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

"Mom's Away"
Season 9 Episode 7
12/11/01
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Steven DePaul

Another four star show. The summary follows and the review follows that.

Enjoy...

Summary:

CONNIE'S GIRL:

Connie is continuing her furtive vigil on her daughter this morning before work when she spies young Jennifer and her pal Chloe sneaking around behind a building before school to smoke a joint. Connie busts them and hauls them in.

She ends up cutting Chloe loose but keeps Jennifer around because she's very worried the kid is getting mixed up in bad things. Lt. Tony is puzzled and speaks with her sternly about using her time on such a small case. She says she just wants to talk to the girl's parents. Tony says she can but has to do it around the more pressing cases the squad is working. Andy catches on that something is up, too, and drills her about why she hauled the kids in. She says nothing except "Give me a break."

When she sits down to talk to Jennifer, who's been sitting in an interview room for quite a while, she begins asking her all kinds of questions about her life and her parents. Jennifer has an attitude that seems to have been passed down to her genetically and gives Connie a pretty rough time. But she's asking good questions, the gist of which is why in hell is Connie spending so much time hassling her and asking about her family. Connie is not her usual self dealing with this "perp" and seems somewhat mystified about how to handle all this.

Andy catches Connie as she's heading up the stairs to take Jennifer to the crib to await her parents' arrival. He lays eyes on Jennifer then for the first time and the incredible resemblance between her and Connie can't be denied. He nearly muscles Connie into a private confab and tells her straight up he knows who the girl is and what she's doing. He advises her strongly to let the girl leave, to end this now, and tells her that there is no way this can end well. Connie, firmly in the grip of denial, tells Andy that she thinks she's doing the right thing and speaks those famous last words: "I can handle this."

Jennifer's mother, Christine Beck, arrives. She's as curious as everyone else why Connie is making such a big deal out of the thing. She's concerned about her daughter's use of pot but she's not overly concerned because she's sure Jennifer is just experimenting like nearly everyone did at that age. She admits that she and her husband experimented with some drugs in college and assumes correctly that Connie spent a few days of her youth toking on the ganja as well.

We learn that Jennifer is living in an affluent house with parents who value education, love their daughter and are perhaps a bit free-thinking. They seem stable enough; Connie realizes this.

Hours after Connie has let mother and daughter leave and has put the whole thing away officially, a gentleman named Richard Beck arrives. He's Jennifer's father and he's kind of pissed off. Connie takes him in the coffee room expecting him to blast her the way his wife did for making a mountain out of a mole hill. Instead, he drops the bomb that he knows who she is and warns her to stay away from Jennifer. Connie is stunned. Richard says that way back when Connie was digging around for information at the adoption agency, the agency contacted Richard and asked him if it was OK to give her information. He took that opportunity to find out about her, too. He tells her that he hasn't told Jennifer who she is, but that if she doesn't stay away, he won't hesitate to get a restraining order. Connie knows she's crossed the line and only nods in agreement.

At the end of the day, as Connie is leaving the station, Jennifer arrives. She's overheard her parents talking and now knows who Connie is. Connie takes her to a coffee shop and Jennifer tells her that she wants to spend time with her and get to know her. Connie tells her no. She apologizes for getting involved, telling Jennifer she made a huge mistake by getting into her life like that. She explains she was just so afraid that Jennifer would end up taking the wrong path in life. Jennifer leaves angry, accusing Connie of turning her life upside down and leaving her hanging.

Connie shows up at Andy's house later in tears. She's tortured over what she's done to Jennifer and how badly she messed up.

GANG BANG:

Andy and his new partner Eddie are investigating, along with John, Jr., the murders of a couple of Crips dope dealers in an apartment building. There have been five such murders in those buildings in the past five months.

John is checking out one of his informants while Eddie gives a building tenant a really rough time over not seeing anything. Andy tries to reign Eddie in.

The CI (Confidential Informant) John knows is Loretta Murray. She comes in and tells the cops there's been a turf war with the Bloods in the past few weeks. She thinks her son may know who did it but he's in Rikers on a 25-thousand dollar bond. She wants to spring him. John mistakenly assumes it's her son Anthony, but she says Anthony is dead now and that it's her son Michael who's inside now. She wants to try to get him away and give him the chance his brother didn't have.

Eddie gives her a rough time, too, and Andy and John are getting more concerned about his inability to go with the flow.

Andy, John and Eddie take Loretta to Rikers to talk to her son. Michael is playing it tough, not saying anything. Again, Eddie nearly ruins things, but Loretta and Andy get Michael back on track. They promise they can get him out of prison and to North Carolina where his mother wants to start life over. He finally agrees and gives up the name Carter Freeman, a Bloods dealer who took out a few Crips dealers earlier for working his turf.

Carter Freeman is brought in to the house. He's just a businessman, you see, and he's just been taking care of business. Andy tells him that'll all be over when the eyewitness they have testifies against him. Andy backs off a minute to give him time to think about it. Eddie jumps in, however, and tells Carter he has no time, he has to give it up now. Andy tries to back him down. Eddie won't go away. Finally, Carter jumps up and asks if he's under arrest. When he discovers he's not, he leaves. Of course, since there really is no eyewitness, they have to let him go.

Andy tells him they're going to drag in all his dealers and customers until one of them gives him up. In the midst of one of these take-downs, a call comes in that there's been another murder at the apartment building. This time it's not a dealer, it's Loretta, Michael's mother.

Michael is stunned and dazed and says he has no idea what happened. At the station house, Michael seems afraid to talk. Someone heard an argument in the apartment before the shooting and this is enough to send Eddie into Michael's face demanding he tell what happened. Andy pulls Eddie back and throws him out of the room. John takes a kinder approach, appealing to his feelings about his dead mother. He admits that Carter showed up, figured out that it was his mother who told and threatened him. Carter left the apartment and met Loretta in the hallway where she was shot. Michael says he's wouldn't be surprised if Carter still had the gun.

The problem now is getting Carter back. In order to throw him off balance, they appeal to his huge ego. Tony calls him up pretending to be an FBI agent who has found, through surveillance, that there's price on Carter's head. They set off to go pick him up. Eddie decides to stay home.

Baldwin is dressed in casual clothes as he stands outside Carter's apartment. The others are waiting in a van. Carter comes out the door behind two of his thugs who do a casual secret-service look up and down the street before waving him out the door.

Seconds later, Baldwin, walking past, grabs Carter around the neck holds a weapon to his head an announces he's a police officer. Andy and John come out of the van and grab up the others. Baldwin finds the gun, and it goes straight away to ballistics which is sure to do Carter in.

CONSTRUCTION CORPSE:

Tony gives Connie, Greg and Baldwin the case of a body found in at a construction site. He says they found the body badly decomposed when they returned to work that day. It was lying in an area that was to be filled in with concrete on the morning of 9/11. Construction was halted that day and the investor in the building lost a lot of money, so construction ended up being stopped for several months.

They find a credit card receipt on the body with the names Denise and Phillip Conner, and they set about trying to ID the body.

Turns out it is Denise Conner. She was reported missing 9/11 and in on the list of unrecovered from the WTC attack. She worked in one of the towers, but she obviously did not die there. Tony surmises the husband, Phillip, may have killed her and stumbled into what he thought would be the perfect alibi.

Phillip arrives at the station. He seems shocked that her body was found somewhere other than ground zero. They give him her effects. He gets very upset and begins shouting. He was convinced she was in the building; he watched it fall. He had a funeral for her.

The investigation is further complicated by the fact that all of her co-workers died in the tower. Denise spent the night of the 10th in the city to attend a birthday party for one of her girlfriends from work.

Phillip tells how Denise's best friend called him that morning while he was home with his sick daughter. They ask him if he's been faithful to his wife. This really sets him off.

The friend, Deborah Abrams, comes in. Greg and Baldwin tell her about Denise. She is also asked if Phillip had any affairs, maybe with her. She gets upset and denies it. When asked if she knows of anyone Denise was seeing, she seems to remember rather suddenly that Denise was having an affair with a James Franklin. He kept an apartment in the city where they met from time to time. He owns a construction company.

Mr. Franklin arrives to discuss the car accident he was called about. As he swaggers into the interview room, he informs Baldwin and Greg and that he wasn't in a car accident. They tell him he's really there to talk about a body found at his site. He's mad. He says he knows about the body from his workers.

He then denies he knows anyone named Denise Conner. They ask him about his apartment. He says he gave it up. He used it only for nights when he worked late and wanted to crash in the city instead of driving home to Long Island. On the night of 9/10, he says he was in Long Island. They ask him to explain why there was an eight minute phone call from Denise's cell phone to his apartment that night.

Franklin then says he could have been at the apartment, he doesn't remember, and he doesn't remember any phone call. Baldwin presses him on the affair. He gives a smart ass answer then refuses to talk.

Greg told him that if he takes care of this now, he may have a chance, but if a judge and jury hear that he used the WTC attack to cover up a murder, he's sunk. They tell him he'll never survive the publicity never mind the still-strong sentiment about the incident. He insists on a lawyer.

They run the case by ADA Heywood. She tells them they don't have enough on him. They'll have to get more evidence, and in the meantime, they have to let him go.

At the end of the day, Phillip returns. He's calmed down now and tells the detectives he's sorry he was so hostile. After he confesses that he suspected his wife of an affair earlier but didn't want to admit it, they tell him a little about Franklin. He finds out that they've been unable to arrest Franklin.

He begins getting upset again, wondering how he's going to explain this to his child, what he's going to do with the body, what's going to happen to the benefits he's gotten from the 9/11 funds. They advise him not to tell his daughter, and remind him that if she'd gone to work that day she'd have died anyway. They tell him to bury her quietly and that they've checked with the funds and there will be no one coming to get money back from him.

As Greg, Baldwin and Connie leave for the day, they hear that Conner and Franklin have gotten into a big scuffle downstairs as they were both leaving at the same time. They pull them apart, and warn Conner that while Franklin may be able to get away with murder, he surely won't. He calms down and Greg walks him to his car. Baldwin, meanwhile, threatens Franklin. He tells Franklin that if he makes one small move out of line, he'll be there to take him down.

ANDY AND EDDIE:

Andy confronts Eddie after tossing him out of the interview with Michael. He tells Eddie he knows about the cancer. Eddie is pissed off. He tells Andy he's happy to work solo, but that Andy needs to just back off. Andy tries to tell him that his desperate attempt to get a grade bump, and thus a better retirement package, is affecting his ability to work well. Eddie disagrees and storms out of the locker room after warning Andy not to tell anyone about his cancer.

After they bust Carter, Andy goes to Tony to try to solve the Eddie problem. His idea is to give the bust to Eddie. Carter has committed so many murders with that gun that it'll be a huge bust, worthy of a grade bump. Andy tells Tony about Eddie's cancer and that he figures if they can help him get his grade bump, he'll take medical leave and everyone will be happier.

Tony agrees and makes a few phone calls. He tells Eddie later to show up for work Friday with his dress uniform: he's getting bumped to First Grade. Eddie is stunned. He says that no one gets bumped that far. Tony tells him that it happens, and that besides, he really impressed the commissioner with the bust.

Tony leaves, and Eddie confronts Andy. He tells Andy he knows he doesn't deserve the bump. Andy assures him that will all his years on the job, he should have gotten a bump a long time ago. Eddie's guilt over getting the promotion on false pretenses lasts about ten seconds, then he decides he likes how it sounds to be detective first grade. Andy suggests that now Eddie should take medial leave. Eddie says he'll think about it.

TONY OWES A FAVOR:

An old friend of Tony's, ADA Don Harrison from Brooklyn narcotics, shows up to see him. Don and Tony go back a ways and make some small talk before getting down to business.

Don asks Tony to give his wife a job. Detective Rita Ortiz is working OCCB Vice now--the pimp squad -- but wants to make a change. She's got her husband out scouting squads. She wants to work under someone sharp who knows how to get ahead, and they thought of Tony since he's so sharp and smart and all.

Tony blushes slightly, then a few sparks begin to fly as his IQ points start rubbing together. He asks how their marriage is, knowing that Vice has a rep for killing marriages. Now Don's blushing. He admits it's been rough, and Tony figures he's found out the real reason Det. Ortiz is looking to move on.

Tony says she'll be his first call when something opens up in his squad. He reminds Tony how he got a friend of his assigned to the ADA detective squad, and Tony assures him Rita will be his first call.

Review:

CONNIE'S GIRL:

Whew! Not the whiny, drivel we were so afraid of. Thank you kindly Messrs. Wootton, Clark & Bochco, though you've got to understand why we were so afraid. (Hint: "I'm so c-c- coooolllld." -Diane Russell, the early years.)

Connie messed up, but she did it like a normal human. Huge mistake, yes, dumb thing to do, yes, but did she own up to it? Oh, hell yes. Everyone screws up life once in a while, no? (Of course. It's what makes life so uncomfortably dramatic.)

What's so pleasantly different about this dramatic mess, as opposed to Jill's and even Diane's, is that Connie is not a victim. She made her mistake without any undue influence from anywhere. And while she was in denial for a while, she snapped out of it and realized that she'd done wrong.

The lovely irony now is that she has to struggle with the enormous fear that in trying to keep her daughter safe and on the right path she's knocked the kid completely off track. Jennifer left the coffee shop in a serious mood. A kid her age could easily become completely overwhelmed by the feeling of isolation she must now have.

Can't say enough about Charlotte Ross here. She's fantastic. Even in her breakdown there is Connie's stable core of strength. A lot of that comes from the writing--she's crying not because she's lonely for her kid, but because she knows how much she screwed up--but Ross carried this off very, very well. She's been consistently better than any female cast member at portraying the mystifying combination of strength and femininity and it paid off in aces here.

Even though Andy and Connie aren't working cases together right now, their time on screen together is as powerful as ever. Can I say it again? They're a dynamite combination. They are what friendship is all about: knowing someone's weaknesses and being there for them anyway.

Wish I had marvelous things to say about Katie Fountain, who played Jennifer. Her scenes were pretty solid up until the coffee shop when she got a little wooden. I'd think there'd be tons more emotion from a 15-year-old who realizes who her real mother is, that her real mother arrested her and that she won't have anything more to do with her. The lines were there ("you turned my life upside down...") but the feeling didn't quite reach them. It's amazing, though, how much she looks like she could be Connie's kid. Good idea to cast adoptive parents who both have dark hair.

GANG BANG/ANDY AND EDDIE:

I'll combine these two since there's not much to say about the story.

I think it's good that we've not seen too much of John, Jr. the last few weeks. MPG is doing a really solid job here, but when I think about it, I think it's OK that we've not had him shoved down our throats too much right away. Rick Schroder started off with a bang, in my opinion, and was solid for all his years on the show, but I do recall getting a little too much Danny in the first few weeks of his appearance on the scene. This time, the pacing is better. We know a fair amount about John already but we're not confronted with all his demons all at once. There's a lot going on in this kid's life, and it's OK that we're not seeing every second of it. Maybe that's a plan, maybe not. Whatever it is, it works.

Eddie. What a creative way to deal with this mope. Is it unrealistic to have him jump two grades? I dunno. I don't care. Bill Clark knows more about it than I do, and Tony explained it enough to my satisfaction. Besides, I like how Andy came up with the idea, how Tony made it work and how we see that the Blue Brotherhood works together for the good of the many. I also like how Eddie, completely aware that even at third grade he's barley able to detect a gravy stain on his own tie, remains true to his character and takes it anyway.

The best part was that I think he almost cried at the end there while he was thanking Andy. He's a goof; as John put it, he's a liability, but are his priorities so different from ours? He wants to take care of his family. Nothing, no murdered soul, no tortured child, not the respect of his coworkers, not even his own health, is more important than that. All of this was apparent at the second he said he liked the way Eddie Gibson, First Grade Detective sounded (how dare he!) and at the very next second when we saw his chin quiver as he thanked Andy (There IS a soul in there!).

CONSTRUCTION MURDER:

I liked this story so much. First, it's one of the few times when Our Heroes don't get their man, and that's pretty rare in Blue land. But what makes this story truly compelling is the 9/11 connection. The impact of the attacks is still so fresh to us (especially since today is the three month anniversary), and the thought that this guy would use it to cover up a murder is perhaps more appalling to us than a run-of-the-mill homicide case. There's a direct appeal to our feelings here and it works. I think it was kind of brave thing to do, too, including this story. Some may feel it plays on emotions it shouldn't, but I don't agree. This kind of situation is unfortunately real. I know of a man who ran around a town in Ohio after the attacks collecting money because his sister was killed in one of the towers. Turns out she wasn't in the towers at all; he'd never even had a sister. Man, talk about your anvils falling on heads.... My point is that the story is real enough, and that's one of the hallmarks of this show.

Hats off to our quiet powerhouse Henry Simmons who delivered a very convincing threat against Franklin at the end.

TONY OWES A FAVOR:

What a detective! How long did it take him to figure out that ADA Harrison can't stand to see his wife dressed like a hooker for work every day? We can only assume that Rita hates it too. I guess her rocky marriage is a set up for future stories: It wouldn't be a big stretch to imagine the good ADA getting an uncontrollable fit of jealously at some point and doing something stupid. He doesn't seem all that well-glued together.

Anyhoo, this is the background for the introduction of the newest cast member who arrives next week.

QUICK HITS:

*Medavoy was so kind to offer Connie a beer and an ear. I think they'd make great friends. He's got kids, daughters, and he's such a sweet guy.....

*Medavoy again: Have I mentioned lately how great it is to see him doing detective work instead of fishing or donating sperm?

*Hey, isn't Connie from upstate somewhere? Saratoga Springs (north of Albany), I think it is. How'd her kid just happen to end up in Brooklyn Heights and then be wandering the streets in Connie's precinct on her way to school?

*The purpose of Tony's fake FBI phone call escapes me. I understand that appealing to Carter's giant ego was a good way to get in to the guy, but why would the phone call have helped them arrest him? They obviously didn't need anything but the testimony of Michael to pick him up, so why the call?

*The above did get Tony a bit involved, and that's good. He's already had more to do in a few episodes than Fancy did in several seasons. I don't know how much of this is a lesson learned on the part of the producers, but part of it has to be Esai's ability to fill out the screen. He's a really powerful actor--already showing a great deal of versatility--with undeniable presence.

*The round up and subsequent flight of the street dealers was highly amusing, even though you could have seen that one coming in a power outage with a blindfold on.

*Woah....what was Andy saying when he told Eddie he deserved the promotion more than anyone who got it driving the mayor around. OUCH! His best pal, the late saint Bobby Simone, whom we still love, got his driving the commissioner around.

Carter's thugs were great. They were trying to be so cool, like they were escorting the president or something...what a hoot.

*Best guest of the week: Who doesn't love Vernee Watson-Johnson? But my vote goes to Patrick St. Esprit who played James Franklin with such slick evil (not to mention I think this guy is kind of good looking...) I have to give a nod also to John Benjamin Hickey who played Phillip. More on all these folks in CAST LEGACIES below.

I wonder....that little desk lamp in the pokey room that is always turned on and shining on the wall...what's the deal? I know, it's TV and it looks good. It does look good, I can't deny that, but it's purpose in the world of the show is bugging me. All that black stuff smeared on the walls I've always assumed is fingerprint ink and that the lamp there is used in that process. I have no idea why I assume that, I just do. But they don't fingerprint people up there, do they? (Would they smear the walls with it if they do? Doubtful.) And if they do, why do they leave the light on? (Yeah, it's a stupid thing to wonder, ok?)

*We're used to seeing a lot of our detectives looking like they just walked off the pages of GQ or Vogue, but our perps are usually not much to look at. Until tonight. The actor who played Michael (Jamil Walker Smith) looks like a walking ad for A. & Fitch (well, except for his prison duds).

CAST LEGACIES:

Katie Fountain (Jennifer Beck, Connie's kid): She was on Undressed on MTV. Jennifer Shon (Chloe, Jen's pal): She's done Boston Public and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. David Connell (tenant): He was on Bochco's City of Angels as a guest. Vernee Watson-Johnson (Loretta Murray): The familiar face of this actress has been see on nearly every TV show known to mankind. Some of them include ER, The District, JAG and SB's LA Law and Hill Street Blues. She's been more than a guest on the oldies Carter Country and Welcome Back Kotter and on Fresh Prince and Young & Restless. Steve Heinze (Peter Keisel, construction foreman): He was on Buffy as a vampire. Guess she got him, huh? Jamil Walker Smith (Michael): He's a voice on my niece's favorite Hey Arnold. He's also been in Touch by an Angel and X Files. Avery Kidd Waddell (Carter Freeman): He's been a guest on Boston Public, L&O and New York Undercover. John Benjamin Hickey ( Phillip Conner): He's got a big career. Some of the movies he was in are The Bone Collector, The General's Daughter and The Ice Storm. He's been a guest on a lot of TV shows including: CSI, L&O and its subsidiaries, H:LOTS, Sex and the City and our own Blue back in 94. Jordan Baker (Deborah Abrams, Denise's friend): She's guest starred on West Wing, Chicago Hope, Frasier, LA Law and the apparently irrepressible Buffy The bla bla bla. Carol Potter (Christine Beck): She was Cindy Walsh on BH: 90210 for a while, and Joan on Sunset Beach. She also did LA Law a time ago. Patrick St. Esprit (James Franklin): He played a character called Tony on Days of Our Lives and has guested on ER and JAG. Dan Gilvezan (Richard Beck): This guy has an impressive career as a voice actor. His credits include Rug Rats, Transformers and Spiderman (in which he was the voice of Spiderman himself.)

Stan Cahill (ADA Harrison): He was in the movies Pearl Harbor and A Thousand Acres, among others, and he was a guest on The Practice.

LINE OF THE WEEK:

Tony calling Carter: "This is Special Agent Michael Francis, FBI. (A beat). Where do you think we got your phone number, sir? We're the FBI."

NEXT WEEK:

Most all of the 15 welcomes Det. Rita Ortiz; Andy gets a side job and there are free puppies for everyone!


Until then, check out Alan Sepinwall's website (if you're not already there): Or stop by my bio there to learn a little about me: Amanda Wilson

Have a great week! Amanda Wilson