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SEASON: 6
EPISODE#: 6.1 < prev | next >

"A Sort of Homecoming"
AIRDATE: 09.13.86

WHAT WOULD HAVE SAID:  

After his return to South Philly, a broken relationship with his childhood sweetheart inspires Romano to return to the LCPD fold. But his pleasant homecoming is cut short when a series of brutal attacks at the harbor force him and Hooker (William Shatner) into a deadly game of cat and mouse (Marjoe Gortner guest stars as the Harbor Hill Rapist).

SYNOPSIS:  

The sixth season premiere opens with Hooker walking into the Academy Precinct locker room. Hooker unlocks his locker revealing photos of his wife Fran and their kids hung inside its door. Beneath those photos, a picture of Hooker and his old partner Vince Romano catches his eye. He pauses to look at it while some plaintive incidental music sets a somber tone.

Soon after, Hooker calls the morning roll, a day like any other. He cautions the assembled cops and recruits about the possible return of the Harbor Hill Rapist, a vicious murderer who's been attacking young women outside of several nightclubs and restaurants on the seaside. After assigning Corrigan and Stacy to ride backup for his solo patrol of the harbor, Hooker follows the rest of the assembled out of the room.

Outside the Precinct, Hooker makes his way to 4Adam30 and unlocks the driver door without looking inside, distracted by Corrigan and Stacy who have pulled up alongside his trusty black and white. After reminding the 4Adam16 crew of their rendezvous point later that morning, Hooker finally enters his patrol car to find none other than Vince Romano sitting in his old seat.

The pair catch up about old times; it seems Romano returned home to South Philly after his mother had taken ill. He continued his policework there while helping nurse his mother back to health, and along the way rekindled a romance with his high school sweetheart, Nell Mastrocola, who his mother had always hoped he might someday marry. In a series of flashback sequences, Romano tells Hooker how Nell abandoned him at the altar (the pair had planned to elope). Romano accepted a transfer back to the LCPD in an attempt to start his life over. Hooker wonders whether his old partner is up to the job. "I'm fine, Hooker, really," Romano says, his voice wavering ever so slightly. Hooker opens his mouth to protest when Detective Pete O'Brien pulls up alongside Hooker's car door and explains he tried to catch Hooker before roll call to inform him of the transfer but just missed him. "That's okay, it's good to have Junior back. He's like family," Hooker says warily.

Meanwhile, a suspicious looking man has coffee in a small café at the harbor. His waitress, a pretty blond woman, knows him by name. Torque reads a newspaper, and sees an article entitled "Harbor Hill Rapist Strikes Again." He becomes agitated, crumpling up the newspaper and stuffing it into the leather briefcase at his side and clasping it shut. He makes plans to meet the waitress after her shift ends in an hour.

Back in 4Adam30, Hooker and Romano get a call to investigate a possible break-in at a jewelry store on the harbor. After calling 4Adam16, they arrive at the scene to discover three thieves running away in different directions. Hooker sets off on foot after the leader, while 4Adam16 and Romano pursue the other two with their vehicles.

Corrigan and Stacy make short work of their target as they pin him inside a dead-end alley. Romano has a bit more difficulty, as his target doubles back through a restaurant. Romano exits the car and takes off after the perp on foot as well.

Two concurrent foot chases, one between Romano and one thief and Hooker and the other, have two very different outcomes. Hooker catches his target, while Romano's gets lost in a crowd. Hooker is able to get some information from the scum he's captured: they were knocking over the jewelry store to secure funds for their boss, but he won't give the boss's name. A paddy wagon arrives to cart off the two captured would-be jewel thieves; 4Adam30 receives a call to investigate a rape scene several blocks from a small harborside café.

When they arrive at the scene, Romano takes one look at the victim – the same pretty blond waitress who waited on Torque before, lying dead, face down under some bushes – and flashes back to a scene of Nell asleep in his old apartment in South Philly. She doesn't respond when Romano attempts to shake her awake, and he begins to panic, thinking she has passed out or has died. He flips her over to attempt CPR, and she finally reveals she was only playing a joke. "Don't scare me like that," Romano tells her. "So the big tough Vince Romano actually can get scared?" Nell asks him. "It was…a figure of speech," Romano replies. Hooker shakes Romano from his reverie, telling him to concentrate on the scene of the crime: "That's two strikes, Junior. You sure you're ready for this ballgame?"

Pete O'Brien arrives and aids in the crime scene investigation. It is almost completely clean of any evidence, until Hooker finds the clasp from what looks like an expensive briefcase lying several feet away from the waitress' body. He decides to return to the Academy Precinct and have the crime lab run a check on it.

Meanwhile, Torque makes his way to a warehouse building in a remote part of town. He fumbles with his briefcase and part of it opens unexpectedly, spilling some of its contents. He tries to close it but can't get it to work, as one of the clasps is missing. Soon after, the thief Romano failed to catch arrives and reports on the botched job. Torque kills the thief and hides the body in a dumpster.

Back at the Academy, Pete O'Brien has set up a tactical Ops station to deal with the Harbor Hill Rapist crisis. He sits in front of a huge map of LA which indicates the location and date of each incident. Hooker notices a pattern to them: they all take place the same day as some previously unconnected robberies in the same area. He thinks the Rapist is making a circular pattern around the harbor, but is unsure of where he will strike next. Romano takes a crack at it, and pinpoints a male strip club known as A Slice of Beefcake. He suggests he go undercover as a dancer there to case the joint. O'Brien concurs, while Hooker has some misgivings. Romano sets off alone.

Hooker gets a call from the crime lab about the briefcase clasp. It's a unique design, and only two local distributors of briefcases carry the brand. Hooker gets their names and decides to split the follow-up duties between himself and 4Adam16 while Romano works undercover.

The briefcase leads go nowhere, but Romano succeeds in insinuating himself into A Slice of Beefcake. A lengthy montage sequence of Romano dancing and gathering information backstage illustrates his progress.

Hooker interrogates the captured jewel thief back at the Academy. He finally gets some solid information from the scum: his boss, a man named Torque, runs his operation out of a warehouse on the outskirts of town and apparently hangs around a lot down at the harbor.

Romano finds himself hitting it off with Sheila, one of the regular customers at A Slice of Beefcake. However, she's also involved with Torque (he's been coming to pick her up from the club every night), and turns out to be his next intended victim. Romano receives a routine visit from Hooker who reveals the name of the man behind the jewel heist. Romano puts two and two together and realizes they need to set up an operation at A Slice of Beefcake for later that night.

With the operation in place, Romano takes the stage while Stacy goes undercover as one of the club's patrons and Hooker & Corrigan take position across the street from the club. Hooker stays in radio contact with Pete O'Brien, and they discuss whether Romano can cut it tonight.

During Romano's show-stopping dance number, Torque arrives in a blue Trans Am, staying inside of it to wait for Sheila. Hooker and Corrigan call for silent backup. Torque gets out of the car, lights a cigarette, and begins to pace back and forth, checking his watch. Inside, Romano dances away and Stacy pretends to enjoy it.

Corrigan, anxious to get this over with, sneaks up behind Torque and sticks a gun in his back. With lightning speed, Torque manages to get away from him and dives into the club. Torque grabs Sheila (who's standing in front of the stage) and points a gun at her head, threatening to kill her if Hooker and Corrigan don't drop their weapons. Hooker drops his gun and slides it along the stage toward Romano, hoping he'll take the hint. Romano is paralyzed as he flashes back to Nell leaving him.

Sheila screams, snapping Romano out of it. He dives for the gun, does a tuck and roll across the stage, and manages to wing Torque in the shoulder with a precisely-aimed shot, enough to get Torque to back away from Sheila, but Torque manages to squeeze off a shot that grazes Romano's right arm before Hooker and Corrigan dive on top of him and restrain him. Romano hugs Sheila while Hooker looks up. "Welcome back, partner," he says.

 

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GUEST STARS:
Marjoe Gortner
"Torque/Harbor Hill Rapist"
Hugh Farrington
"Det. Pete O'Brien"
Audrey Landers
"Nell Mastrocola"
BEST LINES:

"She was the love of my life, Hooker...and she cut out my heart and stepped all over it. How do I do it? How do I go on?"

"It's called life, Junior."

- Romano and Hooker on Nell's walking out

"He's got to get his head out of his broken heart and back into his gut...back into the job. I need a partner with two feet on the ground--the ground in L.A., not the ground in South Philly."

- Hooker to Pete O'Brien on his worries about Romano's lack of focus

"We're gonna have us a great time, aren't we? Yeah, that's right."

- Torque to the cafe waitress before his vicious attack

"Isn't it great to have Vince back, Jim?"

"Yeah, it's great all right...I just hope his busted love life doesn't wind up giving Hooker more heat than he bargained for."

- Stacy and Corrigan discuss Romano's return


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