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H:LOTS – S05E13 – “Have a Conscience”

November 26, 2010

Kellerman is back in rotation and getting harassed by always annoying Captain Gaffney, who still believes he’s dirty. Gaffney’s remarks cause Kellerman to knock over a metal filing cabinet. In reviewing this episode, I wonder why Kellerman wasn’t reassigned to another division until some of the heat cooled off him. It seems like a bum deal to be reassigned to duties only to have to deal with gossip and innuendo. Perhaps other cops could handle the ribbing, but Kellerman is far to fragile a cop to deal with it. And I’ve always maintain that the bullying Kellerman dealt with in the wake of his exoneration contributed to the tragic missteps later in the season.

It doesn’t help that Kellerman’s first case back in action sees him tangling with arch villain Luther Mahoney again! Kellerman and Lewis are called to the scene of a murder of Korean shopkeeper who was gunned down after defending his store from aggressive drug peddlers – Luther’s salespeople – by brandishing a weapon. Canvassing the neighborhood yields no viable leads, which is to be expected given the racial tensions and misunderstandings between the shopowner and his patrons. Lewis questions a witness and calls the witness out for using racially problematic language. H:LOTS does well with the exploration of the intersection of race and class which exist within this troubled neighborhood without trafficking in problematic tropes or offering lip service.

Meanwhile Bayliss meant what he said about not wanting to partner with Pembleton anymore, but Pembleton is not getting the message. When one of their cold case gets hot again, Bayliss is hesitant to engage with Pembleton who is eager to kick down the suspect’s door and make an arrest. The interplay between Pembleton and Bayliss is sharp and it’s uncomfortable to watch the partners engage in a bit of role reversal, with Pembleton actively seeking Bayliss’ assistance and attention. Eventually, Pembleton backs off, but it’s clear the dissolution of the partnership has caused him great distress.

Kellerman begins to isolate himself from both M.E Cox, whom he’s been developing a relationship with and his partner Lewis. Lewis stops by Kellerman’s boat and finds Mikey furiously cleaning the boat, with his weapon next to him. It’s clear by Kellerman’s demeanor and aggression that he’s in real emotional pain. Not only from the altercation with Mahoney, but also his feelings of bitterness over the way he’s been treating since the resolution of his corruption allegations. While Kellerman never directly states it and Lewis never asks directly, it’s clear that Kellerman is contemplating suicide. Watching Lewis trying to negotiate the taut situation, particularly when Kellerman calls Lewis’ former partner Crosetti, “a pill popping loser…” resulting in a fiery confrontation is nail biting. Emotionally, Lewis seems to struggle to be there for Kellerman in a way he felt he wasn’t for Crosetti.

It’s an intense scene and Reed Diamond who plays Kellerman is fantastic. Director Uli Edel steadies his lens on the pair as Kellerman and Lewis try to talk it out. Lewis tells Kellerman about the inconsolable grief he experienced when Crosetti committed suicide and how that loss has forced him to keep a certain degree of emotional distance from Kellerman. “If I walk out that damn door and let you smoke yourself, Mikey, am I still a good cop?” Lewis ask Kellerman and it’s so poignant and emotionally raw, I ache watching the two of them trying to work it out.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nausikaa permalink
    November 26, 2010 7:00 pm

    I think the decision to put a very dramatic Bayliss/Pembleton storyline and a very dramatic Lewis/Kellerman storyline in the same time-frame really pays off here. It’s interesting to see that Bayliss, who has often come across as self-absorbed, is actually looking outside of himself for once and paying attention to what’s going on with Kellerman, and it really gives me the sense that for all the awkwardness that his confession created between him and Pembleton, it’s also been a tremendous relief to him. And Pembleton, who’s usually pretty perceptive, is so focused on what’s going on between himself and Bayliss that he completely brushes aside Bayliss’s concerns about Kellerman. It’s a neat and subtle role reversal. And I love the detail of Pembleton wearing a hat throughout the episode because he shaved his head again. I can only assume that after what Bayliss told him, he had some kind of self-tormenting Pembletonian inner dialogue about the difference between visible and invisible scars, shaved his head, and then chickened out again and put on a hat.

  2. November 27, 2010 3:41 pm

    I think the decision to put a very dramatic Bayliss/Pembleton storyline and a very dramatic Lewis/Kellerman storyline in the same time-frame really pays off here.

    I absolutely agree. For much of the fifth season their storylines have run parallel with little intersection. At times it felt a little choppy. It’s nice to see stories intersect and overlap. Despite not being a huge, showy episode, “Have a Conscience” is one of the best and deftly acted of season five.

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