Lewis: Gee, this is my partner! I know my partner, huh? Now how many suicides him and me stood over together? And always the speeches. Crosetti believes in God, Gee. My partner did not kill himself, Gee. I know the man. Somebody did something to Steve.
Gee: Ask Meldrick.
Howard: …ask Meldrick?
Felton: Lewis would know.
Bayliss: I don’t know, check with Meldrick.
Pembleton: What’s Lewis say?
Bolander: What are you scared of, Mel?
Lewis: Not you.
Bolander: You can’t protect Steve anymore. He’s dead. You protecting him? You protecting yourself, maybe.
Munch: The M.E. has a preliminary report. Steve drowned.
Lewis: It was an accident.
Munch: In his blood and tissue toxicology he had .25 blood alcohol.
Lewis: So he’s drunk.
Munch: And his stomach and kidneys was [list of drugs]. I mean the guy was a walking drugstore full of tranks and antidepressants when he hit the water.
Lewis: It’s preliminary, huh!? It’s just preliminary.
— 3x04, Homicide: Life on the Street, “Crosetti”
…this sequence — or rather, perhaps, the moment when Lewis goes to pieces — was one of two moments that made the episode for me. I’d known going in that this episode would be hard: the closest I’ve ever been to suicide in my life was in the days immediately after a close friend had killed herself. It wasn’t just that a close friend had died. I could not cope with the knowledge that I hadn’t realized, I hadn’t known, I had failed her.
You love someone, you’re their friend, how could you not know? What kind of friend doesn’t know? You’re their friend, wasn’t it your job to keep them safe? To be there when they needed you? How could you have not known, how could you have not been there, was there anything you might have done to turn it, was there anything you should have recognized, how could you not know, how could you have failed them like that? How could you not have known? A friend — a true friend — would have known.
It was the closest to suicide I’ve ever come in my life. I couldn’t deal with the failure and guilt and self-recrimination. It was agony. And I couldn’t make it stop.
…so this portrait here, where everyone is all unknowingly saying that Lewis would know, Lewis should have known, ask Lewis… Even Lewis insisting that it couldn’t be suicide, because he would have known… Lewis would prefer anything, even murder, to it having been suicide. (In part that’s because he’s a homicide detective — he has tools for handling murder — but that’s not nearly all of it.)
And then, when it becomes incontrovertible… Most stuff on TV doesn’t get death right, doesn’t get grieving right, doesn’t get surviving someone else’s death right.
This show got it right.