NYPD Blue: Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Season 8 Episode 19
"Under Covers"  5/15/01
Teleplay by Alexandra Cunningham
Story by Bill Clark & Alexandra Cunningham
Directed by Donna Deitch

When the cops stories serve the characters this well, you just can't go wrong. This Blue is great.

Summary
DANNY & THE STRIPPER: This picks up right away from the last episode: It's later the same night and Danny has taken Kristin up on her offer to see her dance at her strip club.  While seated at the bar, Danny notices a dark-haired man who orders Kristin a drink for when she's finished dancing. The bartender, Pete, suggests that since the guy has done this ten nights in a row without success he should try another girl. They guy buys Kristin the drink.  Danny is approached by the owners of the club who make a big deal out of him being a detective and treat him like a celebrity while reassuring him there's nothing illegal going on.
   Kristin fawns all over Danny when she's done dancing and the two make plans to leave for a bite to eat. The dark-haired man gives Danny some shit over it. Danny gives him a menacing glance as he leaves.
   It's morning, and Danny awakes to a cacophony from his kitchen. He wanders into the hallway nude where Kristin greets him with a spatula. He seems surprised at first, then admits he had a few too many drinks the night before.
   He realizes he's been paged a few times and makes a quick exit. Kristin invites him to the club for lunch and then persuades him to go with a powerful kiss. She tells him she's going to hang around his place and watch TV for a while. As he's leaving, she mentions the club owners, Joey and Ed, would like to talk to him.
    At lunchtime, Kristin picks Danny up in a cab. They appear to be getting it on in the cab. Andy sees this.
    At the club, Joey approaches Danny for a favor regarding Pete the bartender. Pete wants to go to Ireland with his wife to visit family. But he's afraid to go to get his passport because he's got a record and, even though he's been clean five years, he's afraid something might have slipped through the cracks. Joey says he's asking without Pete's knowledge because Pete would be embarrassed. Danny says he can't help, but Joey gives him Pete's social security number anyway. He also gives him a beer and keeps calling him pal.  Danny's convinced this flimsy story is just these mob-connected guys trying to turn him out.
  After a chat with Rodriguez about it, Danny agrees to keep working the guys at the bar, maybe even go into deep cover.  Tony tells him not to discuss it with anyone. Danny swears he won't even mention it to Andy.
  Andy gives him a little shit about his lunch date, but Danny doesn't say much. He's run Pete through BCI and gets the call about it while Andy is sitting there. Andy asks him to get back into their double homicide case, but Danny says he's has to leave and off he goes.
   Later, Andy gets a 911 page. Danny is at the club with Kristin and he's had a fight with the dark-haired man who seems to have been nearly stalking her. Andy pays the dark-haired man off and approaches the drunken Danny.  he and Kristin are sucking face in front of Andy. He drags Danny out and warns Kristin to keep her distance.
   At Danny's Andy throws him in the shower and makes him drink coffee. Sober, Danny begins to confess a bit. He admits he dealt with the loss of his relationship with Diane pretty well up until she actually left. Tearfully, he tells Andy the whole thing reminded him of when he was six and his mother sent him away with his little sisters and the charge of taking care of them.  
   Andy tells him he'll stay all night, but Danny says he wants to sleep, and he wants Andy to go home to Theo and never let Theo think he's not there.  Reluctantly, Andy leaves but gives Danny a reassuring hug before he goes and tries to promise him that everything will be all right.

TWO DOPE DEALERS: Andy and Connie are at the scene of the deaths of two dope dealers, Estrada and an unidentified man.  Danny arrives late, popping aspirin and claiming his pager battery died.
   In between sharp comments about his appearance and the smell of booze on his breath, Andy fills Danny in.  A witness named Paco lets Connie know he'll talk but can't appear to be volunteering. She makes a show of harassing him and slapping the cuffs on.
   At the house, after Andy invites Connie to move into Diane's desk so they don't have to shout across the squad as they work together, Paco tells them he saw two white kids from Jersey drive up to the drug house, go inside, make loud gunshots and then leave. He identifies one of them as a former regular customer named Benjy who used to hang out with a Michael Timmons who killed himself and a blonde girl.
    Through the suicide kid, Andy, Danny and Connie are able to find Benjy who took a collar with Timmons some time ago.
     Benjy is a tiny scrap of a guy (David Spade could take him without a stun gun), and Connie and Andy convince him that Estrada pulled through the shooting just fine and is now standing behind the two-way mirror in the room. This makes the already pasty Benjy go even more pale. Andy, who has referred to Benjy as "dumber than a bag a hammers," pushes it a notch further, telling Benjy that Estrada has openly named him as the shooter.  
   Shocked, Benjy swears it was his partner whom he then describes as "dumber than a ...a ...pack of wrenches."  Benjy tells how he and his buddy Jim went there to rip Estrada off, but that some other guy came busting out of a back room and Jim started shooting.  He says it was Jim who ransacked the place looking for dope and money, and that despite what Jim is going to tell them, Noelle has nada to do with any of it.  Noelle? they ask.  Benjy says he won't tell them about Noelle, but he will give them Jim's last name if they understand he's going to try to frame Noelle.  Sure, they say, and Jim's last name and address come out. Of course, now he's confessed to being there and he's identified his partner who will no doubt lead them to this Noelle.
   Instead of the smell of free dope, however, another ruse is used to draw Jim out of his apartment.  A man is asked to park his car in a such a way as to make it look as if he's hit Jim's car.  Connie then gets on the intercom and pretends to be a dopey broad who accidentally crashed into his car while talking on her cell phone. As soon as he walks out, Danny and Andy grab him.
   Jim gets pizza for lunch then says he had nothing to do with anything.  At the mention of the name Noelle, however, he begins telling the story. He says Noelle promised him "many a trip around the moon on her ass" if he'd do the robbery with her.  He tells the whole robbery was her idea.  Andy and Connie fake him into giving up her last name and address.
   Noelle feigns shock at the news that Jim and Benjy have involved her in a murder. She says the two of them have a ton of plans for robberies like this one, and she knew nothing about it. Andy's convinced she was stringing them along.
   Unable to get Noelle to say much, Connie and Andy ask ADA Heywood for advice. She informs them they can't arrest her but that she can be a witness.
   Connie goes at Noelle alone now. She tells her that Jim and Benjy both gave her up. Connie says if she gives a statement, she might stay clear of jail. It doesn't work. Noelle gets away with murder.
  
MEDAVOY AND JONES: They catch a DOA at an apartment building near Danny and Andy's homicides.  A surviving woman, Mrs. Childs, is at Bellevue. She tells  them a man came in through the skylight with a gun and kept asking her and her husband for drugs. She says he thought they were drug dealers. They gave him money, but he wouldn't leave. He tied her husband up and shot in him the head, then put the hot barrel of the weapon on her head and demanded she give it up. She was beaten and burned with a cigarette.
   The landlord says the apartment was that of a former possible dealer. There appear to be no connections through ballistics with the case Andy, Connie and Danny are working on.
    Greg and Baldwin go to Rikers to meet with a former drug dealer named Jonas. He used to live in the Childs apartment. Jonas has taken one hell of a beating. He explains that some people on the inside are former associates who are still pissed off at the way he did things on the outside.  Greg and D promise they'll have him segregated this afternoon if he helps. He gives the name Byron Wade, a psycho guy who thinks Jonas ripped him off once. Jonas thinks maybe he broke into the apartment and thought Mr. Childs was him.
   Mrs. Childs is brought into identify Byron Wade from a lineup. She does it easily.  Baldwin and Greg tell him he's been identified, and then they tell him the man he killed is not even connected to Jonas. Byron doesn't care. Baldwin resists the urge to beat the hell out of him.  The knowledge that Byron will probably get the needle seems to keep him from doing it.
   Valerie shows up invites Baldwin over to talk about the case over spaghetti.

ANDY AND KATIE: Katie drops by the house in the midst of the murder investigation to let Andy know she's found the perfect apartment. Excitedly, she tells him its only a little more money than he's paying but has three bedrooms and lots of other amenities. She's put down a deposit already. Andy is angry, but suppresses it a bit. He tells her he wanted to see it first. She gives him the name of the agent. At first, he tries to get out of going to see it, but when he sees her disappointment, he changes his mind and tells her he try to do it that day.
    At lunchtime, Andy and Katie go look at the apartment. Despite the fact that it's beautiful, Andy finds fault. He ends up finding so much fault that he tells Katie it's just not going to happen. He demands the deposit back, and when he's told it's nonrefundable, he goes into high gear and intimidates the guy into giving it back. Katie slams out the door.
   At home, Andy finds Theo coloring and Katie packing. Katie says she's leaving and the wedding is off.  Finally out of the black hole of denial, Katie struggles to bring Andy out of it too. She makes him realize that they are not in love, and that their old patterns are emerging.  She tells him that there is no way it's going to work out, and that he needs to take care of himself. Andy seems relieved and lets her go.

Review
DANNY AND THE STRIPPER: I can't say enough about Rick Schroder. What a very powerful performance he turned in. It was aces and Emmy-worthy without question. From the incredible glance he threw Andy at the top of the show (at the crime scene) right down to his tearful confession, he didn't miss a trick.  You easily get the impression he's the hardest working actor in the room and wholly engaged in what he's doing. He uses it all--the dialogue, his face, voice, body, and God knows what of himself--in concert to create this very odd, tragic yet lovable man. No wonder Dennis Franz calls the David Caruso months a "hiccup" compared with the talent he's gotten to work with since. Schroder put Smits to shame in this one. (Say that five times fast.)
    I thought I'd feel a big void with one of the major characters missing this week, but this performance made me forget anyone was missing. After, I realized that I went into it thinking I'd eventually sigh and wonder how much better it would all be with Diane, but that never happened.  If Rick's picking an Emmy show, I hope he picks this one. It has to be a winner. It is a winner.
    I was engaged by the story as well, even though I had a Simone flashback for a second when Danny was telling Tony that he thought these mob guys were setting him up.  Seems for now, though, like it's going somewhere different.   
    Not much more was revealed about Danny's past, but that didn't bother me. If you read me regularly, you know I think context, perspective and the like are essentials.  The details of Danny's story are less important to me than putting what we know of his life and current actions into some context, and for the first time in The Brief History Of Danny, that was done.  Even without a lot of detail, we now have a framework for his reaction to things with Diane. Nice job, writers.  One little scene and Danny is suddenly very much more whole.  
   I can't really guess where this is all going: Danny going into deep cover or Danny getting hacked to bits and left in a dumpster, but whatever it is, I'm on the hook for next week and Wednesdays at 10 in November (more on that move below).  

   Other notes on this story: I don't know if it's acting or accident, but Jenna Gehring sure has the ditzy blond entertainer thing down this week.  The guys playing the bar owners are fantastic. It's as if they walked out of "Goodfellas" ovah deh.

TWO DOPE DEALERS: It was in this story that I realized just how much I love this Connie character and just how much I am going to hate it if they pursue this soapy adoption story too much next year.  
  Like Diane, Connie is a great blend of femininity and strength, but she's much more grounded. Diane had to work to get there; Connie is there now. Presumably, she was raised that way. Or, for the melodramatics in the crowd, the part of her life that forged her happy-go-lucky-get-the-hell-out-of-my-face persona happened before we met her.  For that reason, I say strongly nothing needs to be added to this character.  A personal life is fine--welcome, even--but don't waste her the way Jill was wasted. Since Diane is gone, I implore the writers: Leave us one woman on television who won't fall to mush when the Bad Boy of her past arrives, OK? Thanks.
  Best Connie moments this week: When she arrested Paco, when she played dumb to get Jim out of his house, and best of all: Every time Andy showed her respect.
   It's an unexpected and wonderfully strong pairing, Andy and Connie. They are kindred spirits in many ways.  We know Andy as a take-no-shit kind of man and Connie is his feminine half, a take-no-shit kind of woman with a fine sense of humor.  That Andy recognizes this in her and likes her for it is a great thing for the audience.  It's really fun to watch, and it adds a spice to the mix that I don't think any of us expected to get.  
  I'm not advocating Danny be out of the picture at all, but the more time Andy and Connie spend together the better.  Especially the moment when Andy leaned over and shared a very funny, very personal moment with her regarding Katie. That was outstanding.
  Let me drag my soap box (no pun intended) out one more time: I hope the writers keep in mind that a woman like Connie isn't naturally going to turn into a wobbly pile of emotional Jell-O over just anything. She's probably the kind of person who will never turn into that, even if she finds her long-lost daughter is living as a hooker, or is married to a dealer, or is dead, or whatever they have in store.
 History lesson:  Jill was that kind of woman too. That is why her reaction to her skel ex-husband was so unbelievable and did permanent damage to the credibility of the character.
  Ok, that's all I'll say on that until next year.  I think.

  Other notes on this story: I loved the guest actors. Benjy and Jim both were great. Nice that Noelle got away. That doesn't happen often on this show, but it does in real life.

MEDAVOY AND JONES:  This story lost my favor just a tiny little bit. That ever-present nod to racial injustice was about as subtle as, well, a bag of hammers.  Here we go: The good black detective is put into a situation where he has to say something that might be perceived as racist but they really need to know because it might really bear on the case so he really has to ask and the black woman who makes a point of telling him that she is educated  is offended despite the education which you might think would make her better able to understand the big picture but it doesn't and she lays the guilt on super thick and no matter how hard he would have tried  he just wouldn't have been able to  get her to see that he really had to know because when racial sensitivities are touched God knows nothing else in whole damn world matters least of all the big picture of justice that our poor black detective is fighting so hard for alongside his beautiful black ADA girlfriend who simultaneously understands his conflict but pounds him on the head over it time and again anyway when she is not comforting him with spaghetti.  I wonder when the next installment will be.  ;)

ANDY AND KATIE: Are angels singing, or is it just me?
Ending this relationship had to happen. Andy is now free to fight with babysitters, have new and challenging girlfriends (NOT Cynthia) and give us something new and different to look at.
     Debra Monk is great as Katie, isn't she?

QUICK HITS:
*Shortly after Jim describes himself as a punishing hammer in the sack, he is easily tricked into giving up Noelle's last name and address. Make that a bag of dumb punishing hammers in the sack.

*Speaking of dumb, did anyone really expect us to believe that smart cookie Connie and detective of the century Andy would really be asking ADA Heywood for "direction" on their case with Noelle? Helloooooooo?  Among other things, didn't she get a key witness killed recently by falling for a lame trick?

*I thought Katie looked beautiful this week.

*Regis Philbin...someone put a collar on that man. He's EVERYWHERE!  (In case you missed it, Kristin tuned into Regis and WhoeverTheHell at Danny's)

*I admit it. I grabbed for my cell phone when I heard the rental guy's phone ringing.

*Specifically, I loved Danny's hair, his aspiring gulping, his yawning. All that business early in the show was great. And I think tonight he had Tic Tacs.  They must be replacing paper clips.  

*Hard to believe we haven't seen a paper clip yet! I loved that little bit.  Wonder why it got zapped.

*While I'm thinking Tic Tacs, did anyone else cringe big when Kristin put a big wet one on the booze-mouth that had just crawled out of bed, no shower, no brushing, no clean clothes? Ewwwww!  Double gross!

*At least Andy noticed his breath. Andy wouldn't have kissed him. That's for sure. This Kristin is a real skank.

*I have no problem with Connie in Diane's desk. It has to be that way, of course, and they handled the move well.  Andy had a good reason, and Danny had a good reaction. The only line I'd have cut: Connie's when she said something about Diane's desk not even being cold yet.  If a co-worker leaves of her own free will, her stuff just isn't her stuff anymore, and I don't think anyone thinks it is. Whatever!

*Gordon Clapp is finally in third place on the show open!  And just to show you how quickly things turn around, Bill Brochtrup is fourth. Wasn't it just last year, pre-Baldwin, that he was last?

*Word to Pete The Bartender: Change your shirt the day after a double shift, man, or those leggy ladies aren't going to give you so much as a crumb of the poussoir.  

*HANK! Fresh shirt and a line all his own.  Pete, I'll have a vodka and tonic hold the tonic, please.

BLUE NEWS:  Making me blue is the news that while NYPD Blue will be back on in November this year, it will be moved to Wednesdays at 10pm.  The benefit for Bochco, presumably, is that his new show Philly with Kim Delaney will get the primo showcase spot of Tuesdays at 10pm. The benefit for ABC is that they get to sell more expensive advertising during the third quarter of what is turning out to be a frighteningly dismal year for media advertising.  The benefit for NYPD Blue: I can't see one. Not only is it losing the slot it's had for its entire run, it's now moving back to a fall start after two years of its fans getting used to a January start and no reruns.  Additionally, it's going up against Law and Order, a show with which it shares what must be a significant portion of its audience (I'm sure there are numbers how much audience they share; I'd be surprised if Neilson books don't explain all that in great detail for TV as Arbitron does for radio.)   Law and Order is a different kind of show-- it's a police procedural while Blue is a more character-driven show--but that difference has been good for both shows and their shared audiences may have a really hard time choosing.  (I won't; I find L&O unbearably boring most of the time!)
  I think the bottom line is, of course, the bottom line. ABC needs money in the fourth quarter. The only way to make the move palatable for Bochco is to put Philly in Blue's slot. Once and Again gets Friday nights to attract the lonely hearts audience, I guess, and 20/20 gets a rest.   I think our only hope of Blue back on Tuesdays is that Philly tanks, and I hate to wish that on Steven B. and especially on Kim Delaney.
 Our other hope is that Blue will prosper on Wednesday nights as it did after its move to Januarys.
  My unsolicited advice to the ABC people who are most assuredly not reading this: Get your promos together, folks, and beat hell out of your schedule changes, especially what you've done to Blue.  One of ABC's weakest links is the promotion of shows.
   
CAST LEGACIES AND SUNDRY INFO:
Previously on NYPD Blue: Debra Monk as Katie Sipowicz; Austin Majors as Theo; Jenna Gehring as Kristin Moore; Greg Grunberg as Joey Schulman and Michael Tinker as Pete the Bartender.  

In case you've missed this cool fact in past reviews: Michael Tinker's brother is Executive Producer Mark Tinker. His other brother is a similarly Big Hoo Ha over at Chicago Hope, so watch for him there where instead of polishing glasses, he'll probably polish surgical equipment. Mike is the kid who made good in the family: in addition to having two fun brothers, he's got a job as an LAPD detective.  

Rounding out the cast with no previous movie or TV hits that I thought were of much interest to the readers here: Kellita Smith as Mrs. Childs; Joe Quintero as Paco (he was on Law and Order once); James Marsh as Benjy; L.Sidney as Jonas; Derek Hamilton as Jim; Larry Weissman as Josh Silverman; Victor Togunde as Byron; Jamie Brown as Noelle and Wanye Pere as Rob Liquori, the character with the best name.

LINES OF THE WEEK:
There were SO many. What the hell, I'll list them all.


Jim, upon being arrested: "What did I do?"
Connie: "Fare beating, and calling me a dopey broad."
Jim: "What about my car?"
Andy: "We're replacing it with a Ferrari. Walk."

Jim to Connie who pretended she hit his car: "OK, you dopey broad."
Connie to Andy who was hiding in the shadows: "He insulted me."
Andy: "He'll pay."

Benjy, after giving up Jim's address: "Just so you know, he won't answer his door. He's got a warrant for hopping a turnstile or something."
Andy: "We'll lure him out with the smell of free dope."
Benjy: "That'll do it."

Baldwin to Jonas upon seeing that the prisoner has taken quit a beating lately: "Looks like someone is spoiling your vacation."

And my top two favorites, tied for first place:

Jim describing Noelle's hold on him: "She controlled you by giving up a crumb of the poussior every now and then, but you paid for every ounce."

Connie, updating Andy on the doings while he's off to chat with his ex/intended:
"I'll see Paco gets a look at Benjy."
Andy, confidentially, "I'll be pulling out the rest of my hair."

NEXT WEEK: In the season finale, one person ends up dead and Danny ends up missing and a possible murder suspect.  ABC describes this one as "stunning."   And they probably gave away who's dead, too, but I won't.  I understand the value of a good promo. ;)

Thanks!
Amanda