Murder in the First: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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Episode recaps

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 Warning: Spoiler Alert

To say the ‘plot thickens’ doesn’t quite cover it. The beauty of this show is that if you’ve been watching, you knew it would. You’ve probably come to expect it after only two episodes in the books. Tonight Bochco, took a few more steps to draw intrigue and to complicate the story just enough. I won’t say tonight’s episode “lowered the boom” but it made the story wider. It also did something that most shows like this are not willing to do until it starts to get stale, seasons later.

The opening scene drops Blunt (lead suspect for those just joining us) into what one would have to assume is one of his residences. With the use of editing effects, they are able to illustrate that Blunt is indeed the sexual predator we’ve been lead to believe along with an affection for adding drugs into his mix of forced coitus. A foreshadowing detail: Blunt wraps some sort of drug that he will eventually force down the throat of a consenting adult. Then she says she doesn’t like it. He calls her a liar and proceeds to strangle her, slightly. Tuck this away because you know it will come up later.

Det. Mulligan, antsy about the DNA results she was able to swindle off of Blunt last week, repeatedly calls the lab in order to get those results back. Clearly, the lab tech doesn’t respond well to being rushed by someone who doesn’t appreciate her talent. Det. English decides they should go down to the lab (a place no one actually goes to) and see if he can’t help this along. It’s a whole “more bees with honey” situation. Once at the lab it is clear that the tech has no intention of being remotely polite much less accommodating to Det. Mulligan. Det. English is a whole different story. After a little banter between tech and English, they get what they came for. With a 99.7% probability, they are confident they can call the father of the unborn child…Erich Blunt.

Meanwhile, back in Warren Daniels’ office, Blunt reconsiders retaining what he calls a “Doberman”. After giving out rules for their lawyer-client relationship, and Blunt breaking one of them before the statement is complete, they agree. Consider Erich Blunt, “Lawyer-ed Up”. Despite the acting chops of James Cromwell/Warren Daniels and the lack there of with Tom Felton/Erich Blunt (it’s not his fault, that’s the character), once again Richard Schiff carries the scene with very few words uttered. Yes, Cromwell has the lines, and the alpha male presence, but Schiff delivers sparing moments that allow the scene to breath. Felton does deliver an interesting moment. As the viewer, I am skeptical of his sincerity.

“Downloaded. This is your game Mr. Daniels, I’m happy to play by your rules”

The only thing missing is the quivering lip…

We do see a new development unfold that I personally have been waiting for. A woman not to be confused with our dead flight attendant, had prominent screen time in the promos leading up to the series premiere. She confides in one of the other detectives in the precinct. We discover they both have kids on the same tee ball team. She reveals to him that five years ago she was drugged, choked, and raped by none other than Erich Blunt. Problem is that she is telling her cop friend in a way of suggesting that they keep pulling on the thread. Not to violate her confidentiality agreement she signed as part of their court settlement. The detective doesn’t quite see it that way.

Coming out of the break, we find that Det. English has been looking for a new place. One leans towards the idea of too many memories of his wife from their previous house. Fun little wrinkle, the real estate agent is probing interest in him outside of this real estate venture. Meanwhile Mulligan is approached by one of the kids from episode 1. He wants her help in removing his father figure who is physically abusive.

Five detectives in a huddle. And there is not even a majority much less a consensus on who suspect #1 is. The good news is that we get our first signature scene from Lt. Koto (Ian Anthony Dale).

“This kid is going to get the best lawyer money can buy. He’ll spend a fortune on expert witnesses. He’s smart and he’s arrogant. We’re not going to beat a confession out of him. So let’s do better. There are three words I don’t want to hear when this is all over. O-J-Simpson.”

Our detectives follow-up on their due diligence interviewing potential leads, including other private jet employees. The ‘Mormon’ was all to happy to roll over on Bill Wilkerson (Steven Weber), insinuating that Wilkerson as well as Blunt had a sexual relationship with the deceased. A detail that at the time seemed huge. However, the more I let it fester, the more it feels like a red herring.

Now for my favorite scene that holds very little importance to the overall big picture story line. There is a techie at the precinct that on a few occasions has been caught staring or outright talking about how attracted she is to Det. Mulligan. I sure can’t blame her. In this scene there is a very sultry and quite frankly fun hypothetical banter between these two in an effort to explain how Blunt could have sent a delayed text message to throw off their scent. I want you to watch this show, so I’m not going to give you the transcript. I will say how it ends. Tech Girl: So, there’s no misunderstanding, you are kind of my type. Mulligan: I know.

A petty drug runner gets pinched and brought in. Normally not a big deal. The arresting officer comes in to shoot the breeze (sort of) with English. Says the kid’s got something. Blunt. A petty drug dealer is looking to soften the blow of his arrest by turning on Blunt. The kid doesn’t hand them this smoking gun on a silver platter, but he does add “means” I don’t mean monetary. He gives them not only the fact that Blunt is some sort of Krav Maga Bruce Lee, but when and where he trains. This provides the answer to how. If Blunt was there. Had sexual relations with the deceased. Then somehow attacked her in a manner that made it look accidental with lethal force, this very well could prove how he was able to do that.

Mulligan, clearly has some issues about her ex. Not breaking news. However, it’s the specifics that could hold the key to behavior later. In this episode and beyond. Mulligan visits the abused kid’s mother at work at what looks like a convenient store. She acts like a regular customer inquiring about her bruises. Claiming that she too knows what its like. Leaves her card and walks out, more or less.

On what I believe is house hunt #13 for English, they visit a house boat. Don’t think pontoon boat with a hibachi grill. Think a smaller version of what Tom Hanks lived in as Sam Baldwin in Sleepless in Seattle. English has some clear skepticism. They enter. She keeps talking that real estate noise. He looks up and cuts her off to say, “how soon can I move in”. It’s small but functional for his purposes going forward. Most importantly though, the view is spectacular while still quaint and subtle. And in no way, shape or form shows any similarities to the house he would be moving out of.

During another one of Det. Mulligan’s internet dates, she receives a call from the abused kid. He is frantic and Mulligan runs out of the date. She arrives on scene the abuse is audible from the street. She decides not to wait for backup and proceeds in. As soon as the husband sees her, he grabs a knife and approaches Mulligan with the intent to cause harm. Mulligan orders him to freeze, he does not. And for his defiance, she puts 4 bullets in his chest. The wife is not pleased. Anyone who’s ever seen anything like this unfold on any other cop drama knows what’s next. Mulligan is put on immediate administrative suspension as a routine procedure.

After a visit to Mulligan the following morning and a quick meeting with the lab tech (all indicators point to Blunt) English and Koto meet with the DA to show what they have. Naturally, she was hoping for something more iron clad. But in the end, they have a solid theory worth pursuing. Koto sticks back to affirm to the DA that they have more than enough for a warrant. The DA then pulls Koto close. This is obviously a situation they are familiar with. As the DA is not one of my favorite characters as of now, rest assured the fan boy in me was not thrilled with this development.

The last scene grouping is one that I think most of us have been waiting for since episode 1. English and the other detectives (not including Mulligan) place themselves in strategic positions outside the Krav Maga building. They swoop in quietly and arrest Erich Blunt unceremoniously and take him away. Blunt says nothing beyond, “what is this?” There is a back and forth cinematography-wise between English’ team arresting and processing Blunt, Det. Mulligan, and the big lawyer speak we all were expecting from Warren Daniels not if but when Blunt was taken in.

So, as of today, we have what feels like a sound theory. Some strong but not concrete evidence against Blunt. And a slew of loose ends yet to be tied up. Two things to consider in the next 6 days. 1) The season is at minimum 10 episodes long and we are on 3. 2) After watching the promo for next week, I get the feeling the walls just start crumbling down around our detective team. This is definitely not going to be a one-sided affair. Plenty of peaks and valleys yet to come.

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