Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 3 Episode 9

Every Mother's Son

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 06, 1995 on NBC
9.4
out of 10
User Rating
39 votes
5

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Episode Summary

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Every Mother's Son
AIRED:
Pembleton and Bayliss investigate the shooting of a young boy. During the investigation, the mother of the victim meets the mother of the shooter in the aquarium. The shooter shows no remorse for the killing, although he shot the wrong kid. Munch, Bayliss and Lewis can't remodel the bar when they discover it's been classified a historical landmark. Then when they find out back taxes are due on the building, which shuts them down before they open. Beau finds out his kids are in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, so he goes to find them.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Stunning and simple, a real heartbreaker

    10
    Some episodes of television are impossible to enjoy. That is because the subject and writing are so serious and tragic that to take any pleasure in it seems wrong. This is the kind of TV that leaves you emotionally raw and drained. This, in my mind, is what ‘Must-See TV’ should really be.Many dramas go their entire run without any such episodes. Others like ‘ER’, ‘NYPD Blue, and ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ manage maybe one a season. Homicide averaged two or three a year. This season, we have already seen the detectives go through a wrenching journey in ‘Crosetti’, now in ‘Every Mothers Son,’ we get one that is less personal but no less powerful.



    As we saw in the Adena Watson investigation, the death of a child is an experience where the tragedy seems to overcome even the detectives investigating the crime. More of the agony came because of the brutality of the death. This one is affecting because of the coldness of the killer. A fourteen year old named Darryl Nawls is shot point blank in the head when another kid walks up to him in a bowling alley, takes out a gun and shoots him three times in the head. A gang hit, one would assume, except Darryl wasn’t in a gang.



    Part of the power of the Watson case was that we never knew who did it. In this shooting we know who did it before the guest star credits have rolled. Ronnie Sayers, also fourteen. Does he run with a gang? We never find out. When Bayliss and Pembleton track him down, he doesn’t seem one. He does however have the coldness of someone who has been on the street for a while. When the detectives finally pin him down, he reveals that he thought the victim was another kid--- the shooting was a mistake. But even more chilling is his reaction to this. He believes that because he shot the wrong person, he’s going to walk away from this. When his mother tries to help him, he cops to the charge in order to get her out of the room. Even when he is taken to processing, he still doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of what he has put himself in for. Sean Nelson (who a few months later would explode on to the screen in ‘Fresh’) plays Ronnie as someone who is more or less totally indifferent to the concept of death or responsibility How much of this is a front is hard to tell, but his calmness to everything that is happening to him is frightening.



    Now all of this is powerful in its own right, but its only half the story. The power of this episode comes from the reactions of the two mothers who are caught up in this tragedy, Mary Nawls and Patrice Sayers.As the writers make very clear, both have lost a child to this crime--- Darryl is dead, Ronnie is probably going away fro life. But what makes this painful is how much these women have in common. Both are single parents with no husbands to be found. Both have another child at home. And both of them are absolutely appalled at what is happening to the children of Baltimore. Mary Nawls says that she’s been to three funerals of Darryl’s friends--- something which a lot of mothers in the ghetto must go through. There seems to be no release from any of this. All of this is made clear in one of the most stunning scenes that the show would ever do--- where both women, not knowing who the other is, share their grief in a witness room in the Baltimore police station. It should seem heavy handed but it comes off naturally and unforced. The episode also has an incredibly poignant coda when Patrice comes to Mary’s place of business and tries to offer her sympathy. The two younger children play together, and there seems the tiniest glimmer of light--- which is immediately shot down when Mary asks what will happen if those two get older and learn that one’s brother killed the other. There is no real hope and this makes everything even more poignant.



    Now given the grimness and senselessness of the tragedy one would have to be made of stone not to feel something. But Pembleton does a good job of seeming relatively calm and impartial as always---- until he goes into the coffee room before taking the boy to processing. Howard asks his counsel on a case, whereupon Pembleton delivers one of the most memorable monologues in the shows history:



    “Every day I get out of bed and drag myself to the next cup of coffee. I take a sip and the caffeine kicks in…. I’m ready to rock. The time is coming when I wake up and decide I’m not getting out of bed. I’m not getting up for coffee or food or sex. If it comes to me, fine; if it won’t, fine. No more expectations. The longer I live the less I know. You’re suspicious of your suspicions? I’m jealous, Kay. You still have the heart to have doubts. I’m going to lock up a fourteen year old kid for what could be the rest of his natural life. I gotta do this; this is my job. This is the deal, this is the law, this is my day. I have no doubts or suspicions anymore. Heart has nothing to do with it anymore. Its all in the caffeine.”



    This distress is not the only sign that Pembleton is disturbed by this. The day Ronnie Sayers is held for bail, Pembleton influenced by a sleepless night, gives him his card and tells him to “keep his ass to the wall. Don’t ask for anything.” He knows what prisoners will do to this boy. He knows that his life is over.



    Frank’s reflection and anguish is probably due to the fact that he and Mary are considering having a baby. And the thought of bringing a child into a world where these horrible, pointless tragedies take place frightens him. Frank, like all the detectives is cynical, but he needs to believe even in the darkness there is a possibility for something. But he knows there is a little chance. As he says after Sayers goes to jail, “One time, I’d like to hear about a murder that makes sense.” Not gonna happen.



    There are some light moments in this episode. Most of it coming from Munch and Lewis’ problems with The Waterfront, combined with the unlikely role that George Washington played in the buildings history. But for the most part, ‘Every Mothers Son’ is one of the most wrenching hours the show produced. You come away from it feeling drained and overwhelmed--- like you do with the best television



    Fans Rating 9th

    Score: 10

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  • The best episode of the best cop series ever

    10
    Only when you see an episode like this (or any episode of this standout series) do you realize how woefully inadequate current cop shows are at capturing the humanity behind each tragic tale. This episode captures the series at its peak, and this ensemble cast is at the height of its collective acting powers.



    Andre Braugher's Frank Pembleton dominates any episode in which he appears, and this is no exception. There is a secondary storyline with Howard's frustration in being abandoned by her partner as he deals with his crumbling family and another backstory of the other detectives trying to get their bar in business, but this is Pembleton's show. Worn and weary from the endless misery he must face each day, Pembleton deals with one of his toughest cases - one teenager shooting another in a horrific case of mistaken identity. While Pembleton does his job and elicits the 14-year-old's confession, it's clear that he's bothered by what he's seen, and his words of caution to the teen as he's led away in handcuffs should have garnered an Emmy for Braugher.



    But without a doubt, it's the scene at the police station between the mothers of the two teens that captures the greatness of this series. Neither mother is aware of who the other woman is - one grieves for a dead son, the other for the killer - and it's the tension as the two mothers converse that is nail-biting and heart-wrenching. Neither mother connects the dots about the other's son until the shooter is led past them, and it's this incredible gift for storytelling that made the series so good.



    The two mothers try to reconnect later to perhaps forge a friendship born of tragedy, but (again, a brilliant writing move) they decide such a friendship is fraught with too many difficulties. Kudos to the show's writers for not taking the all's-well-that-ends-well route to keep the episode true to life, even if it's ultimately depressing.moreless
  • Storyline taken from Hill Street Blues

    10
    I had a creeping feeling of deja vu watching this episode, and about halfway through I realised why. This storyline was featured in an episode of Hill Street Blues. I don't know which episode but as I am slowly working my way through the series on dvd I will update when I find out.



    In HSB, it was Henry who dealt with the young murderer, and he even gave him the same advice to keep his ass to the wall in jail.



    I still think this is a great episode, does anybody know if there were any writers common to the two series?moreless
  • Pembleton and Bayliss investigate a bowling alley shooting, the suspect is only 14. Munch, Lewis and Bayliss' quest to open a bar hits yet another snag. Felton leaves Howard hanging when he thinks he has the location of his wife and kids.moreless

    8.7
    Pembleton shows he has game in this episode, playing Bayliss one on one in the streets while trying to locate a suspect. Pembleton's words to Howard are great, mentioning that his heart is not in any of his cases. Near the end of this episode we find that Pembleton may have a bit of heart after all, telling the 14 year old shooter that he kept him up all night, and later giving him advice on how to deal with life behind bars.



    The quest the three detective have to open a bar is like a roller coaster ride, numerous times, just when you think everything is going smoothly something puts a halt to its progression. To me this is getting out of hand (although still very entertaining) it looks like their dreams are aquashed for good, but im sure they will be back at it again next episode...moreless
  • Baltimore's finest, television's best. There is no higher calling.

    10
    I don't know what I can add to improve on the other review posted for this episode. I simply wish to say that this episode is one of the reasons I started watching this show.



    Most television doesn't bother with anything other than whodunnit and howdunnit. This show dealt with whydunnit. This episode further went on to show what happens now that it's been done. Not to the perpetrator, but to the family of the perpetrator...and to the family of the victim.



    To have a criminal with such a skewed sense of right and wrong, a criminal with no emotion save self preservation and protection from embarrassment. What a bold choice.



    Perhaps that's the thing. This episode was a bold choice from start to finish, but then again...so was this show.



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Andre Braugher

Andre Braugher

Det. Frank Pembleton (seasons 1-6, TVM)

Kyle Secor

Kyle Secor

Tim Bayliss

Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer

Det. John Munch

Ned Beatty

Ned Beatty

Stan Bolander (Seasons 1-3)

Daniel Baldwin

Daniel Baldwin

Beau Felton (Seasons 1-3, recurring subsequently, TVM)

Isabella Hofmann

Isabella Hofmann

Megan Russert (Seasons 3-4, recurring otherwise)

Sean Nelson

Sean Nelson

Ronnie Sayer

Guest Star

Howie Mandel

Howie Mandel

Interior Decorator

Guest Star

Gay Thomas

Gay Thomas

Mary Nawls

Guest Star

Harlee McBride

Harlee McBride

Dr. Alyssa Dyer

Recurring Role

Helen Carey

Helen Carey

Maggie Conroy

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Pembleton: You know, the wife and I were talking the other day about children. About maybe having a kid.
      Bayliss: You, a father?
      Pembleton: Something wrong with that?
      Bayliss: No. No, I think it'd be great.
      Pembleton: How do I bring a child in this world when we have to charge children with first-degree murder?

    • Ronny Sayers: Hey, what's the deal? I meant to shoot this other kid. I made an honest mistake. You can't blame me for that.

    • Lewis: (on being informed that The Waterfront bar has a connection to George Washington) George Washington slept here?
      Penelope Smith-Haddon: Well, no …
      Munch: He had dinner?
      Smith-Haddon: No.
      Lewis: So what did he do here?
      Smith-Haddon: Apparently the President, just coming from a dinner party where he had consumed quite a bit of wine, was in something of a bind. He had no time to seek out a public chamber pot.
      Munch: Are you telling us the reason we can't tear down the bathroom is that it's where George Washington once took a whizz?

    • Pembleton: One time, one time I'd like to hear about a murder that makes any sense. One time, for any reason.

    • Pembleton: Every day I get out of bed and drag myself to the next cup of coffee. I take a sip and the caffeine kicks in, I can focus my eyes again, my brain starts to order the day. I'm up, I'm alive. I'm ready to rock. The time is coming when I wake up and decide I'm not getting out of bed. I'm not getting up for coffee or food or sex. If it comes to me, fine; if it won't, fine. No more expectations. The longer I live the less I know. I should know more. I should know that coffee's killing me.You're suspicious of your suspicions? I'm jealous, Kay. I'm so jealous. You still have the heart to have doubts? Me, I'm going to lock up a fourteen year old kid for what could be the rest of his natural life. I gotta do this; this is my job. This is the deal, this is the law, this is my day. I have no doubts or suspicions anymore. Heart has nothing to do with it anymore. Its all in the caffeine.

    • Older Waitress Applicant: One rule I don't abide by is, "The customer is always right." The customer is never right.

    • Pembleton: You've got the fear now, don't you? I don't usually find myself giving advice--especially to 14-year-old killers. But, please, listen to me just this one time: Keep your eyes to the wall. Don't trust anybody; don't believe anybody. Don't help anybody and don't ask anybody for anything. You understand?

  • NOTES (3)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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