Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 2 Episode 3

Black and Blue

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 20, 1994 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
35 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Black and Blue
Things begin to heat up between Pembleton and Gee over the alleged police brutality case and one of the suspects is an ex-lover of Kay's. Bolander meets a waitress who encourages him to resume his cello playing. Munch's girlfriend is less than enthusiastic when he surprises her with a new fish for her tank. Frank, in the box, gets the confession that Gee is looking for. Unfortunately, the suspect is anything but guilty of that crime.moreless

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  • Pembleton, still not seeing eye to eye with Giardello, continues to investigate the murder of "C.C Cox", with his gut still telling him an officer is involved. Munch, comes into some bad luck, while Bolander makes a new friend.moreless

    Tempers egnite in this emotional roller coaster of an episode. In the interrogation room beads of sweat can be seen pouring out of Pembleton as he doesn't hold nothing back, scaring an innocent man into confessing to a murder he didnt commit.

    Bolander reaches out to almost everyone he works with, only to be rejected time and time again. Bolander later finds company away from work ,in a waitress at a local diner.The tables turn when Munch runs into some bad luck and doesnt want to eat dinner alone, Bolander says he has other plans, and for once .. he does.moreless
  • The light shifts to Braugher--- for good or ill


    One of the more notable cases in David Simon’s book involved the shooting of John Randolph Scott, a small time drug dealer who got shot on Monroe Street, one of the more notable drug streets in Baltimore. At first, it seemed that a police officer had accidentally killed the man, but it soon became very clear that he was not the culprit. Unfortunately for the detective in charge, it would never become clear if a police officer or a civilian had killed the suspects.

    The central story of ‘Black and Blue’ takes a look at a similar shooting. Detective Pembleton runs into many of the same obstacles that befell his equivalent in the book: little cooperation from the neighborhood (because of the possibility of police involvement) and little cooperation from the police force (who don’t like being accused of witnessing a cop do anything wrong) Adding to the problems is the fact that Lieutenant Giardello is defiant in Pembleton’s apparent disloyalty to his fellow officers. However, a key difference occurs when detective work by Bayliss and Howard manages to turn up a friend of the deceased C.C. Cox, Lane Staily.

    We then witness one of the most wrenching scenes that the writers of Homicide would ever do. Pembleton enters the Box and by sheer verbal manipulation by the use of race, rage, indigence, sorrow and finally the guilt that Staily feels that his friend end up dead because of him manages to elicit a confession out of an innocent man. When Pembleton comes out of the box with the confession, he is soaked with sweat and absolutely disgusted with himself and what Gee has made him do. “Look at him.” He says “he didn’t shoot Cox but… he’s proud that he signed.” This is one of the most emotionally raw moments that James Yoshimura would ever do, and in his tenure on Homicide, he wrote some honeys.

    What is even more stunning is that Gee seems initially willing to accept this confession before his conscience makes him turn to Staily and get the truth--- the real truth--- out of him. Something very critical in Gee breaks after he witnesses Pembleton’s extraction of the confession. He no longer is quite as willing to give those people in police-involved shootings the benefit of the doubt. This will surface on several occasions as the series progresses

    More importantly to the series is the fact that for the first time Andre Braugher dominates the episode in a way that he hasn’t before.. This would lead to some major changes in the way that the series worked. For the first thirteen episodes, Homicide

    Could clearly be called an ensemble show with no one character being a bigger presence than the other. However, Braugher (and to a lesser extent Kyle Secor) would be thrust into the limelight more and more often as the writers realized the power and charisma that Braugher really had as well as the balance between Bayliss and Pembleton.

    When the truth about the shooting comes out, and it becomes clear that Lieutenant Tyron (the commander of the man who was originally considered to be the shooter) there are a couple of ppainful touches. For one thing, we see the consequences of arresting police for any kind of shooting involving the career and the reputation of a good cop. For another, Howard once had an affair with Tyron. There isn’t a great deal made of these (we don’t see Howard break up when she learns that Tyron was the shooter) but we do see the theme that the detectives on this show do not live in a vacuum.

    Two other romantic subplots are of minor importance in this episode. Munch’s on again, off-again relationship with Felicia reaches its peak and valley simultaneously. When the episode begins Munch is positively glowing about his happiness , by its end the relationship is deader than a doornail (along with an entire tropical fish tank of Felicia’s) and Munch his convinced that romance is dead. Ironically his partner Bolander has come to a complete about face on romance as well. His relationship with Dr. Blythe has apparently come to naught. And he is pissed at Munch’s apparent happiness. However, in the course of this episode he meets a waitress named Linda (played by Juliana Marguiles, a year before she would be slingshot to stardom on ER), a woman who is half his age and who is far more optimistic. They share little in common but a musical hobby (she plays the violin and he plays the cello) but there is clearly something in her spirit that appeals to Bolander because by the end of the episode they are making beautiful music together, literally and metaphorically. This has an effect on The Big Man that will last in

    to the next episode.

    One of the more critical things about the episode is how the show is shifted off balance. In ‘See No Evil’, all nine characters got an even shake. In ‘Black and Blue’, Felton, Lewis and Crosetti (who were at the center of the last episode) get virtually nothing to do. In the past shows, some characters would dominate one episode while other characters faded into the background but this imbalance did not usually last more than one episode. However, as the show progressed this would happen less and less often as characters like Pembleton and Bayliss got more exposure and characters like Munch and Howard fell to the background.

    But this is an issue for later. For now, ‘Black and Blue’ stands as a fine episode showing how the most emotional drama can come from lies as much as they can from truth. This is fine stuff.

    My score:8.75

Julianna Margulies

Julianna Margulies


Guest Star

Isaiah Washington

Isaiah Washington

Lane Staley

Guest Star

Jeff Mandon

Jeff Mandon

Off. Fred Hellriegel

Guest Star

Gerald F. Gough

Gerald F. Gough

Col. Granger

Recurring Role

Mel Proctor

Mel Proctor

Grant Besser

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (3)

    • The following description was taken from a TV Guide type description; however, I did not see it in this episode or any of the other episodes of this season. "Crosetti hopes his new house will help him in renewing his relationship with his daughter." Ironically, the NBC web site lists Alenah Dean Taylor as Beatrice Crosetti for this episode. Despite the fact that this minor plot didn't appeared in the episode as aired. As mentioned previously, this entire subplot was probably removed for time.

    • Music in this episode: Just Like Jane "Slow Fire".

    • This episode is proof that Andre Braugher is the best actor on television. Now if only the television academy would recognize him with more than an Emmy nomination. Thanks to viewer Steve Sawyer for reminding me about this powerful performance.


    • Isaiah Washington's character in this episode is named Lane Staley. This is seemingly a reference to the band Alice in Chains whose lead singer is named Layne Staley.