Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 4 Episode 7

Heartbeat

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Dec 08, 1995 on NBC
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
34 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Heartbeat
AIRED:
Lewis and Kellerman interview a suspect and uncover a 10-year-old crime, which is assigned to Howard and Munch. Tim lets Frank's secret about Mary's pregnancy slip out. Howard and Munch find the body from the 10-year-old murder bricked up in a wall. John has a date with Alyssa, the ME, but finds himself in bed with her new roommate before their date, so he begins avoiding her. Howard and Munch's murder suspect has a fascination for former Baltimore resident Edgar Allan Poe. Munch plays up that angle while trying to break their suspect.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Lewis and Kellerman investigate the strangling of a college student, a drug dealer provides the detectives with spooky information and a 10 year old murder is resurected. Munch vows he is a new man, in love, but soon goes back to his old womanizing ways.moreless

    8.9
    "Heartbeat" is an excellent episode, that incorporates the writings of well known poet Edgar Allan Poe into a murder investigation.



    Common themes in this brilliant episode are paranoia and guilt. Munch experiences both of these feelings when he sleeps with his girlfriends roommate, just minutes before she arrives at home. I like seeing Munch put into this situation, i like seeing more of Munch period, who lately, has been put on the back burner. Munch can be seen avoiding his girlfriend, paranoid that she has found out about his sleeping around. A guilty Munch later admits to his affair and pays for it, getting whacked in the face.



    Kevin Conway is excellent as drug dealer, poet and suspected killer Joseph Cardero. The name Cardero is interesting as we can associate "Carde" with the cardiovascular system or heart. A beating heart can be heard alot throughout this episode, this is not overworked and is very well done. Conway's character, Cardero eventually experiences paranoia after smoking a marijuana cigarette and soon his guilt catches up to him as he bricks himself in a basement wall, leaving himself to die.moreless
  • Good that they unearthed this one.

    9.0
    It was perhaps inevitable that a show based in Baltimore would pay tribute to the most famous author from the city--- Edgar Allan Poe. Considering that Poe’s dark writings are a good fit with the mood as well as the fact he wrote the first American detective story, it’s only surprising that it took them until Season 4 to pay tribute him. Adding to the episode’s creativity package is that the episode focuses on underused characters Munch and Howard, giving Richard Belzer his most memorable showcase in a while.



    The case is far from typical for the Homicide crew to begin with. Given an incredibly vague lead on the location of a dead body who was murdered ten years ago, the two detectives find the dead man walled up in the basement of a building in a church. With no leads and precious little evidence Munch and Howard eventually track down a bizarre suspect--- Joseph Cardero, a drug-dealer with an ear for poetry and a man with a major shine to Edgar Allan Poe. (Indeed the wellread viewer will recognize that the nature of the murder is very similar t the classic Poe story ‘A Cask of Amontialldo’)



    Considering the dark nature of the case as well as that of Poe’s writing Munch understand the nature of this man and becomes rather heavily involved in getting Cardero. Indeed, Gee notes that Munch hasn’t been this vigilant about a murder for a very long time. Munch shows a tenacity that we don’t normally associate with him going after the killer. This leads to a confrontation in the box between the detectives and Cardero (in a memorable performance by Kevin Conway). The two of them go after the poet with an unusual prop for them--- a tape recording of a human heartbeat, slowly getting faster. Despite the fact that he is clearly unsettled, he does not confess to the murder.



    However, even though he doesn’t confess, Munch and Howard do break him. Immediately after their confrontation Cordero begins tearing apart his walls and floors looking for the sound of a heartbeat. Eventually, he walls himself back in the very same place the murder victim was interred with only a small candle and some lines of poetry (I don’t know if its Poe or not) for company. This may not be realistic but it is very unsettling nevertheless.



    Even if the case wasn’t as interesting as it is the episode would be worth the time because its gives Belzer and Leo a rare chance in the spotlight. Here again we see the contradictory parts of Kay Howard’s personality. First we see her superstitious nature (first noticed in ‘Ghost of a Chance way back in season one) on seeing a black cat. Then we see her frustration at the illogic of the crime and the nature of their main suspect (memorably expressed by her as ‘diarrhea of the mouth). We also see that despite her promotion she is still good murder police.



    However Belzer is at the focus of the episode, professionally and personally. The perpetually lovelorn Munch has fallen in love again, this time with Medical Examiner Alyssa Dyer (a semi-regular placed by Belzer real-life spouse Harlee McBride) Howard mocks Munch for his attitude in general but he seems genuine—until he goes to pick up Dyer for their date and ends up having sex with her roommate mere minutes after having met her. As he puts it : “I am a weak man.” He spends the rest of the episode agonizing over his indiscretion and avoiding Dyer until the end of the episode where he apparently tells her and she slugs him in the eye. Surprisingly Munch is upbeat by this, claiming it gives them a fresh start but we’re pretty sure that this relationship, like all of Munch’s, is doomed. (We also hear again that Munch has been married and divorced twice. By the end of the season, the number will have gone up. You try and figure out who the extra wife is)



    Even though Munch and Howard are at the focus, we also get a very memorable comic sequence in which Bayliss tries to convince Pembleton to be happy about his wife’s pregnancy. Unfortunately, in doing so, he tells Captain RUssert and by the end of the episode everybody in the squad knows. They all give positive and congratulatory remarks, none of which Frank hears because he is so pissed by what Tim has. This is all very funny but it does have a serious undertone as Frank tells Tim that he is one of the few—for that matter, probably only the second--- persons that he has ever trusted with a secret. Now Tim has violated the confidence. He does eventually get over this, but it is more because of outside events not a change in Frank’s nature.



    ‘Heartbeat’ is not a perfect episode but the quality of the acting and the rare fine mixture of comedy, drama and suspense make it one of the better examples of the old school Homicide. However, the brief period of respite from the spectacular is just about to disappear. We are about to enter a more sensational period in the show’s history which while interesting is far from perfect.

    My score:9

    moreless
Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Joseph Cardero

Guest Star

Jon Korkes

Jon Korkes

Boomer Mason

Guest Star

Duane Chandler Rawlings

Duane Chandler Rawlings

Leon

Guest Star

Harlee McBride

Harlee McBride

Dr. Alyssa Dyer

Recurring Role

Kristin Rohde

Kristin Rohde

Sally Rogers

Recurring Role

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