Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 6 Episode 12

Something Sacred (1)

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 30, 1998 on NBC
8.7
out of 10
User Rating
24 votes
1

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Episode Summary

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Something Sacred (1)
AIRED:
Kellerman is trying to find Lewis, who's disappeared since his suspension. Bayliss is on vacation. Stivers rotates into homicide and Kellerman isn't happy to see her. A priest is found murdered. Falsone attends a custody deposition hearing. A tape is delivered to Channel 11 that contains some startling information from a Swami about the priest's activities involving young boys. Munch and Kellerman seek out the two boys who were at the scene of the crime; meanwhile the other detectives seek out the Swami. Both are located, though the boys do not provide anything conclusive; they are held in protective custody. Kellerman searches for Lewis. Meanwhile, church members protest in front of the station house. Falsone gets his son for a weekend. Ballard and Gharty detain a corner kid who might be identifiable as one of three who had frightened a priest. Unfortunately, that priest (a monsignor) can't make a positive ID. Because of public pressure, the boys are released from custody to stay with Sister Attwood. They run away from her home and later the monsignor is found murdered.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • A two-parter that involves getting religion

    8.2
    Two weeks after the announcement that Homicide would be back for a seventh season, the producer tried something that they hadn’t done before (and as it turned out, that they would never do again). They aired both hours of a two-part episode together in order to make a ‘Homicide movie’ centered around a single investigation. The episode was titled ‘Something Sacred’, a satire of Nothing Sacred a critically acclaimed but little watched ABC drama that dealt with the life and service of a priest. The pastiche was fitting considering the center of the episode--- the murder of a priest.



    Ballard and Gharty get called out to a Baltimore parish where they find a middle-aged priest tied up, beating with a blunt object, and finally stabbed to death. It appears that the rectory was the victim of some kind of robbery, and the initial suspects are two Guatemalan refugees---- both teenagers---- who the priest took in and watched. Initially, the refugees are nowhere to be found.



    What we mainly find in this part of the storyline is a lot of false leads that go nowhere. A poem in Spanish about ‘a god of love, forgive, forgive’ is found written on a blackboard near the priest’s body. It isn’t a message from the killer; the priest wrote out when he tried to give a lesson in Spanish. A few hours later, the news receives a tape from a ‘swami’ claiming that the good father was responsible for the sexual molestation of a dozen young boys, including the two refugees. Turns out not only are the charges false, but the ‘swami’ isn’t even a real religious leader who has apparently chosen to smudge the good name of a colleague from the seminary they both studied in. The tip line set up in an effort to find the killers results in a tip involving a suspicious robbery attempt leads to the pick-up of a young black kid named Roc Roc who in the end can’t be identified. (As it turns out, even the dead ends are not dead ends) Finally, the refugees seems almost certainly to be the killers--- and this seems more than likely a day later when another priest is found dead outside his rectory---- and the refugees have jumped bail.



    The similarities between this investigation and the Annabella Wilgus murders in Season 3 are easy to see. There are two distinct differences. First, this is clearly not the action of a serial killer, second, religion is not at the center of the murders; robbery is. More importantly is the issue of faith. This time, however, the Catholic at the center of the murders is not Pembleton but Stu Gharty. From the start it is clear that he has some real problems with what has happened to the victim and the charges that he molested young boys. (Considering the number of charges that have come in the years since the episode aired, its astounding that Epstein didn’t make the charges legitimate)

    It is clear that this hurts him immensely for, unlike Pembleton, he is a loyal Catholic, one who still believes in the church. This is the first time since Gharty first appeared on the show that we get a look at his psyche and Gerety plays it up well.



    Though the focus is mostly on the case at hand, there’s a lot of other business going on during this episode. For starters, Stivers has been rotated into the homicide unit. She will remain in the cast for the rest of the season, though Toni Lewis will not become a regular until the next season. Then there’s the fact that no one has seen Meldrick since his suspension, something that has Kellerman very concerned. He has called his wife, his mother and checked everywhere but he can’t find him, which causes Mike to fear Georgia Rae has taken some kind of action. His concern that Stivers has come to ‘replace’ Lewis, combined with his fear that she is the weak link in Luther’s shooting, probably accounts for his open hostility towards her. Add the fact that Falsone is on his case and Mike is running out of friends in the unit. Finally Falsone’s custody hearing has begun, and even at this early stage, it’s not going to go that well.



    Aside from the continued absence of Clark Johnson and Kyle Secor (Bayliss is on vacation), the first part of ‘Something Sacred’ is a pretty good mix of the old and new Homicide. In addition to Gerety, Callie Thorne continues to show good form, particularly in two scenes--- one with Gharty, one with Pembleton---- where she discusses faith and her lack of it. The priests are murdered has a more realistic feel then some elements of the Wilgus murders, and the exploration of the Central American refugees is an interesting one (especially looking back from the post 9-11 views against immigration). Yet the character development is not quite as good as it has been in some of the episodes and it seems a little underdone. Perhaps it’s because there is so much unresolved, but since we don’t have to wait long for resolution, we can let that go for this one.

    My score: 8.2

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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)

Peter Gerety

Peter Gerety

Stu Gharty (Seasons 6-7, recurring previously, TVM)

Leslie Silva

Leslie Silva

Sister Dyanne Attwood

Guest Star

Victor Anthony

Victor Anthony

Pedro Velez

Guest Star

Michael Pena

Michael Pena

Luis Carranza

Guest Star

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Toni Lewis

Toni Lewis

Terri Stivers

Recurring Role

Ellen McElduff

Ellen McElduff

Billie Lou Hatfield

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (3)

    • Clark Johnson and Kyle Secor does not appear in this episode.

    • While other stories on the series have been grounded in reality, this is the first time I recall an episode being advertised as being based on a true story. According to viewer Paul DeNigris, the actual story took place in Buffalo, NY, where executive producer Tom Fontana attended Buffalo State College.

    • Music in this episode: Blind Willie McTell "You Got to Die" alb: Atlanta 12 String; John Mooney "Wish I Were in Heaven Sitting Down" alb: Testimony; Mississippi Fred McDowell " Jesus on the Main Line" alb: I Do Not Play No Rock 'N' Roll; Public Enemy "Lost at Birth" alb: Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Back.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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