Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 4 Episode 6

A Doll's Eyes

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Dec 01, 1995 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
28 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

A Doll's Eyes
Technically it's not a homicide; however, Pembleton and Bayliss investigate the "murder" of a small boy who's the victim of a stray bullet, which makes him brain dead. The parents must choose what to do with their son. The Pope is in town.

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  • Pembleton and Bayliss investigate when a 10 year old boy is accidentally shot, the boys parents are faced with the tough decision of weather or not to keep their son on life support.moreless

    " A dolls eyes " is aired out of order once again, keeping with a recurring theme in this series, the detectives are working out of an old bank once again as the precinct has a gas leak.

    This episode is well done despite being predictable. The parents dealing with their son on life support is put in the spotlight and really puts the viewer in their tough position. The parents try to go about life, trying to keep a positive attitude all the while knowing their son will most likely never be the same.. if he wakes up.

    Pembleton conducts a successful interrogation in the vault posing as the "box" after failing to do so before.moreless
  • Another look at the real pain of death

    One of the reasons that Homicide remained a brilliant show for its seven year run was its ability to examine one of the most critical emotions in any murder investigation: grief. Most of the time we would only seen the grief over the deceased for a few minutes. But at least once a season the writers would take an in-depth look at the loss and pain that comes with death on those who suffer the most greviously. In Season 2 the episode was ‘Bop Gun’. In season 3, it was ‘Every Mother’s Son’. And this year the writers explored it in ‘A Dolls Eyes.’

    Now because every murder causes a different kind of pain, there are countless reactions. But what makes ‘A Dolls Eyes’ an agonizing hour of television is that unlike the episodes I mentioned--- and indeed, for most episodes of the series—is that for the majority of the episode the victim is still alive. Technically. As the doctor who examines Patrick Garabek’s chart for the detectives, he has ‘dolls eyes’--- a slang term in emergency medicine for being brain dead.

    This faces the Garabeks with an agonizing choice for their ten year old son—whether or not to take their son off life support so that his organs can be donated to others.

    The episode focuses on the tragic--- and for that matter pointless—anguish of Joan and Paul Garabek. They bring their son to a shopping mall and are in the process of leaving when two teenagers run by firing shots at each other. In the process Patrick is hit by a stray bullet--- one that we never even see fired. The Garabeks then spend most of the episode in a daze as events unfold. At first they are numbed and focus on trivial things, like where their car is parked. Then when Bayliss and Pembleton come into talk to them about the shooting, they understandably freak out when they hear the words ‘homicide detective’. Their son is alive, they argue and it is for just that reason that they are in agony.

    Their son is brain dead. But this is a world where medical miracles seem to be happening every other day. If they don’t take their son off life support, he could exist in a vegetative state for fifty or sixty years--- something that would very rapidly eat away all of their money. But to ask a parent to just let their child submit to death is a decision that no parent should have to make. Gary Basaraba (pre ‘Boomtown’) and Marcia Gay Harden (pre Academy Award) give absolutely wrenching performances which don’t hit any false notes or go for histrionic high points. The scene where they finally turn of their sons life support is an absolutely gut-wrenching one. Even the writer of the story (Fontana) says that he was moved by that last moment.

    With the attention focused on the bereaved Bayliss and Pembleton find themselves investigating a crime like this. They speak for the dead, and to deal with someone living unnerves and upsets them. Both want to pass the case off to Violent Crimes but Gee and Howard insist they follow up on it. They spend much of the episode sniping at each other over trivial things--- Bayliss not picking Pembleton up, Pembleton not asking the victims mother for her sons clothes (which are now evidence). This is business as usual for them, but it is pretty clear that they both feel a lot of distress over having to deal with the case like this. It doesn’t help matters that this murder (like those in ‘bop Gun’ and ‘Every Mother’s Son’) was committed by children--- a sixteen year old was shooting at his younger brother over an incident with his girlfriend. Again this has a crime with no real criminals, something that we can tell pisses of both detectives no end.

    Religion is not explicitly mention in this episode but there is a very subtle theme. The episode occurs when the Pope is visiting Baltimore. At first this is used for levity as Munch tries to persuade Captain Russert to sell her ticket. It becomes more serious when she offers her ticket to Pembleton, and Frank refuses it. Even if he wasn’t already estranged from the church, this case is not one that would reinvest one with faith in God. Eventually Frank watches a televised broadcast of the Pope at Camden Yards. Another show might have Frank give some kind of reaction—but all he does is look at the screen for a few seconds and then answer another call. There is no rest for the murder police; it’s one tragedy after another.

    But for myself, the most painful part of the episode occurs when a father of the boy who received Patrick’s kidney and thus saved his life. He wants to talk to the Garabeks to thank them for letting them have their son donate his organs. The happiness in his voice strikes such a discordant note when we realize their tragedy brought joy to this family. It is something that they will never understand and something that we the viewer, having got caught up in these parents lives, find very hard to hear.

    Like most of the episodes when Homicide does this kind of thing, it is very difficult to enjoy ‘A Doll’s Eyes’ But one can not deny that an episode like this is what good television is all about.

    My score:9.7

    Viewer Rankings 15th

Marcia Gay Harden

Marcia Gay Harden

Joan Garbarek

Guest Star

Gary Basaraba

Gary Basaraba

Paul Garbarek

Guest Star

Bari Biern

Bari Biern


Guest Star

Sean Whitesell

Sean Whitesell

Dr. Eli Devilbliss

Recurring Role

Sharon Ziman

Sharon Ziman


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


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