nicholas.
After constant badgering from Fancy to make his amends with Mahoney, Danny goes downstairs to apologize. He wants to do it in private, but Mahoney won't let him. Mahoney accepts his apology and even advises Danny not to take Nicholas' death so personally.
Diane and Andy speak with cafe owner Len Pluto next. He admits smacking Nicholas around but is clearly shocked when he hears the man was stabbed. He didn't do it.
Greg and Baldwin have Diego in custody now and he's the main suspect. He blithers on during the interview until Danny walks in to give it a try. He takes off his watch as Greg and D are leaving the room. Greg knows he needs to go get Andy to prevent what may be a serious beating. Danny tees off on Diego and just as Andy walks in to witness Danny slamming Diego into a wall and punching him a second time, Diego confesses that he killed Jefe but says he did not kill Nicholas. Andy is concerned about Danny.
Later, Mr. Gilbert comes back in to talk to Andy about an unrelated matter. He tells Andy and Danny that he'd like them to arrest his son-in-law's bookie, Bogo. He tells them Ross is a drug addict and a gambler and that his daughter begged him to pay off Ross' last gambling debt of three-hundred-thousand dollars. Now Bogo wants more. Will they arrest him?
Andy and Danny bring Ross back in, but not before they've checked out Bogo and done some background work on Ross himself. Ross tells them he went back to bed after the phone call from Nick. They tell him he's lying because there's a record of his toll card being used at the tunnel coming into the city in the middle of the night. He then admits he went in to see a hooker. They then present him with the Bogo information and ask him about his prior arrest on drug charges. He's surprised how much they know about him. Andy suggests to him that they also know he killed Nicholas so his inheritance would go to Ellen. Ross then admits he went to see Nicholas so that he could be the family hero and bring him home, and that, yes, he thought he could talk Nick out of his three-million. Knife? Took that for protection against the mysterious Latinos who were after Nicholas. Then Nicholas attacked him and he stabbed to protect himself.
Andy and Danny let him sit with that lie while they pretend to go out and talk to the DA. They really just hang out in the hallway where Andy gives Danny advice about not getting too involved. Danny's miffed about the advice, but Andy says he needs to know the difference between just tuning a guy up and doing it to take out your own personal frustrations.
They go back in to Ross and tell him the DA says his story of the self-defense stabbing doesn't fit with autopsy evidence which shows Nicholas was stabbed in the back and had defense wounds on his hands. Ross tries another lie that it'll be up to a jury to sort out: he killed Nicholas in a fit of insane rage.
Nicholas' family comes in when they hear Ross is back at the station house. Andy tells them they arrested Ross and he admitted killing Nicholas. He also tells them Ross would like them to help him get a lawyer.
DENBY, DIANE, DANNY: Diane catches what looks like a murder-suicide. Greg and Baldwin work it with her. Yvonne Ruiz is found shot in the back while heading for the door in her apartment. Behind her is her husband Paco with a bullet wound in his head.
They discover that Yvonne worked for Citywide Courier, the same company as Harry Denby. They also find out, after dumping the hard drive of Yvonne's computer, that she's got Denby's email address. There is no correspondence between them, however; Yvonne must have deleted it. Diane puts a few calls out to Denby.
Denby ends up returning the calls to Danny and asking to meet him. Danny, who has not been able to look at Diane all day and who has been exhibiting anger nearly every time he sees her, is now forced to speak to her. He tells her he'll meet with Denby if she wants but that she can do it herself. She lets him meet with Denby since that's what Denby asked for.
Denby is lurking outside the station, as usual, and Danny goes to talk to him. He tells Danny he was banging Yvonne but that she came on to him and he, poor self-esteem deprived man that he is, just couldn't resist. He tells Danny that his strong sense of virtue forced him, naturally, to break things off when he--gasp!--realized Yvonne was a married woman. He also said Paco threatened to kill him.
And he finished his tale by tweaking Danny again about Diane. He again made it a point to make Danny think he had a thing with Diane, and gosh, wouldn't it be fun to compare notes.
Danny comes back inside and Diane has to ask him what Denby said. All he'll tell her is that Denby was screwing Yvonne. Diane asks him if there was anything else and instead of telling her how Paco threatened to kill Denby, Danny gets in her face about how she and Denby were banging at one time. Diane is incredulous that Danny would believe such a thing and then becomes really angry when he won't acknowledge how ridiculous he's being. She tells him to grow up and stalks off to her locker. Danny follows.
The previous exchange has happened in front of the entire squad and pretty much in Andy's face, and by the time Danny enters the locker room Diane is all over him about how he insulted her. She says she's sorry it didn't work out between them but that he's got no right to accuse her like that. He then attacks her for her behavior and says he thinks she was just using her pain over Bobby as an excuse to dump him. He won't listen to her anymore and slams out the door. The whole squad has heard this and listens quietly as she slams out the door behind him.
Later, Andy finds Danny doing shots with beer chasers in a bar. He tries to get Danny to leave with him and take it out on a punching bag at the gym. Danny says no. He tells Danny to be careful he doesn't dig himself a hole he can't get out of. Danny asks him to just let him work it out alone. Andy does.
ANDY & CINDY: John is back in business as a baby-sitter as Andy and Cynthia make it two nights in a row. Walking back to her place after dinner, she remarks how quiet he's been and how her uncle told her that cops only really ever open up to other cops.
She tries making a safe place for Andy and he responds. He tells her that's he's upset over a problem his partner is having getting over a former girlfriend. Cynthia is pleased Andy shared with her. She invites him up to her place. He seems to want to go but tells her he has to go home to Theo. They talk about what a great time they had, they kiss and Andy leaves.
HOMELESS MURDER: This story was pretty dull last week but a little better this week. The police work angle on it was fine: They had more than one suspect to look at--which we hadn't been seeing in recent seasons--and they had a lot of things to work with like phone dumps, toll cards, eye-witnesses. All of that leading up to the obvious: Ross did it.
What I didn't get, and still don't, is Danny's personal connection to it. He was so pissed off, but...why? I have two theories: One is that he really is still pissed off about the break-up with Diane. The second is that this Nicholas reminded him somehow of his mentally ill mother.
Neither of those work well for me, however, because there's just not enough behind either one. Take the Diane motivation: How long can a guy sustain anger over a grieving widow saying it's too soon? I mean, he seemed anything BUT pissed off at her on the roof a few (in Blue time) days ago. He seemed disappointed, but not angry. Not angry enough to later come back believing this Denby horseshit and accusing her of using her grief to dump him. If that's the case, he IS a child, and this character is just lost to me.
I have a little more hope for the theory that Nicholas reminded him of his wacko mother who couldn't raise him. I mean, I think she's wacko. I can't really remember what her problem was. That's because the last time we got a crumb of information about Danny's inside life was, I think, the season before last. Anyway, it's been way too long for them to be trading on it. It's half-past time to let Danny's story out, especially if we're going to see him all knotted up like this. It's hard to care when we don't get it.
That said, I take my hat off to Rick Schroder this week. I thought he did a great job with the rage. He seemed to genuinely hate everyone from Mahoney to Diane to Fancy, and even though he tolerated Andy, he didn't seem too keen to hear Andy's advice. It makes me wonder if he spent that eight days of shooting holed up in his trailer throwing darts at everyone's picture! Whatever he did, it worked. He was especially good in the last scene at the desk with Diane--it's not every actor who can say the words "playing bouncy bouncy" as a euphemism for sex and sell passionate anger while doing it. Good for Rick.
Speaking of acting: Larry Dobkin (Mr. Gilbert) was, of course, outstanding. Blue never fails to cast great guest actors. Sal Lopez (Mauricio) was also fantastic.
In terms of story, I thought the most creative bit here was Baldwin and Greg convincing Mauricio to give up Diego by threatening to put him on the street as a snitch. Usually, the cops threaten jail time. Of course, to a guy who lives on the street and doesn't have a huge problem with addiction, jail time is like staying in a hotel. And for Mauricio, who doesn't mind Bubba's affections, it's a pretty nice hotel.
DENBY, DIANE, DANNY: Let me be the first to say I'm sick of Denby now. Yes, I liked the character at first, and I think Scott Cohen does a fine job with him, but it's the same story over and over and over. He's always lurking outside the building and when he's not fucking with Diane's head, he's fucking with Danny's. He was so much more interesting when he was falling down drunk in the toilet last season with Don and Jill.
There's a potential here to have another fine Mike Roberts-like character, and if that were the case, I'd be all for it. It's not too late! I think it'll just take a little fleshing out of things, and Diane actually winning a battle with Denby instead of stalking away like a 12-year-old who's being teased by an older boy. In other words, I think Denby needs to become more of a proven loser in order for his stories to work. He keeps winning his playground games.
After the last three encounters he's had, one with Diane and two with Danny (over two episodes), the score stands Denby 3, Our Heroes 0. Time for the good guys to smack him down.
He's back next week...maybe Diane will come through this time.
ANDY & CINDY: I like her more each week. This scene was beautiful--it looked like a movie instead of a TV show. The snow was perfect, the street looked great, the doorman was a perfect touch. And my favorite part of all--one of those maximum insight moments--was when Andy was sort of directing traffic to get her across the street. It was subtle, a small movement or two, but it said a lot about Andy and how he feels about his new girl. Great scene all around.
*Another scene I love wholly was Baldwin and Greg in the car waiting to spot Diego. The friendship, as I've said on many occasions, seems completely real. Henry Simmons gets better every week. I think he's learning from Gordon Clapp the art of making the most of a few small moments. They're gold together, absolutely gold. The view we had was great, and the business the two of them were doing--fiddling with the cards and the two-way, etc.---made it intimate, like we were eavesdropping on a real conversation between two friends.
*Again on that scene: it's an obvious set up for the inevitable Baldwin/Valerie pairing. I worry about this pairing. I'm not sure yet Ms. Beauvais is up to it. Undoubtedly, we'll see.
*Another cool-looking scene was when Danny was about to come over the railing at Mahoney and all the uniforms were stopping to watch. Wish Mary had been there, though.
*While I'm listing great-looking scenes, let me add the view around the office we got when Danny and Diane were slamming their way out of the locker room. The mood of embarrassment and concern was captured perfectly in those few seconds. I especially enjoyed Fancy's furrowed brow popping up quickly as he peered through his window into the squad room.
*Computer experts (I won't call you geeks, I won't!): can you delete your email and have it go away forever off your hard drive? Just curious. That's what Yvonne did.
*Nice to see Greg using his new PC. Wonder what he's doing.
*You know, had Nicholas not met with tragedy at the hands of his brother-in-law, he could have at least lived his life in absolutely no danger of contracting mad cow disease.
*Nice touch to mention Andy J.'s death at an appropriate time. It made the connection with Mr. Gilbert solid, and it also might lend a little more credibility to Andy's attempts to help Danny.
*I found myself wishing Andy would have grabbed Danny's coat, grabbed his arm and walked him out of that bar like a dad.
*Speaking of fatherly behavior, I thought Fancy's repeated dogging of Danny on the apology was a little much. Three times, he asked. I'm not sure what it was, but something about that just didn't work for me.
*I like the Andy and Cynthia pairing for all the reasons I've stated in other reviews. I've noticed, like many of you who've written, that Andy is still sporting his wedding ring. I can understand someone hanging on to that symbol, but I do wonder why he's dating with it on. Seems to me it would make Cynthia uncomfortable, and far less inclined to invite him upstairs. I mean, it seems a big beacon flashing "I'm not ready." I know Diane did it with hers on... but that just seems odd to me. If it's enough of a symbol to a person to keep it on, then I'd think it would be top-of-mind enough for them when they're going on dates or taking a roll in the hay. I know there's a point to the wearing of the ring, though I'm just not sure it fits.
CAST LEGACIES & SUNDRY INFO:
Previously on NYPD Blue: Garcelle Beauvais (Valerie Heywood); Scott Cohen (Harry Denby); Juliana Donald (Cynthia Bunin); Sal Lopez (Mauricio).
Jack McGee (Sgt. Mahoney): He was on Blue back in 93, but his face is maybe more familiar from one of the 10 films he appeared in last year, or from appearances on Brooklyn South, Chicago Hope, XFiles or Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Or maybe you know him from those Bud Light commercials.
Christine Tucci (Ellen): She was on Chicago Hope several times and has also been on The Practice, ER, Ally McSqueal, and CSI. But heaven help me if I don't mention that she was Amanda Cory Sinclair number 5 on the soap Another World. (There were five of them? Don't tell me why.) Christine shares talent genes with her brother Stanley.
Larry Dobkin (Mr. Gilbert): Wow. In this fine actor's case the question is not "Where have we seen him before?" but "Where haven't we seen him before?" This man has acted in or directed nearly every television show ever made, especially if it had Lee Majors in it. All I can say is, if you're dying to know where you know him from, check it out at www.imdb.com. I could never hope to list it all.
Bradley White (Ross): He's done L&O three times and made several appearances on Mad About You.
Eloy Casados (Diego): He's a Bochco alum, having done Hill Street Blues way back when. He's also been on Walker, Texas Ranger a bunch of times.
Previously Behind The Scenes:
If you like the literary stylings of the Buzz Bissinger half of tonight's teleplay, you can check out this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's book: Friday Night Lights wherever find books are sold (or borrowed). I feel pretty lame saying so, me with my coffee-stained journalism degree and my big scary job in radio news, but it's a really good book.
And back behind the camera shooting that incredible snow scene and others was Jake Paltrow who shares his talent genes with sis Gwyneth, director-producer pop Bruce, and mom Blythe Danner. Also, his non-homely cousin Hillary played Danny Sorenson's sister a few times in previous seasons (and will again, if we're lucky).
LINES OF THE WEEK:
Mahoney explaining his lack of sympathy for Danny's personal problems: "Yeah? Boo hoo hoo. Must be rough going from banging Franco in anti-crime over to banging Russell."
Greg, daydreaming, "I had to tell ADA Heywood to quit hassling me for a date."
And the best line of all was the one Andy did not speak when Upstairs John said:
"Seven? With bells on!"
NEXT WEEK: Denby returns and Danny lands in a jackpot.
Don't miss it or shoes will be squeezed.