Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 5 Episode 6

White Lies

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Nov 08, 1996 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
25 votes

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Episode Summary

White Lies
An article appears in The Baltimore Sun about Kellerman and the other members of the arson unit who are under investigation. Munch investigates the death of women whose husband returned home to find her dead, cause unknown. He suspects the husband but Cox thinks differently. Pembleton tries to help Bayliss close the Lambert case. The article puts Kellerman on edge and he goes to Roland's office where he discovers Roland is a federal witness. This incident gets him suspended until he takes a polygraph test. Brodie gets an offer to stay at Kay's place. Munch presses his witness and breaks him but Cox's evidence still says otherwise. Kellerman takes the test and while waiting for the result tells Lewis the truth. Cox visits Munch's suspect in his cell. Frank reflects on his past and the future. Kellerman passes the polygraph, but so did the federal witness; one of them beat the test.moreless

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  • Kind of below the norm but still interesting


    Early in this episodes, Lieutenant Giardello expresses his dismay with what is happening with his detectives and his inability to fix the problems. He can not fix Kellerman’s problems with the FBI, anymore than he can heal Pembleton’s mind or get Russert back from Paris. Things are going badly, and in ‘White Lies’, none of the characters are at their best. This doesn’t necessarily makes it a bad episode—in fact, seeing the characters at low points often brings out great acting.

    Kellerman is in the most obvious case of distress— in the pre-credit sequence, he finds his name and picture on the front page of the Sun, telling the world he is suspecting of taking bribes. His agitation with this gets so high that he does something incredibly stupid and goes to federal witness and focus of the FBI investigation Mitch Roland and berates him for his accusations. This isn’t smart behavior and hours later, Mike finds himself face to face with the FBI prosecutor facing total suspension.

    In order to try and salvage his career, he agrees to submit to a polygraph. While taking this test, however, we learn the real reason Kellerman is so upset when he refuses to answer questions about his fellow detectives culpability. Mike tells Lewis that while he did not take bribes while in Arson, three other detectives did and he was fully aware of this and didn’t report it. Now we see the horns of his dilemma---- if he admits his knowledge, he will be labeled a rat to other cops, and if he denies it, he will be suborning perjury. In the end, he passes the polygraph, but so does Roland which means one of them beat it. His problems will get worse as the season progresses.

    Pembleton is having problems of his own, as he tries to help Bayliss work the Lambert case—the only open case he has. Thanks in part to his work finding a partial print on the steering wheel, Bayliss finally has a suspect. He is leading the interrogation well, when he confuses the suspect with an out of left field speech about leaving Baltimore for California. Viewers who have been paying attention will recall that back in ‘Stakeout’, Bayliss was considering leaving Homicide for Los Angeles, when he reconsidered and decided to stay until he closed the Lambert case. It is possible that his subconscious spoke out and blew the interrogation, thus giving him an excuse to stay.

    Unaware of this, Frank berates Tim for blowing the interrogation. However, we learn it is not the murder which bothers him. It is his old life back—not just working cases and in the Box, but smoking and coffee and, well, being Frank Pembleton. He will achieve some of these goals very soon, but it is very clear that he can’t go home again—and there are more problems awaiting him.

    Frank and Mike’s difficulties are personal. The central case of the episode, worked by Munch, is professional problems. Munch is called in on the discovery of a young woman in her bed, dead of no obvious causes but wearing makeup. Furthermore, her husband is very clearly lying about something. Munch is often portrayed as being a sloppy detective, but he displays an uncommon ferocity, first against Cox for not revealing the causes of the death, then in going after the woman’s husband. Ironically, this ruthlessness is misplaced as Cox reveals that it is a heroin overdose, not a homicide— her husband merely dressed and cleaned up the body of his wife, trying to hide the evidence. Belzer gives the first of several well done performances that he will do in Season 5, even though his work is for naught in this case.

    The one out-of synch moment that the episode has occurs when Dr. Cox, bothered by why the jailed husband lied to the police. Understandably, Cox is looking for an explanation as to why the husband would do such a thing. While it is a very emotional ,powerful moment, the fact is no M.E. in any city would be allowed to question a suspect. Clearly this is an example of the detectives attempt to introduce the new cast member rapidly by putting her where no medical examiner would be.

    Even the humorous story of the episode has a certain measure of pain. Brodie, unsurprisingly given what happened last week, is booted out of Lewis’s apartment. Howard offers to put him up at her place. Considering his crush on her this should be a dream come true for the videographer, but rather than have the sergeant deal with the scorn and mockery that will come with this, he declines her offer--- even though he’s running out of detectives to room with.

    ‘White Lies’ features fine work by Diamond and Forbes as well as the usual good work by Braugher. Yet, even though it’s a critical episode in some ways, it doesn’t linger in the memory as long as some of the classic Homicide’s

    Maybe it’s just because of the overall quality of season 5 so far, but this episode, despite it’s strengths, just seems average. It does, however, feature another brilliant synchrony with music and image when Frank looks at the Box while Garbage’s ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ plays. They still now how to match image to music, even if the other images fall short.

    My score:7.5

Scott Bryce

Scott Bryce

Philip Engle

Guest Star

Pete Burris

Pete Burris

Lie Detector Examiner

Guest Star

Stephen Lejnar

Stephen Lejnar

Mitch Roland

Guest Star

Rebecca Boyd

Rebecca Boyd

Gail Ingram

Recurring Role

Clayton LeBouef

Clayton LeBouef

Col. Barnfather

Recurring Role

Granville Adams

Granville Adams

Off. Jeff Westby

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Munch: He told me her death was his fault.
      Cox: Well tox screens don't lie, people do.
      Munch: So I've wasted the last 8 hours of my life. I was lied to at the scene, I was lied to in the box. The guy says he did the murder and that's a lie. Now to top off my day I gotta go tell Gee and the States Attorney that I got a murder suspect in jail and no murder.
      Cox: So what, are you mad at me, you mad at Angle, you mad at yourself?
      Munch: How about three for three.

    • Dr. Cox: Don't you even wonder why?
      Munch: Why what?
      Dr. Cox: Why he lied?
      Munch: I'm a homicide cop. The only time I wonder why is when they tell me the truth.

  • NOTES (2)

    • In the episode STAKEOUT, Bayliss promises to leave Homicide and move to California once he closes the Lambert case. Now given the chance to close the case, he rambles on about California and allows his main suspect to walk.

    • Music in this episode: The Subdudes "Tell Me What's Wrong" alb: Subdudes; Garbage "Only Happy When it Rains" alb: Garbage.