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Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 4 Episode 2

Fire (2)

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Oct 27, 1995 on NBC
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
31 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Fire (2)
AIRED:
The fire investigation continues. Bayliss' back is acting up and Kellerman is paired with Pembleton. Kellerman shows Gee something, so he is offered a transfer into the department that he first rejects. Kay takes the sergeant's exam, Munch misses it due a "comedy of errors."

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Pembleton, Bayliss and Kellerman investigate what is now a serial arsonist/killer. Kellerman gets useful information from an informant while Pembleton gets some from an anonymous tipster, who as it turns out, is a criminal himself.moreless

    8.9
    In the second part of this twofer, the character of Kellerman is further introduced, and is later offered a job from Gee (who didn't see that coming?).



    Once again we don't see any of Bolander or Felton who are serving a suspension. This is done in part, because Kellerman is being introduced and gets as much air time, if not more than most of the detectives in Gee's crew. Still, much like the surprising, sudden exit of Crosetti, i feel Bolander and Felton's disappearance could have been eased in more.



    The introduction of Kellerman into this series is done nicely as he surprises even Pembleton in taking down the arsonist/killer.



    The newfound personal relationship between Pembleton and Bayliss advances even further as the detectives had out for a beer after discussing their day on the roof of the precinct.



    Adam Trese is great as the character of Gavin Robb, who can often be seen laughing maniacally in "the box", his facial expressions soon change as Kellerman gets to him.moreless
  • It successfully introduces a new character

    8.7
    The conclusion of the arson storyline is a much better episode than its precursor. The main reason is now that the sensationalism of the burning buildings has disappeared and we are now in the midst of what Homicide does best—trying to catch a killer.



    Not that things are simpler, of course. We learn quickly that the victim of the first fire was killed by the fire itself, whereas the second victim was killed BEFORE the fire was set. Furthermore, even though both the victims are teenagers it soon becomes very clear that they had nothing in common and probably didn’t know each other. So why were these people killed? The answer doesn’t come easily.



    Kellerman and Pembleton each get a minor lift after talking with two very different informants. Kellerman’s is a ‘professional’ snitch, giving his services for money. Pembleton’s informant, however, is more phantom like—in both of his phone calls the editors go to a great deal of trouble to make sure that we don’t see his face. This particular informant has a good reason for being anonymous; turns out he’s a burglar. This is a bit of the old Homicide—these are people whose activities, while criminal are ignored because they don’t relate to the investigation.



    Without any clear direction, Gee sends the detectives back to the site of the first fire. We don’t know why—until Frank points out the homeless people who have now marked the ruins of the buildings as their territory. One doesn’t think the detectives will get much help from these transients but one—a slightly dotty old woman known as Mrs. Rosen—cheerfully admits that she may have taken the ride in the arsonist van.



    This leads to the interrogation of Gavin Robb, a chemistry professor who had the second victim in one of his classes, but who otherwise doesn’t know her. We expect that Frank and Tim will chew him up. Except they don’t. Kellerman begins a conversation with the man treating him like a man. Robb points out that this is a variation of the ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine and it is—but Kellerman says he’s the bad cop. Very gently Kellerman lulls Robb into feeling safe, talking about little things—like a dog who was killed in the first fire. Then, just as Robb is about to leave, Kellerman conversationally asks: “Why’d you kill the dog?” Robb replies: “I didn’t know it was there.” Boom.



    Technically this has the marks of cliché—the rookie detective tricking the killer into confessing. What makes it different is that Gavin Robb is no criminal mastermind. He killed the first victim by accident when he set the first fire. The second fire was set to cover up his real crime--- the murder of the second victim. But when Kellerman asks why he did it, Robb refuses to answer. We never know why he did and as Giardello wisely points out, sometimes you’re better off not knowing why people do bad things



    The police procedural part is interesting enough but what makes the episode work on another level is our exploration into the character of Mike Kellerman. We see him off-duty for the first time, talking very friendly to his ex-wife—who we met in the first episode. He seems to have a very good relationship with Annie (which is surprising given what we will eventually learn about how his marriage broke up) We also get a sense of the boyishness of Mike. He seems to be one of those guys who is a hearty drinker, smoker and partier—as he puts it “he worships fun”. He has a lot of youthful energy—which will be eroded in later seasons to an extreme. He has an inferiority complex with the detectives at Homicide but he does have the sense and the cunning to make Gee offer him a job. He initially declines it, saying he’s good at what he does. Then he goes to see his father at a beer-bottling plant- and realizes that this is the philosophy of his dad. He realizes what he wants to get away from and the last scene shows him accepting the job.



    We also get some insight in Frank—a man who in many ways is Kellerman’s antithesis—he is purely professional, he doesn’t have much of a social life and he is very pessimistic. But this dourness is there for a reason. He is still very concerned about the world he is going to be bringing his child into. Like many new fathers he’s scared, but his reasons are very legitimate. We will gradually learn more about Frank the husband and father through how the world operates.



    And there is some comedy. Bayliss continues to walk around stiffly as his back—caused by a degenerate disc—and he is beginning to get worried about it. And there is the byplay between Kay and Munch as the sergeant’s exam approaches—which turns out to be for naught when Munch doesn’t even show up for the exam. Whether or not he chickened out is never told but he never seems to feel any ill feeling to Howard for taking the exam.



    All in all, the second part of ‘Fire’ is much better than the first. Apart from the excitement of the first episode, we see Homicide’s true nature—quiet, talky, ruminative with a little humor and no explanations. Even if the show had a new look, it maintained most of the old rules.

    My score:8.75

    moreless
Stephanie Romanov

Stephanie Romanov

Anne Kennedy

Guest Star

Adam Trese

Adam Trese

Gavin Robb

Guest Star

Pat McNamara

Pat McNamara

Mike Kellerman Sr.

Guest Star

Harlee McBride

Harlee McBride

Dr. Alyssa Dyer

Recurring Role

Kristin Rohde

Kristin Rohde

Sally Rogers

Recurring Role

Sharon Ziman

Sharon Ziman

Naomi

Recurring Role

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