Random Acts Of Violence

Episode Report Card
Sobell: B+ | Grade It Now!
You're Not My Real Dad, Gil!

Hello, Siegfried. Hello, Roy. You must be thrilled to be featured in the establishing shot opening this week's episode. The shot in question shows daylight fading into night, just so we realize that bad things happen at night and a very specific crew of people will be called upon to deal with them.

The camera zooms into a neighborhood where a boy -- think Ali G, only without the funny -- is kissing his girlfriend goodnight before peeling off toward his car. As the boy walks past a modest tract home, we zoom in on the lit window and hear, "Turn it off! I'm not going to say it again." The "it" in question is one of those kill-'em-all games, and the boy playing it says, "Five more minutes and I'll be on level nine." "NOW!" bellows the dad in response, but before he can follow up on that line of discussion, his adorable, pink-pajama-clad daughter comes out and protests, "Dad! You said I could watch Nickelodeon!" He tells her, "You've watched enough TV for one night. It's time to go to bed." The daughter pulls a time-honored counterargument -- implying favoritism -- and protests, "How come he doesn't have to?" Dad lays down the smack: "Both of you! Bed! Now!" This is the point where the son is conveniently struck deaf, so Dad strides over and turns off the television. The boy protests, and prepares to shuffle off to bed, stopping first to grab his soda. Dad intercepts -- "You know how much sugar's in that thing?" -- and that's the moment the Cola Wars begin in earnest, with gunfire erupting and shooting out the windows. Dad tackles his boy and covers him with his own body. I have no idea what would be more terrifying: trying to protect your kid, or knowing that your parent is trying to protect you in the only way he can. The gunfire goes on for a very long time, and as it stops, Dad remembers that Aimee's been in her bedroom alone the whole time. He gets up, shouting her name.

Remember this moment, because it's about as good as you're going to feel through the rest of the episode. It's all downhill from here.

We see a jostling camera shot as Dad runs into Aimee's bedroom and sees the shot-out window and the feathers drifting down like rain. The camera switches perspective so all we see is the smoking pillow, stray feathers, and a small hand lying limply.

Cut to the requisite array of office vehicles, and Warrick greeting Gil with a curt "hey." Gil asks curiously, "Didn't you grow up in this neighborhood?" I realize that line may have just been an excuse for the ensuing exposition, but I like to think that at some point, Warrick and Gil had talked about Warrick's childhood. Anyway, Warrick says, "Yeah, not too far away. My grandmother still lives down the block. Lot of familiar faces." One of them shouts off-camera, "Hey, Brown, you gonna find the guy who did this?" Warrick replies, "We're gonna do our jobs." Then he and Gil go to meet Brass. Brass looks even more somber than usual as he introduces us to Victim #1, the boy who had been kissing his girlfriend goodnight ninety seconds ago: "Jason Gilbert, shot through and through. He's gonna be all right, though." Jason, as it turns out, has great reflexes and hit the ground the moment the shooting started. Unfortunately, it means he didn't see the car. Brass sighs and says, "Little girl inside wasn't so lucky -- Aimee Phelps, age nine." The camera zooms in on Warrick; he looks dismayed as he repeats, "Phelps?" Brass begins executing the solemn sworn duties of Captain Exposition, telling us, "Father operates a rec center down the block," but Warrick's already pushing past him. Gil looks a little nonplussed at this.

Warrick heads inside, where Phelps pere is sitting with his head bowed, choking back tears, and lays an arm across Phelps' shoulders, asking, "What happened, man?" Phelps looks up and says, "They killed my baby." Then he begins sobbing in earnest. Warrick says fervently, "I'm sorry, man. I'm sorry. I got here as quick as I could. What happened?" As he's talking to Phelps, Gil drifts in, watching intently, his attention clearly torn between checking out the crime scene and trying to read the situation with Warrick. Phelps tells Warrick, "Cops said they were aiming at some white kid. I thought I was making a difference." He begins sobbing again as Warrick assures him, "You are making a difference. I'm living proof. I'm sorry." Gil takes this in as he checks out the bullet holes in the bookcase (where's there's a picture of Phelps with one of his kids as a baby). Warrick continues to pat Phelps on the back, then tracks what Gil's doing. Gil's peering more closely at the bullet holes; I suspect he's doing so both because he wants to get down to solving this and because he doesn't want to go anywhere near the Warrick/Phelps thing. We see Gil peer into a bullet hole, and the camera takes us on the TMI voyage that explains how it tore through the wall and into the pillow where, presumably, it then passed through Aimee's skull.

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