NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.


"What's Your Poison?"
Season 11, Episode 21
5/4/04
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Jesse Bochco

APOLOGIES for being so late with this one. Life's been a bit of a rollercoaster these last months. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I've got a summary and a review, and some big, bad news, too. Since it's so late, this is sort of an abbreviated version:

SUMMARY

PEELER/CLIFTON

Andy and Clark are back at square one with the case now that Cindy's half-brother's DNA doesn't match. Along with Greg, they re-canvas and check out every small lead they can manage to find, including a note written in her yearbook by a teacher named David Lewis. Lewis is an oddball of sorts and a further check into his past finds he's had trouble at several schools and parent complaints. One parent comes in to say Lewis trapped his daughter in a car for three hours and tried to persuade her to have sex with him. A check of Lewis' DNA turns up a match and he admits having sex with Cindy but says she seduced him. There is nothing that connects him to the murder directly and Valerie won't push the case unless it's airtight. The statute of limitations on the sex has run out, so Lewis is set free. Hours later, he turns up dead of a heroin overdose. Eddie suggests they look at Cindy's father but Andy doesn't think it's him. Eddie lets him decide if it's going to be a suicide or a murder. Privately, Andy and Clark determine the killer is Andy's old partner Joe. Andy doesn't know how to handle the case. He talks to Joe who all but admits he did it and tells Andy he can do what he wants. Andy goes to church to think it over.

THE NECKLACE

A man from Indiana reports he's been robbed in Little Italy by a perfect caricature of an Italian street thug. He says he's been taken off for a 35-thousand dollar necklace. Rita and Kelly find out he's carrying it because he didn't want to leave it in his hotel. He and the wife are in town for a romantic weekend and he was out for a walk while she was at a spa. The wife tells them later she thinks he's been having an affair and there's more to it all, like insurance fraud. The detectives confront the man with this idea and he tearfully admits he met a woman on line named Pauline and has been sending her money because her son is sick. He was taking the necklace to her. A check of the PO box where the money's been going turns up a creepy guy in Manhattan who was posing as a woman on line to scam money. Rita and Kelly get the necklace back and help patch up the Indiana marriage.

MICHAEL'S TESTIMONY

The child Baldwin has adopted is finally asked to testify against his father in his mother's murder. He tells the story and what he saw, but his father's lawyer brings up an instance when he lied to the police to cover for a friend who was in trouble for a school fight. The lie is used to try to damage Michael's character with the jury.

JEN DEVLIN

Junior is forced to relive the trauma of his father's suicide when Jen goes missing from the psych ward. She's gone all day and finally calls him after she's washed down a bottle of pills with vodka. She's barely hanging on when he gets to her and he checks her in to the hospital. He tells Andy he can't watch this kind of thing again, then goes back to work to keep his mind off it. Later, after she wakes up, he goes to see her and pours out to her how he cannot watch another person he cares for do this to himself. He begs her to get back on her meds and not to hurt herself. She promises she will, then asks him to take her out of the restraints they have her in. He refuses, having been warned by the doctor not to. Her illness cracks through the calm she's put on for him and she begins to scream and cry at him. He cries too and tries to comfort her.

REVIEW

PEELER/CLIFTON

This is the way all the story arcs should go. Here's a great example of using the story to enlighten us about the characters. Andy is in a major bind, and he's out on his limb alone. His decision seems clear to the average person: lock Joe up. But for a cop, that's not so easy. Add to that the fact that every other cop he's dealing with, including Junior, is willing to go along with whatever he decides to do. If he lets the case remain a suicide, no one will fault him, no one will say a word. If he goes after Joe, his true friends will stand by him, but he'll get a big ration of crap from the rest of the cops and the kind of stink that can land a guy in the cellar nibbling cheese. Well-written.

I also liked the look of this one. Jesse Bochco's last ep didn't look so hot, but this one stood out (more so than most of the other eps). Two shots really sang. The first was Joe looking in on the interview with Lewis. We've seen that shot before, through the pokey room mirror, but this one was shadowy and darker and gave me the eerie feeling our pal Joe was up to no good. It was subtle, though, so that I had the feeling while watching the scene, then forgot about it until Lewis showed up dead. It ended up having a pretty good punch later. The other shot that was just aces was the zoom in on Andy's face during the nearly violent exchange with Lewis. The camera delivered the emotion right along with the actors just then. I liked that very much.

THE NECKLACE

A story to show us cops do at least as much social work as they do anything else. True, but dull. And frankly, the Midwest stereotype sucks. It's ironic that the characters were all bitching about the stereotypical Italian street thug--which turned out to be an accurate description of the robber--and the people writing this story were tapping away at the keyboard churning out a stereotype of Midwesterners that was as bogus as a 6 dollar bill. Maybe the denizens of LA need to get out a little more. (Then again, why would they want to?)

MICHAEL'S TESTIMONY

Well, I wondered where this story went! And hey, ADA COHEN! That was the highlight of the whole thing. I love that guy. Do we get to have him back? Please say it's so! He was the single best ADA on the show: he was likable in his own way, but all the cops we love hated him. It's perfect. The kind of character we can both like and dislike at the same time.

JEN DEVLIN

And how nice to see Junior finally mention his Senior. It bugged me a lot that the guy went through such a major trauma only to never mention it or confront it any way. That's no way to tell a story. Finally, we have it and it was very good, but it's just so late. That part of the story aside, I really felt for Junior here. He's so trapped. He's got this girl he's not particularly in love with and he's in a position where he's literally her lifeline. It's the trap of the codependent: you rush out to make yourself feel good by rescuing someone only to have that person turn out to be a totally lost cause, and now look: you're both more screwed up than ever before and ain't nobody happy. Junior needs to stop saving people and get with a woman who can take care of herself. He can get his rescue fix with a new girl in small doses by taking care of her in other, less critical ways. Excellent performances by MPG and Chandra West. I don't know why, but it just breaks my heart to see MPG cry.

QUICK HITS

*LEO COHEN! Did I already say that?

*Valerie's hair looked stunning. Naturally, she couldn't be the ADA on the case, but that doesn't mean Leo can't come back.

*So you've got an actor like Gordon Clapp and you can't find work for him to do? What's up with that? I'd have much, much, much rather watched Greg work a case than Rita and Kelly. I mean, there's no comparison. I don't get it. I really don't get it. If you have to waste someone's time, waste Rita's or Kelly's, right?

*Hank! He spoke. That means you chug your beer next time.

BAD NEWS

I got word this week that the character Eddie Gibson is gone after this season. I have no details at all on how this will happen in the story, but the production company has decided not to renew the contract of John O'Donohue. I couldn't be more disappointed, and I wonder what the issue is. You know I've loved this show for a long time, but there are just some incredibly bonehead things that have happened and each time, I'm really surprised by them. I'm shocked--still--that someone thought Danny & Diane were a love match. And further that hooking Andy and Connie up romantically was good (when the alternative was a truly unique, truly powerhouse combination as a detective team). And surprised everytime I see an actor like Jessalyn G. getting more screen time than Gordon Clapp. I get shocked when stories fall into the black hole never to be seen again. These things amaze me because they are just so far off the mark from the rest of this great creation. It's almost as if the person who called those shots doesn't even watch the show, is not involved in its development day to day and just drops in from the sky now and then to "tweak" things because his neighbor made an off-hand comment about how it should be. This decision to let go of the Eddie character before anyone has even *tried* to bring it up to its potential is just such a thing. I don't understand why. Is it too hard to have an interesting character in that job? MUST we have a piece of wood instead who fits the mold of every single squad boss in the history of television? It seems so, and that sucks.

Eddie Gibson aside, John O'Donohue is a kind and generous man. He's to be admired for making a career as an NYPD Lt. and then turning around and making another one acting, and another thing to admire about the man is his incredible spirit. He's a happy, bright soul. He says of this turn of events: "I'm disappointed and sadden to leave Blue but it was a great experience to have worked with such a class group of people as the cast and crew of Blue. I'm walking away with my head held high, and I want to thank all those who have supported "Uncle Eddie",down through the years." My best to you, Johnny O.! We'll be looking for you in your next project.

CAST LEGACIES

by J.L. Garner:

Previously on NYPD Blue...
Jessalyn Gilsig as Det. Kelly Ronson, Chandra West as Dr. Jennifer Devlin, Ron Dean as Joe Brockhurst, Andre Jamal Kinney as Michael Woodruff, Cyrus Farmer as Craig Woodruff, Francis X. McCarthy as Gerald Clifton, Michael B. Silver as ADA Leo Cohen, Joe Sabatino as Uniform #1, James Eugene Davis as Uniform #2, and Henry Murph as Hank

Previously on NYPD Blue as someone else... --Robert Curtis Brown (David White) -- was in Season 5's "Prostrate Before the Law." Also has a long list of credits, the highlights of which include roles in the films "Red Dragon," "Bruce Almighty," and "Trading Places," and appearances on "L.A. Law," "The Practice," "Ally McBeal," "Judging Amy," "Voyager," "Deep Space Nine," and "X-Files."

--Bryna Weiss (Selma Slevin) -- was in Season 8's "Russellmania." Has also had roles on "Life with Bonnie," "Drew Carey," and "The District."

Not previously on NYPD Blue... --D.C. Douglas (Dr. Hollingsworth) -- has done guest spots on "JAG," "ER," "Enterprise," and "Boston Common."

--Sam Bottoms (David Lewis) -- probably best known for his portrayal of spaced-out surfer boy Lance Johnson in "Apocalypse Now." Has also appeared in "The Last Picture Show," "Seabiscuit," and the upcoming Steve Martin romantic comedy "Shopgirl." Also starred in the 1987 flick "Hunter's Blood" (a sort of wannabe "Deliverance") with Kim Delaney (file that one away for when you're on "Jeopardy!")

--Mark Holton (Ned Applebaum) -- other roles include "Navy NCIS," "Deep Space Nine," "Seinfeld," "MacGyver," and the film "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."

--Eugene Lee (Ernest Stallworth) -- appeared on episodes of "The District," "Philly," "Profiler," and "Frasier."

--Lisa Jane Persky (Jessica Applebaum) -- has had roles on "X-Files," "Pretender," "Quantum Leap," "thirtysomething," and the films "When Harry Met Sally," "Peggy Sue Got Married," "The Cotton Club," and "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park."

--Jack Kerrigan (Len Knapp) -- his appearances include "10-8," "Spin City," and "The Practice."

LINE OF THE WEEK

(I'm skating on this one):

"No problem." Hank!

NEXT WEEK

It's all wrapped up!

See you then--
Amanda Wilson