Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 6 Episode 8

All is Bright

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Dec 12, 1997 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
24 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

All is Bright
Ballard and Gharty investigate the death of a man at a laundromat. The Waterfront Bar gets ready for the Christmas holiday. Munch's ex-wife, Gwen, shows up; her mother (a literary critic and author) has died. Tim goes Christmas shopping and runs into Julianna; he invites her to come to the Waterfront's Christmas celebration. Ballard and Gharty interview the victim's girlfriend (as listed in his address book). Cox informs Ballard and Gharty that the victim was HIV positive and she also convinces Kellerman to tell Lewis and Stivers about the Mahoney videotape. Munch gets his brother to give Gwen a deal on her mother's funeral arrangements. The victim's mother knew about his HIV status and about a girlfriend he didn't use protection with, whose name didn't appear in the address book. Ballard and Gharty find this woman and find that she has full-blown, terminal AIDS, and they bring her in for questioning. Ballard feels the woman has suffered enough so she is reluctant to a get her confession and file charges. The funeral service is held but no one shows up except for a paid mourner and author Peter Maas, who just wanted to make sure she is dead. Kellerman tells Lewis about the videotape. Tim gives Julianna a present and kiss.moreless

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  • Not exactly glad tidings but still well done.


    Well, for the first time in three years, its Christmas for the Homicide squad. And while there may be putting up a tree in the Waterfront, and hanging tinsel on the board, neither murder nor morality take a holiday. The detectives learn this in spades in ‘All is Bright’.

    For the first time Ballard and Gharty get handed a murder of their own to investigate. The deceased is Philip Longley, who gets assaulted with a bottle of detergent at his local Laundromat and has bleach poured down his throat in the bargain. We don’t get the motive, however, until the autopsy is finished and it is revealed that Longley was HIV positive--- a big deal, when you are as sexually active as Longley was. What strikes us as galling is that Longley (who showed no outward sign of his illness) had the disease for six years and told no one about it, save his mother--- and he had no problem spreading his love all over Baltimore. The ironic twist is that got him killed by a woman he had already done the same to--- the woman who killed him was infected.

    Continuing in the tradition of the ‘walking dead’ that perforate this season is Rita Hale, a woman in the final stages of AIDS. Openly covered with sores, Hale has less than five months to live. It’s obvious she had motive and she makes it pretty clear she would have done it. The detectives, however, are split on how to handle it. Ballard (perhaps not surprisingly) is prepared to overlook Hale’s crime as she has been the victim of a greater evil. Gharty remains cool and detached but you can’t escape the feeling that he is prejudiced against her because of her disease. The episode comes down to an extended sequence in the box between the two detectives and Hale. Hale is openly scornful, sarcastic, and eventually sorrowful and you get the feeling that neither Ballard or Gharty is wild about what they’re doing.

    Ballard is so upset by it that she butts head with Gee over charging her. While the lieutenant isn’t unsympathetic, he is blunt--- Hale is a killer first and a person afterwards.

    Callie Thorne gives her first solid performance as Ballard. We learn a bit about her in the interrogation--- she had a fiancé in Seattle, and is currently dating someone in Baltimore--- but her attitude towards Hale, and the other women Longley slept with indicates her real opinion about the deceased. It is also clear that she has her own worries (she gets tested for HIV at the end of the episode) Equally memorable is Kathyrn Erbe as Rita. Erbe is a fine actress (after this episode, Fontana would cast her in Oz as another doomed woman, murderer Shirley Bellinger) and in her few scenes she creates a memorable woman, bitter, sad and ultimately haunting.

    Ballard and Gharty aren’t the only detectives faced with hard choices. Falsone continues to dog Kellerman over the Luther Mahoney shooting and Kellerman reluctantly tells Lewis that Georgia Rae might have a tape of the murder. Meldrick is understandably pissed by this and this will cause the estrangement between the two partners to get even worse. Kellerman is rapidly becoming isolated from the unit.

    Even the comic subplot is pretty grim. We meet Munch’s first ex-wife Gwen as she calls on him to help her plan his former mother-in-law’s funeral. Gwen’s mother was a major literary critic, and had a huge number of colleagues in the literary world. With the help of Munch’s brother Bernard, they plan for large reception--- only to have no one there, save for true-crime novelist Peter Maas (playing himself). As Maas says, Munch’s mother-in-law was a bitter, hackneyed, unpleasant woman and he came just to make sure she was dead. Its pretty clear that this woman despised Munch and did everything in her power to break the two of them up. Yet despite all this, after seeing his wife’s downfall, he delivers a rather nice eulogy for the woman at the Waterfront Christmas party. For all his cynicism John can be really sweet sometimes.

    Almost in passing, we see Bayliss, who has had a crush on Dr. Cox since he first met her, finally reveals his feelings for her by kissing her. The two of them will hook up for a while, but this relationship doesn’t last either. For Bayliss, however, it’s the start of a lot of action for him.

    Not exactly a warm and fuzzy show, is it? Topping it off, we have one of the best music montages in a long time, as Suzanne Vega’s angry, metallic song ‘Blood Makes Noise’ plays as Rita gets booked. That image and sound will remain in your head long after the credits have rolled.

    ‘All is Bright’ is anything but. It is dark with difficult issues, deals with old wounds that don’t scab over and very problematic relationships—in short, its everything that we’ve come to expect from Homicide. This is great television

    My Score: 9.1

Kathryn Erbe

Kathryn Erbe

Rita Hale

Guest Star

Peter Maas

Peter Maas


Guest Star

Carol Kane

Carol Kane

Gwen Munch

Guest Star

Ellen McElduff

Ellen McElduff

Billie Lou Hatfield

Recurring Role

Jay Spadaro

Jay Spadaro


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Bayliss: I'm out of here guys.
      Lewis: What do you mean "out of here"?
      Bayliss: Christmas shopping. Gotta beat the rush you know.
      Munch: You seen those bathrooms? I've seen mangers that are cleaner.
      Lewis: Well if Bayliss is gonna bail I guess I might as well get out of here too.
      Billie-Lou: Me too. I've gotta get a present for my mother.
      Munch: What is this, John Munch's one man rag mop band?
      Lewis: Hey, just finish mopping up this little bit of floor. We're gonna take care of the bathroom and I'll get the kitchen when I get back.
      Munch: Yeah, sure, ok. Well have a merry time, buy your pretty little presents. Let the yid stay behind and clean the toilets.
      Lewis: Hey Munch, you're gonna make some poor orphan a nice Jewish mother some day.

    • Munch: What's a nice Jewish boy like me doing on his knees in front of the alter of Donna and Blitzen. Christmas isn't even a Christian holiday anymore, it's all about retail.
      Lewis: You are so cynical Munch. I mean the reason why we're putting the spit shine on our bar here is so we can get money from the Christmas crowd to celebrate the birth of our saviour. Hopefully, wishing us well in our humble inn and knocking back a few bruskies.
      Munch: Your saviour, not mine.

    • Gwen: (she and John are discussing her mother) Now you're defending her?
      Munch: She had you, that makes her okay in my book.

    • Gwen: (telling Munch his brother Bernie hired a woman to cry and scream at her mother's funeral) He said for another $20, she'd throw herself on the coffin.

    • Rita Hale: Let me give you some advice, always wear a rubber. (laughs) I sound like a public service announcement. You know they always have those sitcom stars do those, 'you want to be cool? Wear a condom'. They ought to have me do them, get my face up there, a kid will run to the nearest store and blow his allowance on a whole box of condoms.

    • Gee: When in Rome, do as the Romans do, when in Baltimore, do as I tell you to.

  • NOTES (3)