The fifth season begins with the revelation Chief Gillespie has a daughter by the name of Lana Farren. The Chief is now good friends with her mother, Georgia. Georgia is asking Bill to help her put some of her affairs in order, and to keep all of her ‘boyfriends’ as well as her ex-husband away from her assets which she intends to leave to Lana. Bill immediately puts Ted Marcus on the case. In the meantime, Georgia returns to Gulfport and is murdered. The chief takes this very personally and sets out to find her killer. At the end of the episode, Lana finds out that Bill is her father but does not want to have anything to do with him. This cuts deeply into Bill and he has a hard time dealing with it. Note: The character of Lana will not be seen again until the season six episode “Random’s Child”.
Bobby Short plays blues musician Ches Collins in the award-winning episode “Sweet, Sweet Blues,” one of the most powerful episodes of the season. (Based on the true story of Medgar Evers.) Officer Wilson Sweet learns there was a witness to the murder of his grandfather back in 1948. When he learns the murderer is still alive, Sweet is determined to see that justice is served.
Also, Bubba gets involved with yet another baby, a teacher is stalked by an obsessed taxidermist, a game of high stakes poker leads to murder, Bubba gets reunited with Pat Day, Bill and Harriet share their first public kiss, and Sweet solves the forty-year-old murder mystery involving his grandfather and a 1948 Packard. Also, the estrangement between Virgil’s aunt Ruda and the Tibbs family comes to an end in the episode, “Ruda’s Awakening”, after Ruda witnesses a robbery-in-progress where a young man is killed while fighting over a gun with Bubba. Ruda initially believes Bubba is responsible, but after visiting her son, Tyrell in jail (where he confesses the accident that crippled him was his fault and not Virgil’s), her memory of the incident clears and Bubba is exonerated. This leads to a joyful reconciliation between Virgil and Ruda at the end of the episode.
Other episodes include Sheriff McCombs deputy growing marijuana, Darnell’s daughter being kidnapped, a wife who kills her husband for beating her, a doctor who kills his wife and his mistress to keep them from talking to each other, a real estate developer being killed in an insurance scam, the return of Emily Trundel, and one of the best episodes of the series “Family Reunion” in which, an insurance investigator is on the trail of stolen money and is murdered. Roy Paxton is reunited with his estranged family in an attempt to recover the money that the matriarch has run off with and it ends up in Sparta.
In the final two-part episode of the season, which was originally advertised as the series finale, Gillespie and Tibbs are brought up on charges when they help an escaped county road gang prisoner (Francesco Quinn) of Sheriff McCombs and the escapee is an illegal immigrant seeking political asylum from a War torn Latin American Nation who is offered sanctuary in a local monastery. After he escapes McComb feels betrayed by Gillespie and Tibbs for not upholding their sworn duty. The Sheriffs men corner the escaped prisoner but has he runs the road block Deputy Ferrell shoots and kills him. Gillespie and Tibbs are put on administrative leave.
Judge Simms presides over the case. After hearing both sides the jury is not able to reach a verdict and Gillespie and Tibbs are freed.
A sub-plot in this episode sees Councilman Waters and Alvin Epp teaming up to keep Gillespie and Tibbs off the police force because Gillespie vehemently objects to them overtaking Sparta’s south side. This plot is explored further in the season six two part episode “Even Nice People and Lake Winahatchie”.
The episode and season end with Althea and Virgil celebrating and Bill and Harriet spending the night together.
|#||Title||Director||Writer(s)||Original airdate||Production Code|
|75||“A Woman Much Admired”||Harry Harris||Carroll O’Connor||October 1, 1991||4803|
|Gillespie’s old flame returns to Sparta to settle some business matters and see Bill. When she is murdered he travels to Gulfport and meets his daughter Lana for the first time.|
|76||“Baby for Sale”||Harry Harris||Mitchell Schneider||October 8, 1991||4809|
|After Bubba’s cousin adopts a baby her husband is blackmailed by the child’s real parents – they want him to help them steal the payroll where he works.|
|77||“Obsession”||Russ Mayberry||Mitchell Schneider||October 22, 1991||4814|
|A flirtatious schoolteacher is stalked by a madman.|
|78||“Liar’s Poker”||Harry Harris||Mitchell Schneider||October 29, 1991||4801|
|A game of high stakes poker ends in murder.|
|79||“Ruda’s Awakening”||Russ Mayberry||Carroll O’Connor, Bill Taub||November 5, 1991||4807|
|Virgil’s Aunt Ruda is the only witness to a struggle between Bubba and a young robbery suspect that ends in the young mans death. But her prejudice against the police — and Virgil clouds her memory of the incident.|
|80||“Unfinished Business”||Leo Penn||Joe Gannon||November 12, 1991||4802|
|Follow up to “Just a Country Boy”. Bubba returns to Los Angeles to testify at a murder trial and is reunited with Pat Day as they try to protect Mike from killers sent to prevent him from testifying.|
|81||“The More Things Change”||Russ Mayberry||Cynthia Deming, William J. Royce||November 19, 1991||4816|
|A man murders his business partner and frames the man’s illegitimate daughter for the crime in an attempt to gain the man’s business and his wife.|
|82||“Sweet, Sweet Blues”||Vincent McEveety||William J. Royce||November 26, 1991||4821|
|The lyrics to a blues song recall a murder that happened 50 years earlier. The victim – Sweet’s grandfather. And the only people left with the answers are the bluesman who wrote the song and a retired sheriff.|
|83||“Sparta Gold”||Winrich Kolbe||Cynthia Deming, Joe Gannon, William J. Royce, Bill Taub||December 3, 1991||4819|
|A deputy provides protection for a cotton grower who is running a pot growing operation. But the deputy makes a big mistake when he wounds Bubba’s girlfriend.|
|84||“An Eye for an Eye”||Leo Penn||Cynthia Deming||December 10, 1991||4813|
|The father of a man Gerard prosecuted kidnaps the DA’s daughter.|
|85||“The Littlest Victim”||Paul Chavez||Gail Liberti-Kennedy||December 17, 1991||4817|
|Lonnie makes a heartbreaking discovery about a woman he dated in high school.|
|86||“The Landlord”||Larry Hagman||Carroll O’Connor||January 7, 1992||4818|
|A drug dealing slumlord is murdered by his accomplices.|
|87||“Fool For Love”||Vincent McEveety||Cynthia Deming, William J. Royce||January 14, 1992||4805|
|A doctor plots to eliminate his wife — and his mistress.|
|88||“Love, Honor and Obey”||Reza Badiyi||Cynthia Deming, William J. Royce||February 4, 1992||4823|
|Parkers investigation into a purse snatching reveals an abused woman.|
|89||“Odessa”||Vincent McEveety||Denise Nicholas||February 11, 1992||4822|
|Racists target a ceremony honoring a civil rights pioneer.|
|90||“A Time to Trust”||Winrich Kolbe||Patt Shea||February 18, 1992||4808|
|Althea fears for one of her students after her mother’s boyfriend is linked to a criminal operation that has resulted in the deaths of several truckers.|
|91||“By Means Most Foul”||Russ Mayberry||Joe Gannon||February 25, 1992||4825|
|A restaurateur and her mechanic boyfriend plot to eliminate her husband, but their scheme backfires. Gillespie takes heat over a string of mailbox bashings. And Virgil soon regrets ignoring Parker’s theory regarding where the vandals would strike next.|
|92||“Trundel’s Will Be Done”||Harry Harris||Cynthia Deming, William J. Royce||March 3, 1992||4826|
|V.J. Trundel’s widow takes Harriet to court to gain custody of Eric. But Harriet is determined that her nephew will not be raised in the home of the man who ordered the murder of her sister.|
|93||“Moseley’s Lot”||Winrich Kolbe||Joe Gannon||March 31, 1992||4815|
|Gillespie learns that the son of an old friend is a compulsive gambler. The young man wants his father to pay off his losses.But when two gangsters show up from New Orleans to collect, his jealous sibling sees the perfect opportunity to get rid of his troubled brother.|
|94||“Family Reunion”||Harry Harris||William J. Royce||April 7, 1992||4812|
|An ex-convict attempts to retrieve his loot from his wife and her new husband in this tongue-in-cheek episode.|
|95||“Sanctuary”||Mario Azzopardi||Mitchell Schneider||May 12, 1992||4820|
|A political prisoner who entered the country illegally, seeks sanctuary in a monastery. Gillespie and Tibbs find themselves at odds with Sheriff McComb when they try to help the man.|
|96||“The Law on Trial”||Russ Mayberry||Mitchell Schneider||May 19, 1992||4824|
|Follow up to “Sanctuary”. Gillespie, Tibbs and Father DiMarco must stand trial for harboring a fugitive and obstructing justice. Althea fears Virgil’s career could suffer if he is found guilty. Meanwhile the other officers monitor the situation with Lawyer Epp and his mafia associates.|