|Detective Tim Bayliss|
Tim, February 1996
|First appearance||January 31, 1993
(1x01, "Gone for Goode")
|Last appearance||May 21, 1999
(7x22, "Forgive Us Our Trespasses") (HLOTS)
February 13, 2000
Homicide: The Movie
|Created by||Tom Fontana|
|Portrayed by||Kyle Secor|
|Family||Virginia (mother), George (uncle); Jim (cousin); Curt (deceased cousin)|
Timothy Bayliss is a fictional detective on Homicide: Life on the Street. He was a primary character, and was played by Kyle Secor. He was loosely based on the real-life Det. Thomas Pellegrini from David Simon's book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, though the real detective was reportedly not a fan at all of his fictional alter ego. The character also appeared in the Law & Order episode "Charm City".
Childhood and early life
Born on May 31, 1960 in Baltimore, MD, Tim had a difficult relationship with his family. However, that became the very reason he strongly valued family loyalty. Growing up he was very close with his cousins Jim and Kurt Bayliss, whom he claimed were like his brothers. In Season 3, after Jim shot and killed a Turkish exchange student, Bayliss tried to shoehorn himself into his partner Det. Frank Pembleton's investigation but was warned by Lt. Al Giardello to stay out of it. Pembleton learned that Kurt was killed during the Persian Gulf War, an event that may have played a role in the shooting. Jim and Kurt's father (Tim's uncle) was extremely racist, as Jim claimed that the first time he ever heard racist words were out of their father's mouth. The case went to a grand jury, which voted not to indict Jim. In 1996, he mentioned having a six-year-old niece. When he was sixteen, he and several of his friends became high after taking magic mushrooms. He cried for eight hours as he was terrified, and ate fifty snowballs. His undergraduate minor was in drama.
In Season 5, it was revealed that Bayliss had been sexually molested as a child by another of his father's brothers, George. After telling this to his father, he was accused of lying. At that point onward his relationship to his father was mostly hostile and remained so to the man's death. He told Det. Kellerman that he was arrested for protesting U.S. policy towards El Salvador when he was a teenager, a story idea that Secor reportedly disdained as out of established character for Bayliss. It was quickly discarded in favor of the character developments for Seasons 5-7, including his childhood sexual abuse and religious journey.
Unlike several characters in the series, religion was not important in his family background. When asked he stated he had been raised "mutt." In this case that meant his family attended several different denominations, most of which could be termed "Mainline Protestant," but they had no attachment to any of them. Bayliss states that he was baptized into the Presbyterian Church and confirmed in the Episcopal Church. He briefly joined Unitarian Universalism for a girlfriend but seems to have not been particularly sincere about it. He converted to Buddhism in the final season but eventually lost faith.
Adena Watson case
Tim Bayliss had originally worked for the mayor's security, but his ambition had been to work at Homicide. His first case as primary detective was the rape-murder of Adena Watson, and he was never able to close it. This case haunted him throughout the series, but particularly in the first four seasons. At times, it led to friction between himself and his partner, Frank Pembleton, who scolded him for putting too much of himself into his cases. In the Season 4 episode "Stakeout," he learns that Risley Tucker (Moses Gunn), an arabber who was the prime suspect, has died of natural causes. Pembleton and Bayliss had put Risley through a long interrogation in hopes of getting him to admit his guilt, but without success.
The Season 4 episode, "Requiem for Adena", centers on the murder of a young black girl that shows similarities to the Adena Watson case. Bayliss becomes obsessed with the idea that the two cases are connected, to the point that his actions begin to jeopardize Pembleton's efforts to get a confession. He learns that many of the people connected with Adena and/or Tucker have moved on from her death much better than he has, and he states that he has begun to hate Adena because he cannot do so himself. At the end of the episode, he takes a framed photo of her from his desk (where it had stood ever since that investigation wound down), packs it into an envelope with a carnation from his lapel, and drops the envelope into a trash can.
In the Season 6 episode, "Finnegan's Wake", Tim wrestles anew with the Watson case when he learns about the longest-running unsolved homicide on the BPD's books, the rape and murder in 1932 of a little girl named Clara Slone. Pembleton tells Tim that the senior detectives all decided to not tell him about the Slone case because it strongly echoed Adena Watson's case, not least because the lead detective in 1932 was a very young cop who saw the case quickly spiral out of his control. Tim is having dreams about the case, and tells the retired cop who helped Falsone solve it that he wondered if he had true evil (Risley Tucker) in his sights and let him get away.
Partnership with Pembleton
The partnership with Pembleton would form a core element to the character and the entire show. Pembleton was by turns supportive and hurtful to Bayliss. He wanted to take a hard line on Bayliss's cousin who killed a Turkish exchange student, and also said that Bayliss lacked an understanding of "his dark side" so would do poorly in his job. Yet Pembleton also saved Bayliss from being charged in an incident that could have been interpreted as robbery, and Pembleton once told Bayliss that he was the only man he trusted. The only other person Pembleton said he trusted was his wife, Mary. While Pembleton saw the world in strict black and white terms, Bayliss was far more open to accepting the shades of grey present in police work.
That being said, the two ended their partnership for a time in the fifth season, partly due to Pembleton's stroke. Bayliss stated that Frank's rhythm was "off" after recovery, but there were also hints that he had come to prefer working without him. In addition to that he felt uncomfortable with Pembleton after he told him how he (Bayliss) was abused in childhood. The case in this episode involved a mother who allowed her husband to beat her daughter from a previous marriage to death and was pregnant with the husband's child, and Pembleton showed some sympathy to the woman's story. Later he returned to partnering with Pembleton due to Mary leaving Pembleton for a time. While working on a case in which a teenage girl murdered the stepfather who beat her mother, the two had very different views. While Pembleton is far more sympathetic to her, Bayliss is determined to see her charged with murder. Pembleton sees Tim's personal involvement and assures him that it is not his fault that he was abused. Following his stroke, Bayliss treats Pembleton in the same cold manner, often refusing to listen to his theories and indifferent to any attempts Pembleton made towards repairing their relationship although this animosity had all but disappeared by the end of the fifth and start of the sixth season
Pembleton left the force shortly after Bayliss was shot by a member of Georgia Ray Mahoney's gang. Pembleton met Bayliss's mother, Virginia, after Tim's surgery. She told Frank what Tim thought of their friendship "You're not a person who has friends but he's your friend." Shortly afterwards Frank and Mary say a prayer for Tim.
In the first two seasons, Bayliss's character had been called a "fair-haired choir boy" and he stated once that he rejected the idea of having sex for any reason besides love. That started hints at having him "lose his innocence," or questions of whether his claimed innocence was even genuine, occurred even then. Starting in the third season, they stated they wanted to more clearly have him "lose his innocence." Hence in season three he had an affair with Emma Zoole, who liked having sex in a coffin and who later broke up with him because he "wouldn't fight with her." The statement had something of a double meaning as it directly involved his unwillingness to argue with her about their problems, but other aspects of the character implied she also was referring to his disdain for rough sex. The end of the relationship led to his pulling a gun on a store clerk. In later seasons he explored bisexuality. He did not "come out," in the standard sense, until season 7. In the first episode concerning the matter he flatly stated he was "not gay" and did not formally declare himself to be bisexual until Season 7, but even then he did not want to be deemed "a crusader" on the matter. This way of treating his sexuality is believed to have made the network uncomfortable. He had a fling with Dr. Cox and a semi-flirtation with Det. Ballard, and briefly dated a closeted uniform cop, but had no serious relationships in the final seasons of the show.
During Season 6, Bayliss and Pembleton partnered again, and a drug war sparked by the killing of Baltimore drug kingpin Luther Mahoney led to brutal retaliation against the police department, including Mahoney's nephew, in custody, getting hold of an officer's gun and shooting up the squad room. Bayliss was among the detectives who shot down the gunman, and accompanied Pembleton and other members of the unit in carrying out the ensuing police response. During a gun battle, Pembleton froze and Bayliss, who shoved him aside, was shot and severely wounded. Pembleton, disgusted to find that fellow detective Mike Kellerman had deliberately shot Mahoney and would resign instead of being prosecuted, grief-stricken over Bayliss's wounding, quit the force in disgust in the season finale. Bayliss would return for Season 7, forever changed and foreshadowing his actions in that season.
As mentioned in the childhood section he had not had a particularly religious upbringing. In Season 7, having been shot at the end of Season 6, he became more interested in the matter and converted to Zen Buddhism. Other officers questioned how sincere his conversion was, with some justification. At the end of the episode Zen and the Art of Murder it is implied he abandoned Buddhism as he feels having to shoot a man during the job made him "not a very good Buddhist." Bayliss' sexual orientation and religion had prompted him to develop a website which was later shut down on request of Homicide Captain Roger Gaffney. The series finale implied that he murdered Luke Ryland, "the Internet killer" after a legal snafu allowed Ryland to escape prosecution. He is later shown cleaning out his desk, with the implication that he is quitting the force, despite his explanation to Giardello that he is merely doing some spring-cleaning. In Homicide: The Movie (2000), Bayliss was revealed to have taken an impromptu leave of absence, presumably conflicted over his murder of Luke Ryland. He returned to the force to solve Lieutenant Giardello's murder and subsequently confessed the killing of Ryland to Pembleton, and asked Pembleton to turn him in.
Bayliss' outcome is somewhat vague, but immediately after Bayliss confesses, Ryland's name is rewritten in blue, not black, and Pembleton later comments that he caught two killers that night. The blue ink indicates a reactivated cold case, as was indicated in the Season 6 episode, "Finnegan's Wake". Its presence on the board may indicate that it is solved. It is unknown whether or not he committed suicide. If Bayliss had committed suicide, he had not done so by the end of the TV movie - as Bayliss was not at the table playing poker with the deceased Crosetti and Felton.
Nevertheless, there is an additional chair at the poker table that has not been filled yet. Munch mentions in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that he once had a partner who took cases so seriously that he eventually killed himself. This partner is never named but Munch was Tim's partner during Season 7 after Frank's departure.
- Smith, Van. "Homicide, Revisited," Baltimore City Paper, December 10, 2013.
- Homicide: Life on the Street episode "Work Related", originally aired May 17, 1996.
- Homicide: Life on the Street episode "The Damage Done", originally aired May 3, 1996.
- Homicide: Life on the Street episode "Homicide.com", originally aired February 5, 1999.
- New York Magazine
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Sacrifice", originally aired November 9, 2001.