Case #5.14: "Baby Blues"

A greasy-haired drug dealer sells Judy, Mac, and Joey enough product to "supply 3 high schools." He is promptly arrested, causing him to shout, "They're cops! They're cops!" Somebody unseen starts shooting. Joey heads deeper into the darkened warehouse alone to find the shooter. Joey, baby, did you sleep through "safety in numbers" class at the academy?

A man in what looks like a boiler room fires at Joey. The littlest Penhall has only one choice: Aim for center mass. The drug dealer's accomplice groans, falling in slow motion. Judy and Mac hurry toward Joey with the greasy drug dealer in tow. "You killed him! You killed him!" shouts the dealer. Joey looks like he can't quite believe what he's done and starts toying with what used to be Doug's Saint Michael medal.

That night, Joey tosses and turns in bed, replaying the events in the warehouse. He sits up, sweaty and breathing hard, hair sticking up at crazy angles.

At the Chapel, Captain Rufus asks how Joey is doing. Joey grumpily says Rufus is the 10th person to ask him that this morning. Joey will be on desk duty until Internal Affairs reviews the shooting. Joey insists he doesn't need desk duty; he needs to work.

Captain Rufus has killed in the line of duty before. He tells the younger officer that posttraumatic problems can sneak up on you. Joey has a 10:00 appointment with the department psychologist. Also mandatory. Joey insists he's fine. 

Joey watches the psychologist, Dr. Reznick, fiddle with the Thermostat on the wall and asks, "Do I have to lie down?" Dr. Reznick ignores this, griping about how the heat and air never work. Joey wants to leave. "All right, I'll give you the express treatment," says Dr. Reznick. Joey repeats that he's fine.

Dr. R asks how Joey slept last night. "After the neighbors quit fighting, great," Joey replies. Dr. R wants to know if Joey had breakfast. Joey nods; he finished last night's pizza. Dr. R raises an eyebrow, "Pizza for breakfast?" My parents are from New Jersey; it's actually not that weird.

Dr. R has one last question: If put in the same situation again, does Joey have any concern that he would freeze? "There's no such thing as the same situation." Right on, Joey, just like there's no such thing as a routine traffic stop. Joey thinks psychologists are crazy. Dr. R hands him a piece of paper with an address on it.

"A hospital? Are you committing me?" Joey asks. No, Dr. R wants Joey to pay a visit to the neonatal unit. The police department has the idea of providing officers who've killed in the line of duty with a "life-affirming experience to counterbalance their actions." Joey laughs, "You want me to go to a hospital to watch babies? Will it get me back undercover?" Dr. R can't guarantee anything, but Joey needs to heal his psyche.

Back at the Chapel, Joey sits at his desk shuffling papers. Mac calls out asking if he wants a chicken wing. Joey doesn't and he also turns down a thigh. "Aren't you hungry?" Judy asks. Joey says, "No...Yes! Look, I know what you guys are up to and it's not gonna work." He thinks they're trying to take his mind off the shooting.

Mac tells Joey that he got shot while working in Newark and was almost glad. The thing he feared most happened; he didn't have to wonder or worry anymore. "I get it," says Joey, "you wanna know what it's like to go all the way." Joey tells them he didn't blink or flinch when he pulled the trigger. He gives them a cheery wave as heads out the door. That night, Joey can't sleep again.

The next morning, Captain Rufus lets Joey know that his door is open if he needs to talk. Another detective brings in a suspect for Joey to do paperwork on. Joey asks the suspect for his name. "They got dog ugly secretaries down here," sasses the suspect. Joey ignores that. The guy makes another crack about Joey's hairstyle choice (ponytail). Joey slides his chair closer to the guy and says calmly, "You can talk to me or I can kick your teeth out one row at a time. Last name?"

The guy responds that his last name is Gonzales and he's 18: "You want my phone number too? Or maybe I ain't your type." Joey has had enough. He yanks the guy up by his shirt collar. In the process of pulling the suspect out of Joey's grip, Joey pops Mac in the face. Joey apologizes but doesn't quite look sincere.

"Why don't you just tell me what's on your mind?" Captain Rufus asks in the office. He suggests Joey go back to Dr. Reznick. Joey doesn't like psychologists; he probably had his fill growing up with a violently unstable alcoholic father. Captain Rufus says Joey can talk to him instead. After some hesitation, Joey opens up, admitting that he's not sleeping.

Captain Rufus has heard about the hospital program for officers involved in shootings. He thinks it's a good idea because desk duty is obviously not agreeing with Joey, but he can't put Joey back on the street.

Joey goes to the neonatal floor and meets with Nurse Sullivan. "Watch off," she instructs briskly, opening a door. She tells Joey to scrub his hands, pull his hair back, and put on a gown. "Do you think I'm really equipped to do this?" Joey asks. Nurse Sullivan has a question of her own: "Are you drunk or high?" When Joey says no, she tells him that he'll be fine.

Nurse Sullivan leads Joey into a nursery unit that specializes in babies born to drug-addicted mothers or mothers with AIDS. Some of the babies have been abandoned. In other cases, the mothers are so unstable that they aren't allowed to visit. The babies need to be held to give them a better chance at emotional development.

Nurse Sullivan shows Joey how to hold a baby. The screaming girl, Shaun, was born addicted to crack and hasn't had a visitor in a long time. Nurse Sullivan heads off to answer a page. Joey, bewildered, turns to one of the experienced nursery workers. The woman tells Joey it's simple; talk to Shaun, cuddle her, and give her a bottle.

As the day wears on, Joey seems to get slightly more comfortable helping with baby Shaun. The nursery worker shows him how to change her diaper. Nurse Sullivan finally comes back and puts Shaun in her crib. She advises Joey to get some sleep; he's due back at the nursery at 8 AM. 

Joey shakes his hair out of its ponytail and stops at the nurses' station to ask what will happen to Shaun. The duty nurse replies that it depends on whether or not Shaun's mother can kick her drug habit. Shaun's mother punched the duty nurse in the face for taking Shaun away after she was born. The mother swore she would get clean and get her baby back; the nurse hasn't seen Shaun's mother since.

The duty nurse is summoned away by a page. Conveniently, Shaun's chart is sitting on the desk. Joey peeks at it and learns the mother's name is Katherine and she has no fixed address.

When Joey goes outside, Mac's Jeep is waiting for him. Joey gets in and gives Mac a guilty look: "How's the jaw?" Mac shrugs that it only hurts to talk. "Then shut up," Joey advises, giving Mac a peace offering of gum.

Joey and Mac go to what looks like either a very questionable halfway house or an equally grungy shelter. Mac doesn't think tracking down Shaun's mother is a good idea. They hear a couple arguing inside one of the apartments. The woman is being beaten. Mac and Joey announce that they're the police and kick in the door.

The woman, actually barely more than a teenager, is lying on the living room carpet. Furniture has been knocked over and there's no sign of whoever was attacking her. Joey offers to call an ambulance, but the woman says no. Of course it transpires that she's Katherine. Katherine is also only 15 years old. Joey wants to talk to her about Shaun.

Mac finds a crack rock, which Katherine insists belongs to her boyfriend. "Yeah, and I'm Elvis," Joey says, handcuffing her.

The next morning at the Chapel, Judy asks why Joey put up Catherine's $200 bail. He did it because Katherine promised she'd go into rehab. The teen has multiple priors for drugs, shoplifting, and soliciting. Katherine thanks Joey for bailing her out; she plans to go to a job placement program after she finishes rehab. Judy tells Katherine to her face that she doesn't think the teen will change. Katherine didn't care about her baby when she was pregnant and using crack. Why should she care about Shaun now?

Katherine says she's gonna try to get clean again. "Trying is nice," says Judy. Joey pulls her aside. Judy asks if he'd be bending over backwards for a childless junkie.

Outside, Joey apologizes to Katherine. Katherine wishes she could go visit Shaun and hold her before she goes to rehab. 

At the nursery, Joey puts on a clown nose and hangs a musical mobile over Shaun's crib. He picks the baby up and notices that Shaun is shaking. He calls Mrs. Williams, the other nursery worker, over to check on her. Mrs. Williams puts the baby she's taking care of in a crib.

Shaun is having convulsions. Mrs. Williams tells Joey to push the emergency button on the wall. Nurse Sullivan rushes in with a doctor. She tells Joey to leave. Joey asks if Shaun is okay. Nurse Sullivan explains that Shaun is going through drug withdrawal. 

Mac comes to sit with Joey in the waiting room. Shaun has been taken to surgery. Mac brought a small teddy bear for her. Nurse Sullivan tells Joey that Shaun is fine; he'll have to visit her in the morning. Joey hesitantly asks if Shaun will be normal. Nurse Sullivan says most drug-addicted babies have brain damage and they aren't yet sure how severe it is in Shaun's case. Joey looks sad.

Mac has more bad news. Katherine never checked into the rehab center and she's not at her apartment. That's okay because Joey has an idea.

"What credentials do you have to be a parent?" Dr. Reznick asks huffily. Joey answers, "More than her mother, I'll tell you that." Dr. R points out that isn't saying much, but agrees to give a letter of reference. He rattles off all the things Joey has to consider: health insurance, daycare, shopping, clothes, diapers, bottles, disabilities Shaun may have later in childhood. Taking care of her isn't Joey's problem.

Joey is disgusted. Dr. R says that saving Shaun won't bring back the suspect Joey killed. "I don't want the bastard back," Joey growls, "I want Shaun to have a chance. Your system stinks." He slams the door as he leaves.

Joey arrives at the hospital and learns a woman came and kidnapped Shaun. The police are already there putting out an APB.

Later at the Chapel, the team exposits that Katherine hasn't come to her apartment. They haven't found her anywhere else either. Dr. R is waiting in Rufus's office to have an audience with Joey. Dr. Reznick called in some favors and found a couple willing to adopt Shaun if she's safely recovered. Joey wants to meet them. Dr. R says no way.

Captain Rufus thinks Joey should go home because he's been up all night. "I'll rest when I find Shaun," Joey says. Rufus tells Mac and Judy to follow him: "I don't think he realizes exactly what he may find."

Joey goes the halfway house and confronts Katherine's abusive boyfriend. He denies being Shaun's father. After having his head bounced against the wall a few times, he tells Joey where he can find Katherine and the baby.

They find Katherine smoking another rock at a crack house. Joey asks where the baby is. "She's gone," Katherine replies smoothly. Joey demands to know where Shaun has gone. Katherine claims Shaun will have a good home; she hired a lawyer to help the process. "You sold her, didn't you?" asks Joey, "You sold her to buy drugs!"

"They gave me the money. I didn't ask," Katherine whimpers. I'm now having flashbacks of the pilot episode of The Shield. Joey shouts that Katherine is a poster girl for birth control. He drags the sobbing teen out of the crack house.

Later, Katherine points out the lawyer's office where she dropped off Shaun. Judy says she'll call for back up. Mac thinks she should call an ambulance too. Joey accosts the trenchcoat wearing probably-not-lawyer: "Where's the baby?" 

Joey checks the backseat of the suspect's car. It's cluttered with boxes and other junk. "Oh man," Joey murmurs, "Shaun?" The blanket wrapped baby is wedged behind a box. Because this isn't The Shield, Shaun starts to move and coo. "Hiya, brown eyes," Joey smiles.

The ambulance arrives. Joey rides to the hospital with the baby. "Please hold on, Shaun," he says desperately, "I'm gonna dance at your wedding. I'm gonna dance at your wedding, you hear me?"

In Captain Rufus's office, Rufus apologizes that things didn't work out. Joey shrugs that Dr. R found really nice parents for Shaun. "The guy I shot musta made about 1,000 bad choices to end up where he did. Shaun didn't have a choice," he says. Rufus gives Joey his service revolver back; Internal Affairs cleared him. End of episode.

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