21 Jump Street: "Blindsided"
The Plot: Hanson and Penhall go undercover in one of their habitual guises, the McQuaid brothers, for one of Jump Street's habitual drills: buy drugs in increasing quantities from a couple of middlemen in an attempt to gain access to, then bust, the main supplier. The set-up goes more or less as planned — including a super-foxy uniform-and-mirrored-sunglasses turn for Captain Fuller — but the detectives must remain at the school until the smaller fish either get arraigned or flip on their boss.
It's during that dead time case-wise that Diane Nelson (Sherilyn Fenn) approaches Hanson with $1700 she's saved up. The carefully deployed reputation of the dangerous McQuaid brothers has worked its magic, you see; Diane has heard the rumors that "Tom McQuaid," a.k.a. Hanson, did 15 months in juvie for manslaughter, so she figures he'll have no problem taking her money to assassinate her father. On top of that, she wants him iced because he's bad-touching her, but neither she nor Hanson can really prove that, because Bad Dad is a police officer — he heads up the administrative division, in fact, so even though Diane has tried to involve the authorities, Captain Bad Dad has had domestic-disturbance calls quashed, records scrubbed, etc. Because: bad.
Hanson stalls Diane on an answer while submerging himself in a pointlessly byzantine procedural subplot involving whom he tells about the murder contract and when. This in turn needlessly complicates removing Diane and her younger sister from the home, prompts a lot of beleaguered shouting by Hanson (while offering Fuller a crucial opportunity to show Hanson et al. that he's got their backs), and leads to a climax in which, during the course of arresting Diane to get her out of trouble (I don't…it's…we'll get back to it), Hanson, accompanied by the super-symbolic angry whistling of a teakettle, shoots Captain Bad Dad in the stomach. Accidentally and non-fatally, of course.
Internal Affairs has a hissy, natch, but eventually it all gets straightened out, and Hanson goes to visit Diane in the hospital and comforts her in a somewhat inappropriate way when she sobs that nobody will ever like her because she's damaged. Later, they go for a friendly walk on the beach, and drop a plug for abuse-survivor therapy more smoothly than you'd expect.
The overly complex foundation of the A plot is a lot of telling and not much showing, and it's not like Hanson needs any extra excuses to act like the basics of his job description give him hives, but the episode is still pretty good — some interesting camerawork, lifelike acting from the day players, and a more subdued Penhall who is genuinely funny as a result. Dating as it does from a time before TV had more or less an entire procedural subgenre that revolved around child molestation, it keeps vague on the details, and doesn't show Captain Bad Dad actually doing anything except having a dubious mustache. The script isn't too PSA-ish, for a change (Hoffs, who usually gets stuck delivering monologues about the issue du jour, isn't in the episode at all), and Fenn doesn't give it the most nuanced delivery, but her "Nobody's ever going to like me!" speech is unexpected and kind of touching.
The Holes: Wait, so…okay. Diane asks Hanson to kill Captain Bad Dad. Hanson sits on this for like eight hours, then goes to Penhall's apartment at 4 AM, lets himself in, almost gets shot for his trouble, and unburdens himself to Penhall. Penhall is fairly awesome in this scene: he tells Hanson that he should have called, since if Hanson had called, Penhall could have told him not to come over (heh); during that exchange, he's drinking a beer; the beer is a painstaking mock-up of a can that is most certainly not Budweiser, no sirree. It's a…a Badweezer!
Anyway, the problem is apparently that, now, Penhall is also implicated in…hearing about? a Class-A something something felony that could get Diane the chair, although if they go into work the next day and file a report, I don't think I see what the big whoop is. Of course, they don't do this, exactly; Hanson snoops around some more, impersonating a uniform cop employed by Captain Bad Dad's office in the process in order to get to CBD's file. Then he confesses to Fuller, but acts like Fuller's at fault somehow…and then Fuller pulls every string he can reach to see the parts of the file Hanson couldn't get to, so…wait, what's going on? Hanson did eventually report it; he didn't agree to do the hit, obviously; why is everyone in Fuller's office, standing half in shadow, looking like someone farted?
Not Quite Ready For Their Close-Ups: The late Tom O'Rourke plays CBD; you've probably seen him in a dozen L&O reruns as a judge. Go-to awkward redhead Courtney Gains is one of the small drug fish; Robert Hallak, probably best known for Billionaire Boys' Club, rocks a Steve Sanders mullet as the bigger drug fish.
Ow, Quit It: If I recall correctly, the McQuaid brothers made numerous appearances over the course of the series run, and the phrase is usually shouted, in unison, in an attempt to engineer a catchphrase. Which I think worked, back in the day. It's not that Smurfy here, but if it comes back, it's going to bug.
This episode also marks the debut of Sal Banducci's "Blowfish" nickname, and of Penhall's terrifying sleep attire, as seen above.
Drink: Mullets, mullets everywhere.
Tags: 21 Jump Street bad touching Courtney Gains dear '80s we get it love Sarah hairdon'ts Law & Order: Mothership Robert Hallak Sherilyn Fenn shut up Hanson Tom O'Rourke TV