Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 4 Episode 22

Work Related

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM May 17, 1996 on NBC
9.4
out of 10
User Rating
30 votes
1

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Episode Summary

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Work Related
AIRED:
Mary gave birth to a girl named Olivia; Tim is more excited about it than Frank. Their latest case involves a multiple shooting a restaurant. Lewis is back from his honeymoon, but while working a case with Kellerman, he confesses that they have yet to consummate their marriage. Later he tells him that they've separated. Tim stops by to see Frank and Mary's baby. They get a suspect for their case in the box. Frank collapses in the box while interrogating a suspect. Frank is put under the knife to release the pressure built up in his head from the stroke he had. After the surgery the doctor tells them that he doesn't know if Frank will recover.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Talk about a stroke of genius

    10


    To put a character’s life in danger as a cliffhanger is nothing new. Indeed, Homicide had done as much to three of its detectives over a year ago. But somehow--- especially if the character is central to the show--- you know they’ll come out all right What Tom Fontana did in ‘Work Related’ was something far more radical and daring. So much show that when this episode first aired, many viewers—and a few TV critics—were sure that Frank Pembleton had died, even though his actual fate was far more precarious then merely dying.



    Perhaps the most remarkable thing about ‘Work Related’ is that, for the first forty minutes, it seems like just another episode of ‘Homicide’. Pembleton’s wife has had a daughter but for Frank this is almost business as usual, and he’s back at work, investigating a high-profile--- but ordinary—double shooting at a restaurant. Tim seems happier about the birth than Frank does and—for what maybe the first time--- invites himself over to Frank’s house to see his baby.



    Lewis is back from his honeymoon. Unfortunately, it seems that his marriage has already turned sour—he and his wife appear to have separated after they did not consummate their marriage. Meldrick throws himself into his work by investigated a literal ‘red ball’--- a stone whodunit in which the victim died when a bowling ball dropped from an overpass and through his windshield. Unfortunately, this is the high point of Meldrick’s marriage. It’s all downhill from here.



    Gee is going through some anxiety of his own involving last weeks shooting. The death weighs heavily on his conscience--- so much so that Howard will exercise ‘sergeant’s prerogative’ and erase his name from the board.



    All of this is traditional Homicide but there is no indication that anything special is going to happen. Then Pembleton and Bayliss learn that a supposed witness to the shooting was actually an accessory. They call him in for an interrogation and we witness one of the better ‘box’ sessions that we have seen all season— Tim and Frank slowly and musically tearing holes in the suspect’s story. Then, literally mid question, Frank starts to seize and shake, and he collapses on the suspect. Several disconnected minutes follow until the paramedics arrive and diagnose a possible CVA. Or as we know it, stroke. The intense pressure that has been around Pembleton almost since we first met him has caused a vessel in his head to burst.



    The squad is under

    standably shocked--- Munch in particular seems unsettled--- but the most upset person--- possibly even more so than Mary Pembleton--- is Bayliss. For the last act of the episode, he seems to be wandering in a daze as he realizes what may be happening to his partner. We also finally see the level of Tim’s devotion to Frank. When Gee tries to get him to go back to his interview, Tim flatly refuses. He is not leaving his partner and that is that. Tim also expresses the clear difference between his and Pembleton’s approach to the job--- he obsesses over why a person was killed, while Frank is only focused on the how. He knows that he is good ‘murder police’ but he is honest enough to admit that he doesn’t know whether he will be without Frank. The first half of season 5 will focus on Bayliss’ proving that to us and himself.



    The squad goes back to work. Russert and Munch find out who the killer is in Frank’s shooting, only to find the killer has committed suicide. Lewis decides to abandon his search for his killer and continues to demonstrate his skewed priorities. But Tim, Mary and Gee wait until the doctors have finished operating on Frank for news on his condition—and it’s not what we expected. There may have been some brain damage, possibly some paralysis, but right now Frank is in a coma and the doctors aren’t sure if he will ever recover. Fontana has not killed Frank; he has trapped him inside his own head.



    This may have been the best plot twist that the creators of ‘Homicide’ ever did and it is a great finale to what has been, for the most part, a great six months of television. Admittedly, it doesn’t give a lot for several of its actors to do--- particularly Melissa Leo and Isabella Hoffman (appearing as a regular for the last time) but Braugher and Secor retain the level of excellence they have all season. Braugher would get his first Emmy nomination after the season ended; Secor deserved one just as much.



    Because ‘Work Related’ seems so ‘ordinary’ in its first half, the audience is absolutely floored by the second half which is why I consider this one of the best cliffhangers in television history and one of the best episodes in the series run.



    My score:10

    Ranked by Fans 12th

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Jeffry Perry Czerbinski

Jeffry Perry Czerbinski

Ian McKenzie

Guest Star

Stephen Angus

Stephen Angus

Paramedic #1

Guest Star

Anna Belknap

Anna Belknap

Julia Pfeiffer

Guest Star

Max Perlich

Max Perlich

J.H. Brodie

Recurring Role

Ami Brabson

Ami Brabson

Mary Pembleton

Recurring Role

Sean Whitesell

Sean Whitesell

Dr. Eli Devilbliss

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

  • NOTES (2)

    • It was reported by Army Archerd in Variety this week that Baldwin family will finally be getting a male grandchild. Isabella Hoffman will be giving birth to a baby boy named Atticus Baldwin in October. She plans to marry -Daniel- Baldwin, after the divorce from his current wife is finalized. Thanks to Katrina McDonnell for catching a very obvious mistake I made in a previous version of that last sentence. All those Baldwin brothers look the same to me! That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

    • Music in this episode: Cowboy Junkies "Something More Besides You" alb: Lay It Down.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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