I like the character of Chano (Gregory Sierra) and I liked that he gets some real time in this episode. He doesn't last on the series very long, and he doesn't get some of the classic one-liners in the 2 seasons he's on as some of the others get. [He's relegated to going off in Spanish.] But here, he gets a good episode where we see him deal with some serious stuff. It's also sort of a "different" episode, as we get an "off the set, off the clock" scene at his apt. Anyhow, it seems like all the characters have their "classic episodes" and I think is probably Chano's best. [Which is why I labeled it a series classic.]
I also like that the episode shows that shooting bad guys (and killing them) isn't something cops think is fun. It's devastating. You always hear Barney Miller is a realistic cop show- I think this is just another way they prove it. Which is another reasons I think it's classic. Yeah, sometimes the show could get too maudlin, but I dont think that's the case here. I really like for the most part how they deal with the situation- including Luger's obliviousness to how upset Chano is. Typical. Barney does his leadership thang really well here. I love Barney's line about the whale towards the end.
I could do without all the stuff with Elizabeth Miller and the kid she "arrests" - though Im sure Diff'rent Strokes fans would enjoy seeing a very young Todd Bridges. Plus Harris gets some fun lines.