NYPD Blue, Season 1, Episode 10,
Oscar, Meyer, Weiner
Written by Ted Mann & Gardner Stern
Directed by Bradley Siberling

PLOT ONE: A SHOT TO THE RIBS

John and Andy investigate a home invasion robbery that turned into a brutal murder, in which the well-off Sloane family were tied up, assaulted, and eventually killed by the men who robbed their home. The M.O. is almost identical to a series of robberies in the Bronx, right down to the brand of duct tape used to bind the victims, as well as the shocking degree of sexual assault. The two Bronx detectives handling those cases tell Kelly and Sipowicz that they have only a partial description of their suspects: four black men.

John is distracted, so Andy rides point on the investigation, and has to interview the sole surviving member of the family, adult daughter Rebecca Sloane, who was in Connecticut at the time. Andy asks if she has any black friends from the Bronx she might have brought to the house. Rebecca, raised by liberal parents, doesn't like to think in those terms, but admits that she used to date a Bronx native of color named Lewis Futrel.

Futrel, an architecture student at Hunter College, doesn't appreciate being questioned by the police, even though Andy tries to assure him he's not a suspect since he has an alibi. Andy asks if he might have told any of his friends -- black friends -- about the Sloane house, and Futrel accuses him of racism. Andy tries to hold his temper, and mocking suggests that Futrel might prefer it if he prefaced each question with an apology for the indignities the black man has suffered at the hands of the white man. Futrel defiantly says that he would prefer that, which leads Andy to make a crack about George Washington Carver discovering the peanut. "You're a racist scumbag!" Futrel tells him. "Ouch," Andy retorts, before very explicitly stating that the suspects in this case have been definitively identified as black, and insisting that Futrel write down the names of any friends with whom he discussed Rebecca.

While Andy unsuccessfully interviews several of Futrel's friends -- all with alibis -- James Martinez, helping out on the case, comes across several stop and frisk reports on the Sloane family housekeeper, Renee Pendergast. He and John find her on the way to a job interview, and, after using the phrase "accessory to murder," get her to admit that she's a junkie, that she occasionally had drugs delivered to the Sloane houe, and that she sold the blueprints to the house to her dealer, Kenny Prince.

The detectives pick up Prince, and, with assistance from new precinct DA Laura Michaels (freshly transferred from Jimmy Craig's office), convince him to give up the men he sold the plans to in exchange for a walk. They find the murder weapon and stolen items from all the home invasion robberies in the apartment of the men Prince fingers.

None of them are friends of Lewis Futrel, who shows up at the precinct demanding an apology from Andy for "harassing" him and his friends. Andy tries to explain that he was just doing his job, but Futrel makes a big scene, and Lt. Fancy comes out to break things up. Futrel accuses Fancy of being an Uncle Tom, but wilts under the Loo's cold stare and leaves. Fancy invites Andy to go out to dinner with him after the shift.

Fancy's choice of eatery: a rib joint, where the clearly uncomfortable Sipowicz is the only white patron. Andy accuses his boss of trying to bust his balls for the way he dealt with Futrel. Fancy says he thinks Andy handled the investigation perfectly, and asks why Andy feels uncomfortable, and suggests it's because Andy feels this restaurant isn't his place, and that the other people present just don't like him. Andy asks what the point of all this is.

"You're being served, aren't you, Andy?" Fancy asks. "They cooked those ribs for you. Maybe they wanted to spit in the plate, but they didn't. They served your white ass just like they would anyone else who came in here. Even though some of them hate your guts. So why would you feel uncomfortable, Andy? You got your meal. What difference does it make what they're thinking? That they don't like you, that's just an opinion. Why should that bother you?"

Fancy pauses for a minute, then delivers the closer: "Now what if they had badges and guns?"

While Andy tries to digest the lesson on racial harmony, Fancy picks up the check for the meal.

PLOT TWO: LICENSE PLATE TO KILL

Inspector Lastarza tells Janice that her "penance" to get out of the fix she's in with the mob is simple: do whatever Richie Catena tells her to do, in an attempt to infiltrate Tommy Linardi's crew. Janice insists that they set some limits on the plan, so that Lastarza can't keep her dangling on a string forever. Lastarza says he'll give her more concrete terms once he has more information. In the meantime, he tells her, "Stay in touch with me, officer. I'm your new best friend."

Now working with Lastarza's approval, Janice runs the license plate that Richie asked for through the computer, and meets him on the steps of the New York Public Library. Before she gives him the address, she asks what he wants it for. Richie explains that the car's owner owns money to a bookmaker in the Linardi organization, and they're having trouble finding him. He also assures her that they don't plan to kill him, noting that "nobody collects money from a corpse." She gives him the info, and he gives her a newspaper filled with money. As Richie walks away, Janice spots John watching them both from a distance.

At the precinct, Janice tells John that he could've jammed her up big time if Richie had spotted him. He wants to talk about this further, and at dinner that night, wants to know what kind of deal she has with Lastarza. "You're in too deep," he tells her. "I know exactly where I am," she replies. He tells her that he can't be with her if she insists on keeping him in the dark, and walks out.

Working the phones at the station the next day, Janice fields a call about a car explosion, and as she starts jotting down the information, she realizes to her horror that the car belongs to Joey O'Brien, the man she ran through the computer for Richie. She puts in for a few hours lost time, and meets with Richie again on the Library steps. He tells her that O'Brien owed money to a bunch of different bookies, and that Linardi wasn't responsible. Janice, desperate to believe that she didn't cause a man's death, nods in agreement.

John, meanwhile, is struggling with Janice's situation, and is clearly distracted during the Sloane investigation. Andy can't help but notice his partner's distress, and once they've closed the case, he asks what the problem is. All John will say is that Janice is in some kind of trouble and won't let him help her, but has to admit that he doesn't know what he'd do even if she'd let him. Andy, recalling the strife of his marriage during his drinking days, realizes that he's not the best source of advice on the subject of relationships. As John heads home, he bumps into Laurie, and asks her whether it was his job or his smothering attitude that broke up their marriage. Laura, realizing why John's asking the question, says simply, "Try giving her room."

PLOT THREE: ANDY MEETS TRUMAN CAPOTE (Sort Of)

Flamboyant author Arlen Rickman comes into the precinct to file a robbery complaint. Once an award-winning novelist and screenwriter, he's now a burnt out "old queen" who spends most of his time picking up strange men in gay bars. His latest encounter with a young gentlement named Bryce resulted in the theft of his Best Screenplay Oscar statue from 1958. Andy catches the case, and though he's preoccupied with the Sloane murder, says he'll look into it, mainly because he enjoyed a book Rickman once wrote about cops.

He calls in Sammy Meyers, pawnshop owner and noted fence, and asks if he's heard anything about the statue. Sammy, busy admiring Donna Abandando's autographed Rangers penant (which she refuses to sell), tells Andy that he's heard "rustlings" that someone is trying to sell it for $25,000, and agrees to find out more to keep Andy off his back.

Sammy finally hears from Bryce through a middleman and contacts Andy to make the arrest. Bryce, a polite flake, can't get over how "vivid" it was to spend a night with Arlen Rickman his first day in town. When Andy suggests that he might have to go to the "vivid" Riker's Island, Bryce says that he hid the Oscar -- and a pair of Rickman's socks -- in a locker at Penn Station.

Rickman comes in to pick up the statue, and declines to press any charges against Bryce. As a means of saying thanks, he gives Andy an autographed copy of the book he liked. Andy suggests that Rickman could still be writing if he could just stop hanging out in bars all hours of the day. Rickman makes a wry remark about how he's just gotten his Oscar back, as well as an inspiring lecture. "That's what makes this a great police department," Andy quips.

MISCELLANEOUS THREAD:

Fancy goes into a lather after his brown bag lunch is ruined by the rats infesting the precinct. He takes out his frustrations on Medavoy, who's taken to feeding the rodents. "They'll starve," Greg lamely tries to explain. "Medavoy, better them than me!" Fancy retorts.


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