As I have mentioned at least a half-dozen times by now, one of the things that made Homicide such a brilliant show was how it would, once or twice a season, stop a while to linger on the anguish of the victims. This has already been done to brilliant effect in episodes like ‘Every Mother’s Son’ and ‘A Doll’s Eyes’ or this season’s ‘The Heart of a Saturday Night’. You wouldn’t think there would be any new twists they could put on it, but again ‘Blood Wedding’ shows that Fontana and company know how to do it.
Assistant District Attorney Ed Danvers has always been portrayed as the typical city prosecutor--- not deliberately mean or callous, but mainly because he feels the endless pressure to try and get the case file closed or the docket freed up. As such viewers--- and probably some of the detectives--- saw him as indifferent or unemotional to the process of crime. In this episode Danvers learns about this in an incredibly violent way. While shopping for a wedding dress with his fiancée Meryl Hansen, an armed robber comes into the store with a gun. Somehow, Meryl ends up dead at the end of a .38 and Ed Danvers spends much of the episode with his clothes splashed with the blood of his intended.
The case ends up being Pembleton’s first as a primary detective since his stroke nearly six months ago and when Danvers learns this he doesn’t think Frank’s up to the task. However, even though Frank is still a little rocky as an investigator, Ed is in no shape to be making judgments of sense. Much like Robert Ellison in Season 2’s ‘Bop Gun’, Danvers spends much of the episode almost in a trance. He has clearly been wounded but he can not bring himself to go to the hospital. Unlike Ellison, however, Danvers is constantly challenging Frank, interfering with witnesses statements and coming up with different angles for the detectives to investigate. Pembleton is understandably pissed at having to deal with this, especially when Giardello backs Danvers on this.
Eventually Frank and Tim track down a suspect in the robbery homicide. They find some evidence linking him to the robbery—ammo, ski masks, threads--- but nothing that conclusively links the suspect to the murder. In the interrogation they go after the robber hard, especially saying that since the victim was a public defender, every prosecutor in the city will want to convict him and no lawyer in the city will want to defend him. This shakes the suspect up but not enough to make him confess. The stoic prosecutor voices his demand very simply—he wants the suspect to die. So much so that he goes down to see him and lock-up and tells him that he will make it his life’s work to see the man dead.
But neither Danvers or anyone else will get any kind of closure with this case, because at the end of the episode the suspect hangs himself in his cell. In typical Homicide fashion, we never learn whether this is out of guilt or because of the fear that the detectives and Danvers rammed into him.
Zeljko Ivanek gives the most emotional and intense performance that he will ever deliver as Ed Danvers finds himself at the hands of the callous investigative process and the indifference of the legal system, an indifference he himself fostered. In a powerful scene near the end of the episode, he berates himself for all the years of cutting corners and closing files, of forgetting the victim’s names and the heinousness of the crimes. This is a strong scene made even stronger by the fact that when Danvers returns to work later this season, he will be obeying the same rules and sticking with the same indifference; the criminal justice system can not survive any other way.
Danvers isn’t the only person becoming disgusted with how the system works: Kellerman is becoming more and more dismayed by the procedure of his case--- by the end of the episode, the FBI has postponed the grand jury hearings until mid-January, thus forcing him to spend the holidays wondering if he has a future in law enforcement. He is so upset at this that he turns to Gee and the lieutenant does try to help. He goes to the three other detectives who are being prosecuted and asks them point blank if they will testify against Kellerman. Two of them (Goodman and Pires) say they won’t but Connelly, who we have seen twice before, reveals that in exchange for reduced prison time, he will give Mike’s name, whether or not he is guilty.
In desperation Gee turns to Deputy Commissioner Harris, who we haven’t seen since season three. It is here we learn an ugly truth: Roger Gaffney was promoted to captain over Giardello because Harris wanted to remind the lieutenant to be more politically pliant. He is still holding a grudge against Gee about the Congressman Wade affair and the beauty of being in power is that you have the ability to carry out your grudges. The antagonism between the two men will fester until the end of the season when a conspiracy will reveal ugliness in Harris’s past--- enough to destroy a career.
Not only are things going lousy professionally for the squad, they are faring badly personally. After Kellerman’s one night stand with Cox, Mike thinks that the two of them have more of a relationship then they do. It will develop but not very well, as it will take both Mike and Julianna into a severe downward spiral. And now Brodie has been reduced to sleeping in the morgue, having run out of detectives to pinch rooms out of. Fortunately, in a couple of weeks, he will find a place to stay and this overly milked storyline will get dropped.
‘Blood Wedding’ is a very dark episode of the level we have almost come to expect from Homicide. Andre Braugher, Yaphet Kotto and the woefully underutilized Melissa Leo deliver top-notch performances. We have seen the grief that murder brings to the victims, now we see how callousness of the system can often be as brutal as the crime itself. Ed Danvers will get over the death of Meryl Hanson but he will be scarred forever.