Sunday, July 22, 2012

Silent Six-inspired musings

The Denying Detective is done! I am so pleased. I think it turned out well. Perhaps a bit shorter than I had originally intended, but everything I wanted to have in it seems to have made it in.

And apparently I’ve been champing at the bit to start The Malevolent Mugging even more than I thought. Two chapters have appeared in as many days. I’m also doing a Wild Wild West story (which happens to involve Richard Anderson’s character from that show), so I plan to continue alternating chapters for the most part. We’ll see how that works out.

Yesterday I saw The Silent Six again, courtesy of my local station. It’s a very different episode in several ways, one being the very early murder. It happens within the first couple of minutes. But even moreso than that is the inspiration from a real-life crime and the refusal of most of those present to do anything to help the girl being beaten. That’s both haunting and repulsive.

And the eventual revelation in court of what actually happened that night, oh goodness. Joe Oliver sounds like he was a rotten person in a lot of ways, but at least he had no intention of sitting by and doing nothing while Susan Wolfe was being attacked. And then to think he was mistaken for the attacker and killed accidentally because of that is really quite heartbreaking. The murderer’s breakdown in court was very powerful, where he says that at least he cared enough to come try to help, making the ones who did nothing guiltier than he.

I wonder what would happen to him. It doesn’t seem like he should get the maximum punishment at all, when he was coming to try to help Susan and shot Joe Oliver by accident, honestly believing he was attacking her.

Due to the shocking truth, I found The Silent Six a very depressing episode. I was not too enthused when it aired as part of the New Year’s Eve marathon, but it was one of the ones I deliberately picked up from it. (I did not record all of the marathon.) Watching it for the second time recently, I liked it a lot better, particularly for the Steve content. And I was actually looking forward to seeing it a third time yesterday, largely because of said content.

The Silent Six could almost be classed as a Steve episode. He is certainly in the spotlight a lot. And the short-tempered policeman suspected of killing Joe is a close friend of Steve’s. So The Silent Six, in the tradition of The Prudent Prosecutor and The Hateful Hero, has the suspect’s friend coming to Perry for help.

There is an idea floating around the fanbase that Sergeant Dave Wolfe, Susan’s protective brother, is Steve’s partner. I’ve referred to him as such myself. But after another viewing, I don’t think it’s true. It looks more like they just happened to be handling the complaint together at the beginning, perhaps because Steve is available and a good friend (and worried about what Dave might do if they find Joe Oliver around). And if Dave is Steve’s partner, he’s never shown or mentioned before or after. I’m pretty sure faithful Sergeant Brice is Steve’s partner.

This is, of course, the episode in which Steve tells Perry that in his line of work he’s not supposed to have friends. Perry’s response is an interesting “Of course not”, said in a tone that sounds like he’s just humoring Steve while knowing that Steve doesn’t really abide by it.

I started thinking about the interesting contrast between Steve and Hamilton and how they handled their respective situations when their dear friends ended up the suspects in murder cases. Both viewpoints are, to me, understandable and valid.

Due quite especially to the fact that Jefferson Pike saved Hamilton’s life, Hamilton feels he absolutely cannot prosecute him. Nor does he want anyone in his office to do it. So he disqualifies the entire office, which results in a special prosecutor being sent in to handle it instead. Hamilton sits by throughout the hearing, looking tense and worried at not being to do anything, but hopeful and confident that Perry will fix it.

Steve has been assigned to investigate Dave Wolfe’s involvement in Joe Oliver’s murder. He did not ask for that, and on the surface, it seems strange that he was chosen. Perhaps it was because he was there at the time, despite not actually seeing what happened in the apartment. Perhaps it was because the department knew that Steve would not let his personal feelings get in the way. If they had thought that would happen, I’m sure Steve would not have been assigned. (I also don’t think he would have been assigned if he and Dave were partners.)

When asked by Perry why he would accept the assignment, Steve basically tells him that he would rather see to it himself instead of standing by while someone else takes over. Perhaps he cannot bear to have his hands tied and only stand on the sidelines doing nothing. Perhaps, in spite of the heartache, he feels that it would be easier to investigate himself and know everything that’s developing. Perhaps he thinks that it will somehow go easier for Dave if he’s the one investigating (even though of course he would not give Dave any special privileges).

Hamilton has certainly had to prosecute friends before (and after). If not for feeling that he just couldn’t because of Jeff saving his life, I’m sure that Hamilton would have gone ahead with the prosecution on that case, no matter how much he hated it. Or maybe he would have figured out some arrangement with Perry like he did for Larry Germaine in The Fatal Fetish, which in the end absolved him of having to prosecute at all.

But, regardless of what Hamilton might have done in slightly different circumstances, we are still presented with his and Steve’s various approaches to the same basic problem. Naturally Hamilton would not feel like prosecuting someone who saved his life. Perhaps Steve would have felt the same if there had been that specific dilemma with Dave. On the other hand, maybe he still would have felt better handling the investigation himself instead of turning it over to someone else.

It’s been intimated to me more than once that Steve and Andy are cold for pursuing such investigations and even, in Andy’s case, outright stating that he will put his cousin in the gas chamber himself, if it comes to that. I disagree. Of course they love their family and friends. But they are honest and upright law officers. How can they sanction any crimes committed, even if the crimes happen to be committed by their loved ones?

Anyway, concerning Andy’s statement, he was in a terrible position right then. His dear friend had been murdered and his cousin was being blamed for it. It looked bad, but Andy did not want to believe Jimmy was guilty. To that end, he went to Perry for help. At the same time, if Jimmy turned out to be guilty after all, he would not want Jimmy to walk free. So when asked by Perry if Andy will stand by Jimmy, Andy says that if he finds evidence that Jimmy is guilty, he will put Jimmy in the gas chamber himself. And you can see from his expression that he is agonized at the thought of it ever coming to that. But if it did, what could he do? He would not withhold the evidence, even if it meant sacrificing Jimmy, because above all else, Andy stands for upholding the law. Anyone breaking the law has to suffer the consequences, even if it’s a family member. If anything, I think Andy should be hailed for his courage and dedication to the law, even in a heartrending situation like that.

Coming back to the original topic, I enjoy The Silent Six a lot more than I did before. The solution to the crime is indeed depressing, but there’s a lot of good stuff in the episode.

For a Steve fan, it’s great. He has so many substantial scenes. I think, aside from the scene where he asks for Perry’s help, my favorite bit is where he goes to Susan’s hospital room and slips a little bouquet of flowers into her hand. It’s very sweet, and he shows his gentle side throughout the scene. Susan is happy to see him, too. Steve is clearly her friend as well as Dave’s.

And the darker elements have their purpose. I liked that the show tackled the chilling angle of witnesses who refuse to help. It’s something that should be addressed, and denounced, most emphatically. The Silent Six brought it out perfectly, in all of its sickening repulsiveness, without being preachy.

And I should note, Susan thankfully survived the attack. At the end we see her fully recovered, preparing to go off on a well-deserved vacation to Hawaii with Dave. It’s a hopeful epilogue after all that discouragement in court, and we also get a bit of that fun friendship with Paul and Steve as Steve informs Paul that he cut it close on a traffic light.

Overall, I definitely say it’s one of the above-average season 9 ventures.

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