Season 9 Episode 12
Teleplay by Jody Worth
Story by Bill Clark & Jody Worth
Directed by Peter Markle
First the summary (it's worth the read) and then the review.
Solid story (complete with a few OmyGawds!), excellent guests and some interesting new views all make this a stand out episode. What's nine or ten years of a show to these guys? Pffft. Nada, baby.
John J. expresses his extreme dislike of informing parents about the death of their children. Andy, who's lost one of his own, changes the subject to John Senior. After a bit of reminiscing over how his dad taught him to box, John J. says he hasn't seen or talked to his dad since the big blow up.
Meanwhile, the cops are looking for the hammer and who was on the other end of it.
Greg and Baldwin, still on tentative speaking terms with one another, interview young Jordan, a teenage girl who is as annoying as fingernails on a chalk board. She says she saw Daniel in a fight the night before with a kid named Swirly. Seems Swirly got his nickname after several kids repeatedly shoved his head in a toilet at school and flushed it. Jordan finds this amusing. She has nothing else to offer and Greg practically throws her out of the station house.
Swirly himself is brought in. He's a slight kid who seems to be developing a rather serious twitch. His real name is James Kilik, and he's extremely nervous. It doesn't take too many questions before James admits he killed Daniel with the hammer. He says he took the hammer from the kitchen and beat Daniel until his brains came out. He seems to have enjoyed saying this.
Andy and John decide they need to talk to Swirly's mom. When they knock up at her apartment, she seems less than happy to have guests, but finally she opens the door. Mrs. Kilik is a well-endowed woman of about 50 who looks to have had more than one child, perhaps, and more than a few extra helpings at dinner over the years. This does not deter her from answering the door stark naked. Andy and John J. are both repulsed by the sight and look away as quickly as if they had just stared directly into the pit of hell. Andy suggests she put something on before they talk to her about her son. She agrees and comes back to the door a few minutes later to announce she's ready to talk. The door is open wide now and Mrs. Kilik has indeed put something on--baby powder. It's all over her body. Andy pushes her inside and makes his request more specific: put clothes on. While they wait, they note that the house is a wreck and that Mrs. Kilik seems to save everything. Even the dog seems miserable. No doubt realizing the nice men standing there in the kitchen are professional rescuers who have bathed recently, the little mutt voices a plaintive whine.
Andy and John J. are skeptical not only of young James' life but of his confession. His details don't add up. Daniel was hit hard enough to make him die, but his brains weren't splattered. There was no hammer in the kitchen, and James says he thinks he tossed it in a trash can. No hammer has been found.
Greg and Baldwin pick up a kid who was arrested selling stolen video games near the arcade where all these boys hang out. Marcus is brought in and threatened with a murder charge. Greg scares him further by mentioning James' name. That's enough to make him pop. He says it was another kid, Nick Bowen, and that he was just the lookout. Seems James invited him and Nick to Daniel's to play the video games. He and Nick thought James and Daniel were geeks, but they went anyway. While there, Nick stole a key to the apartment and planned to go back when Daniel was at school and steal the games. Marcus says he ran away during the robbery, but that he helped Nick hide the hammer in Central Park later and that he told James all about it.
Andy and John J. go pick up Nick. Nick's dad is hanging out drinking with his friends and objects to the pick up. He says he's been inside and knows how cops work. Andy and John convince him to let them talk to Nick anyway and, like the drunk father he is, he lets them take his son alone for an hour.
At the station house, Nick won't say anything. Even after being told what Marcus said, and how the hammer was found, and how it's got fingerprints all over it, Nick won't talk. Nick's dad arrives a while later and demands that his son be released. Andy and John J. tell him that since he knows how it is, he also knows that this is Nick's only chance to be cooperative. They convince him to talk to his son.
Nick is happy to see his father, thinking the old man is going to spring him, but the dad instead questions him. He can tell, like parents can, that his son is lying. He makes a heartfelt plea, telling the kid that while he's failed him all his life this is his one chance to try to help. Nick lies again anyway, and the dad starts to grab him. Andy and John J. pull him back, but the message got through to the kid. Nick begins to cry and apologize and tell the story of how he went to steal the games but found Daniel there. He says Daniel was combative and tried to keep Nick there, and that's when Nick pulled out a hammer he'd taken with him and hit Daniel. He said he was just trying to keep Daniel from hurting him.
Later, Andy and John J. bring James back in and tell him they know he didn't do it. James admits he felt guilty about Daniel's death because he's the one who invited Marcus and Nick up in the first place. They tell him it's time for him to go home, but first, Andy wants to make sure he's OK at home with his mother. James says she's just a little weird, but that she's OK.
Andy and John J. call the mom and she comes to pick him up. After a lengthy bit of time during which Andy and John J. are somewhat distracted, Andy wonders if the mother is still in the coffee room with her son. John J. walks over and opens the door to find Mrs. Kilik pawing over her son's body and making out with him.
Shocked, they charge into the room. Andy takes the mother away. John J. begins gently to ask James questions. He's afraid, but John gets him to talk enough to know that his mother sexually abuses him regularly. John J. tells James that if he talks about it, they can get his mother some help. James agrees, but is surprised to find out this will mean he can't go home.
John J. and Andy have to take James to juvenile detention because there's no where else for him to go. At the facility, James sees a lot of dangerous looking kids and is very afraid. He pleads for the detectives to let him leave and go home. They tell him with difficulty that he has to stay. An intake officer arrives--someone who is used to dealing with teenage thugs--and immediately speaks to James as if he's a criminal. Andy and John J. watch him go, but John J.'s gut is twisting. He asks Andy if they did the right thing. Andy tries to tell him that it's the only thing they could do. It's that, or John J. takes the kid with him. They leave, John J. still very unsure.
Later, John J. looks up his dad at a restaurant John S. frequents. John S. is surprised, but pleased, so see his son. John J. takes a deep breath and then thanks his dad for keeping him safe, keeping him out of trouble and caring about him. John S. is appreciative, but seems unsure what to do. He offers to buy his son dinner, and they sit together.
CC Booker lived with her grandma who heard no shots and has no idea who'd want to kill the baby. She says her daughter, the child's mother, is a drug user but that she doesn't think anyone is holding a grudge: the daughter is in South Carolina.
Further investigation leads them to Devon, a Crips member who was the guest of honor at an engagement party in the park outside the apartment building the night CC was shot. The party, it turns out, was full of drug users and dealers and gang members. Devon swears there was no one at his party who fired any shots. He says no one would be stupid enough to do that because they'd know it would mean cops and cops would mean the party was over. He's pissed they even suspect him. Connie and Rita don't believe him and lock him up while they investigate further.
Records from the sector cars from the night before show that a hack cabbie saw someone firing shots in a parking lot near the building that night. The cabbie, Ryan Lipe, is brought in. Lipe is unwilling to talk to the police at all. He tells Connie and Rita that the police picked him up for DWI ten years ago, and even though his case was thrown out (he was using legit prescription cold medication), he still lost his hack license and his job. He wants an apology. Connie and Rita give him apologies--three--and he finally talks.
He says he likes to watch people fight, so when he saw these two men arguing over a parking space, he stopped to watch. He described the men, the parking spot and the truck one of them was standing by. He says when he saw the gun, he took off.
His information leads them to Harold Carr. Carr seems like a nice, hardworking man. He says some drugged up idiot blocked his truck in and he was arguing with the guy to move. He says the guy was kind of scary, so he pulled out his target pistol and fired into the air to scare him. He says he had the pistol with him because he'd been at the range that day.
Carr is then shocked to learn that his bullet went through a window and killed a baby. He can't believe it. Connie and Rita advise him to get a good lawyer.
The kid James was especially well-put-together. Typical of kids who are abused, he took all the blame for everything and was convinced he should be punished. The sad part is that he's the only one who did nothing wrong yet he's probably going to end up with the worst life of them all. John J. was right to be upset about what they had to do to him in the end: that kid has all the makings of a serial killer--tortured by the other kids, sexually abused by his freaky mother and now a few nights hanging out with the kids on the bottom of the barrel. God only knows what will happen to him. This was really well-written and very well acted.
I really wanted John to take James home, not that we know where home is for John, but I know he couldn't. First, it would have been too much like Danny taking JB home, and second, it would have robbed us of that awful feeling we had when they left the kid there. MPG put voice to that feeling exceptionally well. What the hell DID they do to that kid?
Hey, when NYPD Blue gets picked up for its 15th season, this character gets my vote to return as the next Webster killer. Or maybe he'll turn his life around and come back as Andy's 20th partner....
Speaking of Andy's partner: I love these shows where we get little loose ends sewn up, sort of. I was wondering here last week when we'd see the next turn in the relationship between Johns J. and S. Good to have it back. One thing that continually amazes me about Blue is how they can take something that is dangerously close to being major cheeseball stuff and make it completely cool. The conversation between John and his dad was just that sort of thing. If you tried to describe it to someone, it might sound cheesy as hell. But when you see Spano and MPG doing it, there's not a whiff of cheese anywhere. Spano's reaction was perfect. John J. realizes that while his dad can be a serious load, he had it pretty good as a kid. Next installment should be us seeing Dad getting as much perspective on his son.
And just when you think you've seen it all on your 9-year-old TV show, you get this week's nude scene. It's an example of what I've always loved about Steven Bochco's shows: those moments when you're happily watching along, thinking everything's going to be what it usually is and somewhere in the back of your mind you're wondering if you need milk, coffee, bread, and then BAM you get a pair of cellulite and stretch mark triple D's shoved in your face. And as if that isn't enough of a shocker, you get them again covered in baby powder. (I admit, I thought at first it was flour, and I was laughing pretty good! I was disappointed to hear it was baby powder. I thought flour was much funnier.) And that was hardly the last jolt. When John opens the door and we see this freak mauling her own child--that was truly disturbing. And you immediately recognize that this woman is anything but a joke. Bochco and Co. get an A-plus for shock value this week. Who says this show isn't fresh after all this time?
I have to make a note of the stellar performances of the "kids" on this show this week (they obviously have more going on upstairs than the characters they were portraying so well): Nods to Josh Zuckerman who played James aka Swirly and Taylor Handley who played Nick. More on both in Cast legacies below.
The strange Mr. Lipe, the cabbie who wanted an apology, got to speak his piece to the cops about how they messed up his life. We have no idea of knowing if his story is true, and neither did Connie and Rita, but he got his apology anyway. Devon, on the other hand, was refused an apology.
Of course, neither one of them deserved an apology from the police, who, as Connie so aptly put it, were just doing their jobs. (Just because Lipe was using prescription cold medication doesn't mean he wasn't driving while impaired.) Lipe got his because the cops needed something from him. Maybe I didn't quite grasp the whole idea here, though, because this point seems to me to be sort of dull. I don't suppose it is a whole lot of fun to have your life thrown into a mess by the police, especially when you didn't do anything, but the alternative, I suppose, is not having police at all. Seems pretty simple to me. And it's not as if either one of these men was a perfectly innocent sort of person. They've both done their share of messing things up.
The more interesting thing in this story was that Mr. Carr, who fired his weapon with absolutely no intention of hurting anyone, killed a baby. Here we see our cops advising the man to get a good lawyer rather than having him write it all down.
I'm making a wild prediction that when things go down the tubes with Baldy and Val, Greg will be called upon to pick up the pieces.
That said, I have to mention that I like this pissed-off Medavoy. He was great this week. He had his head in the game totally--his interview with Marcus was super. It was Greg who scared him into talking. More, more, more! Oh, and get Greg a woman! If we need a goof-off in the squad, bring back Eddie! I miss Eddie. He'd make the squad so well-rounded.
Two things I wish: First, that they'd spend a little more time developing her as a member of the unit before they take her into an explosive personal situation. That way, we'd care more. She's done zero by way of getting to know anyone in the squad. She might at least ask someone about their life or something.
Second, that she works on her voice. I've said it before, Alan has said it too: her voice is a little too high-pitched to pull off the tough-guy thing. She could key it down a bit. I cringe when I picture her arguing with Don again.
It would seem the only good thing that will come of all this business is something for Esai Morales to do. What a talent that man is.
The humor is priceless. PJ saying so emphatically "Thank you for asking!" was to put voice to many fans who've wanted to see this guy a little more. So yes, Andy, thank you for asking. Then PJ rambling on as if no one has uncorked him for decades, which is just about true, puts an even finer point on things: maybe there's a reason no one asks him. Very funny. Andy's line about Mohammed, and PJ's typically PC response were also amusing, but nothing was so funny as the look on John J.'s face when he walked in the door and saw what was going on, then PJ forcing Andy's head back around. Excellent work by all concerned. Let's see a little more when he gets back from Africa!
Connie is probably the single best written woman on TV. She's a great character. She's got that unbeatable combination of femininity and strength: a combination that many people think is made up of incongruous ideas but which is in reality a perfect fit. Women are powerful. They may not have the physical strength of men (and if a cop show wants to deal with this very real police issue, go for it), but their strengths are deep. Connie started off with that notion firmly in place. The way she was written and the way Ross played it was perfect. She wasn't a perfect person, nor should she be, but to have her go weak in the knees in a situation with the main character that is doomed to fail is just, well, dumb. It doesn't make sense for Connie. Why would she need a "father figure" if that's what it turns out to be? Why would she think that she could have a serious relationship with a co-worker if that's what it turns out to be? She's been stronger and smarter than that.
I've got no problem with her basic attraction to Andy. I'm not one of those who says he's too old, overweight or bald because life just isn't that simple. People are attracted to other people for all kinds of reasons, and Andy is an attractive man. But having this attraction play out into something physical doesn't make sense to me: Connie ought to know better.
All that said, maybe she will know better eventually. I realize that nothing has happened yet, really. I know there's a chance that nothing will. I'm sending out this message in a bottle to say I hope nothing does happen.
Another reason: these are our main characters. You run the very serious risk of screwing up the show and the ability to use the incredible chemistry Ross and Franz have by entangling these characters in a hopeless situation. Lookit, Diane and Bobby got all entwined. That was because Diane was brought on to the show for the primary purpose of becoming entwined with Bobby. But then a thing happened: Jimmy Smits wanted to leave. So, what are you left with? Diane. And by then she had become (had to become) so much more than Bobby's squeeze. The only way to make that happen effectively was to kill Bobby. He had to die because if he'd lived, the character Diane would have had nowhere to go. (Same with Sylvia, by the way.) So, you just cannot get Connie and Andy hooked up without doing some serious damage to the main characters. Especially if they're both going to stay on the show. (And God forbid one of them decides to leave....)
Oh ... OK, I'm done. Steven Bochco is the expert, right? So he must know all of this and a whole hell of a lot more that I don't know.
* Bill Brochtrup: your hair looks fantastic!
* If PJohn goes away for three whole weeks, who will carry the torch? How will the phones get answered? I'm going to miss him, but hey, I happen to need a job. I can coordinate my outfit to match the books, and I can certainly babysit Theo if Connie and Andy want a night off....
* I wondered if all the high school drama in this week's episode had any impact on Greg. Maybe he needs to work a messy love-triangle to get some perspective on his thing with Baldwin.
* It would seem that in this episode some time has gone by. Sort of like everyone took a week off to watch the Olympics or something.
* Speaking of that, I think they should have taken this week off rather than last. Isn't tonight the big draw? Women's figure skating?
* John S. wears a wedding ring, but we know nothing about his wife. Is she dead? She must be. Either that, or she's a really lousy cook.
* Some really outstanding shots this week give our old show a fresh look: notably, the shot of John J., Andy and Greg through the doorway during the Nick interview and the shot that follows Connie and Rita down the corridor to release Devon. Looking good.
* Hey, T-Rod's got a computer on his desk! Next time, I want to see his screen saver. I'm guessing he's not a Flying Toaster kind of guy.
* Cool how they mentioned that little police trick of saying on the radio that the baby DOA was just shots fired. They do that to keep the press away. It doesn't work. Not for long, anyway. :)
* I usually reserve this for Cast legacies, but I have to share the big shout I had when I saw Verdi from The Waltons playing the grandmother tonight. Yeah, I watched The Waltons. Wanna make sumthing of it?
* What the hell is Don calling Tony about anyway? I admit I'm a little curious....
* Ironic, isn't it, that John S. who was so freaked out about his son beating the crap out of people taught him to box. I guess we now know why it made him so scared: Having been on the receiving end of one his son's punches, he knows how well he can do it.
* I really think, and maybe I'm alone on this, that Andy and John J. should have called the folks over at the Animal Precinct to rescue that poor little mutt from a life of terror with the naked lady. Sure, they were worried about the kid, but does anyone give a moment's though to the poor dog?
* So, Baldwin's looking at furniture. I think he should cover up that drywall mud first.
* Best Guest: Hard, as usual, to pick a winner, but my nod has to go to John Billingsley. He nailed that creepy cabbie perfectly. I mean, you know these actors aren't really that creepy, right? Right?
Previously on NYPD Blue: Austin Majors as Theo Sipowicz, Joe Spano as John Clark, Sr., Billy Concha as Officer Miller, Mike Echols as the uniform who opened the jail cell.
Lynn Hamilton (Grandma): As I mentioned, she was Verdi on The Waltons. But that's hardly her whole career. She's been on shows dating back to Gunsmoke. Some of them include The Practice (Judge Felton), Sanford and Son, Days of our Lives, Young and Restless, Roots:TNG, Port Charles and Sunset Beach.
Kimi Reichenberg (Jordan, the snotty teen): She was in Crazy/Beautiful.
Josh Zuckerman (James aka Swirly): This 16-year-old has been on Judging Amy, West Wing, and Once and Again, to name a few. You can catch him soon in Austin Powers 3 where he'll be playing the young Dr. Evil.
Karen Kondazian (Mrs. Kilik): She's been in lots of movies, and she was also on The Waltons! (Though I'm sure she was wearing more than baby powder on that show). She was once on Bochco's Hill Street Blues, too.
Antwon Tanner (Devon): His credits include The Tick, Boston Public and Bochco's City of Angels.
Aaron Paul (Marcus): He began his career as a contestant on The Price Is Right. I wonder what he won? Anyway, since then he's been in X-Files, The Division and the movie KPax, to name a few.
Taylor Handley (Nick): I think his future's so bright.... He was in the movie Jack Frost, and is sure to get more work soon.
Mark Rolston (Nick's dad): This talented guy has been everywhere. I can't begin to list his credits, but here are a few: The movies Rush Hour, From the Earth to the Moon, Hard Rain. He's done Profiler, X-Files, JAG, ER and was in Bochco's Brooklyn South.
John Billingsley (Lipe, the cabbie): Another familiar one. He's done Blue before, and also Bochco's Total Security. He's been on Six Feet Under, West Wing, Judging Amy, X-Files and plays Dr. Phlox on Enterprise.
Troy Winbush (Carr): He was in The Replacements. He's also done ER, JAG and L& O, and was on The Cosby Show for quite a while.
Rounding out the cast: Tom Sherack as uniform 1, Gary Servantes as the building super, Carol Hickey as Daniel's mother, Roy Lee Jones as the mean old intake guy.
John J. after Mrs. Kilik opened the door: "Smells like dog crap in there."
Andy: "That's one of ten odors I've identified."
Andy telling John how to avoid air travel problems:
"What you do is you get on the plane last. You yell out 'Mohammed?' Anybody raises their hand, you head back out and try for the next flight."
Connie to Rita after the lovely Mr. Lipe leaves:
"I was gonna set you guys up but I guess it's too soon, huh?"
And my fave:
Andy, looking around the Kilick apartment: "This explains Swirly."
The Kilick dog looks up and whines.
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