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

"Low Blow"
Season 9 Episode 19
4/30/02
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Mark Tinker

This episode has so many gems, it oughta be insured for four million bucks! If you were unlucky enough to miss it (for shame), here's a summary:

SUMMARY

RAPE CASE:

Andy and Junior catch a rape case. Lisa Griffin was walking home from work when she was hauled into an alley and assaulted. She didn't get a good look at the guy. She only knows he's white.

The boys get nowhere on canvas, but Connie comes up with a sex offender who lives in the neighborhood. His name is Lloyd Rogers. Lloyd is kind of an asshole and repeatedly says he was home reading that morning. Andy and Junior don't believe him and decide to continue investigating when a DNA hit turns up another guy.

The DNA from Lisa's rape kit matches that of a guy named Kevin Healy who was collared for rape two years ago. His wife accused him of it and he ended up pleading out to a charge of criminal trespassing.

Kevin is brought in and Andy and John J. learn he's with the FDNY and works in a unit that lost some guys on 9/11. Kevin tells about his earlier plea: he says his wife was just lying about the rape and trying to get him in hot water because they were getting a divorce and he was trying to get a job on the fire department. He says he pleaded to the lesser charge on the advice of his attorney who said it was the best way to make it go away.

Andy and Jr. make sure he knows that there was a DNA match. Kevin is doubly confused over this: he says he had not had sex with his wife for six months before she accused of him rape and he says he never gave a DNA sample. The detectives lock him up because the DNA is not likely to be wrong, but they also think that maybe somehow Kevin isn't lying.

A chat with Kevin's ex-wife is order. Eileen Healy is brought in. She says Kevin did rape her. When Andy and John J. push her on the topic and tell her that if there's been some sort of game-playing on her part that she'll be charged, Eileen admits the truth. She was having an affair with a guy named Darryl and accused Kevin of raping her because she was mad at him. The DNA in her rape kit was Darryl's. That never got sorted out because Kevin pleaded to the lesser charge.

Before Andy and Junior can get downstairs to the cell where Kevin is on ice, Kevin tries to take his own life. He uses some portion of his belt buckle to slice a hole in his wrist and is taken to the hospital.

Andy and Junior find Darryl on the street. He's real cocky until they take him down to the cell where Kevin's blood is still soaking the floor and bunk. They handcuff him to the bars and tell him he's now in the "truth room." He folds like Martha Stewart making a chocolate souffle.

Later, Andy goes to see him. Kevin wants an apology. Andy tells him he's not going to get one because Andy was only doing his job.

MAN-GRO:

A doctor is found shot to death in his car. Greg and Baldwin catch the case. With the help of Tony, they discover that he's not really a doctor, but a guy with a record for fraud who now runs a company called Man-Gro.

When they check his house, they find his girlfriend Jennifer there. Jennifer tells them that the "doctor" had been getting some complaint calls from his clients. Seems his product, Man-Gro, is a penis enlargement cream and, to no one's surprise, provides the consumer with only temporary growth.

Greg and Baldwin head off to the doctor's office to meet his partner, Joey. Joey tries to bolt out the window when the cops arrive but doesn't make it. He explains that Jennifer is wrong about one thing: no one complains about dick cream. The complaints were from another client: a man who visited the doctor for some plastic surgery and was not happy with the result.

Greg and Baldwin ask for patient records. Baldwin turns down a tube of Man-Gro saying confidently how he doesn't need it. Greg laughs knowingly and then furtively slips the tube in his pocket.

Joey gives up the patient records and Antonio the former patient, who is also a former man, is brought in. She likes to be called Falana after Lola Falana, the woman she wishes she looked like.

Falana says how she went to the doc for breast enhancement and ended up with some serious problems. She begins to lift her falsies when Baldwin objects, but she does it anyway. The scars on her chest are shocking. She's been mutilated. But her attitude is light. She says she called the office a few times to try to get her money back but quit calling when the number was disconnected.

Greg and Baldwin check the story out further and find that Falana was in for more than a new chest. The surgery was a sex change. When confronted with this information, Falana becomes deeply distressed and tells a horribly sad story about how all she ever wanted was to feel beautiful. This doctor mutilated not only her chest but her genitals. She said she confronted him that morning to try to get her money back so that she could pay her huge medical bills and that she snapped and shot him.

CONNIE AND ANDY:

The on-again-off-again whateveritis between Andy and Connie continues along its rocky path. Connie mentions to Andy that she wants to talk about flights to Orlando. Andy pretty much flips when she says this because she says it front of Junior.

She confronts Andy later about it saying Junior already knew, which is true. Andy tries to blow her off but she won't let him. She finally says she's not going to go to Orlando with him. He tells her that Theo will be so disappointed, and it's clear that he will also be very disappointed. This isn't enough for Connie, though, because she's convinced Andy is not completely OK with the idea. Andy admits that the situation is complicated, but before they can really talk about it, they are interrupted. Connie ends it all quickly by telling him that she's not going to go and that it's all OK.

Andy doesn't seem too unsettled by this. Later, he finds a seat next to her at a department event and they appear to be getting along like old pals.

THE SMOKER:

The big charity boxing match between Junior and Laughlin is on everyone's minds and lips. One of the uniforms comes upstairs in the morning to tell Junior that there's been so much talk about how he and Laughlin are in it to settle a personal score that the captain has decided to cancel the fight.

Junior is pissed off about this. The uniform says there's nothing anyone can do about it. Junior tells him to make sure all the uniforms know that the captain canceled and that he didn't back out. The uniform assures him everyone knows.

While at the hospital on his rape case, Junior's hell begins. One of the uniforms there says he knows Clark backed out. Junior tells him he didn't, but the uniform doesn't believe him. When Junior walks away, the uniform begins squawking like a chicken.

Junior grows more and more pissed off as the day wears on. Uniforms are lurking everywhere and loud squawks can be heard echoing through the halls of the station house. Unfortunately for Junior, the source of the squawks can't be found.

The mystery of the Secret Squawker deepens when PAA John walks into the coffee room to find a live chicken strutting around on the table. John slams the door shut, but Junior is on his way over to see what's going on. Just as the door is opened a second time, the chicken squawks loudly at Junior. The point is further punctuated when a long stream of chicken shit shoots out its hindquarters.

That's it. Junior storms downstairs and pulls Laughlin aside for a little tete-a-tete. Junior tells him rather strongly that the score needs to be settled, and all Laughlin has to do is name the time and place. Their meeting is interrupted by the desk sergeant and just about every uniform in the place who all hear Junior's demand for a fight.

Later, Junior and Laughlin are called in to see the captain. They play it like brothers who've been clawing at each other all day but want to avoid a spanking from dad. They're friends! It's all in fun! Heck, there's no grudge! C'mon Cap'n, let us have some fun!

The captain doesn't buy it, of course, but he lets the smoker go on anyway, perhaps figuring that it's better to have them duke it out in a controlled environment that the street brawl that would surely have ensued if the match were canceled.

So, the smoker begins. Everyone is gathered to see it, and Rita, whose honor is on the line, has a front row seat. Our Hero is getting his fanny busted early on, but after a few encouraging words from Greg and Baldwin, he begins to wail away on poor ol' Laughlin. He's fighting so well, in fact, that Laughlin has to do the only thing he knows how to do: fight dirty. He socks Junior in the boys with a solid punch that doubles him over and makes him see stars. PAA John, who's been showing an as yet un-revealed lust for violence, screams at Laughlin to leave Junior's jewels alone. Greg and Baldwin rush in to tell Junior to shake it off and get back in the game. He does, and Laughlin goes down fast after that.

The fight ends with Junior on the brink of letting out a raspy cry "Rita...Riiiitttaaaa." Thankfully, he only gives her a half-wink.

Back in his crib and nursing his bruises, Junior cracks open a beer and lays an ice pack on his wounded ones. A knock is heard at the door. Thinking it's Baldwin, Junior calls out that he's fine, dammit, leave him alone. More knocking, only this time it's playful knocking. Junior hauls himself off the couch and waddles over to the door with the icepack still down his pants. He looks out the peephole and has a moment of panic. He dives into his pants, grabs out the ice pack and then fumbles around to open the door. It's Rita, all shy and coy. She's just wandered over from the celebration because, well, it was too loud there and, gosh, she just wanted to say thanks, is all. Uh-huh. Junior says how she didn't have to do that and she goes on to bat her eyelashes up at him and tell him she just wanted to thank him for sticking up for her. Then she plants a little, tiny kiss on his lips. He likes that. He plants a bigger kiss back on her lips. Then he asks her if she wants to stick around for a while. She does, and, soon they are both shirt free. Despite some protestations from Junior's sore muscles, they wind up on the couch. She tells him she'll be gentle and away they go to happy land.

REVIEW

RAPE CASE:

How hard is it to make an old rape story seem fresh? Pretty hard, I think, but this did it. The DNA angle was really solid. I do wish Kevin hadn't been so likable the entire time, though. I realize he had to be somewhat likable since he was a firefighter and since he was, after all, innocent, but a little more of a shadow over the guy would have highlighted the conflict a little more. Or if that couldn't be done, then maybe another round of checking out that DNA to drive home the point to the audience that it was the same in both kits and that no error was made. As it was, I never really thought Kevin did it. I didn't want to think he did, and so I was really ready to believe that there was some screw up somewhere.

What made it all good was the "Oh Wow" moment when we see a despondent Kevin has sliced himself up. That was sort of shocking. I wonder if there was debate amongst the creators about whether to have him succeed at suicide. That would have packed a really powerful punch, but it may also have screwed up the much lighter tone of the rest of the episode.

MAN-GRO:

This may be the perfect NYPD Blue story. It made you laugh, it made you cry, it was a goddamn sensation. The story was so funny right from the start. I mean, guys, you had me at "man-gro." But did they stop there? No, God Bless them. They had Greg offering it to Baldwin who said oh-so-casually that he didn't need it. Greg laughs knowingly and then secretly pockets a tube. They had this ditzy Jennifer going on about how she was going to be the "spokesmodel" for the stuff when (I emphasize when) it goes on the Home Shopping Network. They had one of the best all-time lines of the week when Joey says "Nobody complains about dick cream, man!"

And the sad part: Poor Falana. Yeah, your first instinct is to make fun of someone who wants a sex change, but hearing this poor creature say how all she wanted was to feel beautiful was a killer. Those scars were another "Oh Wow" moment. They had the desired effect on me: shock and disgust. I practically wanted to kill the quack myself when I saw that. The scene where Falana confesses is just aces. The guest actor, Daniel Escobar, was fantastic. And Gordon and Henry were top-notch, too: they went from being really funny in this story to being very compassionate with Falana. I loved it all around. Great, great work.

CONNIE AND ANDY:

Well, another week and we get no where with these two, and that's just fine with me! I like it this way. It means they aren't together, and that's cool. I really like how Andy turns into a quivering mass of humility when Connie wants to talk, and I like how straightforward Connie is about things. Now there's a chick who doesn't play games. Good for her.

Now, if only she'd drop this damn crush and move on......

THE SMOKER:

Yeah, it was kind of cheesy, but hey, I have to admit that I ended up liking it. Oh God! I feel so free now! I can also admit that yes, dammit, I liked Grease, too! This sort of reminds me of that, in all honesty.

With Bobby and Diane, we had smoldering sex appeal and steamy chemistry all laced with serious, grown-up problems. Junior and Rita, on the other hand, seem like a couple of sweet kids. We all have our preferences, but I think it's safe to say both work. At least for now. I can't imagine high drama with these two, but we'll see.

The chicken thing was loads of fun. I did find myself wishing a few times that at least one person in the squad would have cracked a smile over it, though. It was pretty funny. Doesn't anyone upstairs have enough of a sense of humor to have at least admitted that the live chicken was funny? I think Josh would have been perfect for this job. He could have mirrored the audience (I'm sure all million zillion of us were laughing) and then taken the wrath of the pissed off detectives who were so necessarily bent on defending their honor.

But you won't get any real complaints out of me on this one. That live chicken was our third (count 'em THREE) "Oh Wow" moment in this episode. Seriously, Mark Tinker must be living right: what director could be so lucky as to have that thing squawk and crap simultaneously as the actor opens the door? And MPG! My God, how he didn't simply burst into a gale of laughter at that moment is a mystery to us non-actors and is the single reason we sit in stuttering awe of real live professionals like him. I simply *must* have that man's autograph or something. Honestly, he's part of what makes this show like M*A*S*H: every new guy is amazingly better than the last in one way or another, and when you look at them as a whole, they're all equally fantastic.

Let me end on this note (one of my favorite rants): If you feel the urge to bitch about another office romance, get over it. It's TV. It's a one-hour show about a bunch of people who work as cops. The minute you start dragging doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs into the mix, you're diluting the main focus of the show and wasting time. No, there surely aren't that many office romances in a *real* NYPD squad, but hey, they don't solve cases in an hour in a real squad either. I'm not all that happy with the pairings they've chosen, but the fact that they're all in the same happy family is A-OK with me.

QUICK HITS:

CAST LEGACIES:

Previously on NYPD Blue: Anthony Mangano as Laughlin, James McBride as Shannon, Jack McGee as the desk Sgt., Philip Angelotti and Mike Sabatino as uniforms, Henry Murph as Hank.

Jack McGee (the desk sgt.)--He's a retired NYC firefighter with a list of 67 movie credits. He's been on Blue two times before and was on Bochco's Brooklyn South as well.

Daniel Escobar (Falana)--In addition to this outstanding performance, he was on Blue in 93 and in Bochco's Total Security. His movie credits include Blow and The Mexican. And he was on Saved By The Bell: The New Class!

Raymond O'Keefe (Captain)--He did Blue in 96. He's also been on Brooklyn South.

Geoffery Rivas (Joey)--He was on LA Law and Brooklyn South. He's also done a recurring role on CSI.

Neil Flynn (Kevin)--He was the janitor on Scrubs. He's also done CSI and Boston Public.

Jimmy Palumbo (Hackett)--He was on Philly once. He's also done ER and Friends.

Pat Skipper (Llyod)--He's been on LA Law, ER and had a recurring role on XFiles. He was also in the movie Erin Brokovich.

Victor Brandt (Ben Tyrell)--He was on The Practice and Saved By The Bell: New Class. A while back, he played Corp. Jensen on Gomer Pyle.

Rounding out the cast: Gabrielle Carteris as Lisa the rape victim, Michael Patrick McGill as the clucking uniform, Rebecca McFarland as Jennifer, Kathleen Gati as Eileen Healy and Robert Camiletti as the Ref.

LINES OF THE WEEK:

Nick Wootton must be a deeply disturbed man. There are too many good ones to pick...here are a few:

Joey of Man Gro Inc.: "Nobody complains about dick cream, man!"

Daryl the idiot confessing his rape while handcuffed face into the bars in the blood-soaked truth room: "I got frustrations! I don't know how to deal with them!"
Junior: "So do we."

PAA John after Ed's dirty hit in the boxing match: "Back off his jewels, Laughlin!"

And PAA John had another one just before that one that was lost in the audio for me. Franz walked in front of the camera and I lost some of the words, the rest seemed to fade into the din. Anyone catch this? It was after Andy asked what he'd missed. Something about "two guys I could take...."

And I know there were more...

NEXT WEEK:

Looks like another one not to be missed: Andy is taken hostage, and we meet Greg's daughter Katie all grown up.

REMINDER:

The shows are airing at 10pm now until the end of the season. May 7 and 14 (the next two Tuesdays) are at 10. The season finale airs May 21 and it's a two-hour show, so that means it will start at 9pm. Mark your calendars, alert your personal assistants, program your palm pilots, and don't forget to visit us at Alan Sepinwall's NYPD Blue Homepage: http://www.stwing.upenn.edu/~sepinwal/nypd.html

Don't be a strangler,
Amanda Wilson