Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 5 Episode 13

Have a Conscience

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 17, 1997 on NBC
9.2
out of 10
User Rating
32 votes
1

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Episode Summary

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Have a Conscience
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Kellerman is disappointed with his treatment in the press (or rather the lack of it). Back on the job, Mike gets his first case. There was a shopkeeper who was killed for chasing the drug dealers out of his corner. The prime suspect is Luther Mahoney. Frank tries to reconnect with Tim who is still resolved to no longer be Frank's partner. Mike is visibly on the edge, with all the pressures of the past months and his reputation tarnished, and agitated by the fact that Luther Mahoney may get away with another murder. Meldrick tries to talk him down, not anxious to lose another partner.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • A lo of pain but it just doesn't work

    6.7
    Usually on Homicide, a certain amount of time would pass between each episode. Occasionally in the first season, and of course in the multi-part stories that the show would do every so often, episodes would take place a few hours apart. But for the most part, there was a passage of about a week between episodes. This is why it is highly unusual that ‘Have a Conscience’ takes place the day after ‘Betrayal’. In one sense it works because a lot of the pain and anger that hung over most of the detectives is still very fresh.



    The most obvious case is between Bayliss and Pembleton. After revealing an agonizing secret Tim no longer feels comfortable partnering with Frank or even talking with him. Frank is clearly unsettled by this because he is constantly trying to get his partner to work with him again on an old case. Bayliss, however, rebuffs these attempts and by the end of the episode Frank is just plain pissed at Tim. For the next few episodes, Pembleton will be working cases completely on his own. This is symbolic of his return to normality—or at least as close as he get to it these days. Unfortunately, this isolation will begin to have ripples in his personal life very soon.



    However, it quickly becomes clear that even though Kellerman has been cleared by the grand jury and is back in the rotation again, his life can not return back to normal. We see this pretty clearly when Captain Gaffney comes up to Mike and asks him point blank how much money he took from the Rolands. This question (and his subsequent smile after Kellerman knocks over a file cabinet in frustration) represents Gaffney at his most contemptible (though it turns out he is capable of sinking lower). This, however, is only the first example of how people have begun to view him differently.



    He also takes very personally his first case—the death of a Korean grocery store owner who has apparently been executed by one of Luther Mahoney’s drug pushers. The grocer is repeatedly referred to as ‘an honorable man’—and the more Mike looks at his death, the more angry he gets. When Mike finally gets a chance to interrogate Mahoney--- the first crack he’s has at him in six months--- he flies off the handle at the cool contempt that Mahoney seems to hold him and the victim. This may be the incident that crystallizes Kellerman’s hatred of Luther--- and possibly helps set in motion the events that will follow in a few months when Mike and Mahoney have their final confrontation.



    All of this is very well done and written. Unfortunately, the episode then takes a decided down turn when Kellerman gets off duty and goes back to his boat. Meldrick, who has witnessed most of Mike’s behavior and is understandably concerned, comes on his boat to find Mike cleaning his refrigerator—with his gun not more than a foot away from him. Mike seems very fixated --- and then falls into a rage. All of his frustrations over the past few months come bubbling out, and he starts sounding more and more frantic—suicidal, almost. Lewis, who is understandably freaked by what he thinks is happening to his partner, tries to talk him down from his anger and sadness.



    This is very intense stuff--- for the first five minutes. But the longer and longer the dialogue progressed, the more detached from it the viewer becomes. We remember that this is just a television show and that the writers aren’t going to kill off Reed Diamond’s character (not until the season is over, anyway). The entire set piece on Mike’s boat takes more than eighteen minutes and by the end of it you think that the writers just ran out of things to say a few minutes before.



    Clearly the scene is supposed to be reminiscent of the classic ‘Three Men and Adena’ which, like this, was basically a long sequence of people talking about something very painful. Unfortunately, the scene is nowhere near as sure-footed or dramatic. It is even more upsetting because this episode comes from the pen of James Yoshimura, who is usually so brilliant at expressing pure anguish. Here it just becomes excrutiating and repetitive. One can’t help but hink Yoshimura was saying ‘This will crack the Emmy nominations’ when he wrote this script. (Didn’t work)



    The episode have some good ramification--- Meldrick and Mike emerge from the incident closer together unlike Frank and Tim who have a wedge between them now. Unfortunately by the time the season ends, other events--- indirectly related to what has happened in this episode--- will end up driving the two detectives almost completely apart.



    The ultimate effect of ‘Have a Conscience’ is somewhat schizophrenic. There is some very good work done by Reed Diamond and Clark Johnson but they are hampered by the script in the end. Erik Todd Dellums does a fine job at making Mahoney seems loathsome as usual and Jade Wu is memorable as the Korean grocery store owners wife but the rest of the guest cast is not particularly memorable. There is potential for greatness in this episode but it ultimately ends up falling pretty far from it.

    My score:6.8

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Max Perlich

Max Perlich

J.H. Brodie (season 5, TVM, recurring previously)

Andre Braugher

Andre Braugher

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

Kyle Secor

Kyle Secor

Tim Bayliss

Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer

Det. John Munch

Michelle Forbes

Michelle Forbes

Dr. Julianna Cox, CME (1996-1998)

Reed Diamond

Reed Diamond

Det. Mike Kellerman (seasons 4-6)

Jade Wu

Jade Wu

Sun-Rae Roh

Guest Star

Michael Angelo

Michael Angelo

Witness #1

Guest Star

Barry D. Bradford

Barry D. Bradford

Witness #2

Guest Star

Rebecca Boyd

Rebecca Boyd

Gail Ingram

Recurring Role

Erik Todd Dellums

Erik Todd Dellums

Luther Mahoney

Recurring Role

Granville Adams

Granville Adams

Off. Jeff Westby

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Lewis: Hey, Mikey.
      Kellerman: …and the bear says to the guy, 'You didn't come here to hunt, did you?'
      Lewis: What?
      Kellerman: That joke you're always telling - that's the punch line, right?
      Lewis: Yeah, but it's about the setup.

      This is the punch line to an off-color joke Lewis tells more than once in the series (the joke itself is never heard). The line is first heard in episode 25/3-12, "The City That Bleeds", just before Gee announces the shooting of Bolander, Felton and Howard, again in episode 66/5-11, "The Documentary" with Lewis telling it to Kellerman on the way to the Waterfront, and in episode 99/6-22, "Fallen Heroes (1)".

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Bayliss: Play that song that was on before, Sarge.
      Howard: Huh.
      Bayliss: The song that was on before. No that's not the right song.
      Howard: Bayliss, real life never repeats itself.

    • Brodie: Bayliss. Bayliss.
      Bayliss: What?
      Brodie: Detective Bayliss do you think I'm hard to live with?
      Bayliss: Why are you asking me that?
      Brodie: You kicked me out of your apartment. You must have some opinion of me.
      Bayliss: I kicked you out of my apartment because our morning personalities don't mesh. I like to read the cereal boxes in the morning, you like to debate German philosophy.
      Brodie: So does that mean I'm not hard to live with?
      Bayliss: I don't know, everybody's hard to live with. The best thing to do is to approach it like a partner, see you get someone who's the least aggravating to you.
      Brodie: But Pembleton, Detective Pembleton aggravates you like crazy.
      Bayliss: Well roommates you just gotta hope for the best.
      Brodie: What happens if you get the worst?
      Bayliss: I don't know. Live alone.

    • Kellerman: He was a war hero.
      Munch: There are no heroes in the war, just those lucky enough to walk away from them alive.
      Kellerman: The guy wasn't a saint but he stood up for what he believed in. I mean chasing the dealers off the corner. Now a guy like that, who respects that today, huh? You see when you die John all you have left is how you lived and your name. They vaporize his heart.
      Munch: Mike, I got three ex-wives who'd like to vaporize my ass.

    • Munch: Driving into work today I heard this story on the radio about some guy they found dead in Oregon in the middle of nowhere, out in some burned out section of forest. The guys found wearing a diving suit.
      Howard: Hold on, the guy in the middle of a forest, dead in scuba gear?
      Munch: Wet suit a mask, tanks, regulator the whole McGill.
      Howard: Dead in the middle of nowhere.
      Munch: Speculation is that he was out on some lake practicing his dives when one of those fire fighting tanner planes dips down over him, scoops him up with the water and drops him down in the middle of some forest fire. I mean one second the guys in the water having fun, cool as a cold train wreck. The next thing he knows, he goes crashing down into the middle of some towering inferno. I mean what do you suppose is going through that guy's head.
      Howard: What's your point?
      Munch: My point. I heard this on the radio.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Music in this episode: Laurence Nugent "Longing for Peace" alb: Traditional Irish Music on Flute; Roomful of Blues "Duke's Blues" alb: Roomful of Blues.

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Munch: Driving in to work today I heard this story on the radio about some guy they found dead in Oregon in the middle of nowhere out in some burned-out section of forest. The guy was found wearing a diving suit
      Howard: Hold on…a guy in the middle of a forest, dead, in scuba gear?
      Munch: Wet suit, mask, tanks, regulator, the whole megilla.
      Howard: Dead in the middle of nowhere…
      Munch: The speculation is that he was out in some lake, practicing his dives, when one of those firefighting tanker planes dips down over him, scoops him up in the water and drops him down in the middle of some forest fire. I mean one second the guy's in the water having fun…the next he's crashing down into the middle of some towering inferno. I mean, what do you suppose is going through that guy's head?
      Howard: What's your point?
      Munch: My point? I heard this on the radio!
      Howard: And this has something to do with me?
      Munch: You? I'm just telling you what I heard, Kay!.

      The story Munch tells Howard, relating it as something he "heard on the radio", is an urban legend, reported and debunked (according to the Snopes Urban Legend reference) in 1996. The intakes used in devices used for scooping water for firefighting are too small to pick up a human being. The legend was used as the basis for episode 28/2-5, "Scuba-Doobie-Doo" of CSI.

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