Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 3 Episode 3

Extreme Unction

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Oct 28, 1994 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
35 votes
  • Pembleton interviews a woman with multiple personalities, who says she has information on one of the murders. Felton ends his affair with Russert after finding joy in spending time with his kids. Munch, Lewis and Bayliss, quest to own a bar moves forward.

    This episode is well done, and we really see the characters personal life in the spotlight, all the while they investigate the work of a serial killer.

    Felton appears ungrateful for all that Howard has done for him. Howard has been taking Felton's calls, lying to his wife for him, giving him advice and even meeting with his wife, all without any thank you's. Felton only says thanks to Howard for giving him a ride back to his house, Howard looks on as Felton's kids jump into his arms.

    The character of Mary Maude Wilgis is also well done and is probably the best example of someone with multiple personality disorder that ive seen on TV.

    Even the hard-nosed Pembleton finds out more about himself and his religion, or lack of.
  • Not quite the climax they had in mind.

    On another television show, the white-glove serial murder would not be resolved until the final act. On Homicide, we learn who the killer is before the first act is over. However, nothing is ever that simple here.

    Pembleton is getting more and more estranged from his faith the more people turn up dead. A memorable section of this episode occurs when Frank sits inside a church after the third body has been discovered. He asks Bayliss rhetorically why God allows such horrible things to happen to his children---even his own son. And when Bayliss tells him that he should not question his own faith, calling it a sin, he responds by saying: “the worst sin in my book? The killer who goes unpunished.” This is a man who has a very fragile faith and its probably about to be pushed over the edge.

    Then a witness comes in to the squadroom; Pamela Wilgis a woman who looks a lot like a barfly then anything else who claims she saw the body dumped and that the victim wore white cotton gloves. The interrogation scene that followed would go into Homicide legend. Two minutes in, we learn that in all probability this woman is the murderer. But before he begins digging, Wilgis appears to change personality--- an act that neither Pemb;leton nor Giardello buy. In a scene which is a mixture of seduction, antagonism and hunt, Pembleton tries to get the main personality ‘JMJ’ (initials which are testimony to the killers faith to emerge. JMJ appears to be a playful seven year old who imitates Franks actions--- right up until he takes out a matchbook, strikes a match and holds it to his wrist He tries to coax a confession out, but seemingly minutes away from getting it, her lawyer shows up and ends the interview.

    We will never know whether Annabella Wilgis (the ‘real’ name of the killer) has multiple personalities or not. None of the detectives believe it for a minute and certainly the impression seems like Wilgis is being a fraud. However, the way that Wilgis manages to manipulate the system – going before Matt Rhodes (who doesn’t seem to object to being manipulated if its gets him an audience ) and TV audience, ‘confessing’ her crimes while simultaneously claiming that she was abused and wronged--- makes us believes that she must have planned at least some of her defense in advance.

    Pembleton takes these murders very personally. Is it because of his own problems with religion or merely the fact that this women is going to beat the system and never pay for a crime? We’ll never know for sure. What is clear is that something fundamental inside Frank has broken. Before he was merely questioning his faith; now it seems that he has lost it all together This is made subtly very clear in another scene with Sister Magdalena when he goes to visit her OUTSIDE the church instead of in it. He can no longer come face to face with God. It will take a series of extraneous events before he considers letting God back into his life. The only precious thing that he seems able to hold on to is the love of his wife and even that will falter at some point.

    With the murders ‘solved’ the other detectives attempt to move on with their lives. The Felton- Russert affair is resolved because of two events. Howard confronts the shift commander and tells her that she is concerned with this affair, partly because of how it will affect her work, but mostly because of the raw deal that Beth Felton seems to be getting. In a not too subtle scene Beth Felton and Megan meet and this seems to help her find the strength to break it off. Felton knows that he has to try and save his marriage if only for the sake of children. But, as we will find out in future episodes, the fractures are far too deep to be resolved. The events that will lead to Beau downward spiral originate here.

    Most of the comedy in the episode comes from the continue bureaucracy
    that Munch, Bayliss and Lewis are going through to by the Waterfront. Despite Bayliss’ best intention he is becoming more and more involved in the workings of the ba and he will begin to become more of an active partner than he wants. He does not, however endear himself to either of his partner when he begins to berate all the hoops owner must jump through in order to get approval--- especially when he does so in front of one of the inspectors. This is nowhere near the last obstacle they will face.

    The episode ends with a very effective scene in which Pembleton manages to extract from Wilgus why she put white cotton gloves on all of her victims. It turns out they are memories of happier times that she had with her mother involving church---- and, is by the way, completely opposed to her claims of childhood abuse.Pembleton , his faith broken, looks at her and tells her that he has to believe’ even if you go Scot free, that God’s going to make you pay. He leaves, and the very small part of Wilgis that is genuinely remorseful with what she has done says, almost inaudibly, “I’m sure that he will “ The jazz backbeat makes it fine ending to a great cycle and a new establishment of what Homicide is going to be.

    My score:9.25