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

"Laughlin All The Way To The Clink"
Season 10 Episode 14
2/11/03
Teleplay by Sonny Postiglione
Story by Bill Clark & Sonny Postiglione
Directed by JoAnne McCool

SUMMARY

JUNIOR'S JACKPOT:

Another day dawns on Junior in jail. Andy's at a crime scene where Laughlin and Shannon are the uniforms, but Andy is so pissed off at Laughlin that he kicks him out. Laughlin threatens to get Andy in trouble for it, but Andy doesn't care. Connie steps up to try to calm Andy down. He tells her he's OK. Alone with Shannon over the dead body, he gets a nod from Shannon. They walk into another room and Shannon dives into a sob story about his sick mother, his wife and kids and how he fears for his job. Andy knows he knows something and tells him to be a man about it. Shannon agrees to tell what he know about Laughlin.

In a meeting with Martens and Fraker from IAB, Lt. Rodriguez, Andy and ADA Heywood, Shannon makes a statement. He saw Laughlin steal the bags of heroin with the little red crown stamps on the bags and put them into his personal gear. He later saw Laughlin take a slim jim (a tool used by cops and tow truck drivers to open locked cars) and tell him to look away. He also tells how Laughlin had made threats to get back at Clark, and that he was taking the gloves off on that score.

It's enough to get John's arrest voided, but Fraker doesn't want to do that so fast. Heywood lands on him with both feet and all but orders him to do it. She tells him there is no case, there will be no prosecution, and that if he doesn't release John right away, she'll get the DA all over it. Fraker backs down and a teary John is released to the comfort of his best friend Andy.

Later, the same group meets again--this time without Shannon--and Laughlin is brought in. He knows right away something's wrong and tries to back up against a wall. He's told he's under arrest for the whole sordid affair. Laughlin, about to cry, tries to get out but runs into Martens and Tony who strip him of his gun and badge and cuff him. He's taken out and walked past several of his fellow uniforms.

John returns to work immediately. His coworkers are trying to maintain their cop cool but can't keep the smiles off their faces. Everyone looks ready to burst into song but holding it all back when PAA John rushes in with a large bouquet of flowers and all the emotion everyone else is feeling right out there for the world to see. Clark is touched but awkwardly manhandles the flowers. PAA John takes them back with a promise to put them in water. It's a moment they all enjoy.

That afternoon, PAA John rushes back into the squad room. This time he's in a hurry to tell Clark that his father is downstairs making an announcement to all the uniforms and that he looks drunk.

Junior runs downstairs to find his dad three sheets to the wind and shouting to all who can hear what a wonderful kid he's got. He then confesses to them that it was he and not his son who turned their names into IAB. Junior gets to him just as these words are coming out. He drags his father out the door.

At the end of the day, Junior finds Shannon in the parking lot going home and thanks him. Shannon tells him he's not sure if he's going to get to keep his job and John promises to do everything he can. John adds that he'd have stood up for Shannon if the tables were turned. Shannon says he knew that, and that's part of why he stood up for John.

At home, John is preparing for Rita's arrival when his father shows up. Dad appears to be sober this time and is quite happy about how things turned out. Junior, however, is tortured by it all. He tells his father he knows that he was only trying to help, but that the decisions made in the past several weeks have all been really bad. He tells his dad to stop trying to protect him and to instead stop drinking and take care of himself. Dad is crushed but says OK and leaves. Junior knows he's hurt his father and feels bad about it.

THE GAY DOA:

A wealthy, fiftyish gay man is found shot to death in his apartment. Andy catches the case (John joins him later). Neal Masur apparently had a roommate recently, a guy named Arturo Jimenez who was just out of Riker's and on parole for assault. Arturo is brought in. He makes it clear he's not gay and that he was with his girlfriend at the time of the murder. Andy manages to cut through a lot of Arturo's bullshit to find out that he met Neal through a guy in prison named Idalo.

Idalo and Neal were pen pals, it seems, and Idalo found out that Neal had a thing for Hispanic guys. He told several Hispanics to go see Neal when they got out of prison and that if they walked around with their shirts off, Neal would take care of them. Arturo did this and even let Neal touch him a little, but the day Neal broke open a condom, Arturo hit the bricks.

Arturo's alibi checks out, so they go to Riker's to see Idalo who is a lifer for killing his girlfriend's ex. Andy and John establish pretty quickly that Idalo has been pimping these guys out to Neal in exchange for Neal paying for a lawyer for Idalo's appeals. Idalo tells them to look at a guy named Jose. He tells them Neal reported not long ago that Jose was trying to extort money from Neal.

Out on the street they find Jose who tells them Idalo's story is crap. He tells them that he never knew Neal. He admits knowing Idalo and says Idalo had it in for him over some prison skirmish. Andy and John want to take Jose in but he runs. After they all nearly get hit by a car, Jose is cornered and they find drugs on him. He says that's the reason he ran and that his story about not knowing Neal is true.

Turns out Jose's alibi works, too, so it's back to Riker's for another go-round with Idalo. Idalo denies setting up Jose but Andy and John have his number. They tell him they know he pushed the button on Neal because Neal refused to pay for his lawyer anymore. They tell him they thinks it's all because Arturo wouldn't put out. They appeal to Idalo again and tell him they can get his impending transfer changed from Attica, which is five hours from his family in The City to Sing Sing, which is just about thirty minutes away. Idalo says he doesn't care about that; he's got people near Attica where his family can stay when they visit. He gives them nothing.

Later, news comes that Anti-Crime has picked up a guy driving Neal's car. The guy, Chris, is brought in for questioning. Chris isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer and tries to float a story that someone paid him to get rid of the car. Andy and John practically laugh at him. They tell him that either he or Idalo gets the good deal and it's up to him to decide. Chris doesn't get it. Andy explains it to him using a zoo metaphor and Chris finally understands. He's going to give it all up in order to get a good deal. He tells them that Idalo sent him to Neal to shake him up a little bit because Neal fired the lawyer. He says Idalo told him to try to steal Neal's safe and beat him up and then leave. But Neal wouldn't give up the safe, wouldn't even admit there was one, and Chris got a little nuts and ended up shooting him. Andy tells Chris that oh, by the way, there never was a safe and that Idalo set him up. Chris seems a little wounded by that but says he did went for it because Idalo protected him in prison and he owed Idalo for that.

At the end of the day, Andy returns to Riker's to see Idalo. He lays out what Chris said. Idalo begins on a good denial but then cracks up laughing in the middle of it. He's a lifer; what does he care if he got caught? He knew Chris would go for it all because Chris owed him one. Andy then tells him a story about owing someone a favor: When Andy was in uniform years ago he had a partner named Kurt. Kurt, it turns out, wasn't exactly cop material. He accidentally shot a woman--grazed her with a bullet--and pretty much came unglued over it. Andy got him out of a jackpot with the woman and before he left the force, Kurt promised Andy he owed him one.

Idalo is picking his nails during this story and doesn't want to hear it, but Andy continues: Kurt left the force and went into corrections. He worked his way up over the years. Idalo is a little more interested but still isn't sure what this has to do with him so he mouths off a little more. Andy goes on: Kurt worked so hard and so long that he ended up being deputy commissioner of prisons for the whole big state of New York. And he owes Andy one, and Andy was going to call in that favor for Idalo and get him to Sing Sing closer to his family in The City, but now he's going to call in the favor to get him transferred instead not to Sing Sing, not even to Attica, but to a prison way up in Alden by the Canadian border that they call the Ice Box. It's seven hours from NYC, it's cold as a witches tit in the winter, and Idalo is going to be there for the rest of his life. Andy points to his own chest on the way out and tells Idalo in his own way that he's just fucked with the wrong cop.

RITA AND D'RIDA:

A young woman named Kim who's been working hard in her neighborhood to get other young women out of the gang life is found stabbed in her apartment.

Her neighbor, Tim, tells the cops that she's an activist and that she's been threatened. He's upset by all the drug dealers and gang bangers who are hanging around the scene practically laughing at Kim's death. He says he didn't hear anything at the time of the killing because he was at him Mom's house.

One of the girl gang bangers gives Rita a lot of shit outside the apartment. Rita handles her pretty well and ends up tossing her business card at the girl who lets it just fall to the ground. But later, this girl comes in to the station house.

Her name is D'Rida and she's still got a lot of attitude. She tells them quickly that they should look at a guy named Shakedown who runs with a gang called the Second Avenue Predators. Shakedown was mad at Kim for trying to talk his girlfriend out of the gang life. When pressed for a few more details, D'Rida drops her snotty bitch routine for two seconds to tell them that she knows all this because she, too, was talking to Kim about getting out of the life. She's afraid for her life, however, and not quite ready to leave it all together.

Connie and Rita check out Shakedown and find that he was in jail at the time of the murder. Greg and Baldwin, meanwhile, bring the neighbor Tim back in because another tenant has told them that Tim and Kim weren't the best of pals. Tim, it seems, was leaving nasty notes for Kim a lot because she was noisy. Over a cup of tea in the coffee room (he asked for tea or Sanka), Tim admits she was annoying. He demands a garbage can to dispose of his tea bag and tells the detectives that he didn't leave her any nasty notes. They read him one and it's fairly nasty. He scoffs at them for thinking he'd have killed her (really, he's far too neat for that). He tells them a few more times that he was with his mother that evening.

Connie and Rita have found out, meanwhile, that a finger print was found in Kim's apartment that belongs to gang member Levar Rush. Greg and Baldwin bring him in. Levar is a skinny little thing drowning in his oversized hockey shirt and baggy pants but he's not lacking in attitude. He treats the whole affair as a joke at first. When hears his print was in the apartment he admits that he went to see Kim once to get her to stop bugging his girlfriend about getting out of the gang life. Who's his girlfriend? Dats right, it's D'lovely D'Rida.

D'Rida is hauled back into the station house and protesting loudly about it. She says at first that Levar was not with her that night. When she realizes she's messed up his alibi, she lies and says he was with her. Connie and Rita won't let her get away. They shove pictures of Kim all carved up in her face and ask her to tell the truth. She tries to push the pictures away but they make her look. She breaks down and says that if she doesn't back "her man," she's going to pay for it in her gang society. She also has a son with Levar. They keep pushing the pictures and finally she admits that Levar was not with her. She puts her head down and cries.

Levar is shocked to learn that his "bitch" isn't backing him up. Baldwin has heard the word "bitch" one too many times from Levar and tells him so. Greg tells Levar it's too late to lie now and that he needs to concentrate on winning sympathy in his confession. Levar, who as you may have guessed is no Rhodes Scholar, is getting a bit confused now. Greg suggests that it's not manly for his woman to go off, leave the gang life and start over while he's home doing dishes and changing diapers. Levar kind of gets that but still won't go for it. Baldwin picks him up and starts hauling him off to prison when he begins telling them that he only intended to rob her, but things got out of control and he stabbed her. He says someone left him a key to her apartment. This someone wanted him to go in there and scare her a little. This someone told Levar that Kim had lots of nice things he could steal, too. This someone was the freaky little neighbor named Tim.

Tim is hauled back in. Greg and Baldwin tell Tim that Levar said Tim stabbed her. Tim can't believe it and denies it strongly. They tell Tim they've found out he was pals with the previous tenant and had a key to the apartment that still worked (lousy landlords). They tell him he's going up for the murder unless he can come up with something else. He repeats his alibi which they tell him won't hold up since no one will believe his mother isn't lying for him. Tim is appalled and scared. He says he might have left a key for someone. And he says he might have told that someone that Kim had lots of nice things, but he says he had no idea Levar would kill her. He says he only left Levar the key. They tell him to write it all up and he can leave. He's relieved and starts writing.'

A while later they return to the room where Tim has been writing. Tim tells him he's been waiting 20 minutes and would like to go now. Greg tells him a funny thing happened: they found out about this law that says if you set the thing up to happen you're as guilty as the guy who did it and, by gosh, that means Tim's a collar for murder. Tim nearly crumbles. He gets very mad as he realizes they tricked him and he starts asking for his mother.

ANDY AND CONNIE:

Connie asks Andy in a quiet moment if he wants to cook that night for dinner. Andy says he was thinking take-out. Connie says how that would make four nights in a row. Andy tells her in his own special way that he's sorry but he's been a little busy. She puts a lid on that fast, agrees and says take out is fine. He says they can start cooking tomorrow and she brightens up and says that'd be fun. As she walks away, he casts a look of annoyance and concern.


REVIEW

JUNIOR'S JACKPOT:

I'm sorry to see this end, and mostly I'm sorry to see it end without much more involvement from Fraker. I think I, along with at least 50-thousand other people, predicted this ending but hoped for a little more. I knew Shannon would come around---he always does---but I'd also hoped Fraker would be more of a player. He's been such a perfect creep all along. It's like they forgot him this time around. What gives?

I, however, loved the fact that was a good, long story arc. We don't get enough of that. When it does happen, it's so good.

I was left a little out of sorts over John, Junior for the first time since MPG's been on the show. I understand the depth of emotion in such a situation, but I'd think there would be a huge range to it. The near-tears scene in which he could barely speak upon his release from jail was great, but I also expected to see a scene in which he was so off the map thrilled with life that he's about to pop. Seems to me that a situation like that would produce those kinds of extremes in a guy like John, Junior, and I'd have liked to have seen them. Drama can be more than distress--manic joy in a situation like that can produce tension, too. I think it would have been well placed here and would have balanced out the total normality we saw in John when he got back to work later that day. I'm trying to say--and not saying it well because it's late and been a long week already--that a *complete* range of emotion would have been appropriate here and that seeing only one part of it left me wanting.

On the up side, this episode gave us one of the best Blue scenes in ages, and I am here to say that Garcelle Beauvais is the reason it sailed. It was the scene where Shannon made his statement. She kicked ass in that scene, no question. Regular readers know I've been critical of this woman before, and that I've also seen a gradual growth in her skills over the last season. Tonight I'm telling the world: she rocked in that scene. She carried it, and she should be beaming with pride over it. She was in a room with Dennis Franz, Esai Morales and several other top notch actors and she stole it clean away. Good on ya, girl. Not many could do that. Valerie has totally opened up and changed from the stiff Joyce Davenport rip off she started out to be into a fully human, real person. Great job all around: writing, direction and mostly, GBN.

The only thing good I can say about Fraker not being involved in this mess is that maybe the door is open for him to return to the show. Of course, I hate to make that excuse because this could have been set up so that Fraker was behind it and he set Laughlin up so that Laughlin takes the fall alone and he's still around. Having Fraker fade into the background like that was really a disappointment.

It also would have been nice to have worked in a scene with Laughlin and John, Junior.

GAY DOA:

This provided us with another one of the best all-time scenes in the show: the scene at the end with Andy and Idalo. Andy telling the story and ending it the way he did was classic Sipowicz. We haven't seen that in ages, and my hat's off to the writer here. Very nice work. Scenes like that one used to happen all the time rather just once an episode. They show Andy as the complete yet struggling hero, they show a human side to a hardened cop and they serve a practical purpose in terms of police work. That's a triple-threat that works every time in this genre. More, please, like, every scene.

RITA AND D'RIDA:

This story fell a tad flat but the performance by Lizette Carrion as D'Rida made it stand out. She and Jaqueline Obradors clicked on to something really great in that opening scene where D'Rida is giving Rita bags of shit at the crime scene. That was a really solid scene. The story itself was a bit obvious and might have been more interesting if it had focused somehow on the gang life of the women (which is a fairly untapped story source as far as I know). Maybe having one the gang sisters turn out to be the killer or something. Just thinking outloud.

CONNIE & ANDY:

Is there trouble in river city? Hard to say for sure, but it sure looked to me like Andy is about to blow a gasket over this domestic stuff. The New Andy probably won't, but the Old Andy would be suffocating by now with this cooking thing coming on the heels of the his partner being locked up unjustly. It all looks like contrived conflict to me, and I'm not looking forward to whatever "drama" they're going to try to insert here. By the way, there's plenty of room in this relationship for more real drama. The writers don't have to "cook up" anything. Examples: Maybe Andy's not totally over Sylvia (Theo sure isn't). Theo and his situation are pretty dramatic. Connie and Andy could have trouble working together. Connie could realize all she wanted Andy for was a kid and now that she's got one, she doesn't need him. There are all kinds of possibilities. Lame is making their conflict about who's going to the household chores, don't you think?

QUICK HITS:

*Nice directing debut from Producer JoAnne McCool. It's hard to follow last week, but the Shannon interview and the Andy/Idalo scene in the last act were right up there.

*How does a chick named D'Rida end up NOT being called "Corn Chip" by her gang pals?

*PAA Irvin: The flower moment was perfect use of him. He's the emotion of the squad. Whatever they're feeling but not showing because they're crusty old cops, PAA John wears on his sleeve. I think they all feel things through him, and it works so well. It seems apparent to me that Bill Brochtrup has worked out an understanding of this in his own internal background life for PAA John, and it just flows out perfectly when he has a scene like that to play. Well written and so well executed, and it only took about 20 seconds. Perfect.

*Greg was nearly normal this week! Thank God. All he needs to do now is sneeze from time to time, or relate in someway to the extremely picky clean freak Tim and we've got our old Greg back.

*Odd that two years ago Shannon was panting after Danny's sister and now he's got a wife and two kids. He works fast.

*Milestone: it's the first time since PAA John has been on the show that they've done a story involving a gay character and not had PJohn giving a concerned stare or some sort of sideways glance. Good job. I always it was a little much to cut to PJohn's face every time someone said the word "gay" or referred to another gay character.

*There is a small faction of my weekly audience that wanted Connie's baby to be named (apologies to the legions who read this weekly and haven't heard this) Kurtrina. Well, you in the Kurtrina Kamp will just have to settle for Andy's ex-partner being named Kurt. Not too shabby.

*Week two with no Hank and no Josh. Gosh.

*And while I'm missing familiar faces let me mention Eddie Gibson and how much I'd like to see a follow up to the Killick story with him.

*A respectful nod to actor Anthony Mangano who did an outstanding job as Laughlin over the past few seasons. I'm guessing we won't see him again, and that's a shame. He did an outstanding job in that role from the get-go. Kind of sad that the bad guys always eventually have to die. Laughlin had to go away, but still, I'm sad to see that fine work walking out the door.

CAST LEGACIES:

Previously on NYPD Blue: Joe Spano as Clark, Sr., Scott Allan Campbell as Martens, Anthony Mangano as Laughlin, James McBride as Shannon and Casey Siemaszko as Fraker.

Christian Clemenson (Tim the killer neighbor): He done lots of things, including Hannah and Her Sisters, but he's got a little link to Blue: he was in the short-lived series Capitol News which was produced by Blue's David Milch and Mark Tinker.

Lizette Carrion (D'Rida): This talented woman did Brooklyn South twice and was also in ER and the Practice among other things.

Rolando Molia (Idalo): He had a small role on Blue in 98, has done ER several times and has also been on The Shield, Judging Amy and Seinfeld.

Noel Gugliemi (Jose): He was in the movie Training Day and also had a part in Price of Glory starring Jimmy Smits. He's done 24, CSI and XFiles.

Demetrius Navarro (Chris): You might recognize him as Morales from ER. Rounding out the cast: Julien Cesario as Arturo Jimenez and Malieek Straaughter as Levar Rush.

LINES OF THE WEEK:

Kind of drought last week, but this week makes up for it.

Andy to Idalo: "Wrong cop."

Connie to Andy regarding John Senior's announcement to the uniforms: "His dad meant well."
Andy: "Yeah, so did Custer."

And my favorite (DF's excellent delivery had a lot to do with it)

Arturo: "You calling me maricon?"
Andy: "If maricon means you and this Neal were hitting each other in the seat, then yeah, that's what I'm calling you."

NEXT WEEK:

There's trouble in Connie and Andy's paradise.

Hope you all have a great week!

Drop me a line sometime--

Amanda Wilson