NYPD Blue, Season 3, Episode 18,
We Was Robbed
Story by Bill Clark & Leonard Gardner
Teleplay by Leonard Gardner
Directed by Mark Tinker
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PLOT ONE: LIAR'S SOCIAL CLUB

Andy and Bobby's find themselves investigating a murder that may or may not have been a mob hit. Officer Shannon and his partner explain that they responded to a call about a suspicious person, and as soon as they arrived, a man with long hair and a fu manchu mustache hopped in a car and raced off. After failing to catch him, they returned to the original scene and found a dead body dumped in an alley. The victim is one Dominic Landucci, a mob shylock, and it turns out that the car Shannon was chasing belonged to Landucci. A witness' description of the suspect gibes with Shannon's, but when he's told that the victim was involved in the mafia, he starts to panic.

Back at the House, Fancy introduces Andy and Bobby to FBI Agent Francis. His crew has been sitting on a local mob social club, and this morning they observed a number of the club patrons acting more celebratory than usual. Francis figures that they were high-fiving each other over the death of Landucci, and offers to assist the NYPD detectives with their investigation. He'll set up a bug at the social club but let them use the information gleaned from it in their own case. That night, he takes Andy and Bobby with him to sneak into the social club and install the bug, but while Francis is relieving his bladder, two mob guys wander in to play a game of pool. Andy's plan to lay low and hope they're not spotted is waylaid when the two goombahs hear Francis flush the toilet. The detectives know that if they reveal themselves as cops, the mob will tear the place apart looking for their bug; the only choice as they see it is to pretend to be robbing the place. They pull their guns on the two mobsters, and, much to Francis' shock, proceed to steal their wallets, watches, and two television sets.

The next day, Andy and Bobby try to explain the "hiccups" in their operation to Fancy as reasonably as possible, but Francis storms in, livid. The way he sees it, all that the club patrons will be talking about for the bug to record will be the robbery, and if his bosses find out what happened, it'll be his ass. He decides to do all the listening to the bug himself, so that he can edit out any offending passages (blaming any problems on police mishandling of the equipment). One problem; Margiotti and Fabruzzo, the two mob guys they robbed, turn up in the stationhouse to file a robbery complaint. Fancy manages to sneak the three out of the squadroom while Diane and Greg take the complaint, which noticably exaggerates what was taken, presumably to pump up the insurance claim.

Meanwhile, Andy and Bobby decide to pursue some other possible angles on the case. Detectives at the 1st Precinct call in to say that an armed robbery collar they made last night matches the description given by Shannon and their witness. The suspect, Parnell Manning, does indeed have long hair and a Fu Manchu, but he also has an alibi - he was asleep at a flop motel at the time Shannon was chasing his man, and the motel manager confirms this. Shannon picks Manning's face out of a photo array, but neither detective buys it; Manning's alibi seems solid, and a professional robber like Manning wouldn't have left any money in the victim's wallet like their killer did.

Landucci's car turns up abandoned, and a search of it finds a newspaper with a phone number written on it; Bobby assumes it's the number of someone Landucci had an appointment with. The number belongs to a Craig Herman, who has short hair and no mustache, but who admits to Andy that he owed money to Landucci. He gives the detectives a story that quickly proves to be total BS. Andy begins to wonder whether Craig just shaved his mustache, and puts him in a lineup with a fake mustache (but not a fu manchu) stuck on. Both Shannon and the witness ID Herman almost instantly; Shannon almost ID's Manning (who's also in the lineup) but quickly realizes that it was the fu manchu that threw him. With the pressure of two different witness identifications, Herman confesses rapidly, claiming that Landucci was going to kill him for being continually late on his payments.

At the end of the shift, Fabruzzo and Margiotti show up to recover their property after Diane calls to say they found it. They try to make noise about wanting everything that was in the report back, but Andy and Bobby walk in as Greg tells the two that he knows exactly how much was really taken. It's a stalemate - if the two mobsters file a criminal or civil complaint against Andy and Bobby, the police will have to prosecute for insurance fraud. The wiseguys pick up their property and leave grumbling.

Francis tells Andy and Bobby that a far more high-ranking mafioso wound up floating in a river in Hoboken, NJ, and he figures that was the cause of the celebrations he saw the day before. Since Andy and Bobby got their man anyway, Francis decides that he'll tell his bosses that the bug was installed incorrectly and didn't pick up anything. He also offers to assist the detectives the next time they plan to stick somebody up.

PLOT TWO: A FISHY SITUATION

Donna's hairdresser Marina has a problem. Her old boyfriend Ronnie has just gotten out of prison after four years, and he's been harassing her. His latest demand involves Marina's new boyfriend Luis, a truck driver. Ronnie wants Marina to let him know the next time Luis comes over with his truck so that Ronnie and a friend can hijack it. Donna brings this problem to Diane to see if she can do anything to help. Unfortunately, Ronnie hasn't done anything illegal yet, and since he served his whole term in prison, she can't even try to violate his parole. But when she finds out that Ronnie doesn't really know what Luis looks like, she decides to set up a sting, with James posing as Luis. Sure enough, Ronnie and his friend try to rob James and his truckload of shrimp, at which point Diane and a bunch of uniformed cops move in to make the bust. Diane makes sure to keep Ronnie from finding out that Marina had anything to do with the sting, and Ronnie's partner gives him up to Greg.

PLOT THREE: IT'S A LARGE, JEALOUS NATION

Adrianne is working backup with Greg in the sting on Ronnie, and the notion of James as another woman's boyfriend, even if he is only pretending, has her worked up in knots. She asks Greg why James is up in the apartment for so long; when Greg replies that James wants Ronnie to think that Luis and Marina are making love so he won't get suspicious, Adrianne rips into him. And back at the station, she accuses James to his face of having asked Marina out.

James can't believe this; Adrianne has been acting wacky for a while, but this is the last straw. He angrily tells her that she's making him crazy, and all her accusations of wrongdoing are just making him want to do something wrong. Adrianne apologizes, but it's clear that the relationship problems are far from over.

MISCELLANEOUS THREAD:

It's time for another lesson in policework from Andy to Andy Jr. Andy tells his son a story about a time when he almost shot a toy factory employee carrying a toy machine gun because he hadn't gone to the trouble to learn what all the businesses on his beat were, and figured he was staring at a man with a real machine gun. The moral is that a cop should always know the "people, places, the things they do, and the times they do them" on his beat. He reaffirms the lesson later that night, as Andy Jr. points out a crowd of men hanging out outside a bodega that hadn't been there that afternoon. Andy Jr. figures that they're dopers, but Andy Sr. informs him that the bodega also functions as a makeshift OTB, and there weren't any horses running when they were there that afternoon. Andy Jr. takes note and promises not to forget the lesson.


I've never been a good liar. It's just not in my nature, I suppose. The only time I ever succeed in telling a lie is if I have it planned out way in advance, with all the possible angles covered in case someone starts asking questions. But if somebody asks me off the cuff about something where I don't want to tell the truth, I'm sunk.

I say this because one of the reasons I enjoyed "We Was Robbed" was the chance to watch a whole slew of characters practice the craft of deception, with varying degrees of success.

Andy and Bobby? Old pros; they're quick on their feet and improvised well in their roles as stick-up guys. Margiotti and Fabruzzo? Lousy; Diane and Greg didn't even know the full facts of the case and they could tell the two were talking out of an orifice other than their mouths. Craig Herman? Equally bad; at least the two wiseguys had each other as corroboration, while Herman didn't bother to notify people he was using as alibis. Diane? Pretty good, too; she played her part about Marina being a random witness well in front of Ronnie (more on that below). Agent Francis? A mixed bag; the whole process of having to deceive his bosses turned him into a physical and emotional wreck, but he regained his composure, assisted Andy and Bobby in their interrogation by lying to Herman about the FBI being after him, and even offered (however jokingly) to help out on their next stick-up. In fact, if Fancy was as alert to what terrible liars the two mob guys were, he should've figured out right off the bat that there was no mob involvment in Landucci's death - when he asked them about it, they sounded genuninely remorseful and clueless.

So what's the moral here? Are Leonard Gardner and Bill Clark saying that being a good liar is the sign of being a good guy? Or, at the very least, of being a good cop? Damned if I know, but it was sure fun watching, particularly the robbery itself, as Andy got increasingly caught up in his role, much to Bobby's amusement (did you see the look on his face when Andy grabbed the TV?), and Francis' dismay.

While not quite as fun as the main plot, I thoroughly enjoyed the latest lesson in walking the beat from Professor Bill Clark. Maybe it's just me, but I could watch an entire series featuring Andy as a crusty but lovable police academy instructor, provided they get Clark to provide all the stories. My only gripe is that thus far, the writers (first Theresa Rebeck and now Leonard Gardner) haven't found a way to tie in the theme of Andy's lessons to the theme of the main stories.

But that's an extremely minor gripe compared to the problems I had with the rest of the episode. Marina's story was essentially a set-up for the James/Adrianne conflict, and it felt like it. I also have a hard time believing that Ronnie wouldn't so much as suspect that Marina turned him in - how else would the cops know to be watching for an attempted hijacking in that place at that particular time? Am I missing something here? Donna's involvement in the case, particularly her very thorough explanation of the situation to Donna (apparently she's getting pointers on police work during all those reaction shots we see of her), made it slightly more interesting, but it was still just set-up. That in itself isn't such a terrible thing, except for the fact that what it was setting up was really irritating.

I've joked before that Adrianne would have had to have a character in the first place for her clinginess to be out of character. Well, regardless of how in-character her behavior may or may not be, I don't buy it for a second. Up until now, she was just annoyingly overprotective, but tonight she was acting like a full-fledged pod person. That scene in the van with Greg where she cracked that she knew why Donna dumped him was especially mystifying. I can actually understand the writers' explanation for all this - that she's been involved in so many bad relationships that she doesn't know how to behave now that she's dating a real good guy like James - but her behavior went way beyond the board here, IMHO. She turned into a caricature here, and that should never happen to any of the regular characters (except Medavoy, who's always been a caricature, of course).

I don't have much more to say about the episode. The main story was very entertaining, while the other elements (the Andy/Andy Jr. scenes excepted) were pretty annoying. Fortunately, the A-story took up the bulk of the time, so I wasn't too put out. For a lighthearted episode of Blue it was quite good, but since most people watch the show exclusively for the doom, gloom, and sex, this one probably wouldn't satisfy them too much. :)

What did you guys think?

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