Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 5 Episode 1

Hostage (1)

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Sep 20, 1996 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
25 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Hostage (1)
Gaffney and Barnfather give Gee a hassle about the return of Frank to duty and the sudden departure of Russert to Europe. Bayliss and Munch are called to the scene of a homicide, where the victim, Mrs. Uba, was cooking breakfast and the only witness may be a male pig named Angie. Frank returns to work and Gee tells him what his limited duties are going to be and that he's called in all his favors and both their asses are on the line. The squad is called out for a hostage situation at a middle school.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • Getting off to a bang up start

    The first great moment of Season Five occurs fifteen minutes into ‘Hostage, Part One.’ when Francis Xavier Pembleton, very slowly gets out of his car and begins deliberately walking up the stairs to the squad to the Cowboy Junkies ‘This Street, That Man, This Life.’

    By now everyone in the squad has been waiting for Frank to come back.

    A lot of the brass in the department are pissed that Frank is returning to the Homicide Unit. Barnfather and Gaffney mask their concern for the unit by showing apprehension for Frank’s well-being, specially if the tensions of the job get to him. (Somehow I don’t think Gaffney would mind if Frank did drop dead) But the most surprising source of hostility comes from Detective Munch. Part of this comes off the fact that Frank showed no compassion for Stan’s shooting by coming to the hospital. Part of this is because he knows that no one would bend over backward for him if he had a stroke. But most of it is simple hurt of the fact that he called Franks home dozens of times while he was recovering and Frank didn’t bother to return one. When Munch confronts him with this, Frank sheepishly admits that he didn’t think that it mattered to him.

    Bur Frank has enough problems without Munch. He stumbles over words frequently. He has memory blocks over simple words and spelling. And he sweats profusely after a brief walk. His mind and body have been fractured, but his will is still strong. He wants to get back on the job but the department (who doesn’t want Frank back at all) has other plans. They demand that Frank qualify on the range before he can return to work. Until then he is limited to half days, spent doing administrative work and answering phones. Frank’s furious about this but Gee (who has called in every favor he can to get Frank back) is adamant.

    When Frank enters the squad room for the first time, for a moment everyone stops working and goes quiet. But this is Homicide and instants later everyone’s back to work. And there’s a lot going on. With Frank chained to his desk, Russert running off to Paris with a French diplomat and Bolander officially retired the squad is busy. Bayliss and Munch are called out on an investigation into the murder of a woman in her house. The only witness to the crime: a pig. While they’re out on this, the rest of the squad is called onto a ‘red ball’ case of a man taking hostages at a middle school. Though there are bodies on the ground, because there are live victims QRT is put in charge. They are more concerned with saving the hostages then the already dead bodies leaving the detectives scrambling. It is not until the episodes end that the shooter makes his first demand: he wants beer.

    The scenes at the school are unnerving, more so since they were filmed nearly three years before similar shootings would take place in Columbine.

    There’s a lot going on in this episode but unlike the opening of season four, most of the action is character driven. As always Andre Braugher dominates the proceedings. Given a chance to show Frank Pembleton as much less than invincible, he does a brilliant job (particularly in scenes where he struggles to remember such mundane words as ‘Xerox’ and ‘pizza’) He repeatedly tries to tell Gee and Bayliss that he’s still the same man but it is very clear that he is not. Despite this, however, he wants to get back on the street so he heads towards the firing range. Unfortunately, it becomes clear that Frank (who was a lousy shot before his stroke) has a long way to go here to.

    Just as impressive, however, is the now clean-shaven, short-hared Kyle Secor. In his murder investigation, he shows that he is a long way from the rookie who worked these streets four years ago. Even more telling are his scenes with Braugher. His first scene with him where he tries to embrace Frank (to the latter’s extreme discomfort) is very critical in showing both men’s character. Tim tries to show compassion and concern for his partner only to be spurned by him. Similarly, when Frank tries to help Tim with his murder, Bayliss turns him away and asks him to take his medicine. These are small things but fractures are appearing in Tim and Frank’s relationship.

    The other actors (with the exception of Belzer) don’t a get lot of face time but there are very memorable small scenes such as when Meldrick discusses the bad karma that is associated with Bolander’s desk and is pissed when Mike mentions he’s sitting at a dead mans desk also. There is also some humor as Bayliss and Munch find themselves trying to learn about the breeding of a pig. The most unsettling scene, however, occurs at the school when Brodie tapes the reactions of the kids at the school. As one girl watches her classmate’s wounded body being taken away, she assumes that the camera’s presence makes this a movie and that what she just witnessed wasn’t real. When this illusion is shattered, she seems even more devastated then by the shooting itself.

    ‘Hostage, Pat One’ shows that Homicide still has its A-Game. There are a lot more risks being taken then before and the end result is, like the best television, impressive indeed.

    My score:9

Art Donovan

Art Donovan


Guest Star

Karen Bralove

Karen Bralove

Marie Smith

Guest Star

Kate Kiley

Kate Kiley

Maureen Tarkoff

Guest Star

Ami Brabson

Ami Brabson

Mary Pembleton

Recurring Role

Gary D'Addario

Gary D'Addario

Lt. Jasper

Recurring Role

Julie Lauren

Julie Lauren

Off. Anne Schanne

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Bayliss: It just wasn't appropriate leaving Brodie there.
      Munch: What do you mean appropriate leaving Brodie with a pig. What's wrong with that?
      Bayliss: It's not his job to pig sit.
      Munch: Well I wasn't gonna wait around all day for animal control. Anyway I thought he and the pig were kinda getting along. You notice the eye contact?
      Bayliss: With the pig?
      Munch: Yeah, Brodie kind of charmed the pig, he was sort of touching the snout and kissing it.
      Bayliss: Oh, is that what the glistening was.
      Munch: I guess.
      Bayliss: Like the pig was charmed. There's a big age difference there.
      Munch: The pigs older or younger you think.
      Bayliss: Oh much older.
      Munch: Older.
      Bayliss: Oh yeah.

    • Lewis: You know this desk is bad luck, huh. Russert, Bolander and before him you remember Slackjaw Johnson.
      Kellerman: Slackjaw Johnson, what's his story?
      Lewis: Well the name says it all. This desk is cursed, whoever sits here is doomed.
      Kellerman: Well I'm sitting in a dead man's spot.
      Lewis: What you want to say that for, huh? Why? You're evil.

    • Kellerman: You buy this bunt cake when you know I can't stand anything with nuts on it.
      Lewis: I forgot, alright.
      Kellerman: No, it's not alright, all right.
      Lewis: Alright.
      Kellerman: Alright.

    • Gaffney: You know, Al, it's a good thing Russert runs off. Between her and Pembleton, it's like an episode of NASH BRIDGES around here.

  • NOTES (1)