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S3x19 – Colors

April 25, 2010

Jim Bayliss – that’s right – Bayliss’ cousin is involved with the shooting of a Turkish exchange student. And if Jim Bayliss is played by the Fontana alum David Morse, well you know no good can come of it for Jim or Tim Bayliss. Ahh the not so fabulous Bayliss boys! Tim Bayliss showed up late at night looking sketchy and Jim Bayliss didn’t shoot his ass. This is an ugly examination of race, privilege and bigotry. Tom Fontana has written a complicated story and it is not at all enjoyable or comfortable to watch. Here’s a big flashing hint: Burglars don’t ring doorbell.


  • Oh what a bad break for Pembleton. He catches the case of Jim Bayliss exercising his white male privilege to shoot any brown person who rings his doorbell. What’s interesting is immediately we are shifted away from the actual murder VICTIM to the “it’s so awful to be accused of being a racist” tropery, which is wonky given that I’m sure it’s much worse to be dead! It’s a bunch of bullshit. Bayliss is pushing people around getting in Pembleton’s face and demanding that Gee put him on the case. It’s hard to watch Rookie Tim go off on all these people merely because they want to work this case the way they work any other ones. Bayliss the cop wants everyone involved with the investigation to know that Jim Bayliss is a “good man”, as though the Turkish exchange student – dressed in a costume with a limited grasp of English – wasn’t. It’s weird to watch a white writer’s unpacking white bigotry in an unflinching way. And those damn “white woman’s tears”. Jim gets annoyed with people who can’t speak English very well. His wife tells us that and then laughs as though this were a funny joke! Other white detectives are comforting Bayliss in a way that I find creepy, Howard in particular. Pembleton handles the interrogation of the suspect brilliantly, until Bayliss in a fit of rage SMASHES the two way mirror in the box. Fortunately, we don’t need to decide what’s what, because our suspect beats up a cop in violent rage because he doesn’t like handcuffs! Bolander is on fire (Ned Beatty giving a fabulous performance) waxes about the rather nasty run of luck he and his fellow squad mates have encountered over the last season. He also ponders how Bayliss and Pembleton can find their way back from this polarizing case. When Bayliss takes Bayliss home he finds his cousin isn’t quite so remorseful after all. Jim says, “It’s amazing their guts are the same color as ours.” as he sprays the blood and such off his front porch. Doesn’t that just warm your places where you didn’t realize you had places?


  • Bayliss takes Gee to task for making Pembleton the primary citing – wait for it – reverse racism! Woot. Gee tosses Bayliss out of the squad room, but apparently Bayliss thinks it’s best to shadow Pembleton, questioning all his moves. Gee handles Bayliss with a reasonable demonstration of authority – albeit a bit too cool for my tastes.


  • They aren’t solving crimes other than ones happening in their restaurant’s kitchen; this means peacing out their current chef and hiring Granny Lewis – the hottest soul food chef in Baltimore. It’s wonderful bit of interplay between Lewis and Munch; a nice break from the harsh case.
5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2010 12:17 pm

    Gee handles Bayliss with a reasonable demonstration of authority – albeit a bit too cool for my tastes.

    Of course. Even if he has the authority to order a white guy around, the black guy still has to be careful how he does it. Because otherwise he opens the door to even more derailing opportunities, like the whole “reverse racism” thing.

  2. April 25, 2010 12:19 pm

    That’s a great analysis, Redlami. You’re so right about Gee! Bayliss came from the “Mayor’s Detail” so it’s true Gee had to tread carefully with him.

  3. hsofia permalink
    May 6, 2010 3:49 am

    For some reason, I don’t get a comment box for the two previous episodes – it seems I can only comment when someone else has already commented?

  4. hsofia permalink
    May 9, 2010 6:22 pm

    This episode was riveting. Bayliss was so out of the line repeatedly, it was, as you say, hard to watch. Bolander explaining to Munch and Lewis why the business between Pembleton and Bayliss was serious – great scene. In the previous episode there was so much intimacy between Frank and Tim … the way they got all up in each others’ faces talking about first loves – then suddenly Tim shuts Frank out when his cousin kills someone. Great, great, great episode. Although, I must admit, my mind wandered during the Jerry Stiller scenes – not that I don’t like the guy. It’s just that I was still thinking about Bayliss and Pembleton during those scenes.

  5. May 10, 2010 7:47 am

    Bolander explaining to Munch and Lewis why the business between Pembleton and Bayliss was serious – great scene.

    If memory serves me, this is probably the last big moment Beatty has in the series, thus making it even more bittersweet when framed that way.

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