Season 11, Episode 20
Teleplay by Matt Olmstead
Story by Bill Clark & Matt Olmstead
Directed by Mark Tinker
My hope is rewarded! A pretty fine episode. If you missed it, please read the following summary then sit in detention Wednesday afternoon. The review follows:
Kevin's wife Donna comes in to talk to the detectives. She says she's in shock, and it's not clear that she's not because she's a mouse, an extremely meek, shy woman. She tells the detectives her husband cleaned up from drugs a year ago and that since he found God, he's been right. They ask if she knows why he'd have several photographs of different cars parked outside the same massage parlor, but she can't give them any hints about that. Before she leaves, she tells them she thinks maybe someone from his past has done the crime.
Greg and Baldwin go to visit the church. It's a storefront right next to the Pussycat Massage parlor, the same one in the photos Kevin took. They walk in during an electric guitar sermon about dog vomit and sin being delivered by the Rev. Mercy Hawks. When Baldwin flashes his badge, the service is ended. Hawks' female followers seem to adore him in a Kool-Aid kind of way.
Rev. Hawks, who apparently has no knowledge of the history of world religions, tells the cops Kevin was a good Christian and therefore could not have had an acrimonious relationship with anyone. He says he knows nothing of Kevin's relationship with his wife, but he does explain the photos. One of Kevin's missions was to educate the sodomites at t he massage parlor and turn them on to Jesus. Rev. Hawks also admits that he and most of his followers have had checkered pasts, a time of their lives they refer to as BGG--Before God's Grace. Greg senses Hawks is still a liar and asks him his real name. Hawks kind of chuckles and gives it up so they can check his record.
A check of Kevin's phone records shows a few recent calls from a guy named Lonnie Wells. Lonnie is brought in and starts off the interview with a lie about calling Kevin. He ends up telling them he not only called Kevin, but went to his apartment to have it out with him over a photograph of his car outside the massage parlor. Seems Kevin mailed it to Lonnie's wife and Lonnie's wife put him out. Lonnie swears he didn't kill Kevin but he does admit to punching him.
While the detectives check out Lonnie's alibi, word comes that Kevin has died from his wounds and the case is now a homicide. And CSU brings in a lead that changes the case completely: a video tape found hidden in Kevin's apartment. It shows Rev. Hawks having kinky sex with Donna. At one point on the tape, he ties her up and beats her with a belt.
The Rev. is brought in to explain this. He's a sorry excuse for Jim Jones or Charles Manson, but the cops know he's got a hold on his female parishioners. He tries to lie for about a minute then admits knowing about the tape. He says Kevin made it to prove Donna was cheating on him. He says he and Kevin talked about it and that he advised Kevin to get control of his life and his wife, to make her submit to him like a wife should. He says also that Donna seduced him. She's a sinful woman who allowed the devil to work through her, and that he fell victim to Satan's ways through her. He says he told Donna God would forgive them, and they both forgot about it. He also notes that he has an alibi for the time of Kevin's murder. Rita and Kelly interview Donna this time. They explain to her that they think it might be easier for her if she talks to women, and that women may be able to provide an insight that the male detectives might not have. Donna is told what Hawks said and she says she guesses she seduced him. She says Satan seduced her and she then seduced Hawks. She is reluctant to say anything about Hawks until Rita mentions her daughter and just tells Donna to wake up. Donna finally tells them that Kevin threatened to expose the tape if she didn't give him their home and daughter, and that he also threatened Hawks. He wanted to take over the church and told Hawks he'd reveal the tape if Hawks didn't resign. Hawks had Donna get the tape away from Kevin. Rita and Kelly sense that she did this thing under some sort of spell and they try to get her to implicate Hawks. Donna is on to them very quickly, however, and is careful to step around the words they try to put in her mouth. Still under Hawks' spell, she won't implicate him. She takes all the blame for Kevin's murder. She gets close to revealing the power Hawks has over her but stops. She tells them she wanted to protect the church and knew of nothing else to do. Rita suggests she could have instead told Hawks to shove it up his ass. Donna only smiles and tells Rita Hawks is a prophet.
Greg and Baldwin are not happy with this news. They wanted to shut Hawks down if not send him to jail. They try bluffing him by telling him that Donna implicated him. He doesn't buy it and he tells them so. They let him walk, which he starts to do with quite a satisfied smirk. Baldwin stops him with one of his giant haymakers and tells him that the tape will most definitely be accidentally released and that he'll have to pack up his circus and leave town anyway.
Simon Clifton comes in next. He's just as angry as the rest of the clan over being called in but agrees to go to the lab and give a DNA sample. He also suggests they look into Mrs. Clifton's nephew Sam Jeffers. Sam is not on the list Mrs. C gave them, and the angry Simon won't tell him why he's important.
Forced into what Andy calls a board game, they bring Mrs. Clifton back in to explain Sam. She says she didn't put him on the list because he was only 16 and couldn't have killed Cindy. When they ask her why she hid his presence from them she coughs up the story that Sam is really her son. She got pregnant out of wedlock in her youth which was a major embarrassment to her family. Her father made her give the child to neighbors, and when she married, her husband--Cindy's father--made her agree that whenever the boy visited she would have to pass him off as her nephew. Sam knew she was his mother but he was forced to play along with the story in order to be able to see her. She says she hasn't talked to her son in a long time.
Andy's old partner stops by to admit he screwed things up and to offer his help. He says he's been feeling really bad about it all. Andy is grateful for the help. Joe is going to use his old contacts to check on sex offenders who were released in that area at that time. Sam is brought in for a chat. Junior encourages him to smoke so they can get DNA but he refuses. Sam is extremely nervous and jittery, and he won't make eye contact with the detectives at all. His body language suggests he's terrified and just barely able to contain murderous rage. The anger pops out in small bursts as he talks about how crazy it was to have to keep the secret of his birth, how much he hates his mother's husband and how angry he was at her for carrying on the charade. He says he confronted her about it when he turned 18 and that they haven't spoken since. He says he was close to Cindy, but doesn't want to seem to talk about it. He says he never was angry at her because she was too young to be caught up in everything. He asks if his mother left him a message. When he hears she didn't, he just sort of twitches. They don't ask him for or try to get DNA beyond the cigarette attempt, but they do tell him they'll stay in touch with him. He seems OK with that. Andy thinks he's worth a hard look and doesn't want to spook him into lawyering up.
Mr. Clifton calls Andy and Junior and invites them over to his house. Once there, Mr. Clifton talks to them about Sam and how he knows he's responsible for the young man's anger. He apologizes to Andy for his irrational behavior earlier and vows to help in any way he can. He says he asked them over to let them see Cindy's bedroom, which they've left untouched all the years she's been gone.
Later, Sam is brought back in for questioning. He's even more nervous this time and fires up a cigarette right away. He gets about two hits off it before Andy tells him to put it out because it's bothering him. Sam is annoyed but that quickly turns to dread when Andy throws a bunch of family photographs from Cindy's room down in front of him and asks why Cindy would have scratched his face out of every single one of them. Sam meekly suggests he did something to piss her off. Junior then pulls a surgical glove out of a drawer and snaps it on his right hand. He picks up Sam's cigarette and explains how they're going to send it to the lab for a DNA test. Sam says they don't have his permission for that but Junior explains that they don't need it. He's standing in front of Sam as Andy is seated in a chair behind him, literally breathing down his neck, telling him how he's not going to stop until he finds who killed Cindy and also allowed an innocent man to go to prison.
Sam is terrified. He says he did not kill Cindy, and repeats that several times. He does admit to playing doctor with her the weekend before she was killed but says it wasn't rape.
After the interview, word comes that Mr. Clifton and his brother both came back negative for DNA matches.
Much later, there's even more disappointing news: Sam came back negative, too. Cindy's killer is still at large.
Andy goes to Peeler's final hearing, the one where he got the paper work that vacated his sentence. Leonard is cold toward him but agrees to listen to what Andy has to say. Andy tells him he was a young detective then stop himself. He says even though every witness lied, he still knows it was his job to put the right man away. He apologizes for the way things turned out for Leonard, and he holds out his hand for Leonard to shake. Leonard stands solid. He tells Andy he accepts the apology but he walks away from Andy's outstretched hand. Leonard's mother then approaches. She tells Andy no one ever apologized for all this mess except him. She says Leonard is still too close to the matter to appreciate the apology, but she says she can appreciate it and will shake Andy's hand.
Junior is not only surprised to see her, but he's surprised to see her looking like that. He's even more surprised when he takes her in the coffee room to talk, and before he can say hello she shoves her tongue down his throat. She chatters like a spider monkey that he needs to pack a bag, tell his boss he's taking a little trip and then drive two days straight with her to South Beach.
She's totally manic, and Junior tries to be careful. He tells her he can't go. She demands to know if he's seeing someone. When he asks if she's taking her meds, she gets angry and storms out. He asks to see her later but she barks out a bizarre response and slams the door.
A short time later, Rita and Kelly are leaving the precinct and find Jen outside waiting for them. She approaches Kelly and introduces herself as John Clark's girlfriend. Kelly, who barely knows Clark much less Jen, says, "OK." Jen asks to speak with her privately and Rita makes herself scarce. Jen begins by telling Kelly that she and John are soul mates who belong together despite their recent set back. Kelly interrupts to tell her this is personal stuff and she doesn't want to hear it. Jen presses on, becoming a little agitated and finally asks Kelly to just leave him alone. Kelly tells her there's nothing going on, and at this, Jen becomes angry. She says she knows there is something between them and proceeds to babble an insane little rant. Kelly realizes the girl is way off balance and decides to handle her gently and tell her what she wants to hear. When Jen asks her to leave Clark alone, Kelly assures her she will and tells Jen not to worry about it. Jen is greatly relieved and hugs her like a long lost sister.
Later, Kelly pulls Clark aside to talk about the matter. Clark explains that Jen is not his girlfriend now. He apologizes, tells Kelly he'll handle it since Jen has no family in NY.
PJohn later tells Junior that his attempts to reach Jen at the hospital are a bust. Someone called to say she no longer works there. Junior goes to her house where she won't answer the door right away. He calls to her a few times and she tells him she doesn't want to go to South Beach anymore. After more prompting, she finally opens the door. It looks as if she's covered in blood and has is smeared on her face but Junior sees quickly that it's paint. Still, it's red paint, and it's everywhere. She lets him in, still as jittery as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. She tells him she was painting because she wanted something alive and raw. She's got half the kitchen smeared with red paint and it looks pretty raw, all right. Alive? Well, that's another matter.
Junior approaches her slowly and tells her things aren't right. He hugs her but she remains stick straight, her eyes just darting around the room. She explains a little more about the personality conflict that ended her medical career and how they also found out about her condition. He tells her he wants to get her help. She's reluctant, but he insists gently. She agrees but only if he'll go with her and stay a while. He says he will and he hugs her again. This time she responds a little, telling him she sure could use a friend.
Greg came off like a regular smart detective and Baldwin putting his big paw on Hawks' chest was effective.
Thank you everyone for not making the Dad the killer. And thank you further for not making anyone else who seems so obvious or has been used so many times in similar cases the killer. It's not good to invest so much of our time and emotion in a story arc with a cheesy payoff.
Of course, there's no guarantee we won't get a cheesy payoff, but I have hope this week. If I were a betting girl, I'd lay my money on Joe having some big hand in solving this case. I kind of hope that doesn't happen because it would be too obvious, but it's better than making the Dad the killer. So, we're on the hook for another week and that's good.
Lots of other things to like about this part of the show: The scenes with Sam were excellent. The actor playing Sam did an outstanding job, for one thing. The decisions to have Sam not make eye contact and be so completely active while sitting so perfectly still were very good. He was a little bomb ticking and a terrified rabbit at the same time. In the first interview, you could see Andy thinking about whether to ask him for DNA and deciding against it. In the second interview, there were two brilliant things that stood out. One was having Clark snap that surgical glove, a sound that, from what I understand, makes most men pucker up tighter than the lid on a pickle jar. The second was having Andy seated behind Sam where he could literally breath down Sam's neck. Two really fine decisions made there. They added so much to the scene.
I was a little disappointed again in the Andy/Peeler encounter. It didn't seem to add much to the story, frankly. The layers were missing. Peeler playing the Offended Black Man was a cliche, for one thing. Oh, and we've seen Andy apologize like this before. Cut this scene and you haven't lost a thing.
Chandra West was superb. She was more than just frighteningly manic, she wove a whole lot of pain and vulnerability into that sped-up dance of hers. She had to move at break neck speed and push her over-the-top excitement but she also hit several lower, mournful notes. A few that stand out: the look on her face and the movement of her body when she hugged Kelly. Another was the way she delivered the line about how she didn't want to go to South Beach anymore. And yet another when she told Clark she needed a friend but held back a little in accepting his second hug.
I'm now wishing Chandra were playing the part of Kelly Ronson. At any rate, I guess I won't mind it if Clark gets her some help and we can see her a little bit again. Maybe as she boards the bus back to Fort Wayne or something.
*Funny how Devlin zeroed in on the blonde in the squad as Clark's girlfriend totally missing Rita who actually did sleep with Clark. And odd how Rita had nothing to say about it all. I guess she and Kelly dished in the car off screen.
*Hint for astute viewers: Read the opening credits for who wrote the teleplay and who directed and when you see Matt Olmstead near the word "teleplay," you know you've got something pretty good coming (also applies to Nicholas Wootton nearly every single time). Same when you see Mark Tinker after the words "Directed by."
*Lots of fun little Tinker-esque camera angles. I can usually pick his episodes out of the pack without credits. I guess being able to take a fresh look at an 11 year old show is why he gets the extra 50 cents a week in his paycheck. (Used to be 75, but they had to make budget cuts to keep the show on for another year.)
*A chemist dropped me a line last week to say how unrealistic the part of the Peeler story regarding DNA testing was. Since Cindy is Clifton's daughter, he says it would be easy enough (for someone with 7 thousand degrees in molecular molecules which I'm pretty sure this guy had in addition to his chemistry degree) to find out if the semen inside Cindy was from such a close relative. Since I failed molecular molecules, I cannot vouch for this but it seemed to make sense to me. The chemist says that since there is DNA from the killer and DNA from Cindy, you could compare the two to see if there are any common alleles. If so, the cops would then look at relatives. If not, they'd look at non-relatives. (Where was this chemist during the OJ Simpson trial?)
*PJohn speaks! It's been toooooo long. He better remember a baby gift appropriately wrapped.
*Here's a nice little thing: setting the first scene with Mrs. Clifton in a library. The metaphor about knowledge was nice, but beyond that, the quiet setting provides a really nice backdrop for her anger. When she shouts, it really stands out.
*Mercy Hawks. Get it? Ha!
*Cindy's room: Andy thought it was creepy, but I didn't get that feeling. It looked pretty normal to me. The old computer was cool and the older looking TV, but where were the Bon Jovi posters? Now *that* would have been creepy! (Even creepier: Posters of that 80s teen heartthrob from Saved By the Bell.)
*Eddie is trying to brand his own boss phrase. Fancy had "Keep me posted", T-Rod had "Where are we on this?" and now comes Eddie with: "Tough break guys. Just keep working." Or will it be "Jesus or Hell, your choice." Maybe it's too early to tell.
*Another week. Another missed opportunity for Baldwin and Greg and Rita and PJohn to have any mention of their lives outside work.
Previously on NYPD Blue: Jessalyn Gilsig as Det. Kelly Ronson, Chandra West as Dr. Jennifer Devlin, Ron Dean as Joe Brockhurst, Bruce A. Young as Leonard Peeler, Francis X. McCarthy as Gerald Clifton, Lorinne Vozoff as Sharon Clifton, Dakin Matthews as Simon Clifton, Mike Sabatino as Officer Martelli.
Not Previously on NYPD Blue: Robin Weigert (Donna Traylor) -- currently plays Calamity Jane on Milch's HBO series "Deadwood". Has also had roles on "L&O," the HBO TV-movie "Angels in America," and the Mary Tyler Moore reunion movie.
Lance Guest (Mercy Hawks) -- starred in the '80s cult classic film "The Last Starfighter." Other roles include a regular character on "Life Goes On," a recurring role on "Knots Landing," and guest spots on "JAG," "X-Files," and "St. Elsewhere."
Leo Marks (Sam Jeffers) -- guest spots include "10-8," "Frasier," "Homicide," and "L&O."
Mark Brady (Ken Uggams) -- had a role in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."
Betty A. Bridges (Clara Peeler) -- has most recently appeared on "Cold Case," "The District," "Ally McBeal," and "7th Heaven."
Bob Margitich (EMS) -- the only credited role I could find for him was an appearance on "Knots Landing" back in 1990.
Laura Milby (enthralled woman) -- appeared on an episode of "The O.C." last year.
The Rev. Hawks after Baldwin informs him his little sexcapade will be
made public one way or the other: "May peace be wth you."
Baldwin, forgoing the traditional "And also with you" for "Beat it."
The season is winding down!
Stick around with me--