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10 October 2015 @ 10:10 pm
Let's chat about FK's "The Code" (just for fun!)  
The random-number generator determined that "The Code" is the episode to rewatch and chat about, just a little, desultorily and casually, as discussed in my previous post.

Come and play! No pressure. Why not pop "The Code" into the DVD player or stream it? Why not share a thought, memory, question or joke?

"It's the suit, Schank, the suit!"

Have you ever noticed that there's a plain-clothes officer in the squad room through most of the episode, whom we see only from the back, who is wearing the identical '80s-pop-style jacket that Natalie wore in first season's "Dying to Know You"? Of all the things to have actually survived the eighteen-month hiatus between seasons, the switch between networks, and all the rest... good grief! :-)

In other costuming and hairstyling/makeup blurbs, I personally thought that Natalie looked particularly nice, Nick looked unnecessarily worn, Schanke's brown suits are magnificent choices for all the characterization and cultural context they imply, and I was reminded once again that absolutely everyone wearing blazers all the time everywhere is so, so, so '90s.

Not costuming, but setting: That's the same hot dog stand as in "The Fix," surely! Fun. :-)

"I hate winter!"

"The Code" aired on May 13, 1995, as second season's 21st episode, and IMDB and Amazon streaming list it in that order. But it was filmed as second season's 24th episode, and it appears in that production order on the DVDs.

Either way, "The Code" comes after "Be My Valentine" (and therefore after the Schankes' Hawaii trip); it's just a question of how long after. In production order, 24 "The Code" comes immediately after 23 "Be My Valentine," and Schanke's "I hate winter!" mood could perhaps be seen as in some ways as post-vacation blues. And surely Schanke's seasonal grumps (and plan to purchase cross-country skis per Myra) would be more suitable in February (immediately following when "Be My Valentine" is set) than May (when "The Code" aired).

"I'll get your heater fixed; it's on me."

Continuity kudos for remembering from way back in first season that the Caddy's heater is broken — humorous that it's still/again broken? Nick babies that car, yet doesn't get the heater fixed... because he doesn't feel the cold? or perhaps a more car-related reason? — and plugging that into Schanke feeling cold (and Nick not), and Schanke offering to get it fixed on him, and Nick objecting over the cost to Schanke. (Additional continuity kudos for all the "Partners of the Month" call-outs! Not just the physical plaque reappearing. And the "If Looks Could Kill" echoes.)

It's nice at the end that Nick loans Schanke the Caddy without conditions — unlike "Close Call." I'd like to think that this means Nick regrets abusing his hypnotism power over Schanke in that way in "Close Call," making Schanke wash the Caddy for him, but while that's a valid interpretation for production order (where 22 "Close Call" immediately precedes 23 "Be My Valentine" and then 24 "The Code"), it breaks for aired order (where 25 "Close Call" comes after 21 "The Code"), and so aired order would suggest that Nick is moving the other direction.

(Decisions, decisions! Second season order giveth and second season order taketh away. Do we want "Crazy Love" or "Blood Money" to be the last straw before Janette leaves? Do we want the Schankes' Hawaii trip in "Be My Valentine" to come before or after "Partners of the Month"? Do we want Nick and Natalie in "The Fix" to come before or after Nick and Natalie in "Be My Valentine"? These are rhetorical questions, of course, just illustrating that second season order matters to interpretation. Naturally, always pick whichever order amuses you most!)

Having Schanke's car break down — and then get hit! — naturally means to symbolize all Schanke's personal and career frustrations at this point, when all these difficulties are coming to a head. It's after both "Partners of the Month" and "Be My Valentine," in either order, so he's reconciled with Myra over whatever was so stressing them in this year — and what was that? wish we knew! — but perhaps the lifting of the weight of that personal family struggle has just made the weight of the other frustrations more clear.

"We met earlier."

What's up with Patrick Delahanty having met Captain Cohen earlier that evening, doubtless looking for Schanke at the precinct, and progressing to a mutual first-name basis — and flirting? — in that time? I think that this is supposed to prove that he's very, very charming (the script certainly tells us repeatedly that he's very charming, or at least that Schanke believes that his friend must be very charming), but... is he?

"I would have eaten glass to hear that."

"You guys are chasing rainbows and I'm splitting from Oz."

"The Code" is to Schanke, in so many ways, what "The Games Vampires Play" is to Nick. I'm not sure that's ever struck me so forcibly before! But I've been having a very tough year in my own workplace, and perhaps that led Schanke's frustrations to hit home with me in new ways.

I wish that Schanke weren't wrong in the episode. The story punishes him, in a way, making him make the wrong deduction and stick by it; making it on the word of a sleazeball that Schanke makes a break for what looks like a brighter future, and then he's back almost where he was, and apologizing to Nick to boot. I wish that the episode had let Schanke figure out the answer by observation and not by coincidence, and sooner than or in tandem with Nick and Natalie. I wish that Schanke had... won.

"Dogs go to the end."

It's heartbreaking what Schanke says with his dead friend's body warm in his arms: "Friends. Who needs 'em. Right, Nick?" The rules of '90s syndicated TV shortchange this experience for Schanke and for us.

I don't feel like I got all the pay-off I could have hoped for with this sudden appearance of Schanke's childhood best friend, first roommate, five years' partner (though not first partner, as that was Jim Anderson, per first-season's "Hunters" — aside that Patrick claims he taught Schanke everything Schanke knows, while Schanke credits Jim with being his model). Maybe it's just that Patrick died at the end of the episode and was never mentioned again, in the way of '90s syndicated shows, but...

"The Code" bristles with small call-outs to previous tidbits about Schanke, such as Schanke's conflicted relationship with his father (cf. "For I Have Sinned"), his need to get away from home (cf. "that wild bicentennial summer" from "Dark Knight"), and coming from a less than privileged background and rising on hard work and merit... well, Schanke rose on merit (this Delahanty guy lost his moral compass, if he ever really had one, and rose without merit by some point). Remember how "Hunters" ends, with Nick listing off heroic things Schanke has done as an officer (clearly having read Schanke's file at some point, if not just then for the first time). Schanke was firmly identified in canonical text as "a good cop" long before the phrase became a controversy and mockery in fandom for poor Tracy.

Yeah, although second season does have Nick show less respect for Schanke than in first season, and though it uses Schanke as more of a comic foil than as Everyman, and though "Curiouser & Curiouser" makes explicit that Nick feels guilty for not giving Schanke his due... I still feel that something is not quite right about the depth of the disconnect between Nick and Schanke in this episode. Is it because we're seeing it more from Schanke's perspective, and we usually see it from Nick's?

(In aired order, "Curiouser & Curiouser" comes immediately after "The Code," as if in cause and effect. In production order, "Curiouser & Curiouser" comes five episodes before "The Code." Oh, second season.)

Patrick Delahanty, whomever he was with Schanke in their pasts, looks initially like he has made it much further, higher than Schanke. It might have been good, for Schanke's sake, for the story to point out, on the other side, that Delahanty — perhaps? — has no Myra, no Jenny, as Schanke does (in addition to not having a functional moral compass), and that Nick and Cohen do respect Schanke, and Delahanty's "colleagues" don't respect him.

"Terrible likeness, really."

Oh, yeah, and there're flashbacks. Set in Arizona, a la MarrowComp and Schanke's friend's boasts of Scottsdale. With curare ("harmless if taken orally" in the real world, btw). And a horse! And the actor who will later reappear in "Hearts of Darkness" as the abusive, adulterous, hockey player; he does a really excellent job here as the bounty hunter, I think. Yet that has got the be the most passive Nick flashback ever, good gravy. Yikes. I suppose that the betrayal by a supposed friend (and rescue by a "real friend"?) are the parallels, past and present, and that's enough, but I nevertheless find the lack of contextualization somewhat unsatisfying.

I think that we could have won back precious seconds by cutting much of the model's overdose at the beginning, and then spent those seconds on fleshing out whatever Nick was doing/seeking in the flashback, and/or the aftermath of Schanke's friend's death.


What do you think?

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