NYPD Blue, Season 3, Episode 9,
Sorry, Wong Suspect
Story by Bill Clark & Gardner Stern
Teleplay by Gardner Stern
Directed by Michael M. Robin
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PLOT ONE: SUICIDE IS PAINFUL

Andy and Bobby investigate a stabbing death in Chinatown. The victim, a 19-year old girl named Katie Chow, had no criminal record, and was found in the living room of her family's apartment. Andy spots a bunch of marks on her thigh, which the medical examiner deduces are cat scratches from the family feline. Mr. and Mrs. Chow, who don't speak English (a visiting nephew translates for the detectives), suspect that Katie's boyfriend Eddie Wong was responsible. Andy finds a diary of Katie's under her bed, written in Chinese, so he calls in Det. Harold Ng to help with the investigation.

Katie's girlfriends don't believe that Eddie could have killed Katie - they all think he's too cute to do something like that - but one of them does reveal that Eddie broke up with Katie the day before her death, and that she took it really hard. One of them does mention, though, that Eddie runs with a Chinatown gang, one that police suspect were responsible for a shoot-out in a bowling alley last year.

A raid on Eddie's apartment confirms that he doesn't hang out with nice people, as one of the punks inside takes a shot at Bobby. The raid turns up some drugs and several guns, but not Eddie. Andy and Bobby go to work on one of the arrestees, who tells them that Eddie runs an illegal mah jong parlor in a basement back in Chinatown. A raid there finally turns up the elusive Mr. Wong.

Eddie vehemently pleads his innocence in the death of Katie Chow, which isn't too surprising, since the diary entries that Harold's been reading point to suicide, despite the lack of a knife. Eddie begs the cops to let him go - he's been skimming the profits at the mah jong parlor, and is sure that the folks who run it are trashing his apartment right now and will find out the truth. Bobby offers to put him in a relocation program if Eddie rolls over on the bowling alley shooter - if, of course, Katie's death is ruled a suicide. Eddie gives up the shooter, who's relocated to Jersey, and Andy contacts the Jersey state police to make the bust.

The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Chow come into the 15. By this point, Andy, Bobby and Harold are pretty sure it was suicide - the medical examiner even pointed out that the supposed cat scratch marks could actually have been signs of someone trying to work up the nerve to really kill themselves. With Harold translating, Andy and Bobby ask the Chows to tell them the truth about what happened, and assure them that no legal action will be taken. Amidst a pool of tears, Mr. Chow takes the knife out of his pocket and gives it to the detectives.

PLOT TWO: YOU REALLY CAN'T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT, TOO

Fancy suggests that Martinez get Lesniak's help on a robbery investigation. The complainants are a Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson, the latter of whom is wheelchair-bound. According to Mrs. Donaldson, while her husband was out at a chess club meeting, a man claiming to be a police officer showed up at her apartment door and, after she let him in so he could ask her some questions, he knocked her over and robbed the apartment.

Mr. Donaldson pulls James aside and reveals that he wasn't actually at a chess club - since his wife's impairment, he'd been seeing a prostitute named Ellen on a regular basis, and he suspects that she may be involved in the robbery. He begs James not to tell his wife any of this.

James gets Ellen's number from Mr. Donaldson and sets up an appointment with her at a motel, at which point he and Adrianne bust her for solicitation. James wildly exaggerates the circumstances of the crime - he tells Ellen that Mrs. Donaldson was raped and may die from her beating - and gets Ellen to roll over on her pimp, who Mrs. Donaldson promptly ID's in a line-up. Mr. Donaldson pulls James aside again and asks if they could try for a plea bargain so the case won't go to court and his wife won't find out the truth.

The next day, the Donaldsons come back to list a few more stolen items for their insurance claim. Mrs. Donaldson is still very shaken up, and doesn't feel safe in her apartment anymore. Mr. Donaldson asks James and Adrianne to assuage her fears, since rent-controlled apartments like theirs don't grow on trees. James takes a walk with Mr. Donaldson and angrily tells him that he can't have it both ways - either he tells her the truth about the robbery so she won't think their neighborhood has gone to hell, or he gives up his beloved apartment.

PLOT THREE: DON JUAN DEMARTINEZ

The beginning of the Donaldson investigation proves uncomfortable for both James and Adrianne due to their past history. James tells Greg that even though his relationship with Anita the dietician is doing okay, he still wonders sometimes whether Adrianne is that special someone for him.

Also, he's heard rumors that Adrianne really isn't gay, but the opportunity to confront her about it doesn't present itself until the end of their case. He accuses her of treating him like an idiot, but Adrianne tells him that she was just trying to let him down easy. She went to one of the GOAL meetings Upstairs John recommended, but didn't feel comfortable there. But she still can't get away from the fact that every guy she's ever gotten involved with has turned out to be a major creep.

James gives her a lift home (her car was stolen) and Adrianne confesses that she doesn't want to hurt him should things not work out, which is why she's so reluctant to pursue a relationship. James tells her that he's not like those other guys - he'll never lay hands on her. Maybe, he says, she has a low opinion of herself, which leads her to think that any guy interested in her is a jerk. But, he assures her, he has good taste, regardless of what the guys say about his wardrobe. His joke makes her smile. "I like it when you smile," he tells her, "I'm gonna make you smile all the time." Adrianne's smile widens, and she invites him upstairs for coffee.

PLOT FOUR: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

Greg comes to work with a suitcase in hand; he and Marie had another big fight, so he's decided to crash in one of the bunks in Anti-Crime for the time being. He tries to talk to Donna about what happened, but she's no longer comfortable discussing Greg's private life with him.

Later that day, Marie shows up at the squadroom with the correct suitcase (Greg accidentally grabbed one of their daughter's skating equipment bags). Greg's off helping with the Chinatown investigation, and while Marie is waiting, she spots Donna's nameplate. She attempts to curse out "the whore" right there, but Donna pulls her into the coffee room before Marie makes too big a scenes. Marie's convinced Donna put Greg up to this latest move; Donna tells Marie that things between her and Greg are long over, and that maybe Marie should consider the possibility that there is no outside influence to her marriage troubles.

The next night, as Greg is reading a magazine on his cot, Marie comes in, attempting to patch things up. She eventually gets Greg to play one of the games from their marriage counseling in which he recites all the things she does that he hates. When he mentions that she coaches him while they have sex, she rips off her overcoat, revealing some revealing black lingerie underneath. She locks the door, and promises Greg that there'll be no coaching tonight.

PLOT FIVE: ANDY JR., THE SECOND?

Andy, relationship genius that he is, declines Sylvia's offer to go with her for her amneo, and her reaction has him thinking he might need to start bunking up in Anti-Crime with Medavoy. They eventually smooth things out, and that night, after he returns home from the bust at the mah jong parlor, Sylvia shows him the photo the doctor took from her sonogram - they're going to have a boy.


I'm of two minds about "Sorry, Wong Suspect." On the one hand, the Chinatown story was extremely pedestrian; on the other, I really enjoyed the extended focus on James and Adrianne, and got a big kick out of Marie and Greg's latest bout of marriage troubles.

Let's get the bad out of the way first. I really have very little to say about Andy and Bobby's investigation. I've been waiting over a year now for the return of Harold Ng, who was a riot last year when he helped Kelly and Sipowicz out on a case in "Cop Suey," but he was essentially used as a translator only here. It's a real shame that the FCC still won't let the show use the F-word - in "True Blue," there's an excerpt about Harold's real-life inspiration, a Chinese-American cop named Keith Ng, whose accent is even thicker than Harold's, to the point where the only words that are comprehensible are the swear words. :)

Seriously, this plot really felt to me like an excuse to have Andy and Bobby solve a crime. A while back when I was bitching about the short shrift the supporting characters often get, someone e-mailed me and said that the show's more casual viewers (which in all likelihood constitute a very large chunk of the audience) watch the show for Jimmy Smits and Dennis Franz, and would be irked if they tuned in and saw that the two only had a few minutes while James McDaniel had the spotlight. I can understand that, but the Chinatown story felt very generic and superfluous.

James and Adrianne working together, on the other hand, has been long overdue. I've been a big opponent of James' infatuation all along, but I have to admit defeat here, because this episode won me over. The writers finally gave Nick Turturro some real material to play, instead of his usual clumsy, half-Mamet dialogue, and he came through. I know the guy can act (rent "Federal Hill" sometime if you don't believe me), but this is one of the first times that he's actually been used properly on NYPD Blue. From his ashamed yuppie act with Ellen the hooker to the riot act he read Mr. Donaldson to his final conversation with Adrianne, Nick was wonderful. If only he could be written this well every week! (Kind of a mirror image of the previous episode, where often-slighted James McDaniel got a rare showcase.)

It feels, in a way, like this is the episode where James finally grew up. He's been doing his John Kelly impression on the job for a while now, but off the job, he's been a naive yutz for the most part. But he was remarkably self-assured here, while still retaining that boyish Martinez charm - I doubt the whole bit about smiling would have worked if Simone had said it. And I'm glad to see James finally ask Greg - ostensibly his partner and best friend - about Greg's relationship with Donna. It's something that should have come a lot sooner - like in the first season - but better late than never, I guess. And Greg's description of what being with Donna was like may be the most eloquent thing he's ever said.

This episode also finally resolves (I think) the "Is she or isn't she?" question for Adrianne: she isn't. I'm glad, for two reasons: 1)As I've said before, I have a lot of trouble with the reasoning Adrianne gave Diane about why she felt she might be gay, and 2)I'm now actually glad to see her and James get together. I hope things work out well for them; in fact, of the three current romances on the show, this is the one I most hope lasts (though that's also because I'm not a big Diane Russell fan, and because I think Andy really needs a shake-up in his life). My one concern, though, is that this relationship could wind up treading over familiar ground - i.e., James starts getting over-protective of Adrianne on the job, Fancy tells them to shape up or be shipped out, etc. The bulk of the men on Blue have a fairly chauvinistic, if well-intentioned, overprotective attitude towards the women in their lives - let's see if James can break that mold.

Though I still shudder when I think of Marie's lingerie, that whole story was a lot of fun. Good to see the long-awaited Donna/Marie catfight, especially since Donna got to call Marie on the carpte for *her* infidelity to Greg. And that final scene in Anti-Crime, while a bit cartoony, still made me laugh, and I guess that's really all that matters. :-)

So, in all, a very mixed bag - I just hope that the better writing of the supporting characters (Fancy last episode, Martinez this one) is a trend that will continue.

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