Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 1 Episode 7

And the Rockets Dead Glare

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Mar 17, 1993 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
36 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

And the Rockets Dead Glare
A Chinese political refugee is murdered. Bolander and Munch investigate a murder of a man whose body is found in the park. Lewis and Crosetti go to the Chinese Embassy in Washington while looking into the murder of the Chinese political refugee. After they leave, a U.S. government official tells them to back off. Gee is looking for Pembleton because Pembleton may be up for a promotion. Howard nearly botches her testimony against the drug dealer. Pembleton is up for a promotion that he may not want.moreless

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  • Crosetti and Lewis head to Washington to the Chinese embassy after a young boy is found murdered. Howard and Felton testify against "Pony" Johnson. Munch reveals his expertise on the hemp plant. Pembleton is offered a promotion.moreless

    "And the rockets dead glare" is one of my personal favorite episodes in this series.

    Crosetti and Lewis trip to Washington is well done. Crosetti appears like a kid in a Candy shop, on the same grounds he often babbles on about, referring to the Lincoln assassination. Lewis, perhaps angered at the Washington fat cats or bored when the FBI agents gives them a tour, blows Crosetti's chance of eating at the White house. This episode further develops the relationships of the detecties and their respective partners yet again.

    Another fine example of this is Howard and Felton at the courthouse. A nosy Felton tells Howard to not be afraid to express her feelings for A.D.A Danvers. Howard and Felton make plans to celebrate the conviction of "Pony" Johnson, but those plans are put aside when Danvers asks Howard out. Felton teases Howard, but encourages her at the same time, showing himself as a "partner and friend" of Howard.

    Munch and Bolander also find out a bit more of each other when they have a talk about Munch's marijuana expertise. Bolander asks Munch if he gets high and Munch responds with " I shouldn't have to answer that". Bolander looks hilarious in this episode in his black and orange Orioles scarf.moreless
  • It's weak, but it ain't that bad

    This episode is possibly the weakest of the first two seasons. It’s not that ‘And the Rocket’s Dead Glare’ is particularly weak; its just that compared to the high standards of the episodes that we have seen so far it pales in comparison to the others.

    Part of the reason that this episode doesn’t work quite as well as the others is that we leave Baltimore for one of the few times in the series entire run. While pursuing the death of one of the student leaders of Tiananmen Square, Detectives Crosetti and Lewis travel to the Chinese Embassy in Washington. First they have a bizarre encounter with one of the ambassadors, and then suddenly the secret Service learns of their investigation and curtails it by telling them that the murderer has already probably fled the country. Perhaps this is supposed to exentuate the all-knowing, all seeing power of the federal government but it seems to be a little too conspiracy film for the viewer. Furthermore, Lewis’ rant against the government’s sanctioning of murder seems a little too much like a television writer than a detective. What does seem realisrtic is Crosetti’s ecstasy at being in the city of the Lincoln assassinations (he visits Mary Seurat’s house and ‘Fords Theatre)

    Things are much more entertaining back in Charm City where one of the more intriguing aspects of Detective Munch’s character comes to life. As he and Bolander investigate the death of a pot dealer, he engages in an analysis of where the marijuana was grown as well as the history of hemp. Unlike many of Munch’s conspiracy theories, he seems to know this a little too well. It will eventually be revealed that Munch was a child of the 60’s, but this is the first real hint that he may not be as law-abiding as the typical police officer.

    This investigation also leads us to a narcotics detective named DeSilva, an interesting character who would unfortunately disappear after this season. From him, we get one of the first real lectures on the so called ‘war on drugs’ How Baltimore, like many other large cities, is drowning in cocaine and heroin and being stifled by a high murder rate because of it. The big difference is that no solution to this problem is suggested because there may not be one. At the time of ‘Homicide’ the idea of presenting problems with crime without solution was unheard of, and it adds to the series clout.

    The episode also continues stories established in the previous episode. The most notable is the trial of Pony Johnson. This is a particularly notable sequence because all of the traditional rules of courtroom dramas are cast aside. First of all, Detectives Howard and Felton are sequestered rather than be allowed to witness the trial. The tension that goes on within a trial is there, but it is expressed mainly through boredom, waiting and interminable pauses. Howard seems particularly antsy, while the more laidback Felton seems more relaxed and less concerned about what will happen (probably because he is not called on to testify). Furthermore, when Howard is called to the stand, her level of confidence is fractured when she must browse through her notes and accidentally misspeaks about the time of death, thus jeopardizing her own case. She does come out a stronger figure when she is recalled to the stand, but justice prevails mainly because the defense attorney derails himself with a procedural misstep that is so obscure even the most involved viewer may miss it. (In fact, the dialogue and actions in the trial are taken nearly verbatim from Simon’s book write down to the guilty defendant’s exit from the courtroom.)

    The courtroom sequence introduces us to a new character, defense attorney Darin Russom played by Michael WIllis. He is the aphothesis of every slimy defense attorney that we see on TV. Whenever a killer needs a lawyer, nor matter what class,race or sex he will represent them. This is one of the few times we will see him in action in a trial and we can understand why they are so disliked.

    The trial also reveals one of the few sexual relationships that the series

    would explore between Kay Howard and Assistant States Attorney Ed Danvers. Like most of the relationships it will take place offscreen, and will ultimately come to nothing.

    The last sequence that we see is less important but compelling nonetheless. Pembleton is called in by Captain Barnfather and Colonel Granger to discuss considering him for replacing the second-shift commander. To some, this may seem like quite a promotion for someone as young as Pembleton (not yet thirty-five) and one wonders if this is the bosses way of trying to put a halter on such a troublesome character as Pembleton can be. We also get some insight into the head games the bosses play, instructing Pembleton not to tell Giardello and then telling Gee anyway. These kinds of machinations are not Pembleton’s style, and this, combined with the fact he wants to keep working cases, is why he turns it down.

    During this we also meet Frank’s wife, Mary. On other shows, Mary Pembleton would be a token or cliché. The writers would give her a lot of strength and passion that would cause her to accept and tolerate his flaws. Ami Brabson (Mrs. Andre Braugher in real life) is a fine actress and would show a lot of range in her performances (particularly in the later seasons of the show)

    ‘And the Rockets Dead Glare’ has some sequences that just don’t work and some that are pure gold. The uneven mixture stops it from being a strong episode. But even in its weakest moments, Homicide is far better than 75% of the other shows on TV. And this show explodes some clichés even while it creates a few.

    My score: 8

Ed Lauter

Ed Lauter


Guest Star

Bai Ling

Bai Ling

Lin Chang

Guest Star

Alvin Lum

Alvin Lum


Guest Star

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Michael Willis

Michael Willis

Darin Russom

Recurring Role

Ami Brabson

Ami Brabson

Mary Pembleton

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Agent: Why don't I buy you dinner, take you over to the White House mess.
      Lewis: Nah, we gotta get back.
      Crosetti: What are you talking about I'm hungry. I'd like to go to the White House.
      Agent: Yeah, take advantage of being out of Baltimore.
      Lewis: What's that supposed to mean?
      Agent: Washington's a beautiful city.
      Lewis: Washington has the highest capita murder rate in the country.
      Agent: Well Baltimore leads the country in cancer deaths.
      Lewis: We got the national aquarium.
      Agent: We got the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, Smithstonian.
      Lewis: And we got the Oriels.
      Agent: We have the Red Skins.
      Lewis: I rest my case.

    • Munch: Did you guys know that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew this stuff.
      Bolander: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew marijuana?
      Munch: Well they both had hemp plantations. Marijuana is a produce of hemp.
      Bolander: Wait, hold on, hold on. We're talking this George Washington?
      Munch: George Washington, yeah. How'd you think he financed his campaigns? By chopping down cherry trees and posing for postage stamps? The very foundation of this country is hemp. The early flags were sewn from hemp. The declaration of Independence is written on hemp. Take a stroll in the national archives, take a whiff. That's no polices you're smelling.
      Bolander: Munch, you know too much about this.

    • Lewis: This is funky. I mean look at this pillowcase on his head, and look at the bruising around his neck and shoulders. Look at his fingers. Broken, every finger is broken.
      Crosetti: You know this bruising is like deliberate, it's measured. There's space inbetween the bruising.
      Lewis: Well I'm willing to call it a suicide if you are?

    • Crosetti: There's something strange about this bullet here. That could be foreign ammo.
      Lewis: What, ten bullets from elsewhere? What happened to 'Made In America' huh? You gonna kill here, buy here.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Ami Brabson who debuted in this episode as Frank's wife Mary is married to Andre Braugher in real life. Also when the episode originally aired Clayton LeBouef's name was misspelled as LeBeouf in the credits.


    • Title: "And the Rockets Dead Glare"

      An allusion to the line in the U.S. National Anthem: "And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air…"