S4x11 – For God and Country
The gas attack bombing saga relocates to the H:LOTS set, where the Baltimore police are still licking their wounds after losing out on extraditing the suspect their church bombing to Charm City. Pembleton and Bayliss go to the Egan house to question the bomber’s wife and a couple of hours later Mrs. Egan turns up dead and her son is seen fleeing the house with a cut on his hand and quite the predicament.
Pembleton is at his usual level of intensity, which will prove to be quite traumatic for him later in the season, but in this episode he’s grappling with rage of reliving one of the most disturbing crimes of his career so his intensity serves him well. There is quite a bit of cheeky fun to be had watching the New York boys cha cha with the Charm City boys, but the chemistry tends to only work when characters are interacting outside the business of law enforcement. The actual scenes involving apprehending suspects and navigating the system it feels really forced and somewhat tedious. This has nothing to do with the acting, script or direction, but rather the challenge of having to water down the tone of both shows in order to create a cohesive narrative. I should be clear this is only an issue in the first set of crossover episodes. Subsequent crossovers (there are two more) are executed in a much more holistic manner.
Neither of these episodes especially thrill me, but I do tend to like the H:LOTS side of the crossover as the tone of the show better lends itself to exploration of character emotional struggles in way not appropriate for the procedural structure of Law & Order. Given the intensity of the case at hand and its racially charged subtext, the content works much better here than it did on Law & Order.
It’s amusing to note J.K. Simmons guest stars as Col. Rausch and is quite sinister in his portrayal of a bitter and vengeful ex covert operative – are there any other kind – who remains calm in the face of pointed accusations as to his involvement in the case. Simmons later goes on to play compassionate and pragmatic shrink Skoda.