An episode that touches on both race and religion? Man, it's like I've hit the lottery! Are you sure you don't want to throw in gay marriage, social security reform, and Janet Jackson's nipple just to make sure that everyone walks out of this episode irritated about something? No? All right, then.
So what happens is, a cute-as-a-button African-American girl falls to her death from the roof of an apartment. Naturally, everyone assumes that the Puerto Rican handyman who happened to also be on the roof at the time had a helping hand in the girl's untimely demise, and they're all out for blood -- and by "everyone," I include most of the detectives in the 125th Precinct, except, of course, for Sam, who just wants fairness to prevail. Naturally, since it's Sam, and he's only been right about everything else thus far, everyone ignores him.
And so we get race riots, albeit the most orderly and polite race riot ever captured on film. We also get a Black Panthers-esque radical group that takes Sam hostage, and only his knowledge of the poetry of Vanilla Ice saves him from a grisly end. And look -- it's a cameo from Whoopi Goldberg. I will leave it to the reader's imagination as to which of things described in this paragraph was the most chilling.
Ah, but all is not totally a bummer for Sam this episode. He's reunited with the 1973 version of the captain, played all-too-briefly in the pilot by the great Clarke Peters, one of three Wire alums to appear in this episode. Turns out that Clarke Peters' character was something of a father figure to Sam, so he gets the rare pleasure of working alongside someone he loves and admires.
And the two of them help solve the case -- turns out the Puerto Rican handyman is totally innocent, not that this belated discovery is going to sate the angry mob that forms once the detectives manage to track down the erstwhile suspect. So Hunt pretends to gun down the suspect in cold blood, but that turns out to be all a ruse -- the mob can't string up a guy who's already dead, after all. And so the handyman is whisked out of town to start life anew in a metropolis where bloodthirsty vigilantes aren't out for his scalp.
So happy ending, right? Well, sort of. All throughout the episode, Sam keeps seeing clues that someone in 2008 pulled the plug on him. And indeed, when he momentarily walks into a 2008 funeral, you can be forgiven if you think that Sam is actually the guest of honor. But no -- a quick glimpse at the coffin reveals that the deceased is actually the modern-day Clarke Peters and that this entire 1973 caper was just the powers-that-be's way of giving Sam a chance to say goodbye to his father figure.
Poor Clarke Peters. I haven't felt this bad since they did in Omar.
Previously on Aladdin Sane, Sam got to meet up with the 1973 edition of his mother, which was every bit as awkward as you might imagine it to be. And their reunion was all thanks to a little girl who happened to lead Sam right to where his mother was by singing a childhood lullaby of his. Wonder what ever became of that little girl?
Why, she's plummeted to her death if the opening of this episode is any indication. Bummer. At least, that's what I was able to discern from the voice-over by a radio DJ named Brother Love Butter -- think Barry White with more basso than profondo -- bemoaning the girl's sad fate. The shot of the kid hurtling rapidly downward was also a bit of a giveaway. Anyhow, we arrive on the scene at the same time that Sam, Hunt, and a detective I don't know are pushing their way past grieving onlookers. Apparently, the girl did not fall off of the roof on her own accord -- so says the detective I don't know who, if he plays his cards right, might get a goofy nickname from me. Detective Who Were You Again is the leader, as of this point. Annie, who has been crouching by the sheet-covered body with Carling, informs us that the victim's name is Keisha Davies. "Someone who kills a kid needs killing," Hunt grumbles. But honestly, lieutenant? You say that about a lot of people -- guys who kill veterans, guys who kill gays. It might be easier just to list all the people you think don't need killing.
Anyhow, Sam has pulled back the sheet and realized that Keisha is not exactly unknown to him -- both for her lyrical rendition of the Sandman song and for her photographs stashed in a Thom McAn box. "I know this girl," Sam mutters. Annie says that Keisha was known to operate a lemonade stand, so maybe Sam bought a glass off her. "It wasn't really good," Annie says guiltily. "It was tart." Well, that could be a lead -- round up all the people who really hate tart lemonade and bring them in for questioning. No, that wasn't it at all -- Sam tells the other officers that he met Keisha when she was riding her bike. "She helped me... with something... important," Sam says, and yes, he says it as haltingly as I typed it. Carling and Hunt look at him as if to say, "Well, clearly it had nothing to do with helping you find those marbles you've lost."