This is an exceptional episode, and a lot can be read into the relationship that a veteran cop has with his troubled kid brother. Character actor Richard Herd returns as Police Officer Harry Flank, a role he portrayed previously in a sixth season episode. One night while bowling with the Simon brothers, he has to help his bro out of a jam. It involves money the younger brother, Phil, owes a cocaine dealer. In order to erase the debt, Harry takes an advance on his pension and floats Phil a loan. Except Phil has other ideas about how to use the money, which leads to a fatal shoot-out in a dark alley when another drug deal goes bad.
It's a compelling plot and nicely structured, but the heart of the story is the relationship between the two brothers. In a way it is juxtaposed with the relationship that Rick and A.J. have. At one point, Harry tells Rick that Rick would be bailing A.J. out of trouble, too, because it's what the older sibling usually does. Of course, Rick can see that Harry has blinders on and is unable to admit the extent of Phil's nefarious crimes and other seedy activities. As viewers, we know this may end badly and we're hooked to find out just what will happen.
The last act, where Harry gets shot because he is once again rushing to Phil's aid is very dramatic. He realizes he has to arrest Phil, but as the Simons arrive at the scene, the big bad coke dealer is there to avenge being double-crossed. He aims and fires at Phil, but instead hits Harry. In the next part, Phil hops into a truck and gets ready to leave while Harry is on the ground dying. I wondered if the writer would have Phil just take off, but I'm happy to report he does come to his senses. The conflict in that moment is very real. When Phil finally does the right thing, it shows the audience family ties are stronger than any problem that might threaten to disrupt everything.
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