Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 4 Episode 19

Map of the Heart

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Apr 26, 1996 on NBC
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
26 votes
1

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Episode Summary

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Map of the Heart
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A prominent attorney is murdered and the murderer presents himself to Pembleton and Bayliss with a videotape that implicates him. Brodie works on increasing his self-image. Kellerman is determined to find out who's the "lunch bandit." The NSA steps in on Pembleton's murder investigation and provides him with a guilty party, even though they know he didn't do it. Bayliss' disgust with the interference doesn't sit well with Gaffney who wants to charge him with insubordination.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Did this episode really happen?

    6.0
    Homicide was, despite the occasional flourishes of quirkiness, a very realistic drama. When the show began to depreciate in quality (particularly in the last season) was when it tried to be sensational. We have seen examples of this in episodes such as ‘Thrill of the Kill’ and ‘Sniper’. But those episodes were at least straight forward. ‘Map of the Heart’ misses stride because it overcomplicates things. This isn’t bad, murder can be complicated sometimes. But this level of complication comes when it elevates a run-of-the-mill murder into what seems to be a government plot.



    It doesn’t start out that way. At first it seems a routine call for Bayliss and Pembleton —a rich, old lawyer dying of a heart attack in his swimming pool. Then a cartographer named Richard Laumer shows at the squad room, says that the man was murdered, that he was his biological father and then proceeds to give the detectives a videotape will which provides a definite motive for Laumer to have killed this man.



    This is fairly convoluted stuff but very soon things become positively Byzantine. A woman from the NSA appears in the squad with Captain Gaffney demanding information on the investigation and unilaterally telling Bayliss and Pembleton that Richard Lauler had nothing to do with the investigation and that continued pursuit might be detrimental to them. Tim and Frank, true to themselves do not buckle under but things become increasingly more complicated as the detectives get deeper into the investigation.

    Then the most unlikely thing to happen in real life happens on the show. A man comes off the street and confesses to the killing for no apparent reason. Tim and Frank are outraged but calm down because they realized that in this case their hands are tied.



    All of this seems a little extreme for a man who draws maps for the NSA. It seems unnecessarily complicated and over the top. The veiled threats, fake names, shadowy figures, clandestine meetings and the constant sensation of manipulation seems like something that would be more suited to the X-Files than Homicide. It might make more sense if the case involved conspiracy theorist Munch but Bayliss and Pembleton seem unlikely subjects for such a thing. The two have some very good moments in the episode, particularly in the last scene at the Waterfront where the two detectives rail on Laumer, but mostly things seem out of their league. The episode should be credited fro a well-shot scene at the Baltimore aquarium (though it seems very unlikely that it would be as empty as it was).



    The episode is a not a total loss because of what’s going on in the background with Munch, Kellerman and Brodie. (Lewis isn’t around because Clark Johnson is busy behind the camera). For the first time we see the workout room in the squad and some funny scenes when Kellerman tries to teach Brodie how to throw a punch (which leads to one of the funnier moments where Brodie ‘practices’ being a cop by using clichés that Homicide would never touch. Munch and Kellerman get involved in a long series of events over a stolen VCR that Mike has sold to John --- which leads to a surreal, purposely badly shot scene where they have a conversation (with shades of David Mamet) that never happened over a topic they know nothing about. The most promising bit comes when Kellerman is victimized by the ‘Lunch Bandit’ , someone who has been stealing the squads lunches for two years without any detection. Kellerman gets so outraged by this that he makes it his personal mission to capture and unmask the culprit. It seems a little odd that a squad full of the best detectives in the city couldn’t figure this out, but that seems more real than most of what’s happening.



    ‘Map of the Heart’ is something of a disappointment coming from James Yoshimura, one of Homicide’ s best writers. There are some amusing sequences and some good dramatic sequences but they are outnumbered by the convolutions. Fortunately, the writers learned from their mistakes and nothing of this level of confusion would be tried for quite some time.

    My score:6

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Terry Kinney

Terry Kinney

Richard Laumer

Guest Star

John Fiske

John Fiske

Buster Simmons

Guest Star

Joe Glenn

Joe Glenn

Morris Laumer

Guest Star

Max Perlich

Max Perlich

J.H. Brodie

Recurring Role

Walt MacPherson

Walt MacPherson

Roger Gaffney

Recurring Role

Harlee McBride

Harlee McBride

Dr. Alyssa Dyer

Recurring Role

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