NYPD Blue, Season 1, Episode 4,
True Confessions
Story by Art Monterastelli and Steven Bochco & David Milch
Teleplay by David Milch & Art Monterastelli
Directed by Charles Haid


Kelly decides to quit his security job with Thomas Wagner, so that if Wagner beats his wife Susan again, John can do something about it. The pompous Wagner tries to suggest that John's out of his depth, but the detective warns him that "If you hit her again, you're gonna be sorry you met me."

Susan Wagner comes to the station to ask John to rethink his decision to quit, and to make sure that he understands her suggestion about murdering her husband shouldn't be taken seriously. John assures her that he hasn't reported the solicitation, and again tells her to move out, or, at the very least, file a criminal complaint against her husband. A somber Mrs. Wagner says that despite her money, she doesn't have those options open to her.

That night, John gets a page to come to the Wagner apartment, where he finds Thomas dead from a gunshot, and Susan giving a self-defense story that doesn't gibe with the physical evidence. John tells her to keep quiet until she can talk to her attorney.

Though her lawyer claims he can get her off, John tells Mrs. Wagner that he's just trying to pad his billable hours, and that if she gives a revised statement saying that she shot her husband from a distance as he came toward her (which, if nothing else, fits the evidence), even a Legal Aid attorney could get her off with Manslaughter and a possible suspended sentence. After conferring with her reluctant mouthpiece, Susan agrees to make a new statement, which goes remarkably along the lines that Kelly suggested. ADA Costas tells John that the way things stand, she'll probably get Manslaughter Two, and at most three years, though they could indeed be suspended.


Though Andy's won back the confidence of John and Lt. Fancy, not all the members of the 15th detective's squad share that opinion. Veteran Det. Walker, upon hearing that Andy and John are supposed to back him up in the investigation of a double homicide at a liquor store, tries unsuccesfully to keep Andy from working with him. Andy tells John that he understands that he has to be patient about getting his good reputation back, but Walker's condescending attitude isn't helping.

At the crime scene, Andy spots Walker looking over his shoulder at every turn and ignoring all of his advice. Two of the three surviving witnesses identify the perpetrator as at least 6'3", but the one that Walker talks to says 6', and the stubborn detective decides to stick with that figure. When his witness spots the photo of Howard Coleman, who has a record for armed robbery, Walker locks in on him as the suspect, even though Coleman's only 5'9", and even though the other two witnesses don't recognize his picture.

Andy's incredulity at Walker's deductive reasoning increases when he finds out that Coleman lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which would make a lower Manhattan liquor store a long subway trek for him. They spot Coleman coming home to his apartment, but he refuses to go with them without an arrest warrant. Unfortunately, Coleman's adult daughter picks that moment to come out of the apartment, which panics her father; he hands her some asthma medicine, then decks Walker, which gives the detectives grounds to arrest him without a warrant.

Coleman also has $850 on him, which he says he won betting on a horse the day before, even though he can't remember the name. Walker pressures his witness into being definitive in a line-up identification, and sure enough, he picks out Coleman. By this point, Andy is positive Coleman didn't do it, but declines to contradict Walker when they brief Fancy.

The next day, Coleman's daughter comes to the station to talk to Andy, and says she knows her father is innocent. He was home running numbers at the time of the robbery, which explains the money in his pocket and why he didn't give his whereabouts to the detectives, since it would be a parole violation. Unfortunately, she was at the doctor for her asthma at the time, so she can't definitively verify her father's whereabouts, which leaves Andy still at square one.

Luckily, they get an anonymous tip saying that another man was overheard bragging about the robbery at the Shamrock Bar the night before. Walker's not interested in checking it out, figuring he has his perp, but Andy insists he come along. At the bar, no one admits to having made the anonymous call, but Andy suspects that a nervous bar patron named Dwight is their man. Sure enough, a minute after he and Walker leave the bar, Dwight comes out. Sipowicz and Walker corner him and get him to admit that he made the call. He explains that he lives next door to a slimeball named Frank Archer, who was firing off a gun the night before the robbery to make sure it worked, and the night after the robbery, Dwight heard Archer on the phone at the Shamrock telling his girlfriend about it.

Off of Dwight's info, Sipowicz and Walker arrest Archer, who's not only 6'3", but has the murder weapon and several traveler's checks made out to the liquor store in his apartment. Walker asks Andy how bad he plans to make him look on the Coleman matter; Andy assures him that everyone will think Archer was Walker's collar, which will make the other matter go away once Coleman gets released.

That night, Andy stops by a local bar, where the bachelor party for a uniformed cop named Hanson is being held. He spots Walker getting sloshed on bourbon. Walker apologizes to Andy for being such a hard-ass before, and asks him what it was like to get sober. Andy doesn't reccomend his method (being shot and in a coma for a week), and Walker decides to stick to his "line in the sand" approach of never drinking before 5. Andy, feeling uncomfortable, offers Walker a ride home, and when Walker declines, he leaves the party.


John has plans to give a safety lecture at a tenant's meeting in his old building, and Josh "4B" Goldstein comes to the precinct to ask if he needs any assistance in setting it up. Josh also mentions that his college alumni magazine is asking all the people who graduated five years ago to send brief stories about what they've been up to since, and he's decided to write about his mugging and subsequent revenge. John tells 4B that he should write about his career, his accomplishments, anything but this one incident that has completely posessed him. Josh declines John's advice, and makes some disparaging remarks about the police department after John refuses to let him see the police records about his mugging.

Laura shows up later in the day to tell John that she quit her job at the law firm after finding out that, as John had speculated, they really only wanted her for her contacts in the City Attorney's office. John refuses to say "I told you so," and offers to pick her up for dinner that night. When he shows up at the apartment, Laurie's in the shower, and John quickly joins her.

After the sex, Laura tells him that she's thinking about going to work for her old friend Jimmy Craig, who's a big-shot narcotics prosecutor in the District Attorney's office. John bristles at the notion of Laura having to be near the scumbags that he puts away, and she chides him for his overprotectiveness. When the argument escalates, Laura realizes that the two of them can't stay close anymore -- and cetainly can't keep hopping into bed together -- because they'll just keep on fighting.

At the tenant's meeting, John suggests that 4B's method of dealing with his mugger is not a particularly wise one, and reccommends that people just give up their money, jewels, and other valuables should anyone try to rob them. Having said that, his speech stars becoming a little more personal, as he attempts to reach out to both Josh and Laura. He says that no one should give up their freedom or their happiness because of crime, and talks about how his father's death has occasionally done that to him, which makes him stifle the ones he loves.

Laura seems to get the message, but 4B obviously doesn't; the next night, he spots a woman being mugged on the subway, and attempts to break it up with his gun. Unfortunately, the mugger is also carrying, and he shoots Josh twice in the belly. John and Laura both rush to the hospital, and John spends some time talking to Josh before being kicked out of the emergency room. He and Laura sit in silence in the waiting room, until the doctor comes out to tell them that Josh died. John decides he should call Josh's parents, Jack and Frieda Goldstein of Shaker Heights, Ohio, whose names he learned in his final conversation with his doomed young friend.


Janice, fresh from her father's funeral, thanks John for being there for her the other night. He offers his continued sympathies, but rebuffs her suggestion that they get back together. At Hanson's bachelor party, a drunk Janice approaches John again, and asks why John could forgive Susan Wagner for murder when he can't forgive her. She speculates that it's because Wagner made a confession, and tells John definitively that she shot Angelo Marino and his driver, and that she knows in time that John will forgive her for it. She kisses him and walks away.

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