NYPD Blue: Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Season 8 Episode 20 Season Finale
"In The Wind"  5/22/01
Teleplay by Jonathan Lisco
Story by Steven Bochco, Bill Clark & Jonathan Lisco
Directed by Mark Tinker

It's a grand slam episode.  If you missed it, read the summary. If you want to re-live it, read the summary. If you don't want to read the summary, read the reivew. The latest on the "Is Rick Leaving" rumor is covered too.

Summary
DANNY'S GONE:  It's the next day after Danny's bad night at the bar and he's late for work. Andy is worried. He's paged and called and tried to coerce others in the squad to do the same. Connie tries to get him to relax, but after the events of the night before, Andy is one step away from fully wigging.
    Finally, someone suggests Andy check his house. Half way between desperation to know about Danny and fear that he's overreacting, Andy does a verbal with Connie on the issue and they end up going to Danny's together.
    At Danny's door, Andy pounds out his frustation and makes sure Connie knows to keep her mouth shut about things. There is no answer.   Andy pounds again and calls to Danny then tells Connie he's about to come unglued.  Connie reaches over and turns the doorknob. The door pops open.
   Inside, Andy and Connie do a quick search. Andy's detective's instict is telling him something is very wrong. Connie sees it and calls Andy over:  Danny's stripper friend Kristin is lying dead on the floor.
   Later, cops from the precinct in which Danny lives are in the apartment and putting questions to Andy and Connie. Andy tells them he dropped Danny off at 2am and that Kristin was not there.  Clearly, Danny is the prime suspect in Kristin's muder.  Andy doesn't like that, and he doesn't take well to the tone of the questions even after one of the detectives points out that Andy would be doing the same if their situations were reversed.  Andy and Connie leave.
   Back at the stationhouse, Lt. Rodriquez is making it known that he's about as pissed off as Andy that he hasn't seen three of his detectives all morning. Connie and Andy herd everyone into Tony's office and tell them the news about Danny.
   Andy is inistent that Danny did not kill Kristin.  Tony seems less than certain of this. He's just finding out that Danny had a thing going on with Kristin.  The entire squad is on edge now, and as Greg and Baldwin take off distracted to investigate another homicide, Andy goes to check Danny's phone records and Connie goes off to see if Diane has heard from him.
    Tony gets even more pissed off when he finds out that the feds have had the strip club up for several months. Andy and Connie confirm this, and he boils over even more. He tells them how he let Danny do some undercover work after the owners approached him to run a check on the bartender Pete McNeil.  Now it's Andy's turn to explode. He shuts Tony's door and reads him the riot act about letting Danny go undercover and not telling him about it. Tony reminds him that undercover work is secret. He also reminds him that Andy wasn't very forthcoming about Danny's extracurricular activities with the stripper. Both tempers flare and each shouts at the other about being out of the loop.  They reach a standstill on that point, and Tony tells them to get down to the strip club fast before the feds come down and tell them not to go near the place.  They all think Kristin, and perhaps Danny, were killed by the mob in retaliation for the set up last week.
    Andy rides his rage into the door of the strip club. Connie is right behind him and orders everyone out of the place except the owner Joey.  Alone with Joey, Andy begins to question him about Danny.  Joey is his usual friendly self and says he has no idea what happened to Danny after Andy pulled him out of the joint the night before. He suggests they ask Kristin.  Andy tells him they're both gone. Joey gives a flippant remark as Andy wanders over to bar and begins filling a sink with water.
  He asks Joey about his mob ties. Joey denies it, pretending to be surprised Andy would suggest such a thing.  The water continues to run. Andy accuses Joey of lying about the mob ties which makes Andy think he's lying about seeing Danny again. The water is turned off.  Joey gives another shrug about his connections to organized crime and Andy grabs him by the scruff of his neck, drags him to the sink and plunges his head deep into the sink filled with water.  
  Up for his first gasp of air, Andy tells Joey he better start talking but Joey doesn't.  Another violent dunk. Joey appears to be drowning. Andy lets him up and Joey says he can't give the guy's name up. Back into the water and Joey grabs at Andy's arms in vain. Up for more air, Joey realizes Andy is his most immediate threat and says the name Paul Catapano, a mob guy connected to the Gambino family.  Andy releases Joey and leaves.
   Back at the house, Andy and Connie are telling Rodriguez what they learned as federal agent Boyd comes busting through Tony's office door. He's really angry and reminds Tony that he told him to keep his detectives away from the club.  Tony covers for Andy and Connie.  Boyd does his best to shut down their investigation, but Andy won't hear of it. He tells Boyd that since Danny is missing, they're not going to let this go.  Boyd drops a bomb then: The feds are missing a man as well.  The bartender Pete Mc Neil was an undercover fed working in the strip club for the past six months. He's no where to be found, and Boyd is wondering if Pete, Danny and Kristin were all taken out in retaliation.
   Andy wants to grab Catapano and try to shake it out of him. Boyd says no. He wants them to wait a few days until the feds can get their indictments.  Andy's frustration grows.  
  After Boyd leaves, Andy and Connie tell Tony that Diane has not heard a word from Danny but that the dump of his phone records show a call to the strip club and a call to a woman in Staten Island named Karen Redding. John overhears the name and tells Andy that Redding is Danny's aunt's name.
   Andy realizes this is the aunt who raised Danny, the woman Danny had a major falling out with and hasn't spoken to in a long time.  Andy and Connie head off to Staten Island to talk with her. As soon as they leave, Tony asks John to get the numbers for all the morgues in the area.

  At Karen Redding's house, Andy becomes a little more aquatinted with Danny's life. Aunt Karen tells Andy and Connie that Danny called her at about 2:30 that morning to get his mother's phone number in Norway.  She explains that her sister, Anna (Danny's mother), sent the children from Norway to live with her when they were very young. She insisted that they have no contact with her and even told her sister Karen to make the children think she was dead.  Karen says she regrets doing that now, but went along with it.  She doesn't explain why Anna wanted it that way, however.  But she adds Danny found out a few years ago that his mother was not dead. He blamed his aunt as much as his mother for the lie and hadn't spoken to her since.  
   And she gives this news: Danny's mother arrived in New York about three months ago to try to explain things and make amends. Danny's sisters tried to get him to go see her but he refused to do it.  Aunt Karen now thinks he may be ready to reach out to his mother.  She also tells them that for the first time, Danny told her he loved
her.
    A few minutes after arriving at the station house where Andy tells Tony only that there may be reason to think Danny's leaving had something to do with family matters rather than with the murder of Kristin, a call comes in that Danny has just checked into a motel in Jersey City.  His credit card was traced there.
    Hope soaring, Andy and Connie take off.  At the motel, they run up the steps with the manager to the room Danny took.  Andy pounds on the door but there is no answer.  The manager opens it and finds the chain lock is on. Andy steps back then throws himself into the door and breaks it open. Inside, a young man and a hooker are about to get it on. Andy and Connie grab them up demanding to know where they got the credit card.  The young man admits he found it on the floor at his job last night: he sweeps up at the strip club.
   Another urgent call comes in shortly after that. This time it's the feds, and they have news that makes Danny's fate look even more dire. Agent Boyd has found a body in a car.  Andy and Connie arrive to see bartender/undercover agent Pete McNeil sitting in the driver's seat with a bullet in his head and his brains on the window.  A mob hit. The chances that Danny's alive seem even more slim now. Grieving the loss of his friend, Boyd suggests that Danny was playing both sides and had something to do with all the death. Andy is angered by the suggestion but backs off when he sees Boyd has lost a friend.  
    Now two people involved in the strip club are dead and everyone is worried Danny was on the same hit list.  Back at the station, there is news that a fingerprint has been recovered at Danny's apartment.  Tony uses the computer to get information on the match. The print belongs to Rob Liquori. No one knows the name, but when his picture appears on the computer screen, Andy knows right away that he's the dark-haired man who stalked Kristin.
   Andy and Connie head over to Rob's.  Tony says he'll cover for them with the cops from the other precinct.  In order to gain entry to Rob's apartment, Connie plays one of her now-famous ditzy blonde con games on him. She positions herself (and her "girls") strategically in front of his peep hole and then asks in a breathy voice if he's the one who called the escort service.  The door flies open faster than the Concorde got grounded and Andy rushes in with his hands around Rob's throat.
   Andy pushes him back on the bed, places his knee on Rob's chest and uses his free hand to remove Rob's belt.  He secures the belt around Rob's neck as he asks about Danny and Kristin.  Rob says nothing. Connie gets in his face with nearly as much rage as Andy and tells him that Andy will indeed kill him if he doesn't start talking. Rob admits he followed Kristin to the apartment but that she was there alone. He tells a bogus story about how she attacked him with a knife and he had to stab her to save himself. They pull him off the bed and slam him into a chair to write down his confession.
   Later, everyone is satisfied that Danny did not kill Kristin but the tension has not gone away. Danny is still missing and no one has a clue how to find him.  All anyone knows for sure is that no one has heard from him and that he has not left the country.
   Before leaving for the night, Tony tells everyone they'll just pick up tomorrow where they left off and keep looking for Danny. He tells them that no matter what happens, they all have to keep going.
    Andy has a few private moments with Connie in which he confesses his guilt over not making more of an effort with Danny over the past two years.  He is ashamed of himself for never having been to Danny's house before last night, and for not knowing anything about his family and for not knowing enough about his partner to have some idea where to start looking for him.  He admits that instead of being preachy all the time, he should have tried to be a friend.
    Finally, Andy heads home to Theo. John is babysitting.  Andy and John exchange concern over Danny before John leaves.  Theo and Andy sit down to watch TV. It's not long before Theo notices that something is wrong with his daddy. As Andy is about to cry, Theo puts his arms around him and tells him he loves him.

HOLY DOA: A neighborhood witch doctor named Cyrus is found shot to death in his apartment.  Baldwin and Greg catch the case, though they want to be looking for Danny instead of taking care of this homicide.
    Cyrus is known in the neighborhood for his affinity for young men. One of the young men who helped him out from time to time, Craig Miller, was shot also. He was giving Cyrus a haircut when the killer showed up.
    Craig survived and told the detectives that the man who showed up and did the killing was Damon Harvey, one of Cyrus' former favorite young men.  Damon is brought in to the house where he denies the killing and says he was at a church pancake breakfast that morning around 8am.  The murder happened at about 7:55am.  
   They don't believe him, especially since Craig picked Damon out of a photo array. They head off to the church anyway to check out his alibi.  The kindly preacher, Deacon Miles, tells them Damon was at breakfast but he thinks it was around 8:30am.  That would have given him time to do the murder and still make it for pancakes.  But the deacon says he wasn't on the door the whole time, his wife Francine was, so maybe she knows better.  He tries to go on and on about what a great guy Damon is but Baldwin is a little out of sorts so he's not hearing any of it.
   Later, Mrs. Miles shows up the station house with all the self-righteous indignation an angry black woman can muster. She demands to see Damon. She insists that he is innocent and she makes it absolutely clear that she saw Damon at 8am.  Baldwin is immediately put off by her and challenges her every statement. This only fires her more. She threatens them with legal action if she is not allowed to see Damon.  They give her five minutes.
   Later, new evidence turns up in Cyrus' house. There are photos found inside that show Damon engaged in sex acts with Cyrus.
   ADA Heywood is called in for her opinion. She says she will not write up the case because she knows she can't win with Craig's testimony against the wife of a deacon.  Baldwin gets pissed at her. Tony accuses her of covering her ass.
    Baldwin and Greg go back at Damon with the photos and a few lies. They show him the photos. He demands to see Mrs. Miles.  They tell him she's seen the photos and has left already.  Then Baldwin takes a big gamble and tells Damon he knows about the affair he's having with Mrs. Miles and that if he doesn't tell the truth about the murder, he's going to end up sending her down for lying for him. With this Baldwin has his paydirt. Damon freaks out and ends up confessing.
   The joyful task of taking Mrs. Miles down a few pegs falls to Tony. He tells her he's going to go easy on her and let her walk out. She tries one more time to threaten him. He nails her with the affair and asks her if she'd like everyone, including her husband, to know about it as she faces charges for perjury and obstructing justice.  She backpedals a bit and then slinks out the door.

Review 
DANNY'S GONE:  This had all the things that make the best of Steven Bochco's TV shows stand out: lots of forward momentum and a few really good surprises.  Added to that was a lot of compelling character development, particularly for Andy, Connie and Tony.  
    The pacing here was perfect, thanks to Mark Tinker, and the sequence of events and the positioning of the little bombshells was dead on as well.  Some of the scenes that worked best along this line:  the entry into Danny's apartment, the entry into the motel, and most especially, the scene where we learn that happy-go-lucky bartender Pete from two episodes previous is really an undercover fed and that he's missing, too. That was an "Oh, wow" moment, to be sure.
   More proof that this one didn't miss a step: the tension that started with Andy wringing his hands at his desk was built up slowly over the course of the whole show until that powerful scene where Andy has Rob's belt wrapped around neck.  Once in a while a few shots of steam would hiss out (the attempted drowning of Joey, the fabulous argument between Andy and Tony) but the lid blew off in that final scene with Rob.
     Great job by Charlotte Ross who, just a few months into the daunting job of acting next to Dennis Franz, picked up the ball and scored several times on her own. She kept up with him step for step.  She was most notably fantastic in that scene with Rob where, in the space of about two minutes, she goes from ditzy blonde escort girl to a very pissed off cop who seems perfectly willing to witness a murder and help clean up after it.  Connie is not one tiny bit less compelling than Andy. They are a great combination.
     I have the same high praise for Esai Morales.  He also walked into a tough job and has proven he can handle it.  Having watched his career for several years, I had no doubt at all that he could keep up with these guys.  He's not had much screen time, but he's used it really well to put meat on Tony's bones.  Specifically: the way he delivered one line: hanging casually off his filing cabinet and affecting a wave of his hand that is dripping with attitude he says, "Yeah, Andy, 'cause that's how undercover works. Everybody's informed on a need to know basis."   In that five seconds we learn that Tony is not going to be intimidated by the squad's 500-lb. gorilla nor is he going to try to placate him. Tony is prepared and willing to meet Andy head on and on Andy's level.   Great work by Esai.  
      I get the feeling that Dennis Franz makes it easy for them to act this well, too. Andy was certainly in touch with his former self through all this. It seems as if the years of hellish personal loss caught up with him and he decided this time he's not going to let it happen again.
   If only Andy got to decide. As it stands, it's probably up to Steven Bochco whose mind may already be made up.  (More on Rick's future below.)

HOLY DOA:  This was a really solid little story. Too bad it got overshadowed so much by the much, much bigger story of Danny.  I wish there had been something for Greg and Baldwin to do regarding the Danny thing so that this story could have been saved for a time when we really could have enjoyed it more.
   The guest actors here were great: especially Joan Pringle who played Mrs. Miles.  (She's got a long and happy career. See Cast Legacies below.)  
   I was a little distracted by Baldwin's slightly over-the-top angst over Danny. Were they that close?  You'd think Greg would be more worried....
   But all of that was glossed over by my favorite moment of this story:  The moment when Tony told the ADA  that, hey, you gotta cover your ass just like everyone else.
Beautiful. Not only did Esai deliver the line with perfection, but that the line existed at all was a stroke of genius.  It cut Miss Perfect Little Rule Book right where she lives, and it is just the kind of thing that needs to happen to her more and more so that she can come down off her high horse eventually and be a character we can all like.
Please sit down before you read this: I thought Garcelle gave the best performance of her tenure tonight.  She seems to be working hard at it, anyway, so God bless her for that.

QUICK HITS:
*Best shot of the show: Tony banging on the window and beckoning Andy in to his office. That horrible sound was the perfect set up for the big fight.

*I guess ADA Heywood's "let's talk" spaghetti dinner last night really sucked.  Baldwin was all over her like flies on sugar today.

*John's hair looked GREAT.

*Excellent involvement of John this week, too.  His "what happened" question was perfect and realistic.  I wish he were worked into the normal fabric of the show as well every week. It really adds texture to the show.

*Interesting for Andy to have the shoe on the other foot during the interview with the cops from the other precinct.

*So, Andy finally admits he's not Danny's dad.  And he thinks he should have done better by Danny. But just a few weeks ago he told Danny he was not going to bail him out again, no matter what.  I'm of the opinion that the attempt to foster some kind of father-son relationship between these two never worked.  I know the character Danny didn't think of that way, which may be part of it, but I didn't get that Andy was really trying it too often. He sure was tonight, though, which made the final scene all that more touching.

THE RICK RUMOR: The rumors continue to run rampant about whether Rick will be back next season.  We've been chatting about it here for a few weeks now, but this week it turned up in a few national newspapers and started the frenzy anew.
   Executive Producer Mark Tinker says there's a 50-50 chance Schroder will return. He indicates there may be reasons on both sides to end the relationship but adds that no one has said anything specific about what those reasons might be. (Other than to say Rick is, as most of us know, very family oriented and may feel compelled to spend some more time with wife and children as they expect the arrival of baby number four.)  
  Reps for both Rick and Steven Bochco are denying the rumors at this point and saying Rick will be back, but other sources say it's a done deal and that Bochco has already decided that Rick is gone.
   So, despite the recent attention from USA Today and others, we don't know anything more than we did two weeks ago.  
   Mr. Tinker told me today that no one is even sure at this point when the issue will be settled.  It's up to Rick and Steven B. to work out on their own schedule.
   As I've said before, I think it would be a disaster of the highest order to let Rick go.  He's turned in one stellar performance after another.  Putting aside all the inside stuff about getting along with people and balancing family life and work, and just giving this thing a look strictly from the perspective of the audience (Helloo'o'o!  We're out here'ere'ere'ere....) I can say without hesitation that letting him leave would be just plain stupid.  I realize, of course, that if he wants to go and be with his family in Arizona or wherever that you can't fault the guy for that and you sure as hell can't move your production there, but if it's anything other than that, work it out. I don't know if I can make it through another Andy transition, and I love this show.  Danny's gone and I think your casual, more tired viewers are way outta here.
    Another thing that's up in the air:  the schedule for next year.  Watch this space for news on that as well.

CAST LEGACIES AND SUNDRY INFO:
Previously on NYPD Blue: Jenna Gehring as Kristin; Austin Majors as Theo; Greg Grunberg as Joey; Wayne Pere as Rob Liquori and Mike Tinker as Bartender Pete McNeil.
Joseph Carberry who played a uniform tonight, was in the first season episode "NYPD Lou."

Previously on Bochco and Tinker TV: Joan Pringle (Francine Miles)--This actress has a long list of credits including a role on Mark Tinker's The White Shadow. She made an appearance on Steven Bochco's City of Angels. In addition to those, she had a steady job on Ironside and has been a guest on ER, JAG, Party of Five and a host of other shows.  Oh, and she was on the soaps General Hospital and Generations.

Simply Previously: Theodore Borders (Craig Miller)--Two eps of ER and a JAG
David  Sartzyk (Agent Boyd)--He's done The Practice several times and had a recurring role on Vernoica's Closet.  Amazingly, he was Dr. Markus, Dr. Levin AND Dr. Wade on Days Of Our Lives. Only in soap opera land.
Alice Hirson (Karen Redding)--She was Lois on Ellen. She also done her fair share of soaps including General Hospital, One Life To Live and the Edge of Night. She's been on ER and she was in the movie Being There.
Charles Walker (Deacon Miles)--He played a preacher in The Nutty Professor II and he played a preacher on General Hospital. God.

Not previously: John Colella as Detective Stanton; John Nelson as Detective Dwyer; M. Neko Parham as Damon Harvey; Robert Fraade as the Motel Manager; Cesar Herrera as Javier and Susan Carol Davis as Cindy Weston.

Special Nod to My Radio Cousin Ralph Garman (not related to Uncle Cracker) as Uniform #2.  He's from the mighty KROQ radio in LA. You gotta love those hard-working radio people! They need raises, by the way. All of them. And the ones who work in the morning need personal chefs. And personal trainers. And drivers, yeah, they need drivers, too. God Bless you, Ralph, for representing us so well. And that woman who says you have a face for radio, the hell with her. What does she know, your mom. I mean, c'mon.

Personal Note: Thanks and more thanks to Alan Sepinwall for allowing me to write in his space for another season.
   Gratitude also for the generosity of all of you who've been so helpful to me. I'd mention you by name, but I know you'd be embarrassed. You know who you are--I talked to two of you about six times just today and emailed with the other two or three at least once a week this whole season.
   And thank you everyone who's written to me this season.  It's been great hearing from you all. Stay in touch, and hopefully, we'll all be back at it again next season....whenever that is.  ;)
Take good care of yourselves,
Amanda Wilson