"Healthy McDowell Movement"
Season 10 Episode 10
Teleplay by Jody Worth, Nicholas Wootton & Matt Olmstead
Story by Bill Clark & Jody Worth
Directed by Tawnia McKiernan
Top-notch all around; I loved this one! Too bad it's going to be a month before we see another new episode. Here's a summary, then a review:
Andy and John find Michael singing on the street. He's totally nuts but seems very sweet. He talks a little to them when they tell him he'll have to go to the hospital--he really doesn't want to go there.
He tells them he was angry when he went to his father's house but promises he'll never do it again. Then he blurts out the words "she can't breathe." That sends up some red flags and they ask him about it. He tells them the words are song lyrics. They buy it with a little hesitation and let him go.
Later, Gene comes back with a bloody lip. He tells the detectives Michael showed up and hit him, but he has no idea why. He says he's afraid of his son, but doesn't want anything bad to happen to him. On the verge of tears, he stops short of asking the detectives to tell his son how much he loves him.
They're having a hard time finding Michael, but a friend of his who knows him from one of the shelters he visits comes in. Ella Dotson also knows him from before his schizophrenia developed. She tells them the only time she ever saw him violent was a few weeks ago after he attended her grandmother's funeral and started saying "she can't breathe" and he started breaking plates. She says it was over real quick and she has no idea what any of it means.
Meanwhile, Michael has been found by uniforms back at his dad's apartment where he's gone again and started tearing things up. John and Andy go get the poor tortured soul. He starts shouting "she can't breathe" again. His father tries to get him to say what he means, but he won't tell; instead he starts to charge at his dad.
Back in the squad room, Andy spies one of the shrinks wandering about the building as a result of another case and asks him to help them deal with Michael. They think he witnessed a murder. The shrink, Dr. Barrish, agrees to help.
Barrish talks to Michael for several minutes but doesn't get very far. He mentions the funeral but that doesn't work. Michael keeps repeating "I shouldn't be here." Barrish suggests they bring him his guitar. When they do, he stands up and shouts again "I shouldn't be here." Barrish finally lands on the statement and asks him where he shouldn't be. Michael begins to relive a time twenty years ago when he disobeyed his father who had told him to go out and play. Michael instead hid in a closet and watched as his father suffocated his mother with a pillow.
The father is brought in. He's very concerned about his son and says again he doesn't want him to go to jail. John tells Gene they know what's wrong: the memory of Gene suffocating his mother came back to Michael. Gene breaks down and asks if his son really saw that. He explains that his wife was dying, in horrible pain and asking for help dying. He seems so sincere. Andy and John say they'll talk to the DA.
ADA Valerie says she'll go to bat for both the father and the son.
John and Andy go to tell Michael the truth about what happened to his Mom. He appears to not be listening. He begins reciting his daily routine in the hospital, hour by hour. They bring his father in to explain as well. Gene tells him how sorry he is, how much he loves him, and that he was helping his mother. Michael continues reciting his routine. Andy takes Gene out of the room. As they reach the door, Michael announces: "She can breathe now."
A dump of the girls' phone records show lots of calls to her psychiatrist. The burned up tape is being examined, and the girls parents are being brought in.
When Martin and Helen Walsh arrive, they have no idea their daughter is dead. Connie and Rita talk to them and find out the whole family is in therapy. The parents describe her as incorrigible, prone to violence at times and a loner. They say they adopted her when she was 8 and they're convinced she suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome.
When they're told she's dead, they both freak out. The mother begins to hyperventilate and the father begins to shout. They put in an emergency call to their shrink.
Greg and Baldwin talk to Victoria's shrink, Dr. Henderson. She's reluctant to help but does after they promise they won't tell it came from her. She tells them Victoria was seeing an older man who paid her rent and gave her money. She has no idea who it is.
The lab, meanwhile, says one of the stills from the video tape shows Victoria naked on her bed. Another shows her having sex.
Greg and Baldwin re-interview the girl's father. Greg asks if he helped her financially, and he says he did. Greg asks if she paid him back in any way, and he says no. Then Greg shows him the photo of Victoria having sex. The man she's having sex with is him. He's stunned by the photo and begins making excuses by saying how Victoria was a seductress and that he has been diagnosed with a sex addiction. He swears he didn't kill her. He offers an alibi, then lawyers up.
Connie and Rita have a sit down with Martin and Victoria's shrink, Dr. Barrish, but he won't say anything because of patient-client privilege.
Tony tells them to bring the mother in to see what she knows. Helen comes in. She's sedated but talking. When confronted with her husband and daughter having sex, she says it's a lie. She's shown the photograph. Then Connie and Rita ask her about the phone calls they know were made to her the night before. She tries to deny it first, and makes up a lie about where she was that morning. They tell her that they'll get her medical records from her shrink and then it'll all be out. Helen then tells how she changed Victoria's life and the thanks she got was Victoria seducing her husband. She admits hitting her with the lamp but says she didn't mean to kill the girl.
A few hours later, Tony goes to her apartment and wakes her up. She's hungover, or perhaps still stoned, and he confronts her about it. He tells her he's walking out. She begs him to stay, tells him she loves him, and begs him for help. He agrees to help her find a program but he's really angry at her.
He meets her for lunch later and tells her he got her in to a treatment center in Brooklyn and that she's to be there that night. Tony isn't sure she's going to succeed but she says she will. She tries to grab his hand to say thanks but he pulls away, still very angry. She swears she'll go the check-in appointment that night but he tells her he's going to take her just to be sure. He says he'll meet her at her place at 5:30. She tries again to touch him but he won't let her.
At 5:30, Tony arrives at Angela's apartment. She doesn't answer the door. He finds it unlocked and walks in. He wanders around a little bit and calls her cell phone. She doesn't answer that. He sits down on her couch to wait.
John takes a deep breath and 'fesses up that his dad is the one who ratted out the uniforms on the dead auxiliary cop. He tells Andy the whole story, and it's clear he's torn up with guilt and also with fear over how his father's career and reputation will be destroyed. Andy calms him down and tells him they'll fix it with Martens. He gives John a fatherly hug.
Martens arrives at the squad for a hush-hush meeting with Andy and John. He says he knows nothing about the threats made to Clark, Sr. to get him to talk. Andy asks how Clark can get out of the jam. Martens says if Clark resigns that day, he'll find out that Capt. Fraker's threats are a bluff. Junior is angry that his father's career will end this way and says so. Andy spends another minute with Martens and tells him to let Fraker know that Andy has the goods on him and his girlfriend on the side and isn't afraid to use them. (This is the same chip Andy used on Fraker to get Tony out of jam.)
As Martens is leaving, Junior catches up to him and tells him how he and Andy promised no wrong would come to Laughlin if he resigned. Now John feels bad about it since he's indirectly responsible for Laughlin's IAB trouble and asks Martens to make it right. Martens says he'll see what he can do.
Junior goes over to the 43rd to see his dad later on and tells him he needs to retire in order to get out of the line of fire. Dad is worried; he says Fraker promised to hurt his reputation if he retired. Junior assures him that won't happen, but won't tell him who he made the deal with. He says only that his dad has appointment in the morning to turn in his paper work. It's not clear if Senior will do it, but John invites the folks in the 1-5 to a small gathering at his dad's favorite bar after work.
Later, at a crime scene, Connie asks Andy privately about where to put some of the furniture. Andy is finally nervous and freaks out a little bit. He starts insisting that his fish tank is going up. Connie tells him to relax, and that yes, the fish tank is going up.
In the squad room, the movers call to say Andy's couch won't fit through Connie's door and they want more money. When Connie's hears of this, she gets on the phone and cuts a deal with the movers. Andy's mouth drops. She tells again to just relax.
That evening, Andy arrives at the new apartment and Connie is the one who needs to relax. She's got armloads of stuff and doesn't know where to put it. Theo wanders out of his new room looking deeply depressed and whining that he can't find his Gameboy. He turns around and shuffles back to his room as the mover comes up stairs to try to shake Andy down for more money to move a dresser.
Andy shows the mover his badge and asks if he can pay him later. The mover gets that he's not going to get a dime and goes for the dresser. Connie bustles over worried because she can't find the pump for the aquarium. Andy goes to look in Theo's room.
Theo is sitting on his bed playing Gameboy and ignoring Andy. Andy tries to talk to him but Theo doesn't want to. Andy asks him to stop playing for a minute and tells him to keep an open mind about the move. Theo says he's going to hate it. Connie is behind him and hears this. Theo returns to Gameboy land, the baby begins to howl in the background and Connie, who looks nearly frantic by this point, tells Andy not to worry.
This is one of those stories that left to less talented writers and actors could have been the biggest blob of cheeseball at the picnic but instead turned out to be moving and tragic and hopeful and sad and funny all at once. There was only the slightest bit of exposition--when the shrink was guessing what was in Michael's head--but the story and the performances made up for it in no time. Here's what makes our Blue writers better than the rest: Had this story been in the hands of lesser scribes, you would have had someone explaining that it was the funeral that triggered Michael's memory. The Blue writers didn't have to have a character explaining that: they showed it to us instead. That's much better (and much harder to do). I truly appreciate that kind of thing.
The highlights in detective work on this one for me came from Greg who exposed the sexual relationship between father and daughter with some really nice flair, and from Connie who matter-of-factly laid out "the way it's going to be" to Helen and got her to tell the story.
The shrink, Dr. Barrish, was great as well. I loved it that he was in both of the main stories. Not only did it seem like a realistic bridge, but the character remained solid in both stories.
Tony is finally, finally, finally acting like Tony again. Thank God they didn't have him giving in to her. I'm certain Angela is going to meet with a bad end, but at least I'm more interested now in knowing what it is. And I have a little more faith that Tony's handling of whatever it is will be interesting. (You'll note that Tony didn't look all around the apartment....maybe she's in the bathtub with blood running out of her nose and a coke spoon dangling from her cold, dead hand...)
If things had started out this way, I would have been happy to go along for the whole ride. I think what failed in this storyline was a combination of the early acting by Jessica Ferrarone and the writing of Tony which was so out of character: She was telegraphing all over the place that she was a liar and Tony was the only one who couldn't see it. It would have worked if a) Jessica had not played Angela as if she knew the character were lying the whole time or b) Tony had been written to be more suspicious of her throughout. I really think the A option would have made for a really good story: we'd be feeling the shock and pain Tony felt rather than just watching it.
The scene with Andy and John in the locker room was great. It's been ages since I've seen Andy connect with his partner in such a good way. It reminded me of the pairing of Andy and Bobby a little bit, and makes me think that Dennis Franz and MPG have a real good chemistry going off screen. (That would make sense since they're both very nice guys.) What makes it work is that in that scene both characters were vulnerable and they accepted each other's rawness. Andy was pissed off and agitated over his move and John was deeply upset over the situation with his father. John let Andy rant and didn't take it personally, and Andy reached out and was helpful and supportive of John. It was just like a real friendship. I know that sounds simplistic, but that's what it's all about. They trust each other and that's apparent. It's also key to good friendships and good partnerships on the job.
John setting up things for Laughlin to come back was a nice touch. Not only does it set things up for more tension with this guy (which is always fun), it bolsters John's essential fairness.
Good examples of these characters all around.
Here's where you can see not only great writing, but really good direction in all the things that were shown rather than said. Some examples: the references to light (and the light we saw) were symbolic of how much Andy's life lightened when he moved in to that place with Sylvia, the fact that John was taking over the lease added a note of comfort as Andy said good-bye to the four walls that had been witness to so much of his life and it keeps that part of his life accessible to him, the shot in the mirror as Andy leaves seems to suggest that all of the good and bad that went on there is a reflection of Andy; that apartment is certainly the place where he looked at himself most deeply. Those are just a few of the things that helped pull this awesome scene together. Then you have Dennis Franz and Bill Brochtrup hitting all the right emotional notes in their brief dialogue: it was a happy thing for John and bittersweet for Andy.
Poor Connie, so on the ball at work (and she really was) and then so totally frazzled by the end of the day. This time, her skittishness seemed perfectly appropriate to me, and I liked very much how her anxiety grew as the day wore on and how Andy's lessened as he put it aside to help others (John and Theo) deal with their problems. Andy's anxiety at the top of the show was typical Sipowicz (the Sipowicz men have a genetic resistance to change, you may recall). Connie, however, kept tell him to calm down and relax. We see by the end of the show that's she is at least as anxious and worried as he is--and who wouldn't be?--and we realize that she's really been talking to herself all day. Of course, she wasn't listening, and things are crashing and getting lost as she tries to make room for her two new men.
And what can we say of little Theo? Austin Majors is so lucky to be hanging out with such good actors: Dennis and Charlotte are rubbing off on him, for sure. He did a fine, fine job of playing sullen, depressed and unable to communicate it. I actually feel worried about Theo, which is a tribute to Austin's performance. And as tribute to Dennis', I feel Theo is safe with Andy no matter where he's living.
*I guess PAA John isn't living with puppy man (Ray?). By the way, Bill B. looked fabulous in that sweater and leather jacket.
*While I'm prattling about looks and other unimportant things, let me mention that I think Charlotte Ross has the best hair ever. It's the polar opposite of mine, of course, which is why I think I like it so much. Even when it's a mess, it looks great. (Hers, not mine! Mine is like that of former Blue girl Melina Kanakarides, only without the benefit of professional hair stylists.) Anyway, good hair!
*Nice to know that Theo can go back to the old apartment when he stays with PJohn. Someone ought to mention that to him....
*What is Austin Majors eating? I swear, that kid has grown about 8 inches taller since we saw him last. He's totally adorable. Looks so much like Andy J.
*We still haven't heard the baby's name. She *does* have one. I promise! It ended up on the cutting room floor a few weeks back and I guess there hasn't been a good place to slide it in since then. You'll have to wait till next year, I guess. Though for a small fee....
*Thanks to some astute readers, I can now tell you that the pins Junior and Rita are wearing are 9/11 memorial pins. Cool. Thanks for the tip!
*Junior and Rita---weren't they a couple once? If I'm Jackie O., I'm getting a tad worried that the gravy train is about to come to a screeching halt, that the hand that feeds me is about to give me a big smack, that....you get the idea.
*Speaking of couples: I seem to recall The Boss Man saying in an interview once that he wanted to put Connie and Andy together because of their great chemistry. I was one of those who agreed they had great chemistry but would rather have seen it played out in the workplace more where they are both tough as nails. Now, we're not seeing that chemistry *anywhere.* They haven't worked a suspect together in eons, and in this move, they're acting like they're just roommates. If you're going to explore this great chemistry romantically, then do it. Why is it on the shelf?
*Can you really have movers shoving couches through your front door without being there? That doesn't seem smart. (Plus, I'm always looking for practical advice on moving...)
*Cool that the people in this show who were getting loads of therapy (the Walshes) were guilty, guilty, guilty and the poor guy who was schizophrenic and on the street was the innocent.
*I'm thinking we need to keep an eye out for this week's director, Tawnia McKiernan. She's got the goods, man! This ep looked so good (loved that swinging shot behind the police cars), and she did one last season that was equally solid.
*Someone wrote to ask me why Blue doesn't do any mention of the holidays in its shows this time of year. I can't say. I remember Donna putting up some Christmas lights once--and I certainly think PAA John would do something like that, don't you?--but maybe it's because they hardly ever air a show around the holidays. It can be lack of material: there is so much violence this time of year, it's just unreal.
*Michael was looking for something to rhyme with karaoke. Allow me...ahem...(to be sung, sort of, to the tune Michael wrote) "Detective Sipowicz I think that you should go sing karaoke, but I should tell you you'd look real dumb if you did the hokey pokey." Where *are* my meds?
*The Gibson Poll: Nearly 95 percent of the people polled in my unofficial Should Eddie Be A Regular Poll love Eddie Gibson and think he should be featured more regularly. A few said no, a few said make him a full-time regular, but most think he should be a semi-regular. One wrote that they should also devote more time to the characters they already have, like Greg Medavoy.
A favorite, Michael's song to the man who gave him some change: "Thank you very much sir, may the wind be at your back. Thank you very much sir, stay away from gangs and crack."
And my other favorite (it was all in the delivery, of course):
The mover to Andy: "Mr. McDowell?"
If you'd like to "discuss" the show and meet some odd but lovable characters, bring an open mind and a quick wit on over to the newsgroup: alt.tv.nypd-blue. If you'd like to drop me an email, well, you're always welcome to do that.