Homicide: Life on the Street (season 5)

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Homicide: Life on the Street
Season 5
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 22
Original channel NBC
Original release September 20, 1996 – May 16, 1997
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 4
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Season 6
List of Homicide: Life on the Street episodes

The fifth season of Homicide: Life on the Street aired in the United States on the NBC television network from 20 September 1996 to 16 May 1997 and contained 22 episodes. A new opening sequence debuted with the start of this season, including elements of a police investigation (murder weapon, dusting for fingerprints, etc.) and a growing chatter of radio transmissions behind the theme music. In addition, pictures of the actors were displayed alongside their names for the first time. The sequence ends with the ringing of the squadroom phone and a voice answering, "Homicide."

Two new characters appeared during this season: Chief Medical Examiner Julianna Cox (portrayed by Michelle Forbes); and Detective Terri Stivers (portrayed by Toni Lewis), a Narcotics officer who works with Homicide to bring down local drug kingpin Luther Mahoney.

The season finale introduced Detective Paul Falsone (portrayed by Jon Seda), a member of the Auto Squad briefly on loan to Homicide, and re-introduced Stuart Gharty (portrayed by Peter Gerety), now a detective assigned to Internal Investigations. It also marked the departures of regular characters Megan Russert (Isabella Hofmann), Kay Howard (Melissa Leo) and J.H. Brodie (Max Perlich).

The DVD box set of season 5 was released for Region 1 on September 28, 2004. The set includes all 22 season 5 episodes on six discs.[1]


No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
56 1 "Hostage: Part 1" Ted Demme Teleplay: James Yoshimura
Story: Tom Fontana & Julie Martin
September 20, 1996 (1996-09-20) 501

Pembleton returns to duty, but has trouble coping with the physical and mental limitations placed on him by his stroke. Gee learns that Russert has moved to France to live with a diplomat whose baby she is carrying. Bayliss and Munch team up on the shooting death of a Mrs. Uba, with a pet pig as the only witness. As they begin to track down her son, who owns the pig, a gunman invades a middle school and takes a classroom hostage after killing two staff members.

Guest star: Anne Meara as teacher Donna DiGrazi (performance for Parts 1 & 2 nominated at 49th Emmy Award)
57 2 "Hostage: Part 2" Jean De Segonzac Teleplay: Julie Martin
Story: Tom Fontana & James Yoshimura
September 27, 1996 (1996-09-27) 502

The middle school gunman demands that his pet pig be brought to him, then shoots and critically injures a student and sets the classroom on fire after the police fail to do so. After the hostages are rescued (revealing a teacher and a student were killed earlier) and he is taken to the hospital with severe burns, the squad connects this incident with Mrs. Uba's murder and realizes that her son Jerry committed both crimes. Meanwhile, Danvers gets engaged, Pembleton stops taking his medication after discovering its effects on his mental focus and sexual relations with Mary, and Munch learns that Brodie has been evicted and offers to let him move in.

Guest star: Anne Meara as teacher Donna DiGrazi
58 3 "Prison Riot" Kenneth Fink Teleplay: Tom Fontana
Story: Tom Fontana & Henry Bromell
October 18, 1996 (1996-10-18) 503

At the state penitentiary, a cafeteria scuffle turns into a riot that leaves two inmates dead. The whole squad (except for Pembleton) starts to investigate, but no one - including several killers apprehended in previous episodes - is willing to provide any information. Bayliss concentrates on inmate Elijah Sanborn, trying to use the news of his son's recent arrest as leverage to get the facts, but the truth only comes out after a second assault occurs in the prison. Meanwhile, Pembleton begins target practice in hopes of qualifying on the firing range so he can return to full duty.

Guest stars: Charles S. Dutton as Elijah Sanborn, Dean Winters as Tom Marans
59 4 "Bad Medicine" Kenneth Fink Teleplay: David Simon
Story: Tom Fontana & Julie Martin
October 25, 1996 (1996-10-25) 504

Drug addicts all over Baltimore are dying from a batch of adulterated heroin, sold by a dealer in competition with Luther Mahoney. After the dealer is found murdered, narcotics detective Terri Stivers works with the homicide unit to build a conspiracy case against Mahoney and cut off the supply of bad drugs at the same time. The case falls apart when the only witness, Stivers' informant, is also killed. Kellerman is put on desk duty after the entire arson unit becomes the target of a federal investigation for corruption. Pembleton fails his firearms test and begins taking his medication again, and Brodie moves in with Bayliss after Munch throws him out.

First appearance of Det. Terri Stivers
60 5 "M.E., Myself and I" Michael Fields Teleplay: Lyle Weldon & Emily Whitesell
Story: Tom Fontana
November 1, 1996 (1996-11-01) 505

Dr. Julianna Cox arrives in Baltimore to begin work as Chief Medical Examiner and look after her ailing father, who soon dies. The FBI begins to question detectives as part of the corruption investigation, setting Kellerman's nerves on edge. As Bayliss and Lewis probe the death of a prostitute, a homeless man quickly confesses to both her murder and that of a second woman whose name never appeared on the Board. With help from the detectives, she learns that one of her staff members deliberately mis-classified the earlier death as an overdose, then fires him. Bayliss throws Brodie out, whereupon he moves in with Lewis and inadvertently touches off an argument that may end his marriage.

Guest star: Edward Herrmann as FBI Agent Thomas Pandolfi

First appearance of C.M.E. Julianna Cox
61 6 "White Lies" Peter Weller Teleplay: Anya Epstein
Story: Tom Fontana & James Yoshimura
November 8, 1996 (1996-11-08) 506
When an article on the corruption probe appears in The Baltimore Sun, Kellerman loses his temper and confronts a businessman who had been a suspect in the arson/murders that brought him into the homicide unit. Both of them take polygraph exams, but the results prove inconclusive. Munch investigates the seemingly inexplicable death of a young woman, which continually frustrates him until Cox discovers the cause - a heroin overdose. Examining an old file, Pembleton uncovers information that gives Bayliss a chance to clear his only open case of the year. After being thrown out by Lewis, Brodie turns down Howard's offer to stay with her.
62 7 "The Heart of a Saturday Night" Whit Stillman Henry Bromell November 15, 1996 (1996-11-15) 507

At a support group meeting for family members of murder victims, three of the squad's cases are described: a carjacking in which a young mother is shot (worked by Lewis and Munch), a brawl at the Waterfront that leaves a man dead (Gee), and a teenage girl found strangled and dumped in an alley (Bayliss). Gee and Bayliss both close their cases, the latter with Pembleton's help. Cox arrives late and reveals that her father died of lingering injuries from a hit-and-run car accident.

Guest star: Rosanna Arquette as Caroline Widmer
63 8 "The True Test" Alan Taylor Teleplay: Noel Behn
Story: Tom Fontana & Noel Behn
November 22, 1996 (1996-11-22) 508

Lewis and Bayliss work the murder of an African-American student at an exclusive, nearly all-white prep school. The case takes a political turn when their focus shifts to an arrogant, manipulative student whose mother is a local judge. One of the victim's roommates confesses to the crime, but the detectives continue working to uncover the rest of the facts. Reinstated to full duty after a successful firearms exam, Pembleton wonders if he can trust himself to enter the Box again. Kellerman meets Cox for the first time, offers Brodie a place to stay on his boat, and learns that several members of the arson unit have agreed to testify against him.

Guest star: Elijah Wood as McPhee "Cheeks" Broadman
64 9 "Control" Jean De Segonzac Teleplay: Les Carter & Susan Sisko
Story: Tom Fontana & Julie Martin
December 6, 1996 (1996-12-06) 509

With Bayliss as primary, Pembleton takes his first case since returning to duty: the murders of a woman and her two sons in their own home. The detectives have different theories about the case, with Pembleton favoring the woman's boyfriend and Bayliss focusing on her ex-husband. They have trouble following each other's leads, but eventually work together in the Box to catch the killer. A witness at a drug dealer's shooting points Lewis and Munch to Junior Bunk, Luther Mahoney's nephew, who readily incriminates Mahoney but is then intimidated into recanting his statement. Brodie gets evicted from Kellerman's boat, then tries and fails to talk both Gee and Russert into giving him a room. Kellerman receives a grand jury summons and spends the night with Cox.

Guest star: Mekhi Phifer as Junior Bunk

Isabella Hofmann, as Russert, is heard over the phone.
65 10 "Blood Wedding" Kevin Hooks Teleplay: Matthew Witten
Story: Tom Fontana & James Yoshimura
December 13, 1996 (1996-12-13) 510

When Danvers' fiancee is killed in a bridal shop robbery, Pembleton takes the case, his first as primary since his stroke. Danvers meddles in the investigation and insists that it be assigned to another detective, but Gee refuses to do so. A suspect is brought in and interrogated, then hangs himself after a distraught Danvers confronts him. Cox tells Kellerman that she does not want a relationship with him, sending him into a depression that only lifts somewhat after he learns that the grand jury has been postponed. Gee learns that there will be no high-level support for his detective, and also that Gaffney was promoted to captain over him as a reminder of his past failure to support the department. Brodie is thrown out of the morgue after sleeping there overnight.

Guest star: Al Freeman, Jr. as Deputy Commissioner James Harris
66 11 "The Documentary" Barbara Kopple Teleplay: Eric Overmyer
Story: Tom Fontana & James Yoshimura & Eric Overmyer
January 3, 1997 (1997-01-03) 511

Brodie takes advantage of an unexpectedly quiet New Year's Eve to present the detectives with a documentary he has made on the inner workings of the homicide unit. The film reveals facts that everyone would prefer to keep private, including a case in which the killer has some bizarre personal habits, and captures a foot chase that runs right through a film shoot headed by director Barry Levinson. The identity of last season's "Lunch Bandit" is exposed - none other than Gaffney - and Cox and Kellerman decide to try to start a relationship. Brodie shocks the detectives with news that he has sold the documentary to PBS as the clock strikes midnight and the phones begin to ring.

Guest stars: Melvin Van Peebles as Bennett Jackson, Barry Levinson as himself
67 12 "Betrayal" Clark Johnson Teleplay: Gay Walch
Story: Tom Fontana & Julie Martin
January 10, 1997 (1997-01-10) 512
Bayliss becomes the primary in the case of an abused young girl whose body was dumped along I-95. His bad experience with child victims affects his mind so severely that Pembleton has trouble keeping him under control long enough to close the case. Afterward, Bayliss reveals to Pembleton the reason he has trouble with these cases - his uncle sexually molested him as a child, and his father did nothing to protect him - and says that he no longer wants to partner with Pembleton. Brodie finally finds a roommate, and Kellerman testifies before the grand jury (against the advice of his attorney) and is cleared in the corruption probe. Though the other detectives congratulate him, he believes that they will always think of him as dirty.
68 13 "Have a Conscience" Uli Edel James Yoshimura January 17, 1997 (1997-01-17) 513
Kellerman returns to duty after his suspension, still bearing resentment toward the press and his colleagues over the corruption probe. His first case - a Korean shopkeeper shot to death in the doorway of his own store - appears to be the work of Luther Mahoney, but it falls apart due to a lack of evidence and witnesses. Kellerman's frustration leads him to consider suicide; Lewis tries to talk him out of it, remembering how Crosetti took his own life without asking for any help. Bayliss maintains his split from Pembleton, leaving the latter to close an old case on his own.
69 14 "Diener" Kyle Secor Teleplay: Christopher Kyle
Story: Tom Fontana & Julie Martin
January 31, 1997 (1997-01-31) 514
With Bayliss working alone and Kellerman taking time off, Pembleton and Lewis reluctantly partner up to work the bludgeoning death of a wealthy middle aged woman. They concentrate on her brother, but the case stalls when he claims that her diamond ring has been stolen by the police. Cox realizes that victims' jewelry has gone missing in several other cases, so she and Brodie set up cameras in the morgue to catch the thief - one of her staff members, who is quickly fired and arrested. Mary suggests that she and Pembleton seek marriage counseling without success, then later asks Bayliss to resume working with him; Bayliss tries to do so, but Pembleton declines.
70 15 "Wu's on First?" Tim McCann Teleplay: David Simon & Anya Epstein
Story: James Yoshimura & Julie Martin
February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07) 515

Elizabeth Wu, the new police reporter for The Baltimore Sun, becomes an annoyance to the homicide unit as Pembleton investigates the case of an off-duty police officer killed after a drug buy. After she mistakenly destroys the victim's reputation and leads the detectives to her source (who turns out to be the shooter), Barnfather takes advantage of a press conference to get her thrown off the police beat. Meanwhile, Kellerman gets an surprise and unwelcome visit from his two delinquent elder brothers, who are on the run from bookies in Cleveland and have stolen Babe Ruth's Baltimore Orioles uniform to pay off their debt.

Guest stars: Joan Chen as Elizabeth Wu, Eric Stoltz as Drew Kellerman, Tate Donovan as Greg Kellerman. Diamond, Stoltz and Donovan all played crew members in Memphis Belle.
71 16 "Valentine's Day" Clark Johnson Tom Fontana February 14, 1997 (1997-02-14) 516

After a man is found dead in the apartment of one of Brodie's graduate school classmates, Munch is ready to write it off as a suicide, but Brodie refuses to let him drop the matter. Munch and Howard investigate further and, with Brodie's help, lay a trap that exposes the classmate as a murderer. Kellerman and Bayliss uncover the connection between a pair of bombing deaths - the trial of the man who killed the Korean shopkeeper in "Have a Conscience" - and race to stop the perpetrator from completing a campaign of revenge against those responsible for his acquittal. Marriage counseling for Pembleton and Mary only leads to worsening arguments between them, and after he misses Olivia's baptism, Mary takes her and moves out.

Guest star: Neil Patrick Harris as Alan Schack
72 17 "Kaddish" Jean De Segonzac Teleplay: Linda McGibney
Story: Julie Martin & James Yoshimura & Ron Goldstein
February 21, 1997 (1997-02-21) 517
The strangulation death of a woman in a parking garage stirs up childhood memories for Munch, since she, her ex-husband, and her current boyfriend all attended high school with him. As he and Kellerman work the case, which shows connections with a series of recent attacks on other women, the Jewish rituals surrounding the burial cause him to think about his own lapse of faith. After Pembleton's interrogation skills fail him in the Box, he looks in vain for comfort in a dinner with Bayliss and attendance at morning Mass, then goes on a call with Bayliss.
73 18 "Double Blind" Uli Edel Teleplay: Lee Blessing & Jeanne Blake
Story: Tom Fontana & James Yoshimura
April 11, 1997 (1997-04-11) 518

Charlie Flavin, the man who shot and blinded Officer Chris Thormann four years ago, has become eligible for parole, and the news has left Thormann unable to think about anything else. His wife and Lewis try to help him past this moment; at the parole hearing, Thormann makes a statement that results in Flavin being put away for another five years. While investigating the death of an abusive husband at his daughter's hands, Bayliss and Pembleton sharply disagree over the question of whether abuse victims deserve any blame for not leaving their abusers. Bayliss later confronts the uncle who molested him as a child. Kellerman spends time with Cox and reveals that he had been considering suicide.

Guest stars: Lee Tergesen as Chris Thormann, Edie Falco as Eva Thormann
74 19 "Deception" Peter Medak Teleplay: Debbie Sarjeant
Story: Tom Fontana & Julie Martin & James Yoshimura
April 25, 1997 (1997-04-25) 519

The death of a Nigerian drug courier brings the homicide and narcotics units together in a plan to smash Luther Mahoney's organization. Mahoney shoots one of his own men and a bystander in a panic and is then killed by Kellerman under questionable circumstances, with Lewis and Stivers also on the scene. All three write up the incident as a case of self-defense. An ex-convict calls Munch with information on an old murder; this turns out to be a ruse so he can find the "victim" and kill him. Bayliss agrees to re-partner with Pembleton, then slips out without telling anyone to look after his uncle.

Guest star: Lewis Black as Lazlo "Punchy" DeLeon
75 20 "Narcissus" Jean De Segonzac Yaphet Kotto May 2, 1997 (1997-05-02) 520
A murder suspect fleeing from police takes shelter at the headquarters of the African Revival Movement. Interference by both Barnfather and Gaffney leads the unit to realize that someone is pulling strings to stall them. That person is ARM leader Burundi Robinson, who initiates an armed standoff when the police try to serve an arrest warrant. He tells Gee about his time on the force, serving with Deputy Commissioner Harris and losing his job due to Harris' misconduct after a drug bust. Robinson and 15 ARM members commit suicide before they can be apprehended, and Gee promises to expose Harris' illegal acts. Bayliss is nowhere to be found until the standoff is nearly over, and Stivers voices her worries about the Mahoney shooting to Kellerman and Lewis.
76 21 "Partners and Other Strangers" Leslie Libman & Larry Williams Anya Epstein & Julie Martin & Darryl LeMont Wharton May 9, 1997 (1997-05-09) 521

Pembleton responds to a shooting call and is shocked to find that the victim is Beau Felton, who has apparently committed suicide. Auto Squad detective Paul Falsone visits the squadroom and voices his theory that Felton was leaking information to a car theft ring he was trying to bust. Cox's autopsy reveals that Felton was in fact murdered, and Gee learns that Stuart Gharty (now a detective working in Internal Investigations) sent Felton into the ring undercover to find the leak. Russert returns from France to help with the investigation. Lewis tries to settle Stivers' mind over the Mahoney shooting, and Pembleton finds out that Bayliss has been taking care of his uncle in order to forgive him. Kellerman and Cox spend another night together.

Guest star: Scott William Winters as Eddie Dugan

First appearance of Det. Paul Falsone; return of Det. (formerly Patrolman) Stuart Gharty
77 22 "Strangers and Other Partners" Kenneth Fink Tom Fontana & James Yoshimura May 16, 1997 (1997-05-16) 522

Gee brings Falsone and Gharty in on the Felton murder, irritating the detectives who remember Gharty's cowardice as a patrolman the previous year. Howard and Russert are taken off the case so they can plan the funeral, since they are both too emotionally involved. Falsone and Gharty realize that they have been using the same informant, who brought Felton into the car theft ring, then blew his cover and set him up to be killed by the leader. By the time the unit raids the hideout, though, everyone in the ring has disappeared. A hung-over Kellerman argues with Cox and annoys Lewis by losing track of a witness for a case they are working. Pembleton reconciles with Mary, now six months pregnant, and she agrees to move back home. After a ceremony in Felton's honor, Gee learns that the department is starting a rotation program that may scatter his detectives.

Guest stars: Scott William Winters as Eddie Dugan, Kurt L. Schmoke and Parris Glendening as themselves (Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland at the time of production, respectively)

Final appearances of Sgt. Kay Howard and J. H. Brodie