"You Da Bomb"
Teleplay by Matt Olmstead and Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark, Matt Olmstead and Nicholas Wootton
Directed by John Hyams
Waiter! A round of Emmys for my friends. What a nice welcome back to Blue. This is SO much better than replacement shows and game shows and those cheap "reality" shows. I think it's a damn good thing ABC doesn't own Blue. Could you imagine? On with the fun...
That plate comes back to a Russian guy who lives in Brighton Beach. When Junior and Andy head over to his place, they run into another dastardly looking suspicious guy, figure out he's lying a lot and haul him in to cook his borscht in the pokey room. The guy tells them his name is Ilya Somethingrussian, that he's new to America and trying to find work as a bus boy. So far, nailing down a career in the fast-paced world of clearing tables has been fruitless. He says he was sent to the apartment to see a guy about a loan.
Andy and Junior decide to let Ilya cool his heels in a holding cell while they check out his story. In the meantime, a fella named Brad Cutshall comes calling about the fact that his car keeps getting broken into. T-Rod has him sit down with Connie so she can take the report. In the midst of her questioning, he slaps handcuffs on her and screams that he has a bomb and that it will go off if Ilya isn't released in one hour. Brad jumps up to show them all the enormous explosive device strapped to his chest and announces that the cuffs are booby trapped and that no one better touch him. Brad tells them he and his young daughter were kidnapped off the street, tossed into a van and blindfolded. The Russian men who picked him up told him they'd kill his daughter if he didn't cooperate. He refuses to say more, terrified of the consequences and on the verge of what could be a deadly attack of panic.
An enormous frenzy ensues as the bomb squad is called, the building evacuated and the feds get a Russian crime expert in. Brad's background is also thoroughly searched. Andy takes off to the holding cell to question Ilya. Under Andy's thumb, Ilya swears he knows nothing about it. Andy is as close to actually killing a suspect as he's ever been and Ilya finally tells him that he's the leader of a rebel group in his country and that he's got people very loyal to him who will stop at nothing if the think he's threatened. Andy tells him he will also stop at nothing. He tries to force Ilya to call it all off, but Ilya tells him he doesn't know who is actually making the threat and that he can't call it off for that reason. He says he's sure, however, that if he's released nothing will happen.
Rita has gathered information on Brad that makes everyone think his story is legit: everything he's told Connie so far has panned out. His daughter is missing from school. Tony sends her and Greg back to the murder scene to talk to the neighbors again and see if they can get any more information. Junior and Andy pace nervously and try to channel their panic into action. Junior finally remembers that earlier when they were taking Ilya out of the apartment building, he said something in Russian to a little old man who was tottering up the stairs with his groceries. They questioned him about it but he told them he was just making a joke with the man, telling him hello. They'd let it slide since the old man seemed disinterested, but now they want to talk to him. They send someone to go get him.
Back at the crime scene, Rita and Greg are getting no where until the superintendent laureate mentions off the cuff that things always happen in threes. This catches Greg's ear and he presses the point. Well, seems some old lady fell and broke her hip recently, another tenant had a dead cat nailed to her door and now this murder. Dead cat? Greg and Rita find that young woman and notice she looks a lot like the DOA. She has no idea who would give her a dead cat, however. She mentions that her dad has been staying with her of late, but that he knows nothing about it either. He's called to the scene and questioned: he's taken early retirement and is doing some volunteer work, and is equally clueless about the dead cat.
Back at the squad, Junior has been running Brad's credit cards. He finds a huge gambling debt and that sets Andy off. He thinks the guy is in debt to the Russian Mafia and marches up stairs to confront him. He handles it quietly, but gets nowhere. Brad admits his debt but swears he's not into the Russians for money. His panic increases and Connie tries to calm him. He's already given the cops his cell phone number so they can trace incoming calls, and he's terrified he'll be blown up if another thing happens. Adding to his panic is the news that Connie is pregnant. He tells her he'd have never gotten near her if he'd known. He takes another call from the Russians who demand to know why Ilya is still locked up. The bosses have decided not to negotiate with the terrorists.
The old man is brought in. Andy pushes him as hard as he can without punching the frail man and he finally spits back at Andy that the men he's protecting are far more frightening to him than Andy ever could be. He tells them nothing.
This enrages Andy further. He's now convinced there is no rebel group and that this is a Russian Mafia situation. He goes back at Ilya with twice the fury, bloodies his face and orders him to call it all off. Ilya sticks with his story that he can't call it off but only for a short time. He finally looks at Andy with a purely evil soul and just says no, he won't call it off.
As the detectives frantically try to come up with another approach, a huge explosion occurs. Glass breaks, wood splinters and dust is blown all around. It's not immediately clear in the chaos where the blast originated and Andy starts up stairs nearly blind with panic and rage. A cop runs in from the street and yells it was a dumpster outside and that people are hurt.
Upstairs, Brad and Connie are both pretty panicked. Andy is there, and Connie tells him not to stay upstairs. He tells her he's got it under control, but she insists and tells him strongly that they have kids to raise and that he needs to stay safe no matter what. He tells her not to talk like that.
Andy tries to convince Brad to hand over his cell phone so they can use it to call the bombers. Brad refuses. Finally, Connie persuades him by telling him Andy is her husband and that she trusts him completely and Brad can too. Brad hands over the cell phone. After Andy leaves, he asks to write a note to his daughter, just in case. Connie hands him a notepad. She considers doing the same.
Rita and Greg, meanwhile, have been checking out the dead cat victim, Katie, and her dad Barry. Katie is clean but it turns out Barry is a serious crackhead. Junior knows this is the big break they need. He rushes over to the apartment building where Barry and Katie live and he confronts Barry with more force than he's ever used. He takes an immediately imposing stand, and physically intimidates Barry by continually stepping toward him while explaining that he usually gives crackheads a little time to get their lies out before they finally break down and tell the truth but that he doesn't have time for that now, so Barry will tell him the truth immediately or be punched in the face about 15 times first. Barry is now backed against the wall and shaking and Junior has his fist drawn and ready. The story spills out of Barry in the same way very frightened people sometimes wet their pants. He tells them he owes the Russians money and that they threatened to kill him and his daughter. They must have killed the wrong girl. He gives up a name and a location.
That information is useful to the Russian expert the feds have sent in. He knows from watching this location, the Moldovan Social Club, that this Mafia group has been waiting for the arrival from London of a man named Ilya Somethingelserussian. He's wanted for murders and other high crimes, and it's assumed this group thinks Andy and Junior picked him up on that rather than just because he looked suspicious. He also tells them Ilya has a family here, including a young son.
Back upstairs in a flash, Andy tries to persuade Brad to hand over his cell phone so they can use it to call the bombers. Brad refuses. Finally, Connie persuades him by telling him Andy is her husband and that she trusts him completely and Brad can too. Brad hands over the cell phone. After Andy leaves, he asks to write a note to his daughter, just in case. Connie hands him a notepad. She considers doing the same.
Ilya's son is brought in and stood before his father as Andy tells Ilya that if he doesn't call the whole thing off, he's going to take the boy upstairs, handcuff him to the bomb just like his wife is handcuffed to it, and that will be that. Andy has finally found a bluff that will work. Ilya makes the call. The Russian expert listens and confirms he told the group to call it off, release the kidnapped girl and then run.
The bomb squad moves in upstairs. Brad is very near passing out from fear. The bomb is safely removed, the handcuffs release and Andy takes Connie out of the room quickly. He takes her immediately to see a doctor. Brad apologizes again, learns he's in the clear and is reunited with his child.
At home later, Andy and Connie are having a mundane dinner with Theo who is prattling on about getting ready for baseball season. He needs a new mitt and some cleats, he's outgrowing things so fast. Connie barely hears it all. Andy takes a call from Tony who says they've caught all the bad guys.
Andy sits on the couch with Connie and tells her that news. Knowing it's all over, she crumbles, all the terror she's held inside all day finally spilling out in broken sobs.
So, the show starts off with some steamy little moments and then heads into it's usual formula of the cops on the case of another murder, Greg zeroing in on a fairly useless tidbit, the other cops running into a few quirky folks and following a few dead leads. Then the whole thing goes haywire when Brad walks in with the bomb.
I just realized that in my recount of the story above, I left out the scene where they go talk to the bitch who photographs convicts. I'm guessing that's because I think that scene could have been excised from the story and we'd have been none the worse for it. Aside from it giving PJohn a chance to contribute--which I loved because it was so in character for him and made me think Thank God someone reads the Magazine cover to cover on Sundays besides me--it really didn't add much to the story. I think it's probably there to give us the feeling that this is just a normal day, a regular kind of investigation. Maybe it helped build the tension, but I'm not so sure. I wonder if we'd already had enough set up and normalcy: these things were conveyed perfectly in Greg's bit out the woman's last name and in the quirky super. I wonder if the background check on the DOA couldn't have been handled with a few lines from Greg or Rita and if the time spent on that scene with the bitch boss could have been better spent giving Andy a little more freak-out time.
Dennis Franz may very well have his Emmy moments in this show. It's the best he's been this season. He brought Andy's usual rage to every scene, but he added something this time: abiding sorrow and a look of sheer helplessness. His profound loss of control and his unutterable fear at the thought of losing another wife/partner/friend seeped through every pore in his face. The looks he have Connie each time he left the squad room were simply heartbreaking. I can't remember the last time I saw Andy so forlorn--might have been when he was sitting stick straight on the couch watching the clock and waiting to take Theo to daycare right after Sylvia died. It would have been easy for Dennis Franz to play this one simply angry, but he added so many more layers to it and he did it all with his face. It was astounding, and I wish I'd have gotten to see him go with it a little more. I'm not sure what other actions he'd have taken--maybe he'd have really tried to drag Ilya upstairs with the intent of cuffing him to the bomb rather than just talking about it. I don't know, maybe that's too much of a cliche, but I feel certain that had there been more time, Franz et. al. could have come up with a way to carry that powerful emotion into something else and give us a little more of that outstanding performance.
Aren't we lucky, by the way, those of us who've been hanging in with this show all these years, to have such really fine actors to see? Franz, of course, Henry Simmons who blew us away in the last episode, Charlotte Ross who came so perfectly unglued tonight, MPG and his intense march on Barry. You may enjoy your other TV dramas, but there's just not one of them out there that can top this one for actors. (Esai Morales and Gordon Clapp are easily in the major leagues in terms of this kind of talent. They just don't seem to get the stories, sadly, where they can really showcase it. Which brings me to the incredible writing team of Matt Olmstead and Nick Wootton. You see those names double-billed like that and you're pretty safe in assuming you're going to get something powerful (if not something powerful for Medavoy, alas!) I'm always advocating for more layers ala Milch, of course, but they banged out a damn good show this week.)
I will point out, for the billionth time (and no I'm not going to get over it) that there was nary a TV crew in sight. Do you suppose Aaron Brown wouldn't have been perched outside the 15th spewing his annoying, self-serving perspective on what it's like to be a transplant to New York City in a time of crisis? One wishes, naturally, but one knows better. A bomb blast in NYC would have drawn more wall to wall media coverage than there are bacteria in the East River. I know the show isn't about that, but it isn't about what goes in court either and Valerie hangs around from time to time. Why? Because doing court things takes up a whole lot of a cop's time. Well, tripping over reporters is a part of the fabric of a cop's day as well. Come on guys, just a little hint of media would add such a nice touch of reality.
The lack of media is one thing, but I got really lost on another story point. That was, why didn't the bomb squad go in and take the thing apart right from the start? I watched the show twice in case I missed some explanation of that, but I didn't hear one. I could have missed it twice, and I'm hoping I did because the alternative seems silly, doesn't it? Connie won the man's trust pretty quickly and got him to give up his cell phone number for a trace. She also kept him talking without too much difficulty and kept reminding him that the bombers couldn't hear him or see him and had no idea what he was doing. So if that's the case, and it was, why didn't they go take it off his body? Surely if she talked him into giving up the phone number and later the phone itself, she could have persuaded him to let the experts in the NYC bomb squad take the thing apart. They ended up doing it anyway, and it's not as if the bombers couldn't have blown him up at will even then if they'd wanted to call the cops' bluff. I really must have missed something in the story there. Anyone else catch a reason they held the bomb squad off?
My nitpicky details aside, I completely loved this episode. It's been a while since Blue has made me feel anything emotionally. It's usually Ross who can make me cry--and she did it again tonight--but I also reacted to Franz and MPG (he was scary with Barry, and his sex scene wasn't too shabby, I must say). A note on Ross' final scene: I think it's clear she's an actress who cry on cue, which is a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me, but damn, she let go buckets tonight. I mean, Holy Mole Sauce! I'm thinking her hormones should get credit for an assist. She broke out into the UGLY cry! (You know what that is. You've done it, too.)
I know this: He doesn't need a wacky girlfriend, and I don't want him back with Rita... that leaves someone new or a relationship with PJohn.
*I wonder where Henry was? Baldwin off in the Bahamas with Mayor B. while Michael's murderous father lurks made me a little uncomfortable, but I guess Henry had something to do.
*PJohn, you are outstanding. I'm dying to know the story behind the canoe picture that's been hanging by his desk for ages, and the kid drawing (is that supposed to be from Theo?) I wonder what PJohn grabbed to save from his desk when he was evacuated....
*I imagine that oftentimes a TV show writer who has only 40 or so pages in which a story can be told finds himself at a loss for a way to present necessary information quickly. Example: they needed the cops to find the Russian bad guys really fast tonight so they cold get on with the fun stuff. They accomplished this in what I think was a really creative way. They crafted this weird little guy who is both a building super and an obsessively observant poet. Who else could have hatched such a creative little device? He was interesting, he was as about as complete a side character as you can get in 2 or 3 minutes (if that), he got the information out in a believable way and they even bolstered his credibility by having Andy compliment him. Nicely done! Milchean, that one.
*She says, "They're concerned because I'm pregnant." And when she stands up I think, "Like who couldn't tell????"
*OK, Connie is popping out pretty far now. I've never been pregnant myself, but I've been around a lot of pregnant women and all I can say is that there's not a woman in the audience tonight who wasn't wondering how the H-E-double-toothpicks Connie sat there that whole time without having to pee. (Not that I'm suggesting they should have brought her a bed pan on the show, but if that had really happened, I know they would have had to, or she'd have been dragging Brad into a stall with her.)
*Another really terrific trick of writing: Having Tony deliver the line "You never know what a jury will do." And Esai brought to it all of Tony's lingering bitterness over how that situation turned out for him and his subsequent loss of promotion. It continues the set up to his eventual departure with marvelous economy. This is the kind of tidbit I love to see and wish there were more of. Those little bridges of information go a long way toward adding complexity to the stories. You know, this bomb situation had nothing to do with Tony personally, but like all humans do, he found a way to personalize it when the moment presented itself. That kind of very small thing adds dimension to the characters without wrapping us up too much in their travails when it's not convenient to do so. More, please! (Junior could mention his dad, for example. Medavoy his kids or what ever it he does when he's not working. Andy, the occasional fish mention. Etc.)
*Andy and John J. are in the hallway, pacing around, hearts pounding, sweat pouring and I'm actually talking to them "The old man! The old man!" I actually *spoke* to my TV set. I guess that's a good thing from the perspective of the show--it shows how involved I was in the story--but God, what a totally geeky thing to do. I guess I should start to worry when it speaks back to me. (Then again, Junior did seem to hear me....)
*I have to mention a favorite moment, and I really don't know who to credit for this. I'm talking about the music used in that really powerful scene where Connie tells Andy they have kids to raise. God, that scene blew me away. (It was what I *wanted* from Sylvia when she said, "Take care of the baby" as she lay dying, but I digress.) The music there worked better than any little musical button I've ever heard in this show. It seemed to be strains of the show's theme song, and it reminded me of how variations on a big movie theme can completely carry a scene on the big screen. You know, like when 007 is taking off in his car and you hear the Bond theme; or similar scenes in Indiana Jones, or Mission Impossible. There are moments in all of those movies where you hear a variations on the theme or the theme itself and you're carried even further into the story by it. The tiny pop of familiar music at that moment did that for me. I loved it, so hat's off to whomever, take some money out of petty cash and buy yourself something nice.
*I want to better recognize the contrast they were going for with the banal events of daily life at the top and bottom of the show which bracketed the intensity of the main story. Greg and Theo made a nice pair of bookends to all the madness. Greg with his usual obsessions in the beginning and Theo's baseball chatter at the end. And while I could have done with just Greg at the beginning (and the super) and not the bitch of a boss, the end was really lovely. Theo focused on his life, Andy holding up that conversation and at the same time keeping one eye on his deeply affected wife. It was a great moment because Andy had one foot in each world just then which was such a fine thing to say about Andy.
Previously on NYPD Blue: Austin Majors as Theo Sipowicz, Chandra West as Dr. Jennifer Devlin, Ray La Tulipe as Josh, Andre Marcellous as desk sergeant, Joe Sabatino as uniform no. 2 (Officer Mackey).
Previously on NYPD Blue, but playing someone else: Richard Kline (Barry Driscoll) did Blue back in Season 3's "The Nutty Confessor". Best known as Larry Dallas on Three's Company. Also had appearances on Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, and Barney Miller.
Not previously on NYPD Blue: William Francis McGuire (Brad Cutshall): JAG, ER, The Practice, and Without a Trace.
Mark Ivanir (Ilya Antropov): Monk, Boomtown, L.A. Dragnet, JAG, Alias, and the movie Schindler's List.
Ray Proscia (Dan Markov, the Russian crime expert): The Practice, Seinfeld, 3rd Rock, Voyager and Babylon 5.
Allan Rich (Vasiliy Choushkin, the old man): Hill Street Blues and Judging Amy, as well as the movies Amistad, Disclosure, and Quiz Show.
Brooke Bloom (Katie Driscoll, dead cat lady): JAG, Buffy, and ER.
Jane Lynch (Susanna Howe, the mean boss): She's a part of Christopher Guest's "troupe"; did Best In Show and A Mighty Wind. Was also on MDs, and in the Harrison Ford version of The Fugitive.
Gina Morelli (Teresa): Six Feet Under, Carniv=E0le, Scrubs, and ER on TV, and the movie Bringing Down the House.
Brandon Keener (Tim Semple, the super): Catch Me If You Can, Galaxy Quest, and Traffic.
Mark Bennington (Lowell) Voyager and V.I.P.
Joseph La Rocca (Uniform captain): L&O and Criminal Intent.
Bob Jesser (bomb squad tech): Port Charles and Diagnosis Murder
Amanda Rose played Carrie Cutshall, Brad's daughter.
Andy, one foot in a homicide case, the other in Greg's little world: "Medavoy, we're past solving the case by name origins."
Medavoy, both feet squarely in his own universe: "So Baldwin's on a paid vacation, getting a tan which he doesn't even need."
See you then!