NYPD Blue: Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com

Episode 21, Season 6
"Voir Dire This" 5/4/99
Teleplay by Bernadette McNamara
Story by Bill Clark & Bernadette McNamara
Directed by Paris Barclay

SUMMARY

Sipowicz

It's the day of the Mapp hearing in the Cullinan case. Sylvia is prosecuting. Andy will be one of the witnesses. He's standing in the shower staring off into space nervous about the way Sinclair will treat him on the stand. Sylvia comes into the bathroom to talk to him. Andy is convinced Sinclair will goad him into making a fool of himself because Sinclair thinks he's the same drunk he was six years ago. Sylvia assures him that's not the case. Andy notes that Sinclair has no idea how much he's changed. Sylvia tries to joke him out of his funk, but Andy still seems nervous about this impending test.

His nerves aren't much better later in the morning in the squadroom. He's fidgeting and looking at his watch a lot, annoying Danny and Diane a little. There's no new case to distract any of them. Andy finally leaves to go wait at the courthouse.

Meanwhile, PAA John is meeting for breakfast with Dolores' father, James Mayo. Mayo tells John that he dreams at night of killing Cullinan and that he's sure Cullinan will get away with the crime. John tries to assure him that won't happen and prays with him that his anger will be lifted. Mayo agrees to join the prayer, but seems to do it only to pacify John.

At work, John tells Fancy that he's going to take some lost time to go to the hearing--he says it'll be good for him to be there and good for Mayo if he's there. Fancy seems concerned about John's continuing contact with Mayo. John assures him that he's told him nothing more about the case. Fancy asks about Mayo's state of mind. John says he thinks Mayo is doing better than the last time Fancy saw him.

At the hearing, Jill is on the stand. She's grilled about the video tape, the drugs and her accusations against Cullinan which are on tape. Sinclair tries to suggest that she switched the drugs while they were out of view of the camera for four seconds. She holds her own, denying she did anything like that. The video tape and drugs are admitted into evidence subject to connection.

During her testimony, Mayo arrives and peers into the courtroom window. The hearing is now on a break. He confers with Sylvia and finds out things are going well. He makes a snide comment to Cullinan and Sinclair tells his assistant to have a bailiff keep an eye on Mayo. Sylvia tells Mayo he shouldn't talk to the defendant or his attorney any more. Mayo says he just needed to get it off his chest. He thanks Sylvia for helping out.

Outside the courtroom, Sinclair tries to take a few verbal jabs at Andy. Andy fires back with a playground comment which pleases Sinclair. Sinclair is convinced that when Andy gets on the stand he'll fall apart. Sylvia and Andy leave for a quick walk. Mayo stands by, eyeing Cullinan. Jill sees this, but shrugs it off.

Later, Kenny Priest, who supplied the drugs, takes the stand. He proves the perfect prosecution witness. Outside the door, Mayo wrings his hands. John arrives and tries to reassure him. Mayo isn't hearing it. He's upset that Cullinan won't ever be charged with murdering Dolores. John tells him God can help him, but Mayo says he doesn't want to deal with that now.

After the break, Andy takes the stand. We don't see the first part of his testimony. We join him in a conference room where he's waiting because Sylvia has called a recess. She enters the room and takes his hand. She gives him a pep talk about Sinclair, reminding him that Sinclair means nothing and that their lives are based on each other and Theo. She tells him how brave he is and how hard he's worked to make their lives good.

Back in court, Andy sits on the stand and Sinclair begins to grill him. John has arrived and is watching Mayo who is seated nearby. Sinclair first makes Andy admit that his police work was sanctioned by the judge in the Giardella case six years ago. Mayo gets up and leaves. The testimony continues with Sinclair trying his best to bait Andy over his past problems. Andy breaths deep and doesn't give in. Sylvia stands and makes it clear to the judge that Sinclair is trying to bring up things about the past that are not relevant. She also points out that that Sinclair forced Andy to testify. Sinclair admits defeat this day, saying he was counting on Andy to help him with his case. He says he can wait for another day (meaning the actual trial). The judge allows the evidence.

As the hearing ends, John gets up and goes to see where Mayo went. He finds Mayo in the men's room. Just before John walks in, Mayo lifts the cover off a towel rack and pulls out a gun he's placed there earlier. He sticks the gun in his waistband. When John finally sees it, he moves toward the door as if to block Mayo's exit. Mayo tells him to move. He tells John he's been a good friend and that he should move so he won't get hurt. John remains solid and says no. Mayo then shoots him.

Way down the hallway, Andy stands with Sylvia outside the courtroom. Also standing nearby are Sinclair, Cullinan, Sinclair's assistant, Kenny Priest and others. He thinks he's heard something, but isn't sure. He walks toward the men's room. He sees Mayo walking down the hall and asks him what's going on. Mayo tells him John has been hurt. Andy runs toward the men's room and finds John trying to walk out the door with a bullet wound to his side. As John begins to collapse, Andy yells for an ambulance. John tells him Mayo has a gun and shot him.

Andy takes off down the hall and shouts to a courthouse cop in front of him that Mayo has a gun. Mayo draws and begins firing down the hallway where everyone is standing. He fires several shots, striking at least three people, including Sinclair's assistant. The court cop shoots Mayo once, but Mayo keeps firing. More people are running and falling to the ground. The court cop fires again, this time dropping Mayo. Andy has his weapon drawn as well. He approaches Mayo's body as he checks his weapon and hears Kenny Priest say there's a problem. He looks over and sees Sylvia lying wounded.

Andy runs to her shouting for an ambulance. Sylvia is shot in the abdomen. She's terrified. Andy tries to keep her calm and tells her it's not that bad. She says OK, then tells him to take care of the baby. Andy chokes back a sob and nods his head.

Sickowits

Shortly after Andy leaves for the Mapp hearing, Danny gets a call from Officer Mike Shannon downstairs. Danny meets him and hears the story of a young teenager named Marcello. Shannon knows him from his sector and the kid has seemed very disturbed and sad lately. Shannon talked to him that morning about a coat he was carrying in a department store bag. The kid said he bought it from another kid. Shannon, concerned that something bad might be happening in this kid's life, brings him into the squad and asks if Danny will talk to him.

Danny meets with the boy who seems a little hostile and unsteady. Danny can't get him to cooperate about his family, but the kid tells him he didn't steal the jacket. He says he paid 40 dollars for it. When Danny asks him where he got the money, Marcello becomes even more uncomfortable and likens the questioning to being in Bosnia. Danny grows more convinced that something bad happened to the kid and presses him more about where he got the money.

Not getting anywhere, Danny leans on the tried and true offer of a beverage. Instead of the usual reaction, the kid gives him a strange look and asks Danny, "What are you, a perv?" Danny's thrown a bit by this question--curious where it came from. The kid goes on, growing more upset and frightened. He's trying to be a tough guy, but Danny begins to figure out that the kid has been molested. Danny tells him he knows he's a good kid but he wants to know what happened to him. Marcello begins to cry and ask Danny why he's being nice. He then asks Danny through tears what he's supposed to say, what will get Danny off? Danny stops him, calms him down a little and asks Marcello to write down what happened to him so he won't have to say it. Marcello agrees, but only if he can tear it up after. He begins to write, shading the words with his free hand.

Danny is extremely upset by the case. He tells Diane a little bit about it, but doesn't want to give her details. He's so upset, he begins collecting paper clips and pens from his desk and putting them in his shirt pocket. He tells Fancy what he learned from the kid--that a man in his neighborhood paid him to masturbate on to a plate and that the man made some sort of use of the contents. It's such a disturbing thing, Danny nor anyone else in the squad wants to talk about it in much detail.

They find out from Leo that what the guy did with Marcello is only a misdemeanor. Danny decides he's going to talk to the man himself. Fancy is concerned about his anger and tells Danny he's going to call James and Greg in early to go with him. Danny's not pleased, but can't do much about it.

He asks Diane for a private chat in the coffee room. He's pacing and upset, telling her Fancy wants to call Greg and James in. She agrees that he can't go alone and adds that she has no desire to go. Danny expresses anger that the guy isn't going to get in much trouble for what happened. Diane asks if Danny knows for sure the kid's story is true. Danny tells her that no one would make that up. She rubs his back on impulse, to comfort him. Danny reacts strongly to the touch, nearly jumping up and away--but he seems more embarrassed than put off. After he leaves, Diane seems a little embarrassed too.

Danny, James and Greg go to the home of the pervert, Ron Barrett. Danny examines two plates sitting on Barrett's bedside stand. Barrett tells him they're washed. The take Barrett into the house.

Back at the squad, Danny asks Diane to look in on Marcello. She says she has and that he doesn't seem to want company. Danny considers this and decides to look in on him himself. Diane offers to do it again, but Danny says he will. He goes to the crib, where Marcello is sleeping, hesitates at the door and quickly walks away.

He's going to join Barrett in the pokey with James and Greg. Before he arrives, Greg and James are talking to each other about a nameless person who does such horrible things that he probably can't live with himself. Barrett assumes they're talking about him and suggesting he kill himself. Danny arrives. He gets Barrett to admit that he's done some pretty horrible things (though no details are given), and Barrett promises to hang himself in jail. No one tries to change his mind.

Diane goes up to check on Marcello. She finds him awake but upset. Diane comforts him and persuades him to tell her about his family. He finally tells her he's got a brother. Diane finds him, and Danny brings him in. He's not much older than Marcello and is on methadone treatments. He finally agrees to take Marcello back in, and Danny agrees to help him get a job.

Later, the brother and Marcello are meeting in the crib. Danny and Diane are waiting outside the door. Danny is still pacing nervously. They talk about what will help get Marcello back on track. She compliments Danny on the way he handled the brother. They continue talking. In the middle of the conversation, Danny points his pacing feet in her direction and makes a quick B-line to her. He grabs her in his arms and shocks her with a kiss.

Immediately after, he begins to fret and apologize. Diane, still surprised, assures him it's OK. He says they should talk about it sometime and she agrees. Now isn't the time, however, and they part ways a little skittishly.

Later, Danny goes to see Barrett and tells him not to kill himself. He says he should get help instead.


 

REVIEW

Sipowicz

The evolution of Andy, always a driving theme in Blue, nears a new benchmark in this episode. This time, it's not Andy learning lessons but Andy using the lessons he's learned.

We've seem him grow in several situations this year; now we see the test of that growth. Or, the beginning of that test. He passed the Sinclair test with flying colors. Now, the bigger test of dealing with the loss or injury of Sylvia looms. (We don't officially know yet if Sylvia is dead or going to die, but since Sharon's not on a full-time contract....)

I've thought a lot about whether this is too much for Andy: the death of his son, his beloved partner and now possibly his wife. Perhaps it is: With the exception of the death of Andy Jr., the Simone and Sylvia exits were brought about by real world forces (the exits of the actors). I've heard from many of you who think it really is too much.

I don't feel that way. I mean, horrible things happen to people all the time. Some unlucky sorts end up losing it all over and over again in horrible ways. It happens. For me, the real point of interest here (as always with this show) has been the way Andy's development has continued during these things. As horrible as they are, he grows in a positive way from each of them.

But let me indulge those who are mad as hell about this. If I were to agree with that enough is enough for poor Andy, I'd start by saying they didn't have to kill Andy Jr. In fact, I do wish they hadn't done that. I do believe, however, that they had to kill Bobby. (See my lengthy "Hearts & Souls" review for my thoughts on that). Did they have to kill Sylvia?

Well, no. Sylvia was acting so strangely during the Suarez case that it wouldn't have been a hard sell on me to have her pack up Theo and leave Andy. There wouldn't have been anything wrong with Andy--it would have been her. But maybe, yes. If they just divorced, there wouldn't have been as much excitment. And there wouldn't be as much opportunity for change for our main character (if she dies, he's got Theo, after all.) And perhaps Sharon Lawrence wouldn't have come back to wrap up her character in any other way but this shooting. (She said before that she wanted to know what the story was before she'd agree to come back. Presumably, she agreed to this story. Note: Don't lay the entire blame on the powers that be for "getting rid" of Sylvia. It's as much Sharon's decision not to return.)

I'm not so much hung up on how many people have died in Andy's life, frankly. I'm more interested in Andy's character and how he deals with whatever the world hands him.

He seems to have reached a milestone. He got through this Sinclair thing---which was the first real test of the "new" Andy. He was nervous. Sylvia gave him pep talks, but it was Andy who finally did it. He did it alone. Sylvia summed it up herself when she told him he was brave and that he'd worked hard to make their lives good. He proved her right on the stand, coming full-circle. The use of the same lawyer, the same kind of hearing, made the circle complete.

But just as that circle seems to close, another starts. At that first Mapp hearing with Sinclair, Andy met Sylvia. At this one he might well have lost her.

Andy's now faced with the possibility of going on without her. The real test of whether his change is genuine begins. If she dies, he's going to have the responsibility of taking care of Theo. If he falls back on his old coping strategies, he's going to be damaging his child. He did that to Andy Jr., and swore he wouldn't do it to Theo.

If Sylvia dies, it's also going to present a great opportunity for Andy and Diane. These two have way too much in common not to be best friends. Their lives are practically parallel.

I don't suppose many folks were shocked by Sylvia being shot, but I gave a gasp when John took a bullet. I didn't think in a million years Mayo would shoot John. I seriously doubt John's wound is going to prove fatal, though. First, Mayo liked him too much to kill him. I think he just wanted to get him out of the way. Secondly, Bill Brochtrup just joined the cast full-time. (Can't say enough about his performance here--he was outstanding!)

"Anyways".... I thought the look and feel of the courtroom scenes was good. If I had to change anything, I would dump Jill's testimony (except for her smartass remark to Sinclair), and spent a little more time on Sinclair baiting Andy.

The shooting looked great. I was all wrapped up in that. I did wonder, though, just how many people got shot. I think I counted five shots from Mayo and two from the courthouse cop. Seemed Sinclair's assistant took one; Sylvia obviously did, and Kenny may have. It was a small area and a lot of gunfire from Mayo. I'm surprised, frankly, that he didn't hit Cullinan. (Maybe he did and we didn't see it?)

Also wondering how in hell he smuggled that gun into the Criminal Courts Building. I've never been there, but I know someone reading this has. Don't they have metal detectors?

Sickowitz

First, for the legions who are wondering what that "miserable perv" did to young Marcello, the story was originally written that he made the boy masturbate on to a plate and that he then licked the plate. The network censors nixed that, hence the big mystery and Danny's line "...and then he worked out on the plate himself." (or words to that effect).

The story of the Sicko seemed like it was going to bring a little more light into Danny background. It may have, but not with any detail.

Danny was obviously "stirred up" more than he has been in ages. I can only conclude that either he and/or his sisters were child abuse victims. (Was Simone the only detective who didn't have a miserable childhood? Well, maybe Jill's OK!)

Danny indulged in his office supplies fetish during his "stirring." I still can't figure this out, but I have to say I like it. As much as I'm going to hate it if Danny was an abused child (dead horse beaten to a pulp), I do love that he's not completely normal. This odd little quirk is very interesting.

OH, mygod, I've buried the lead....THE KISS. So, we know already that they have to put Danny and Diane together at some point, right? He's a lead character, she's the lead female. It's a cop show, so they want to focus on the lives of cops (not ADAs like Sylvia and Leo, or doctors or whatever). I can go along with that in my TV world just fine--it keeps the cast smaller and can provide tension with the main characters, yaddah yaddah yaddah.

I have no problem with Danny and Diane getting together for all of the above. However, these two seem, at first glance, a little mismatched, don't they? I arrive at that conclusion because it's hard to imagine a woman who is attracted to the kind of man Bobby was being attracted to the kind of man Danny is. And I'm not talking about looks. Bobby was calm and cool under pressure; Danny hoards paper clips when things get dicey. But I'm willing to go along with this because we just don't know enough about Danny, and we really don't even know much about Diane.

Diane was a drunk and a child abuse victim. She looked to Bobby for support at one time, but ended up kicking her drinking without him. (Twice). She did look to him for protection in the child abuse arena, however, which may leave her with the mark of a weakling in the eyes of some. But consider this: When Marcello was up in the crib, it was Diane who got him to divulge the needed family information. And when she came back downstairs, Danny, James and Greg were all wringing their hands and being disgusted with the "miserable perv," but Diane jumped on the phone and called the brother. She wasn't paralyzed by it. Maybe she's stronger than we've given her credit for.

And Danny and Bobby do have some things in common: They're both caring, dedicated, professional and "sweet." And they both get emotional over child murder/abuse cases.

I'll hand it to Mr. Milch here that he's handling this transition extremely well. Diane is as unsure about her attraction to Danny as many of the viewers probably are. She's clearly struggling with it and has been for the past several episodes. Going slow with her is the right thing to do.

And having Danny make the first bumbling move is the right thing to do, too. If he doesn't do it, it's not going to happen. It's not as if they could have talked about it, or had Diane flirting the way she did with Bobby. Danny and Diane are on dangerous ground together now. There's a lot of potential for disaster, which always makes for a nice TV romance. (There's no guarantee that they'll end up boringly happy like she and Bobby, after all. She may just freak out when she starts noticing paper clips under the pillows.)

And now for what I didn't like about this story: James and Greg. Their disgust over the "miserable perv" (and the fact that they used that phrase two or three times), just didn't ring true with me.

Why couldn't Fancy have sent Diane with Danny? Other than to further the story, is there some police reason I missed?

Wouldn't a guy who told three cops he was going to hang himself in jail be on a suicide watch? In the cell naked with a bare mattress? If they seriously decided not to alert the jailkeepers of his suicide promise, isn't that uncharacteristic of our heroes?

(Glad, for that reason, that Danny went and talked to the guy. But still...)

Quick Hits

 

Cast Legacies And Sundry Info

No cast list this week, sadly.

But I wanted to point out a cool fact about Bernadette McNamara, who is credited with the teleplay and, alongside Bill Clark, with story. She's been David Milch's assistant for several years.

Lines of the Week

Sinclair politely to Jill: Lovely as ever.
Jill equally polite: Up your ass, counselor

Danny, nervously pacing after he plants a wet one on Diane: "Oh Brother. Oh Boy. Oh my Gosh."
Diane: "Just don't say Holy Toledo."
Danny, not hearing her: "What?"


 

Reminder: Next week is the season finale. A 60 minute episode.

 

Amanda Wilson Puedo01@aol.com