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Steven Culp on "Prime Suspect"

Episode: Great Guy, Yet: Dead

PRIME SUSPECT - "Great Guy, Yet: Dead" - When a good-looking stockbroker is killed mysteriously, Jane automatically suspects his wife. Meanwhile, Jane enlists the help of a hypnotist to fight her addiction to smoking. Elsewhere, Matt is furious when his ex-wife suggests Jane shouldn't attend their son's birthday party.



Detailed summary:

'Prime Suspect' 'Great Guy, Yet: Dead' recap: Why was the nicest guy murdered?

Prime Suspect continues to show that life's not so easy for Jane at home or at work. In season 1 episode 4, "Great Guy, Yet: Dead," she's stuck dealing with Trish again and solving the murder of apparently the nicest guy, showing just why NBC has ordered more.

He's the nicest guy

When Trish picks Owen up, she says it would be better if Jane didn't attend his birthday party. That conversation remains on Jane's mind as she turns to hypnosis to help her quit smoking.

The victim this week is the shooting of Tony, and though the guys think it was a mugging, Jane thinks otherwise. Tony's wife, Louise, can't give a description of the shooter. They parked their nice car blocks from the event instead of valeting it, and Jane thinks Louise seems like the type to hire someone to kill her husband.

Tony's boss, Richard (Steven Culp), says he was the best guy who loved life and was all about keeping clients happy. When Jane mentions they didn't valet, Richard mentions that Louise couldn't have been happy about walking in her shoes. Velerio finds out Tony had "a thing" with a waitress, but she knew he wouldn't leave Louise. A bartender says Tony was all about Louise. They find plenty of photos of him on a board; he was popular.

When Jane stops by to talk to Louise again, Richard is there checking on her. Louise knows her husband screwed around a lot, but she just didn't want to be embarrassed. Jane notices that a piano is missing; they got rid of it. Louise says a mugger killed him, but how could she know that since she didn't see him?

Velerio talks to Tony's sister, who says Tony took care of them by sending money, but once she heard him fighting with Louise, who was saying he had to stop sending money. He said she had to cut back.

One of the club photos shows Tony with Spider, a Russian loan shark. What was an uptown banker doing with a mobster? Jane and Velerio head to the club, and she asks for his advice on a birthday present for Owen. Once inside, Jane picks a switchblade up off the floor, and though no one accepts ownership, she shows she knows how to use it.

Even the mobsters think Tony's the nicest guy and can't believe he was shot. Tony borrowed $90K, and Spider says he would've paid him back if he asked. Why did he need money? Everybody loves this guy, and Jane loves the wife as the prime suspect. The life insurance is the only thing they have left as a motive.

Is there a witness?

Jane gives hypnosis a try again, but leaves it behind when Augie tells her about a potential witness, who heard the shots and maybe saw someone. Jane uses her hypnotist to try to get more information from the witness. It works. He saw a guy running down the block towards his building. The guy's skinny, small, had a hoodie on, and he couldn't see his face until he got over the fence—then he got a good look at the guy. At one point, he was on his knees looking for something, and they go looking. Matt calls, angry with Trish, and says Jane's going to the party. Jane finds the gun.

They have found a partial on the gun, but it will take awhile to get a match. Jane follows Louise into Loehmann's, where she's been working for months. They were covering up that they needed money. Louise says she lost everything and reveals that there's no life insurance because Tony cashed it in.

Richard tells Jane that what Tony did didn't bring in bonuses, and he borrowed money from the firm. The firm was forgiving that debt.

Velerio has found a hit on the partial: Mikey, the bartender, who has priors for assault and burglary. They pay him a visit and say they have a witness who can ID the shooter. The description fits him. They ask him to be in a line-up, but their witness says it wasn't him.

Jane lets Mikey go, and he turns his phone off when he leaves. However, the GPS stays on, so they can still track him, and they do, to the Torres'. Nestor's a dishwasher at the club. While Jane talks to his mother, the guys head around back and see Nestor about to jump from his third floor window. They let him, and it means he's in no condition to try to run away. Jane asks why he killed Tony, and Nestor says he was only supposed to get the watch. Tony threw the wife down and was all over him.

Jane has him call Mikey, who says he's not the one who pulled the trigger. Mikey ditches his phone when he hears the voices in the background. Augie and Calderon chase him into a store, but lose him momentarily. They spot feet sticking out from a shelf and arrest him.

Mikey says he and Tony were going to open a bar together, and Tony took him to Spider for the money he needed. However, Tony pulled out, but Mikey still owed the Russian mob money. He had wanted Tony's watch, which was a fake.

Jane brings Louise Tony's belongings. She's been evicted and is going to her parents'. As Jane leaves, Louise asks if she's happy she got him. Louise doesn't care who did it or why, she just misses Tony's big presence.

Jane's attempt to buy cigarettes is thwarted by a slow woman at the counter. Jane heads to Owen's birthday party, and he calls her present "cool." (c) by Meredith Jacobs

Detailed summary:

Jane opens the gun safe in her bedroom closet, holsters up her sidearm, then proceeds to the kitchen for breakfast with Matt and Owen. Matt thanks Jane for covering for him - he got called into work, which means Jane's got to hang out with Owen until Tricia shows up. When Tricia does show up, she does her damnedest to disinvite Jane to Owen's first "big boy" birthday party - she wouldn't want Jane to feel bored or uncomfortable. Jane insists she's fine with it, but late, though her glare at Tricia's backside suggests otherwise. What Jane's late for is her appointment with anti-crime Detective Becky Hubbard, also a hypnotist. And the hypnosis isn't really working for Jane right now, since she's still boiling about Tricia, who makes her want to smoke. In fact, she doesn't just want to smoke, she wants to jam an entire pack of butts in her mouth and light them with a blowtorch.

Later that night, Jane meets Augie and Evrard on a street near the FDR, where 41-year-old Anthony Giordano lies dead near his Mercedes. Somebody knifed the tires (an old mob mugging trick), but Tony still has his Rolex and wallet, as well as three bullets in the chest, effectively skewering Augie's mugging gone wrong theory. Augie's even got a suspect already, Cheek Alvarez. Jane offers to bet Augie $100 that neither of Augie's theories pan out, and it's not long before Evrard establishes that Cheek is doing five years at Sing-Sing. After collecting her c-note, Jane moves off to question Tony's wife Louise, who's kind of a mess. She and her husband were walking back from The Gramercy Park Hotel when he spied the flat tire. He called Triple A, then suddenly pushed her to the pavement hard. Louise heard shots; Tony fell on top of her, and that's it. She didn't hear or see anything else. Unable to believe this story, Jane focuses her suspicions on Louise.

The next morning, Jane stops by the bar to see Des and recommend hypnosis, even though it's not helping her. She poses a question: let's say Des has a brand new Mercedes. Would he park it with a valet at a five-star hotel or on a side street near the FDR? Des asks if he's supposed to be a cheap bastard or a poor bastard. Jane points out that the wife seems like she might be the type who would hire someone to kill her husband. Jane proceeds to the office of Richard Milner, Tony's boss. According to Milner, Tony loved life; he was the best. Pointing to credit card statements, Jane points out that Tony spent money like he was the best - $38K a month on dinners, drinks and clubs. Milner explains that Tony was all about keeping his clients happy and managing $2.4 billion in assets was his art. When Jane asks why Tony didn't valet his car, Milner can't guess. Surely, Louise wouldn't be happy with her husband for making her walk six blocks in high heels.

That night, the squad visits the sleek Purl Club, one of Tony's regular hangouts. Big spender Tony was good to bartender Mikey, as were his friends. Most importantly, Tony wasn't an asshole, like most of the other rich guys - he was the best. And he was all about his wife, even though he screwed around on her constantly. Waitress Natalie reports that she had a thing with Tony about a year ago, and he was right up front; he was never going to leave his wife. Jane asks Evrard to go through a photo wall and get all the names of the people who'd taken photos with Tony.

Early the next morning, Jane stops by to see Louise at the Giordano's fabulous apartment, surprised to find Milner there. After he makes a hasty exit, Jane notices a photo of the Giordanos on vacation with the Milners, just like the photo she saw in Milner's office. When Jane brings up Tony's multiple affairs, Louise promises she knew who Tony was when she married him. Jane spies an empty spot where something used to be, and Louise admits they just got rid of a piano. Louise continues to insist that a mugger killed her husband, which Jane doubts - Louise didn't hear or see anything, remember? Meanwhile, Evrard interviews Tony's sister Connie down at the precinct. Tony was the light of his family's life, and he always stepped up financially. Still, Connie thinks he may have been having money trouble. She overheard him arguing with Louise over cutting back on spending.

Later, Calderon points to a guy in a photo from the Purl Club with Tony. Does Jane know who it is? If she can say his name, Augie has $100 for her. All Jane has to do is bide her time until Duffy and Sweeney name Russian loan shark Spider Skolnick, and she's collecting on Augie again. So why was an uptown banker like Tony friends with a fur-hat mobster from Brighton Beach? Later that afternoon, Jane and Evrard sit in a car in Brooklyn, casing the unmarked Volga Club. After a brief discussion about what not to get Owen for his birthday (a $20), Jane and Evrard casually enter the Volga Club through the kitchen for a surprise raid.

Jane questions Spider, who claims he's not a mobster, but a guy who owns 14 gas stations and three distributorships. He met Tony - the greatest guy in the world - at a strip club. Turns out Tony borrowed $90,000 from Spider and didn't pay it back; and no, they weren't lovers. Afterwards, Jane and Evrard meet with Sweeney in his office. Jane still likes Louise for the murder, but no one's sure she has motive. Jane's thinking motive may come from Tony's life insurance, the last major asset he had left. She already subpoenaed the policy, and it should come through soon. Later, Jane's having another session with Becky when Augie interrupts. He's found witness Dean Rawley, who heard Tony getting shot and may have gotten a look at the shooter. Trouble is, Dean's having trouble recalling specifics.

Jane gets a bright idea and pulls Becky into interrogation to hypnotize Dean, who immediately starts calling a game like a sportscaster. Seems like he was watching the ball game in his apartment when he heard four shots. Dean's able to recall seeing a skinny guy in a hoodie running into an empty lot to scrabble for something on the ground. Jane immediately rounds up the guys to case the empty lot, hoping to find her murder weapon. While scrounging around in the dark, Jane takes a call from Matt, who's furious that Tricia disinvited her to Owen's birthday party. Jane claims she pretty much forgot about it already, and besides - she just found the murder weapon! Back at the precinct, Evrard reports that the gun was recently fired five times, and there's a partial print.

The next day, Jane tracks down Louise, behind a register at Loehmann's. Jane checked with Louise's supervisor to learn she's had the job for five months. So why has Louise been cutting coupons while Tony was out borrowing money from the Russian mob? Louise escorts Jane to a dressing room. She doesn't want to talk, especially not to Jane, but she does, relating her guilt for covering her head when Tony got shot. Not only has she lost Tony, she's lost everything. And the life insurance policy? Tony cashed it out last month, so there's nothing left. Jane returns to Wall Street to talk to Milner, who explains that Tony lived like a player, even though he wasn't making that kind of money. The firm looked the other way and loaned him money - in fact, Milner visited Louise the other morning to tell her the firm was forgiving Tony's debt.

Back at HQ, Evrard tells Jane they got a hit on the partial print on the gun, which belongs to Mikey Nelson, the Purl Club's bartender, who has several priors. Jane and Evrard return to the Purl Club to ask Mikey to come down to the station to participate in a lineup. Even though they know Mikey's the shooter, Dean is unable to positively ID him. Afterwards, Jane keeps Mikey waiting while Evrard sets up a GPS trace on his phone. Augie's confident that once released, Mike will turn off his phone - which he does - but it doesn't matter to Jane, because GPS will keep tracking his phone anyway. This is news to Augie.

It's not long before Augie, Evrard, Calderon and Jane are sitting in a car outside an old apartment building in Queens, leased to Mary Torres, mother of Nestor, a dishwasher at the club. When Evrard spies Mikey leaving, Jane knocks on Mary's door, while Augie and Calderon take out their guns and case the alley, where Nestor is in the process of jumping out a third floor window. He doesn't land well, and his leg seems broken. Augie chuckles and calls an ambulance, as Jane runs into the alley to question Nestor. Why did he kill Tony? Nestor admits he was just supposed to get Tony's watch. Jane asks him to do just one more thing, and she'll put in the best word ever with the DA...

Per Jane's request, Nestor calls Mikey, who claims he didn't pull the trigger, then hangs up, once he hears Mary screaming in the background. Augie and Calderon get in the car to look for Mikey while trying to get the GPS tracker working. Augie spies Mikey heading into a subterranean store, so Calderon pulls over and the chase is on. Finally, just when all seems lost, Augie spies Mikey hiding behind some pillows. In short order, Mikey is arrested and hauled down to HQ to talk to Jane, who plays back the recording of his call to Nestor. Apparently, Mikey was going to open a bar with Tony. Tony introduced Mikey to Spider to borrow his half of the seed money. Sadly, Tony pulled out of the deal, leaving Mikey with a lifelong debt to the Russian mob. Since he was only planning to steal Tony's watch to pay the Russians, Jane thinks Mikey might be interested to know it wasn't even a real Rolex.

Later that night, Jane hands Louise a small plastic bag with Tony's belongings, including the watch. Louise's apartment is now empty, since she's being evicted and is moving back in with her parents. Jane tries to look on the bright side; at least Tony's boss wrote off his debt. Louise explains Milner's offer was accompanied by a not-so-nice offer of a "condolence bang," a mere three days after Tony's death. Strangely enough, now that the case is over, Jane and Louise seem to have found some respect for each other. Louise wants to know whether Jane's happy now that she found the killer. Louise knows she's supposed to be happy, but the truth is, knowing doesn't help. Where's Tony now? That's what Louise wants to know.

Later, Jane is rushing off to Owen's birthday, when Augie calls her back to the squad room to settle up. In their bet the other day, Augie called Tony's murder a mugging gone wrong, which technically it was. Jane tries to leave, but the other guys won't hear of it. Even Sweeney comes out of his office to insist the matter be settled in the interest of maintaining good will on future bets. Since they're kind of both right, Augie suggests they call it even. Jane complies, takes the $100 bill out of her pocket, rips it in half and gives half to Augie. Jane tries to buy cigarettes on the way to Owen's birthday party but fails, so she opts for a big glass of scotch once she gets there. Luckily, her gift of a giant remote-control spider gets Owen's stamp of approval. (c)

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