In this episode, two teenagers who live on the streets have a baby and then abandon it in a portable toilet, hoping it will be found by the authorities. The script writer weaves a powerful tale about the sad plight of abandoned babies, with Barnes explaining that he's come across about 100 abandoned babies in his 23 years of police work, found in trash bins, car trunks and gas station bathrooms. The maternity-ward doctor who checks the healthy Porta-Potty baby notes sadly that "I do more post-mortems than well-baby checks on abandoned infants."
The baby's mother, Janey, then sneaks into the hospital to feed her baby, and is arrested for the abandonment. She had been living on the streets since she was 13. The baby's father is a male prostitute. Her parental rights are suspended for four months, and she is sentenced to a juvenile center. Everyone except our rookie cop Rico lands soundly in favor of keeping the baby away from the transient and negligent teenage parents.
Rico's argument is powerful. "What strikes me as the greatest casualty of it all is our inability to accept honest acts of contrition ... and what Janey needed now was for somebody to forgive her." But he also lectures Janey that if she really loves the child, she must put her infant daughter's well-being first. She should accept the four-month suspension, learn how to be a mother, get a steady job and a steady life. In short, grow up first. In the end, Janey makes the courageous decision to give her baby up for adoption.
How about that? In between the bra-displaying and the pizza-man shooting and the decaying body in the bathroom, there's a nice message about mistakes and forgiveness, about finding hope and taking responsibility. It's too bad that "10-8" has to surround this moral message with ratings-goosing gross-outs and sex patter. But those extra layers of cheese seem to be a mandatory Hollywood recipe, a way to keep the taste-testers -- the ironic, snickering TV critics -- from noticing too much of a good thing.
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