Basically, the episode is a continuation from "Heaven and Earth", where one of the regular characters, Louis Gardino, is killed by an explosion. This was caused by a bomb that had been planted in Ray's car.
Also in the story, Ray meets up with an old girlfriend, Irene, who is also the sister of his childhood enemy, Frank Zuko.
I found that although this episode was somewhat depressing in areas (such as Gardino's funeral), there was also comedy, romance, and a great story.
Gardino's partner, Detective Huey, is determined to frame Zuko for the car bombing, but, as always, Fraser's good heart tells him to play it by the book, and find the real killer.
Although this is my favourite episode, it is one of the last that I saw on TV. I found that there was some suspense on finding out who the killer was, and I felt sorry for Ray when his ex died. I strongly recommend this episode to those of you who haven't yet seen it, as there is a lot of good acting (as usual) and some clever work done by the writers.
On the surface, 'Juliet is Bleeding' seems to be an incredible episode with great characterization, a taut plot, plenty of angst and drama, but also a healthy dose of that famous dueSouth humour. I'll start with what I like about the episode and then go on to explain why I feel that it is a disaster.
I loved how this was a continuation of 'The Deal'. Many passages are chilling echoes or reminders of that dark episode of season one. For example, examine these three exchanges between Fraser and some of his enemies:
Fraser: (to Michael Sorrento) I have a present for you. From Mr. Zuko.
Wow does that one send shivers down my spine!
Charlie: You've got Zuko in the ringer and you don't want to pull the handle? You call yourself a cop?
Fraser: What I want to see happen to Mr. Zuko and what the law dictates and two different things, and right now that difference is the only thing keeping him alive.
Charlie: You're renewing my faith.
Fraser: I'm glad.
That last part from Fraser was said in a manner I cannot quite describe and can almost equate to reaching a certain level of complicity with the man who would have completed a hit against him.
It was wonderful to see Fraser stand up for his ideals, to put justice ahead of his desire to see his bitter enemy go down.
And this is where 'Juliet is Bleeding' fails, in my opinion.
Fraser emphasises many times that one of the main reasons why he is going against his friends and not pushing for Zuko's arrest is that he wants to see justice done for a friend, for Gardino, who was killed.
Had the writers of 'Juliet is Bleeding' decided to make Fraser's main motive purely the pursuit of justice and the upholding of the law, they would have had a solid episode.
But Fraser is not a man who would sacrifice everything for a friend. One cannot count the number of times Ray has given things up for Fraser, but I cannot recall a single instance when Fraser did something unselfish for Ray.
And Gardino is a friend? Please. There is no hint of friendship between Fraser and the Duck Boys. In fact, 'Juliet is Bleeding' is the first time since 'You Must Remember This' that we see Ray and Fraser and Huey and Gardino as buddies rather than just rivals, and even that was a tenuous bond. Only when it can advance the plot are the Duck Boys friends with Fraser and Vecchio. In 'You Must Remember This' that brief moment of 'buddiness' was not entirely crucial to the plot, and it was rather plausible, but in 'Juliet is Bleeding' the buddiness was crucial to the plot, and it was implausible. The foundation of 'Juliet is Bleeding' is built on clay and so the episode must crumble.
I am shocked each time I see Gardino go up in smoke. I want to cry for Benny each time his 'friends' are cruel to him (but I'm glad that Ray finally gives the Mountie a taste of his own medicine), and I almost laugh each time I watch the scene where St. Laurent almost sticks up for Fraser.
I admire Fraser's stand, but since I cannot believe in his motives for it, the episode means nothing to me. Sure, we meet Ray's 'Victoria' and get to see some beautiful romantic bits between him and Irene. We see Huey become a three dimensional charcter full of love for his partner. And, best of all, we see Fraser actually comfort Ray in a moment of grief.
But, like in 'Odds', while the general sheen of the episode is perfect, a weak base destroys it.
Of course, I don't expect anyone to share this view. I watched 'Juliet is Bleeding' a few times trying to understand why I didn't like it and now I know why. Fraser was doing things that didn't make sense for his character. Isn't that the biggest complaint of most people who disliked seasons 3/4?