"You've Got Mail"
Season 10 Episode 2
Teleplay by Matt Olmstead
Story by Bill Clark & Matt Olmstead
Directed by Mark Piznarski
They arrive at the courthouse en masse and immediately being evacuating the people from the building. Andy gets into a spat with a court cop who says he waited to get people out because his supervisor wasn't there and told him to hold off. Andy just yells at the guy to shut off his radio in case the bomb is one that can be set off by RF. The squad runs into the building to begin a door to door evacuation.
Connie and Rita are getting people out when they hear a scream from down the hall. They run to a judge's office door and open it to find the judge's secretary covered in white powder. She tells them she opened a letter and it blew out at her and is making her burn.
Connie and Rita shut the door quickly and tell her they're going for help.
Outside the building after everyone is out, the FBI SAC for the terrorism unit tells Andy and JC that if the powder is anthrax, it's a federal case. He then orders Connie and Rita to go get decontaminated and quarantined until the powder is identified. He asks Andy and JC to find out where the original call came from.
Back at the squad, Tony reports that the powder was not anthrax and Rita and Connie are OK. Andy gets a call that another similar incident has happened at a lawyer's office and that the lawyer has had a heart attack.
They work on linking cases between the lawyer and the judge and Baldwin and Greg go find out more about the powder. Greg recognizes the recipe for it from his days working with James Martinez as a Santeria recipe. Baldwin has a contact who can tell them more.
At the home of the Santeria priest, Baldwin and Greg find out that the powder in question is an obscure recipe not likely to be found in a book or on the net. On the way out, Greg--who is a little scared of Santeria--knocks over a candle and breaks it. The priest tells him to stand perfectly still. He walks Greg through a little ritual that involves putting one arm out and then placing his hand on his forehead. Greg follows each instruction carefully until the priest starts to laugh and tells him he was just goofing around because he enjoyed the look on Greg's face when the candle broke.
Meanwhile, the cops have found a guy who sent a threatening letter to the president once who had a custody case go bad in front of the targeted judge. Connie and Andy go to pick him up.
He's a creepy sort, but denies send the powder. He says he did write the letter to the president but was cleared of being a real threat. He says he did it after having a bad experience with a court, a city councilman and the statehouse over a problem with a tenant. He admits to using harsh words.
Connie confronts him about a nasty letter he sent to the judge a year ago after getting only limited visitation with his child. He admits doing that, but again denies sending her the powder. Connie tells him if he's lying, he'll lose his limited custody. The man explodes, stands up to attack her and calls her a bitch. She and Andy put him back in his chair. Connie informs him she's going to lock him up until his attitude changes.
Tony is dealing with keeping ATF off the case as he gets an update on the investigation. Connie says while they're looking into the letter man, they're also looking for people with Hispanic names who have a connection with the judge and the lawyer. They think they might get a hit on some Santeria connection that way. They've found case involving a non-Hispanic who has a Hispanic-named friend listed as a contact. Andy thinks it's a waste of time, but Tony says to go for it.
Tim is brought in. Andy and JC ask him all about his custody case with the judge. He tells them eventually that his wife and her lawyer--the one who got the powder letter--wrongfully accused him of sexually abusing his daughter. That's how he lost custody, and he's torn up about it. He goes on at length about how unfair it is that a woman can simply make an accusation like that and destroy a man's life.
The cops want him to submit a DNA sample and fingerprints and he's completely willing. He denies sending the letter, but says he hopes something bad came of it. Andy and JC learn a few minutes later that the lawyer died from the heart attack.
Meanwhile, Connie and Rita interview Tim's Hispanic friend. She tells them Tim is a friend of her from work at the post office. They tell her the whole story and want to know if she has any connection to Santeria. She lies for a while, but since she's basically a nice person, she can't contain the truth for long.
She tells them that Tim asked a long time ago about playing a practical joke on their supervisor. They talked about using some of the Santeria powder to make the boss itch. They never did that, but a week ago, Tim said he wanted some of that powder. She got it for him.
Tim is confronted with the information. He's worried about federal charges. Andy and JC try to get him to think it might not go that way, but he's not so sure. Andy tells him he's going to get tossed to the FBI for sure if he doesn't talk.
Tim finally goes into the story and says his wife was cheating on him. She knew he was going to leave her, so she made the false allegation. He says she alienated his daughter from him and talks about how that destroyed him. He says the lawyer and the judge wouldn't even hear his side of it. He begins to weep over the injustice of it, then admits he sent the letters out of frustration. He asks them to talk to the judge and lawyer and have them consider what he's been through.
Later, ADA Heywood tells them she's giving the case to the Feds.
Tony calls him in to his office for a chat and says the borough will let him decide if JC should stay on active duty. Clark tells him he wasn't banging the hooker and that she was just an informant. Tony says he doesn't care and let's JC continue to work. Clark wants to hear Tony say he believes the story, but Tony won't. All he says is he doesn't care.
Later, Clark starts getting bags of crap from the uniforms downstairs, especially from Laughlin whom JC defeated in a boxing match last year. JC is not amused and tells Ed to shut up or end up on his ass again.
Back upstairs, Clark gets a message to go see Capt. Fraker at IAB right away. Andy suggests again to JC that he tell his Dad how much shit he's getting so his Dad can step up and do the right thing. Clark blows off this advice.
The slick Capt. Fraker starts running a game on JC immediately. First, he has Clark wait for the interview, then tells him what a great cop he is and how lucky the department is to have him. After that, he says how tragic it is that such a good cop is about to lose his job while a prick like Andy Sipowicz is still out there. Clark knows he's being worked for information on Andy and refuses to play along.
Fraker then reads him rights and informs him he's a suspect in the murder of the hooker. Fraker puts him on restricted duty.
JC returns to the squad saying only that he's on restricted, but can still help with the cases. Rita asks him quietly if he's OK. He says he is but admits he hasn't come clean with IAB about his dad. He makes it clear he doesn't want to hear it from her and asks her to just run the case. She tells him she's pissed that everyone thinks her boyfriend is banging a whore. He makes a pointed comment back to her, and she leaves him her notes and walks away.
Andy skates off in the middle of a case to a secret meeting that he won't tell JC about. He heads off to the diner to meet with JC, Sr. Andy tells him what his son is going through as a result of the case. Dad admits he didn't know any of that, but says Junior is the one who insisted on the lie. Andy doesn't want to hear the excuse and reminds Sr. that he's the father. Sr. can't help but be a bit of an asshole and gives Andy a hard time about enjoying this too much. Andy reminds him that he doesn't enjoy being reminded of his past and how people hated him then. He's just trying to get Dad to do the right thing.
That afternoon, JC is called back to a meeting with IAB. He arrives to see Captain Fraker again and finds his father sitting there. He's told that his Dad came clean about the story. JC then admits he covered up for his Dad. His Dad confirms his involvement with her by offering his phone records and identifying a butterfly tattoo on her ass. He says, however, that he was not involved with her murder.
Fraker says he knows that. The squad in that precinct, he informs them, has already caught the guy who did it. The Clarks realize Fraker withheld this information just to play games with them and hopefully get some dirt on Andy or others.
JC is returned to full duty. Dad is left with Fraker to deal with his banging a hooker. JC tells Andy all about it back at the squad. Andy says it was big of his Dad to cough it all up. Clark agrees.
JC and Rita agree to get together that night and hopefully smooth things out. Before he goes to her place, a confused, pained JC stops over at Andy's. If he didn't know it already, he's now figured out for sure that Andy is the reason his father came forward. He's hurting over that when he knocks on Andy's door. He feels uncertain about talking to Andy and so doesn't linger after knocks. Andy catches him half-way down the hall when he opens the door.
JC stumbles around a bit thanking Andy for his help. Theo comes to the door then, his face covered in shaving cream. He and his Dad have been shaving: Andy with a real razor, Theo with a toothbrush. Clark is moved by this father-son moment. He keeps trying to leave, but Andy keeps stopping him with questions about what happened to his dad. JC says Dad got a 10-day rip, and he skates on down the hallway.
In bed later, Rita apologizes for being selfish and says she should have been less worried about her reputation. He tells her they can just put it all behind them. She explains that she was more angry that he lied to her about the hooker being his informant. He doesn't get it at first and explains how he was compelled to protect his father. She says she gets that, but was still pissed that he lied to her. She tells him he doesn't have to do that. He accepts this and they sink back into bed together.
Later, he's tooling down the street in his new prize chatting on the phone to a friend saying how much he loves the car and that, yes, he does deserve it. He stops at a red light and a young man runs up, puts a gun to his head and orders him out of the car. John is terrified. He gets out of the car and watches as the thief drives it away. He then begins to shout but draws only odd glances from the New Yorkers passing by.
At the squad, Greg tries to get a description of the carjacker. Eager to help recover the car, John does his best to describe the man in detail. He uses big words, however, and semi-intellectual references which go sailing right over Greg's befuddled head. Greg is trying to make is simple, i.e., "hair color" when they're interrupted by Baldwin who's been watching TV in the coffee room. He says the car is on TV in a police chase on the Long Island Expressway.
They all rush in to watch. Sure enough, John's beautiful little Benz is in the hands of a madman at 90 miles per hour. The video is accompanied by a horrible play-by-play from a news anchor who thinks he's calling a NASCAR race. Soon enough, the little Mercedes is made even smaller when the crook rams it into a barrier and turns its sleek, cool metal into a crumpled, twisted hunk of scrap. John asks to be left alone.
They go out for a hotdog and she makes her big play. She asks him for a date. Baldwin tries to stay cool and tells her that while he's flattered, he had a bad experience dating someone he worked with recently. Chatty Maya informs him she knows all about that (of course), and then tells him she's only talking about going out for some fun, not getting all serious. Seeming to know that's her mouth saying one thing and her eyes saying another, he agrees.
They go to a club later that night. Baldwin isn't having a great time. He tells her he's always uncomfortable in clubs because there are too many drunks and assholes and someone's always looking for a fight. She tells him to just relax. A few minutes later, a drunk asshole intentionally brushes up against Maya and makes a suggestive comment. Baldwin stands up and towers over the guy who immediately backs off. But Baldwin wants him to apologize to Maya. Jerky Boy isn't about to do that because he's got a one of buddies next to him. Baldwin informs them both that he has no problem kicking two asses tonight and Jerky Boy better say he's sorry. Jerky Boy does. Maya is impressed beyond measure. Baldwin suggests they go someplace quiet and she agrees.
At first, it seemed a little strange that something so horrific and so personal to all of us would be on TV in this way. It kind of hits you in the gut. The anthrax thing was so terrifying to everyone. I doubt there anyone reading this who wasn't affected in some way, from getting your car searched at work, to having your mail held up for days on end (a biggie in the media), or maybe having Cipro shoved down your throat. It was eerie to see it on TV because I'm used to that meaning we've got some distance on it. But we don't. They still haven't caught the freak who did it, and threats like that are probably not as far away as we'd like them to be.
I thought the story captured that fear well. The urgency of it came through from the actors, the lines and that very cool shot of Andy and JC walking up to the courthouse (betcha Tinker shot that one in NY.)
There, were, though a few awkward moments, and they happened when there had to be a lot of explanation about jurisdiction. The reason for that is clear enough: they want the show to seem real and they don't want people like me and you bitching about how unlikely the scenario seems. Fair enough. But those scenes, those lines, seemed crammed in to me, and I found myself not believing one tiny little bit of how that jurisdiction thing worked out. In the old days, the Feds might have backed off a case like that if there were no clear evidence that it was theirs, but since 9/11, it's understatement to say things have changed a whole lot, especially in NYC. It didn't seem normal to me that the FBI wouldn't have been all over that throughout. I admit I'm not up-to-date on today's (and by that I mean 10/01/02's) rules regarding jurisdiction in such matters, but I'm thinking that Tim would have been snatched off almost to Gitmo post-haste by the G-Men. And I'm not sure the ATF would have backed off after a phone call from a detective who probably didn't sound as if she were too sure just what triggered the powder to go off. Wouldn't they want to find that out themselves?
I wonder if I'd have cared at all about jurisdiction if it hadn't been brought up so much.
And since they brought up the issue of the court cop not getting people ASAP, I also wondered why the uniforms who arrived on the scene at the courthouse didn't go on and start the evacuation. It looked like they were there before the detectives.
As usual, I also wondered why the ever-present media wasn't there. The news media is an enormous part of our lives--almost like a utility (witness: the car chase on TV later in the show)--and it's just damn odd to me that there was no representation at the courthouse at all.
I like stories with lots of layers, and this one has it. The pain of John's relationship with his father was never more apparent than in the way he kept trying to duck away from Andy's door that night. Andy has certainly not been an honorable man all his life, but the changes he's made and the way he's risen above being an asshole have drawn young John in. He's heard all the bad Andy stories from his own father and has even seen Andy fly into a rage or two, but he's also come up close to Andy's integrity, kindness and generosity. What he's seen of his father in the past few weeks has been just the opposite.
It seemed to me he went to Andy's to see that goodness again and maybe feel a little of the kind of unconditional love and concern Andy showed him but his father did not. He was shy about it, though, and even a little envious of Theo standing there with the shaving cream on his face and Andy doting. The positioning of these two scenes was excellent. The shaving ritual is a classic father-son event and during it, John Clark shows up looking for something like that since he clearly can't get it from his own selfish father. What wasn't said here was so powerful. Great job, writers.
And great job actors. MPG stepped up to the plate again, especially in that scene, and is even starting to make me forget ol' whatshisname with the heart condition. I think it's all about what an actor says with his eyes and his arms and legs and shoulders, not just his mouth. Dennis Franz has it down, as usual, and so does Mark-Paul-Wish-I-Could-Spell-It-Without-Looking-It-Up Gosselaar.
As for Miss Rita, well, I'm glad she apologized since I know so many of you were mad at her for being selfish. Her point about his lie, however, is a good one. She knew deep down he hadn't slept with the hooker, but he did lie to her about the rest of it and good for her for pointing it out. Yes, he was protecting his only family member, and that's understandable, but it's good he learned that he didn't have to lie to her to do it. I loved it that they weren't getting along all day.
Was it just me, though, who thought there was something lacking in the chemistry department between them when they finally got between the sheets? I might say the same of Andy of Connie this week. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to see that story get a rest, but I must admit I expected some of the lustful looks and hand-squeezes that were the norm for Blue a few seasons ago. I mean, they were together just last night, after all.
What bugged me no end here was the play-by-play of the TV announcer. Is that really how they call them in NYC? If so, well, OK. But it seemed a little hokey to me. The joke might have gone over better if it had been, say, Greg doing all the oooing and owwing over the crash. The anchor could have been a little more respectful, more newsy, more, I dunno, real. I'll defer to those who watch LIE car chases all the time.
Nice, though, how the inheritance issue was woven back in. I got an email just a few days ago from someone who was wondering about that.
I'm confused, but let's put that aside for a second. Maya was far less annoying this week than last. Her personality is decidedly un-Blue-like and that's sort of starting to grow on me. It's rare when these people smile, you know, and it never happens that someone is as bouncy and joyful as Maya. Not even PAA John has that much bounce. The contrast between her and Heywood is, I'm sure, intentional. She's the Anti-Heywood, the Yin to Valerie's Yang, the sun shining all over Valerie's rain. Of course, she could tone it down a notch and we'd still get the point, but I have to say that I think her silly, flirty thing with Baldwin is kind of cute. He could lighten up a bit, after all, and she's certainly able to help out in that area.
That said, I hope everyone keeps in mind that we all know this relationship is just an excuse to show off Henry's body and as such, should be kept on a back burner. The relationships that really work for the audience have a little more depth to them, after all, and expose a character's psyche at least as much as his or her body. That's been an NYPD Blue standard, and I hope it's not junked in favor of *just* a nice ass.
*Theo is a total doll.
*How come no one got Cipro after the supposed anthrax thing? Wouldn't that have come pretty fast for cops?
*John I. was dressed to match his new car.
*Lots of great Greg moments, and thanks for that. Loved the T-Bill thing, and the whole routine with the Santeria priest was great. He deserved that. Now give him a girl, why don'tcha?
Previously on NYPD Blue: Joe Spano as Clark, Sr.; Casey Siemaszko as Capt. Fraker; Austin Majors as Theo; Tanya Wright as Maya Anderson and Anthony Managano as Officer Laughlin.
If you'd like to find out more about any of these folks, check out
Until then, check out Alan Sepinwall's website (if you're not already there): Or stop by my bio there to learn a little about me: Amanda Wilson
Take good care--