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I was gone last weekend, so missed "Bad Blood" and "Intersection" completely and never had time to watch them on DVD this week, and tonight I was watching football so only saw bits and pieces of the two-part "Shockwave" season five finale.

I really like "Shockwave," and there's an alternate universe I like to sometimes live in where it's the way the show ends.  Sharon's alive and has finally been made Commander, her influence on Rusty shines brightly when he does the most mature and unselfish thing he's ever done and brings his relationship with Gus to a natural conclusion rather than holding either one of them back, the resurgent Stroh threat hasn't eaten the show, Julio's still with the squad ... I would never actually wish season six away (I'd never wish away people's paychecks, first, plus there was plenty of good stuff in it that just gets horribly overshadowed by my ongoing - yep, still, nearly two years later – myriad mixed emotions reaction to Sharon's death), and I'd have been even more pissed at TNT had they canceled it after season 5 than at them canceling it when they did, but, with renewal uncertain, “Shockwave” was conceived as something that could serve as a series finale if it wound up being so, and when I re-watch the series I sometimes indeed end here.

I simultaneously teared up and cheered the first time I watched Sharon get her promotion at long last, and it still moves me every time.  She worked so hard (as the LAPD's Women's Coordinator) to make the path smoother for the women coming along behind her, and, indeed, it was easier for women like McGinnis to make rank than it had been for her, which means there are younger women outranking her.  While Sharon was stalled at captain, even upon being put in charge of Major Crimes - despite Pope's promise, he and Taylor didn't make her a commander even then, telling her, as Sharon wonderfully recapped, that because of how many people would like to be in her place and how old she is, she should just be thankful for the job. 

Sharon's story resonates with women across professions, and finally getting those stars felt like a victory for all of us on top of being a great moment specific to this character we love.  Sharon's reaction is well written, and Mary McDonnell - who's the reason the promotion finally happened - plays it beautifully.  It’s exquisite; one of my favorite moments of the series.

And I like the case; as Fritz says, Ortiz may be nuts, but his plan was smart.  Committing crimes in every precinct's jurisdiction so his bomb-hiding items would wind up in evidence lockers around the LAPD was clever; had he not been foiled in the end, his final crime would have really been something.

I also like that it finally somewhat addresses the real-world problem with the plea bargain process; in the cases seen in real time on this show, the person taking a plea deal is guilty and the sentence is just.  But this past case shows something far more common in reality, where innocent (or guilty of lesser offenses) people, particularly people of color, are frightened/coerced into pleading guilty and never get their day in court. 

It drives me absolutely batty that the thrift store has a duplicate of everything Ortiz bought; that's not how thrift shops work!  And when Julio removes the window pane to show how the killer made entry to Mr. Luna's home, we can clearly see it's plexiglass, not glass, but that's a minor quibble.  There are probably a few more of those in the many scenes I didn't see tonight, but it's all just little nitpicks; I really enjoy the two episodes. 

Gus drives me fucking nuts - he acts like they're a couple of 40-year-olds with established careers who've been committed for five years, so that one person's out-of-town job offer should prompt a serious discussion about relocation by both (and acts like getting into Cal's law school is easy, when it is quite decidedly not) - but I like how it comes out and how very grown-up Rusty finally is in his decision.  And I like that even though Gus is being unreasonable about how he makes his point, he does have one - their relationship has been entirely at Rusty's pace, and he's not willing to wait any more.  He shouldn't have to; that’s valid.  But he shouldn't shame Rusty for not being in the same place, given his circumstances.

The last few minutes of part one are so gripping; Tony Denison, Kathe Mazur, and, especially, Graham Patrick Martin do a great job reacting to just seeing a cloud of smoke and not knowing where anyone is.  Rusty's trembling chin as he asks, “Where's Mom?" and clutches Andy’s shoulder is wonderful, and the physical contact is something that, even under these frightening circumstances, wouldn't have happened between Rusty and Andy prior to season 5B, making it particularly moving.  The explosion near the end of part two is very well done as well; it’s a good, suspenseful case.

Thankfully, a break in football coincided with the scene where Sharon stalks out towards Winnie Davis's press briefing, because I absolutely love that.  I also love the way Sharon takes Wes to task when he snots off to Davis; she knows he wouldn't speak like that to a male superior officer, and if she can keep herself in check with Davis enough to respect the chain of command despite her legitimate issues with her, then the rest of them better follow suit. 

I also got to see Ortiz's cell mate describe himself as "morally open-minded" - that guy entertains me.

I enjoy how annoyed Provenza is by Buzz's relationship with Bill Jones's family, because it is borderline creepy.

Provenza's bobblehead and change jar survive the explosion; I love it.

Edited by Bastet
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The one thing that struck me about "Bad Blood" and "Intersection" was that they continued the theme from Buzz’s case in that sometimes the justice of the law doesn’t seem just, which we see again in “Shockwave,” but not in the same way, since the wrongly convicted person becomes a killer instead of someone who killed someone spending the rest of their life repenting and serving others. 
I wondered if Duff —in thinking this might be the last season— wanted to emphasize that often there is no glory-of-catching-the-bad-guys. 
 

Seeing “Shockwave” again, it seemed that they should have figured out a lot sooner that the bad guy’s objective was to get the bomb(s) taken into evidence, and that it didn’t need to be a double episode, but that if the show was on a network or streaming service that offered more flexibility of episode runtime, it could have been an actual 60 minute episode or so (instead of two 42 minute episodes). 

Edited by shapeshifter

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On 11/2/2019 at 6:09 PM, WendyCR72 said:

If anyone here owns a Roku device (as I do), I got the usual "What's New" weekly Roku e-mail, and both Major Crimes and Cold Case are streaming for free on The Roku Channel.

I just saw this tonight when I checked the Roku channel. I'm very excited because now if I miss something on MYTV, I can catch up. Back in September, MYTV locally changed from showing this on Saturday and Sunday to running 2 episodes on Sunday, I think I like it better like this.

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Me-TV showed the MASH finale movie, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", on Veterans' Day. For such a minor side character, G.W. Bailey's Rizzo actually got some decent screen time in it, even appearing up towards the end to give Winchester a lift out of camp in a garbage truck. (I was 10 when it originally aired in February 1983 and had forgotten a lot of it, actually!)

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Yay - on the first Saturday night in quite a few weeks that I'm home, after football I flip over to the 9:00 episode and find the series premiere.  Reloaded is full of things big and small I really enjoy, so I was in love with this series from jump.  And I like this episode even more looking back on it than I did originally, for the foundation it laid.

I appreciate the various reactions to the new plea bargain mandate: It makes sense why Taylor wants to implement it and that Sharon has a knack for it, and also that some of the detectives are resistant on general principle, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to change.  (Being cops, though, none of them object based on the biggest problem with it, the number of innocent/guilty only of lesser charges people who are frightened and/or coerced into giving up their day in court and pleading guilty.)

"We're not starting the clock over on Major Crimes just to give people new reasons to sue us" is a nice transition from the series that began with a woman brought in to get confessions by the book instead of the renegade tactics that had tanked cases in court -- while Brenda/The Closer squad had some missteps along the way, and she ultimately had to regroup when she lost sight of herself, it's nice this franchise was always more often than not predicated on proper policing -- to one with a woman who's going to hold the squad's feet to the fire to get back on track and never let the end justify the means. 

As such, I am over the moon for a show retaining this great ensemble of characters and centering them around Sharon Raydor.  Sharon getting comfy in her new office chair was a highlight of this episode and remained one of my favorite little moments of the entire series - a great little visual touch that speaks volumes, and I love non-verbal acting that masters like Mary McDonnell nail.

I love that Sharon is Darth Raydor with her recalcitrant squad, but admonishes Taylor when it's just the two of them that they should have waited rather than springing this on them at a crime scene; she doesn't do any sort of "I know this is difficult" spiel, she just tells them what she expects and refuses to take any shit (her "as the officer in charge of the conduct of this investigation ... and I need a briefing, now" admonishment is brilliant), but we see in the next episode she appreciates that it's difficult for Provenza.  And it's difficult for her, too; I love that final shot of her sinking back into the sofa, wondering what the hell she's gotten into.

I like that Provenza's "I know more about homicides than she has time to learn" continues to play out over the first several episodes and beyond, with neither one a hero or villain as things transition - he has more experience with homicide in general, but Sharon has run OIS homicides, so she'll learn from him, but he'll also learn to be a better detective from her.  It's a wonderful trajectory, and while I hate that it ends with him eulogizing her six years later <sob>, it's still incredibly powerful what he says about her - and about how she changed them.  The ultimate point cannot be predicted here, but the path is well laid -- that the rest of the Scooby Gang who learned their lesson underestimating Brenda come around fairly quickly this time, because it's purely professional, while Provenza takes longer because he had a glimpse of leadership and resents it not lasting.

I love Sharon's snotty "We put a murderer away for life, in less than 48 hours, so, yes, I feel excellent, thank you for asking" answer to Provenza, but my favorite is her no-shits-to-give "Yes?" when Andy is staring at her, and then completely ignoring him yelling at her because it has made her realize the killer has to be someone familiar with this case and LAPD policy in general.  

While I come to have some conflicting feelings about Rusty, Sharon's relationship with him remained a favorite aspect of the series, and it's always such a trip to re-watch its beginning knowing how it evolved.  I absolutely love her telling him he's not the first adolescent to grace her home with his presence; "Having raised two teenagers of my own, I have tremendous capacity for ingratitude" is a fabulous moment.  I also love her deadpan "So, you were tortured" when he complains his foster parents made him turn off the TV every night, and telling him he's standing at the back of a very long line when he wants to deal with Brenda rather than her (I like Sharon and Rusty reminiscing about that in Sharon's final episode <sob>).  And Julio joins me in enjoying her shouting at Rusty that if he keeps talking, he'll wind up in juvenile detention - he has a great smirk going on as he listens to her threaten about barred windows and doors.

I also like that her "I won't lie to you" a few episodes to come is set up here; when Rusty reveals his mom's name is also Sharon, she could have tried to play it off and probably succeeded, but she admits she just got this job a few days ago and thus hasn't done anything to find his mom yet, but she will.

I like the addition of Amy, too.  She's hilarious in her not my fault, we did it by the book attitude at the epic disaster of a crime scene (which ought to have FID's red tape around it, but I'll let that slide), and asking about the opening in Major Crimes in the middle of it is great.  She's totally unfazed by the realization she won't get anywhere with Provenza, and moves on to a new tactic with Sharon.  I'm glad she settled down as time went on, but I do get a kick out of the ass-kissing over-eager version of her while it lasts; mostly, I appreciate that her ambition isn't a negative to Sharon.  Sharon gets annoyed by certain specific things Amy does, but doesn't at all care that she's working so hard to get ahead.  It's a trait all too often held against women, so I like seeing that understanding.  And Amy's honest in her dissembling, even though that sounds contradictory, which is interesting to me.  

How well Fritz and Sharon work together becomes one of my favorite through lines of the series, and I like that we see that included with her first case heading Major Crimes.  He'd told her it was nice working with her back in the "Old Money" episode of The Closer, and it's really nice to hear a "good job today" from him again under these circumstances - and funny that he's doing it while filling a bag with the candy Brenda sent him to retrieve.

Little things:

Provenza shooting down the RHD detective's protest that a military member wouldn't do this by saying, "You may be shocked to hear that sometimes husbands kill their wives, and priests don't always make great babysitters" is exactly why I like him.

I like how subtle that detective's reaction to Amy speculating the robbers used the chat feature of that FPS game to communicate; only in hindsight do we realize he's thinking about his son - he plays that game, he's a struggling veteran, he goes to the firing range, and he's been asking him about the case.

I love Julio's "You haven't, Sir" to Provenza when Amy asks if any of them have played any FPS games.

There are a couple of places on the office wall that have an empty hook, because Pope and Taylor pushed this transfer so quickly Sharon hasn't even had a chance to move into her office; so simple a touch, but one so often neglected on TV.

 

Edited by Bastet
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On 12/22/2019 at 12:13 AM, Bastet said:

I appreciate the various reactions to the new plea bargain mandate: It makes sense why Taylor wants to implement it and that Sharon has a knack for it, and also that some of the detectives are resistant on general principle, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to change.  (Being cops, though, none of them object based on the biggest problem with it, the number of innocent/guilty only of lesser charges people who are frightened and/or coerced into giving up their day in court and pleading guilty.)

Does this ever come up during the series? This evening I happened to catch an episode of The Good Wife (1.18 “Doubt”) in which an innocent college student winds up taking a guilty plea with lengthy prison time attached to it rather than risk 30 years without parole, moments before the jury was about to deliver a not-guilty verdict. 
 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, shapeshifter said:

Does this ever come up during the series?

The only time it is explicitly addressed is in the two-part "Shockwave" that concludes season five - looking back on a case another division fucked up that resulted in an innocent man accepting time rather than risking even more should his bad look circumstantial evidence go to a jury.  (It's touched on in "Personal Day" and maybe one or two others to an even lesser extent, but "Shockwave" is pretty much it.)  The cases shown in real time all involve people guilty of at least the crime to which they plead guilty pursuant to the deal, so the show is about the resource-saving, appeal-surrendering upside of the plea bargain process.  It largely ignores the dark side -- the characters never act deplorably in pushing a plea, they're just never written into that position to begin with. 

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I was quite torn between football and "Before and After" tonight -- I absolutely love season one, but it's a playoff game, although not between any of "my" teams.  So I watched football, and checked out the episode during breaks in play -- but was also consistently slow to turn back.

I watched the entire opening credits segment, because I laugh a lot in that short period of time: Provenza calling the victim "Hanging Chad" to start, and then there's Rusty's "Somebody married you?!" and Provenza's reaction to the entire overheard conversation, capped off with Sharon's wonderfully saccharine, "I'm sorry, Lieutenant, are you suddenly in over your head?" when he wants to know if she'll be gracing them with her presence at the crime scene.  Add in Andy's "Because we're west of the 405 [meaning in a rich area of L.A.]?" when Andrea asks what makes this a major crime and his reminding the grumbling Provenza he hasn't been in charge for eight years, so why is it suddenly a problem.

I also made sure to tune back in for my favorite part of the episode, which is one of my favorite scenes of the series, the conversation between Sharon and Taylor in his office.  First she - who is not protected by a federal mandate like when she ran FID and snotted off to Pope - snarks right to her new boss's face "Except, apparently, to Assistant Chief" when he blames reneging on her promised promotion on a department-wide freeze.  Then it gets even better when she recaps his "The job is the promotion" speech with, "So considering how many people would like to replace me and how old I am, I should just take this job and be grateful, is that what you're saying?"  If every woman who relates to that simultaneously cheered, it would be deafening worldwide. 

I also love the Sharon and Provenza scene at the end (and am disproportionately amused by the mental image of him and the parakeets), and her inviting him to stay on just until he finds someplace completely fair to work is great, and a wonderful transition to her getting fed up with Rusty and shoving all his junk into his bag and ordering him to sleep in the bedroom, not her living room.  From jump, she has a touch for understanding and showing some patience with things that are based on his shitty history, while not abiding the things that are just bratty teenage asshole.  Her response to his "you're not my mother" fit is both:  "You're right, I'm not your mother, and how do we know that?  Because I am here. [pause to make sympathetic eye contact] I'm here, and your mother is not.  And you're going to have to try and make the best of it."

The case is a good one, with all the rape victims' heartbreakingly familiar stories - lured into trusting him via an inherently intimate relationship, one wondering if she'd given him mixed signals, Amanda's disgust that he got her into "doable" shape, etc.  I love Sharon countering the defense attorney's threat to parade Chad's victims before the jury with, "And I'll show the jury your client erasing those women as if they never existed". 

And the squad brainstorms well together, in just their second case with Sharon, to figure out it has to be the wife.  I like Sharon hugging her as part of setting her up, and Julio's grin into the tablet's camera when they catch her.  (He does that across both series every time he's on a hidden camera that has just paid off, and it's a nice character touch.)

I liked Hobbs a lot from her several appearances on The Closer, so I was ridiculously giddy the first time I watched this to see her and Sharon tag team the wife into taking the deal.

And I enjoy Morales's consternation when no one enjoys his joke about looking for someone with a good burn in their forearms.

"The first hit, we give her - they were married.  The second and third, that was intent" from Julio is also amusing. 

"Medical Causes" is another good one, although I missed a lot of it this time around to prep dinner.  Rusty turning from surly to giddy and thankful when his mom is coming for him is quite reminiscent of his introduction on The Closer, when we saw the kid desperate to get his mom - whom he's in a good deal of denial about - back that lies underneath all the tough street kid bluster.  As is Andy first seeing him as the brittle abandoned child of an addict, not just "the little psycho," and the guilt he feels when Rusty runs off.  And Provenza starting to really feel for Rusty, and appreciate the good care Sharon is taking of him.  It's a good foundation for a number of relationships to come.

"Rusty is home" is a lovely ending, and caps off a wonderful scene between Sharon and Rusty -- The unspoken shared aversion to crying in front of people (I love Sharon making her way out of the Murder Room as she tears up) and the shared understanding of this:

"I thought she loved me.  And letting go of that is what's hard."
"But holding onto someone when they're gone is even harder."

is something that plays out beautifully across the series, along with him handing her the filled-out forms to the school he'd protested there was no point in him going to.  The hard work both of them put in over the series to go from "people like me don't go to college, and we both know it" to him on the brink of applying to law school is rewarding to see.

The case is a good one, too, and the actor playing the woman drugged by her stage five clinger boyfriend does a great job when she blows apart his crazy plan to bring them back together by ruining her career via a failed drug test - what were they going to live off of, his golf money? - and especially when she cries, "Four people are dead because of you!" and can't quite finish "You made me kill four people!" without breaking down.  Dr. Nolan does a great job luring the boyfriend into a taped confession under horrible emotional circumstances, and I like the combination of Amy taking him out and comforting her.

My favorite funny moment is Sharon on the phone, yelling at the hospital that no, she won't wait for a call back on the tox screen results, she's the police, relenting, "Fine, I'll hold," and then shoving the phone at Provenza to wait.  I also like:

"Evidently you don't know how a hospital works.  Look, whoever called me down here could have asked these questions over the phone."
"Evidently you don't know how a police station works."

I greatly enjoy Sharon's dismissal of Amy when Sykes brings in the info on sexual harassment claims against the attending and tries to once again stick around and over-explain in front of a suspect.

It's funny to go back and look at Buzz so desperate to be free of babysitting Rusty that he's throwing in all his cash and begging others to do the same, given the close relationship they wound up having.

Something random I noticed in hindsight about this episode that never struck me in a previous rewatch:  There are two printers in addition to the one Provenza replaces with his own in season two used during this case.  So do they simultaneously die along with the one he replaces (printer suicide pact)?

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One thing I noticed in "Medical Causes" is parallel character relationship developments with, first:
Sharon's face softening towards Amy (as Sharon observes Amy from the next room, on camera, in hugging and comforting the injured young doctor/suspect/victim)
and then, later:
Provenza softening towards Sharon when he sees her tearing up at the news that Rusty has run away.

Sharon realizes Amy does care about the victims and not just about her career, while Provenza realizes Sharon also cares for someone who is not reciprocating (yet).

 

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On 12/29/2019 at 4:07 PM, shapeshifter said:

Sharon realizes Amy does care about the victims and not just about her career,

I love that Sharon never assumed she didn't; she accepted Amy's ambition from the beginning.  There is such a sexist double standard, where "ambitious" shifts to a negative when talking about women, and it makes sense that Sharon would be someone who would reject that.  She respected it as one of her skills, and didn't figure it meant her career was the only thing Amy cared about.

They've done a nice job of showing Amy's various skills in these early episodes, rather than only showing the eager beaver suck-up.  That kicks up a notch in "Citizen's Arrest", but in the first episode she, based on her status as a veteran, theorized the guys met up at the firing range, and also twigged to the idea they used the FPS chat feature to communicate.  And then in "Medical Causes" she takes down the boyfriend one second and comforts his girlfriend the next.

Speaking of "Citizen's Arrest", heads up that it is not airing tonight in my market as it would per the normal schedule, so things may be shifting in other markets as well (since we all get variations on the same general schedule).  Instead of getting the next two season one episodes this weekend, we are getting the next season one episode (episode four, "The Ecstasy and The Agony") and then the first season four episode ("A Rose is a Rose").  Next weekend will follow suit: the fifth season one episode, "Citizen's Arrest") and the second season four episode ("Sorry I Missed You").

Odd, but possibly a good thing for those whose markets were only showing one episode per week, meaning they skipped every other episode and made watching range from frustrating to pointless.  Maybe now those folks can see things in order from week to week starting with S1E4.

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I hadn't seen "The Ecstasy and The Agony" in its entirety in a while, so I was hoping the Patriots would lose by 8:00.  Alas, it took longer, and my post-game euphoria continued to distract me, but I still saw more of it than last time.  Thorn (or "Prick") was always an obnoxious cartoon of a character, made all the more difficult to watch now knowing what an asshole Michael Weatherly is, but the other characters' reactions to him keep it a fun episode. 

My favorite thing about it may be one of the little moments this series does so well:  Provenza standing in the background, while Sharon and Andy question Thorn, using his fingers to calculate how much it would cost him to engage Thorn's life coach intuitive life strategist services for 15 minutes.  I love all of Sharon's reactions to Provenza getting caught up in the idea of a life coach; such great facial expressions and physical gestures.

I also love Fritz wondering at "unmitified".  His reading of the script pitch overall is great, as is Morris musing they should have wired up the women's phones.

I like Provenza sending Buzz off on a coffee run once Sharon justifies using Buzz to drop Rusty off at school, but a nonfat vanilla latte doesn't sound like a Provenza drink.  Is there precedent for that from The Closer (which I don't know nearly as well)?

And, of course, I love everything with Sharon and Rusty.  Her trying to get him out of bed in the morning always makes me want to send the opening clip to my mom and ask, "Bring back memories?"  Their conversation in the car is great ("it's hard to believe you're not more popular") and the scene in her office is even better.  Heading into that, she puts an end to Provenza's questioning by telling him she's told him what she wants done, does she really need to phrase it as an order, and then she comes in and just hands that hypocritical priest his ass ("Let's review the events as I understand them" had me grinning in anticipation the first time I watched it).  Rusty loves it, and thinks he's off the hook, only to discover he's just last in the line of people being schooled by her on their behavior.

Finally there's the sweet scene at the end (during which Sharon is packing them each a lunch for the next day, which I find really cute) when Rusty says he can follow the rules and be civil, but asks for 30 days notice when he's going to have to start over someplace new, because this is temporary.  "It's true; whatever happens here, you will one day go off on your own and be the new kid again.  But wherever you go, and no matter when, you'll never be a stranger to me.  I will always know you ... whether you like it or not."  I truly believe that if Philip Stroh had dropped dead the next day, meaning they no longer needed Rusty as a material witness, Sharon would have told Rusty she'd keep fostering him until he finished high school.

It's also interesting to learn Sharon employs the silent treatment in (at least some) personal disputes, where she has room to leave someone to think about their actions - and can be a little less mature - as opposed to going toe to toe in professional ones.

Roma Strauss cracks me up with her recounting of Agent Morris wanting to send them to Tulsa.  "Like anyone would believe we are the McDougals."  Also the way she nags her son (especially about drinking water).  She's a cartoon, too, but the actor grounds her with that scene at the end when she tells what she knows to lessen her son's sentence.   

Speaking of the son, "You killed your father because you didn't want to live in Oklahoma?" makes me laugh, since I got dragged to Oklahoma every three summer vacations as a kid to visit my dad's family and hated it.  Also because Sharon's incredulous delivery of that question and Andy's "all fourteen years?" response to the kid talking about his "whole life" are perfect.

Because I like the way this cast got along so well, and love the Sharon-Fritz relationship, one of my favorite behind-the-scenes photos is from this episode:

 

Mary McDonnell and Jon Tenney.jpg

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On 1/4/2020 at 11:00 PM, Bastet said:

I hadn't seen "The Ecstasy and The Agony" in its entirety in a while

I hadn't either, and would now rate it as one of the best scripts of the entire The Closer/Major Crimes oeuvre. 
After 7 years of The Closer, Duff et al. have it down, and early in the first season of MC, there's a motive to continue with what worked creatively and what the audience liked, like a fun bit of script:

Quote

Alon told me you wanted to divorce him because you're in love with prick.
Thorn.
Whatever. 
. . .
All this is because of that miserable prick! 
Thorn.
Whatever.

and the visual segues like Rusty climbing into the back seat at the crime scene to nap, followed by the body at the crime scene being rolled over.

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On 1/4/2020 at 1:20 PM, Bastet said:

Speaking of "Citizen's Arrest", heads up that it is not airing tonight in my market as it would per the normal schedule, so things may be shifting in other markets as well (since we all get variations on the same general schedule).  Instead of getting the next two season one episodes this weekend, we are getting the next season one episode (episode four, "The Ecstasy and The Agony") and then the first season four episode ("A Rose is a Rose").  Next weekend will follow suit: the fifth season one episode, "Citizen's Arrest") and the second season four episode ("Sorry I Missed You").

Odd, but possibly a good thing for those whose markets were only showing one episode per week, meaning they skipped every other episode and made watching range from frustrating to pointless.  Maybe now those folks can see things in order from week to week starting with S1E4.

That is odd. Sounds to me like someone being paid to do scheduling is not paying attention. I thought the same when they used to air every-other episode each week.
Here in the Chicago area market on The CW I missed the second episode of the pair this week and a few weeks ago because an episode of The Listener aired when the first Major Crimes episode was scheduled to air (according to TitanTV.com) and I was recording them to watch later since the 2 MC episodes are scheduled to air from 1-3 pm during these short winter days. So henceforth I will set to record from 1-4 so I don't miss them. 
If there's something that determines when they are going to insert an episode of The Listener, I haven't figured it out. It seems random. 

 

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On 1/7/2020 at 7:52 AM, shapeshifter said:

early in the first season of MC, there's a motive to continue with what worked creatively and what the audience liked, like a fun bit of script:

The first season is excellent, even when you can tell they're tinkering a bit, deciding what will change and what will remain the same.  While there was no Provenza/Flynn caper in those ten episodes, it seems deliberate that they made the fourth episode a comedic one, to assure the audience the occasional forays into wacky cases/characters would continue in the new series.  (And then, in the same slot of season two, they aired a Provenza/Flynn caper, to assure the audience those would continue as well.) 

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I really like how "Citizen's Arrest" shows us that Provenza took Thorn's (the buffoon "life strategist" in the previous episode) advice to heart about changing himself if he wants his world to change -- he is different in how he deals with Sharon and Amy, and even takes Sharon's side in a strategy disagreement and proposes putting Sykes in the lead because of her SIS experience's relevance to the case.  Deciding to stop wallowing in his resentment, he looks at his new work situation with fresh eyes and realizes Sharon excels at game plans and Sykes adds a new set of skills and experience to the group's collective expertise. 

It's a transition that is solidified in the next episode, "Out of Bounds", when Sharon puts her job on the line and Amy puts her physical safety on the line; they both have his full respect from then on, even when he's irritated.  It's a nice trajectory, and I appreciate that it's not dragged out, and that Provenza is the only one who took even this long to accept the change -- they learned from their experience with Brenda, and are less stubbornly resistant this time around.

I can't stand Julio's actions in this one (and can barely watch the scene in the gun shop where he coerces a confession at gunpoint), and really can't stand that Andrea condones (in fact, suggests) them, but I'm very happy a) this series does eventually address his pattern of behavior and b) that characterization of Andrea is never again in evidence as they develop the character. 

On the flip side, I like including the moment as they approach the trailer where Sharon says not to hesitate to use force to protect themselves or the hostage; since on The Closer we saw Sharon from the point of view of a resentful squad, it's nice to get that explicit reminder early in this series that Sharon only ever took action against inappropriate uses of force, and backs officers when use of force is justified.

And I like the case; the actors do a good job maintaining the sense of tension that kicks in when the characters realize they've walked into a kidnapping.  Rusty seeing, through the window, the squad have to tell the Barlows they're only getting one of their kids back alive gives him a little bit of a wake-up call that the police, for all his issues with them, have difficult jobs.

Gerald Hall's descent into his father's "sovereign citizen" brand of crazy is frighteningly-realistically related by his ex-wife, making the villains properly scary before we even meet them.  (And there's good commentary with the gun shop owner's defiant Second Amendment blah blah blah turning to "I just sell the guns" and then "Wait, these people are more than a little crazy and they are heavily armed" protest when Amy wants him to lure the Halls into the shop.)

There's also this interesting, subtle thing going on with the Barlows, where we know that she volunteers at a domestic violence shelter and see him exhibit controlling behaviors that are red flags, and her reactions to his anger are in line with that.  I don't even think the writers are fully aware of what they set up with that dynamic.

Sharon reaching towards Rusty's back as they head out for dinner is the second time she's pulled herself back from physical contact, and I love the thread that she stifles her instincts to touch him because she knows he's not ready for it.  I like her promising him she won't lie to him; she will take the time she needs to properly assess situations and then tell him what she knows.  And, of course, I love the snarky way she deals with his typical teen behavior.  "Believe it or not, Rusty, you are not the only issue the City of Los Angeles is dealing with this afternoon" to direct him out of her office to go do his homework is fun.

As is, like all jokes about Provenza's numerous marriages, "As everyone knows, I have seen my share of divorce papers." 

I know I mentioned this last time, but it just kills me every time I watch this that they missed the opportunity for comedy when Sharon gives Laurie Barlow her phone -- that Sharon just comes up on Provenza's phone as "Captain Raydor" instead of "The Wicked Witch of FID" or something.  To make myself feel better, I have to mentally insert the looks that Sharon and Provenza would have exchanged if there was an insulting name or ring tone for her.  (And I just decide Provenza wasn't tech savvy enough to think about it during her FID days.)

I also always shake my head in wonder that Ben Barlow's frat buddy doesn't realize he's dead in that picture.  How?!

As I said when this point was raised before, I love the way they frequently reuse names in this franchise (like in life, but often avoided on TV), so I don't care about the "Emily" repetition, but it's indeed clear in hindsight they hadn't named Sharon's kids this early in the series; Sharon exhibited such empathy for Mrs. Barlow regarding Ben's death (in general as a mother, but also that he's not all that much younger than her own son and is in a fraternity like he was), she'd have felt a twinge about the missing daughter having the same name as her own daughter.  At this stage in her relationship with the squad, Sharon wouldn't have said, "That's my daughter's name," so the only thing retroactively missing is just a look on her face when she heard the name.  (Not a reason to have discarded Emily when deciding what to name Sharon's daughter, certainly, just a little something that would have been different had it already been decided at the time this was filmed.)

Something I never noticed until tonight: After her oops realization she shouldn't have said "no more dead guys" because that young stranger in the murder room must have known the victim, Amy quietly moves a chair behind the frat buddy so he can sit down in his shock.  It's another example of both how she needs to settle down in her eagerness to report back, and that she's compassionate.

Also that the actor playing Emily Barlow is seriously tiny, to fit inside storage bench and to have her feet well off the ground when Julio - who is not tall - holds her.

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15 hours ago, Ellee said:

@Bastet  Just want to say I appreciate your posts regarding MCs and ty for them. 

That's nice, thank you.  It's sad that the original forum was vaulted, then the entire M vault went poof during a major site update, and the majority of episode threads are not accessible via the Wayback Machine, so a whole lot of our great discussion over the years (at the time of vaulting, the forum had over 5000 posts) is lost.  So, in this replacement thread, I've tried to talk about each episode as it comes up in syndication.  

I've pretty much covered them all now, but - to my delight - I sometimes still notice something new.

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I saw Citizen’s Arrest on late at night on one of my local channels, and I also couldn’t stand Julio forcing a confession at gunpoint and I hated even more Hobbs suggesting it? What the hell was she thinking? Prosecutors are supposed to be all about getting stuff that can be used in court and doing things by the book and the right way, and I found it massively OOC for her to suggest Sanchez force a confession, fortunately it was the only time that she ever did something like that. I hate when shows basically try to condone police brutality, and this show rarely did that, and Julio never had to face any consequences for this, at least on The Closer when Gabriel beat up the suspect that one time he got suspended and Brenda’s sometimes underhanded methods came back to bite her in the ass. At least this show eventually addressed Julio’s anger problems.

But overall that’s one of my least favorite episodes, saved only by Provenza being his usual awesome self, I liked how he handled the situation and suggested Julio and Sykes take the lead because of their experience in dealing with situations like that one, and I also loved Sharon telling Rusty’s whiny ass that his wasn’t the only problem LA was facing, that was great!! There were some good character interactions in that one, as there almost always were with this show, but overall Julio’s behavior and Hobbs condoning it make this one of MC’s worst episodes IMO.

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On 1/11/2020 at 11:03 PM, Bastet said:

Something I never noticed until tonight: After her oops realization she shouldn't have said "no more dead guys" because that young stranger in the murder room must have known the victim, Amy quietly moves a chair behind the frat buddy so he can sit down in his shock.  It's another example of both how she needs to settle down in her eagerness to report back, and that she's compassionate.

I noticed that for the first time today too. 

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On 1/12/2020 at 10:18 PM, Xeliou66 said:

I hate when shows basically try to condone police brutality, and this show rarely did that,

Same here; normalizing, justifying, and even glorifying a range of bad behavior by the police is why I have been a fan of very few cop shows in my life (Cagney & Lacey, Cold Case, and The Closer/Major Crimes), and that this one is centered around a character who spent most of her career in IA and holds her squad to those principles is why it's my favorite.

On 1/12/2020 at 10:18 PM, Xeliou66 said:

I found it massively OOC for her to suggest Sanchez force a confession, fortunately it was the only time that she ever did something like that.

Yeah, I'm very glad they abandoned that characterization.  We saw Hobbs in a handful of episodes of The Closer, and there was nothing in those to indicate she'd say hey, since Captain Raydor isn't here to stop you, why don't you coerce a confession.  But we didn't really get to know her as a DA until Major Crimes, so I'm glad that when they finally fleshed the character out, they made her someone who does the job right.  That this episode is an aberration helps in hindsight, but I was very unhappy the first time I watched it.  Even now, though, I can barely stand to watch that scene in the gun shop.

Amy was horrified by his actions and yelled at him to stop, but took no further action - either at the time, or telling Sharon afterward (because if she had, Sharon would have disciplined him, and it would have been an issue among the squad, so if the writers had intended Amy to report him, they'd have made a point of it).  Which I don't really blame her for, as he (and Andrea) put her in a difficult position, and a black woman "tattling" on one of her squad mates typically does not go well, so even with Sharon in charge, there's an ingrained hesitance to go down that road.

That struggle for Amy could have been a good storyline, and helped flesh out a new character in addition to addressing Julio's behavior earlier in the series, but at least once Sharon witnessed Julio's pattern of inability/unwillingness to control himself, she did something about it, and the show followed through with Julio's anger management trajectory over a long, realistic arc.  So Julio's behavior was ultimately identified by the show for what it was, and his punishment for it was presented as wholly deserved.  That's far better than most cop shows.

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I mentioned last week how much I like the Provenza arc of episodes 4-6 in the first season, where, by the end of "Out of Bounds" - in which Amy puts her body on the line and Sharon puts her job on the line - he's fully come to terms with the changes at work; there will still be annoyance and disagreement, but he's done with the fundamental resentment - those two have earned their spots and bring something needed to the team.  Just a very short time ago, Provenza talking to Sharon about the ways in which homicide investigations differ from IA investigations would have been done with haughtiness and contempt instead of the supportive way in which it's delivered here after Amy gets hurt and Sharon openly asks him, because he has experience she doesn't, what she missed.  (He even calls her by her name instead of her rank as a means of connection rather than disrespect.) 

"Out of Bounds" is also a pivotal episode in Rusty's adjustment period.  He's no longer under emergency care, so not getting dragged with her whenever Sharon has to leave the house -- what he's been whining for, but to which he reacts by behaving as if she's ditching him to go out for fun ... and then by making her breakfast when she gets back from working all night (and offers to make breakfast regularly).  He suspects she wants him to meet his biological father and his family so that maybe they'll want to take him off her hands, but then believes her when she says she's not trying to get rid of him and would miss him if he wanted to go live with family.  The push-pull nature of his attitude towards their relationship at this point is natural and well done.  I love them at the end, with him saying if she doesn’t mind him hanging around, he’s happy where he is, and her agreeing, "Let's try and keep it that way."

He's settling in with the squad at large, too; the Barlow murder/kidnapping case of the last episode gave him a bit of a wake-up call as to the tough job the squad he's so irritated with has, and in this one he - in the midst of worrying about his bio dad - is affected when he learns Amy was hurt, and later asks to go with Sharon to the hospital.

Nothing is tied up in a bow, but it's also true that on all fronts nothing is as divisive from this point on as it has been.  It all plays out organically before and after, and I appreciate that this turning point comes at episode six, rather than dragging it out for maximum drama that would have just wound up feeling repetitive for the large segment of the audience who watched season one of The Closer.

It cracks me up when Sharon tells Andy and Provenza that Rusty wants to know about Daniel Dunn before deciding whether to meet him, but she can't run a background check without cause, and Andy promptly places that anonymous call from a concerned citizen to Provenza's phone:  "Hi, I'm an everyday citizen looking to make an anonymous tip.  There's a man by the name of Rusty's Dad who may be connected to a murder.  Also, thank you for the fine job you do; you're an American hero, and I don't tell that to you nearly enough."  Sharon's equal parts exasperated/affectionate "Thanks, but I need a legal reason" reaction is cute, and I also enjoy her assuring Buzz, no, they are not about to be hit up for more money and telling him to keep his eyes on the monitor.

The case itself is just okay, but working it leads to some terrific interaction among the squad.  I take absolute delight in Sharon's "But, if you're taking over this case, please let me know" sarcasm in response to Taylor's blustering over the way she's handling things, and the reactions from Provenza, Andy, and Buzz to her insisting on doing it her way when Taylor threatens her job if it doesn't work and when he later offers up more objections.  Taylor had already put her behind the eight ball with his demand she delay notification, so she could have said, "Fine, do it your way" and let him fall on his face if all she cared about was the job.  But she believed her way was the better one to accomplish their shared goal of preventing further violence, and that's what mattered to her, so she stuck with it - and found a way to do it within the rules - and the squad respected that.  Also that she didn't share his quest for press conferences.

Julio had become respectful to Sharon early on, because he's always been this weird combination of sexist and dutiful, but he's so low key and quiet (with commanding officers, not with suspects!) that it's notable for him to this time explicitly congratulate her on picking up on the receipt and using the father's motivation to turn their big ball of nothing into evidence that led to a confession and plea.

It's also interesting to get a glimpse of Taylor as a father via this case.  He goes to PTA meetings!  I like his voicemail message on his son's cell phone when the son doesn't answer:  "This is your father, call me back.  I'm taking that phone from you as soon as I get home."  And it's interesting that at his salary - not an assistant chief for long, but previously a commander for quite a few years and a captain before that - his youngest child is in public school, and one that (if it's supposed to be the real Marshall) covers a socio-economic mix of neighborhoods (as a result of gentrification).

There are a few little things, too:

- As a football fan, I'm tickled that this episode indicates what is later confirmed, that Sharon knows the game, since she understands that significance of the stats the coach rattles off.

- As I noted last time around, I like Mike mentioning at the crime scene that his son Kevin is new behind the wheel.  We saw in season seven of The Closer that Mike finally relented and let Kevin apply for his driver’s license, so - while not knowing that takes nothing away from the line, as he's just commenting on how the combination of teenage drivers and L.A.'s rain-induced hysteria could lead to road rage - it's a nice little layer of continuity for those who remember.

- It's interesting that Sharon has a white sink, when her fridge is stainless steel and her stove/oven is a combo black/stainless finish.  The condo is so pulled together cosmetically, and I love speculating on when after both kids were moved out for good she moved into it, so I enjoy trying to date this design choice to further settle on when she bought it.  Yes, I am weird.

- One nitpick: There aren't enough kids on the field at the football team's memorial meeting, and those who are there don't comport with the racial composition the coach described.  It's a small but totally unnecessary failure in extras casting.

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I wasn't home to see "The Shame Game" last week, and I'd missed it during the previous syndication rotation, too.  Even though I have the whole series on DVD and don't even particularly like the case in that one, when I tuned in tonight and realized which one I'd missed I was bummed, because I love beyond reason the scene between Sharon, Rusty, and Provenza when Rusty lashes out at Sharon about wanting to get rid of him, Sharon's voice breaks in the middle of saying she can't be objective about Daniel Dunn and she gets the hell out of Dodge before anyone can see her cry, and Provenza quietly tells Rusty off for the accusation.

I was home tonight, though, for "Dismissed With Prejudice" - it's another case that annoys me, this time for how easy it makes it look for a conviction to be overturned, but I like the episode in spite of that.

I like the focus on Mike, and the trajectory of his relationship with Lydia.  She has absolute shit for parents; her dad killed her mother and then manipulated her into doubting and ultimately recanting her memory of seeing that, which is clearly the most egregious act, but her mom - who'd drugged her to sleep through sexy times with the boyfriend when the husband was gone, and was assisting an embezzler despite her role as an insurance investigator - was apparently planning to run off without Lydia when she fled the country with Zapata, since there was no passport for Lydia.  But Mike always believed her - he believed her when he first interviewed her as a little kid, and he lets her now, as a young adult, regain trust in her memories, so - as horrible as her circumstances are, once her dad says he wishes he'd just killed her too - she at least knows she wasn't a mixed-up kid who falsely sent her father away for murder; she was right all along. 

The reveal of what happened, with Lydia walking through the house again, and showing flashbacks to what she saw at the time, is nicely done.   "I believe you.  I have always believed you" is what it boils down to.  And the actor playing Lydia does a good job with the bewildered confusion; "I don't believe you"/"It's yourself you don't believe" is great.  Mike pulling Lydia into his arms when her father obliterates his good deed of not making her testify again by saying he wishes he'd killed her, too, is powerful; I always like the cases to which one or more squad members connects in a particularly emotional way. 

And Tao gets his due when Sharon gestures for him to, again, place Mr. Reichman under arrest for murder, after they confront him with Zapata's body buried in the backyard and with the broken tip of the knife that killed Elaine in his sternum.  One of the many things I like better about this show than The Closer is delving more into the squad members' lives and careers, and this is a good Mike episode.

I also like how Lydia joins Rusty in showing, although in a much more subtle way, how material witnesses fare in the criminal justice system.  I generally avoid cop shows, so I may simply be unaware of other examples, but my sense is either none or very few get into that.  With Rusty, it's explicit, and with Lydia you have to pay attention, but in her case the prosecutor doesn't even know where she's been living the past eight years.  She was just a witness whose testimony they needed to make their case.  She provided it, and done - no need to even think about what becomes of this little girl now that her mom is dead and her dad is imprisoned.

Rusty asking Provenza for advice on tying a tie - because he's worn one for 100 years - is great, as is dapper Andy standing next to Provenza in his usual attire objecting to him being the one asked.  I also like Buzz and Provenza spinning Rusty back and forth in his chair as they question and instruct him.  And I really like imagining Sharon's reaction when Rusty chose that awful shirt and tie combination upon being allowed to select the outfit for himself (but she lets him, as that was their deal).  And it's cute that owning a suit is something Rusty can be bribed by; you wouldn't automatically think of that as something he'd be into, but the way he says he's never had one before and wonders if it makes him look more mature is touching.

Sharon plays it perfectly with Daniel Dunn, telling him how much Rusty would - although he'd never admit it - love to hear about his mom back in the day.  (And it's an important puzzle piece that Sharon Beck's parents apparently threw her out when she got pregnant.)  I like how Sharon plays it with Daniel all along.  Her starting position is skeptical but evaluating, knowing he had no idea he had a child, he has rights, and she may lose Rusty to him; she's willing to assume he genuinely wants get to know Rusty and do right by him until/unless she sees differently, and hopes for the best in this relationship that must legally happen.  But she's ready to protect Rusty if that's not how it pans out.

Sharon's frustrated "his attorney will love that while suing us for millions" reaction to Provenza's "it's always the husband, so, no, we didn't actually consider any other avenues" dismissive response is great, as is "I don't need a thousand reasons, I need one" when he also shrugs off Zapata's blood being found at the scene.  I also enjoy her telling Fritz the FBI's "watchful, waiting" surveillance of Zapata's wife for nine years hasn't exactly been productive, so the federal government, not Mike, needs to pay to bring her in for an interview.  (It's even better in hindsight, once we learn Zapata's wife has known all along the FBI was watching her.)

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Wow. Young Julio/Raymond Cruz was pretty hot at 27 when he had a bit part in a 1988 episode of Cagney and Lacey, “Land of the Free.” Now we know where he got that self-assured swaggering attitude:

59DD7F4F-FB22-4B11-B375-4F8A5C94223E.jpeg

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I never thought of this upon previous watches of "Cheaters Never Prosper", but Andy thinking about this case more than he usually does with adult victims is a subtle way of setting up the changes he makes to his life starting in season two.  I still think Nicole getting engaged - his "little girl" is starting her own family, and he can't ever get back all those years of her life he missed - is the primary impetus, but he's already starting to get a little more serious/thoughtful back at this point.

I also noticed the nice wardrobe touch that on Saturday, when everyone (other than Andy and Mike, who worked overnight and are thus still in Friday's clothes) on the squad comes in dressed casually, Detective Connor is in a suit and tie.  I think he, too, is in yesterday's clothes, which would fit with him having, upon being notified of his partner's death, offered to bring their case files to L.A. and arriving in short order -- it shows he didn't even go home to grab a change of clothes first.  But even if he is in a clean shirt, it's still a good use of wardrobe as characterization, because, while those on their home turf are dressed down to work on a Saturday, he's dressed like a guest in someone else's jurisdiction.

I commented about this episode at length the last time it aired, so I won't repeat myself other than to reiterate how utterly perfect I find Sharon and Rusty's first hug.  She's refrained from physical affection all this time in deference to his reticence, but she is not sending him off to Daniel's for the weekend without a hug.  And he takes a moment, and then kind of sinks into it, and it always makes me think about how long it has likely been since he had a proper hug.  Then the extra little squeeze she gives before letting go caps it all off.

Okay, and to say that the closing scene between them, when she discovers that Daniel punched him, is just as perfectly done.  McDonnell and Martin eased into their characters' relationship very smoothly.

“Personal Effects” is tonight's season four episode, but due to tonight's episodes airing early (because XFL football will be on in the usual prime time slot), I'll be watching something else instead.  But it reminds me that last time it aired, I wondered why Provenza and Patrice chose his house to live in, when in “Chain Reaction” she didn’t even find it suitable for cooking Christmas dinner.  It was suggested that perhaps he owns and she’d been renting, but in the time between that airing and tonight’s, I have watched season five of The Closer, in which we learn Provenza's house is a rental.*  So, if her place is nicer, I don’t know why they didn’t just choose to live there, or rent someplace new altogether.  The house wouldn’t be covered by L.A.’s rent control law, so that’s not the draw.

Maybe he bought it from the landlord somewhere along the way, but he’s so cheap it’s hard to imagine that.  It’s a small house that hasn’t been updated, so maybe he just has a good deal going on – maybe the landlord likes having a cop as a tenant.

I know the real reason is a production one; they didn't want to find another house/build another set for a place we're not going to see very often.  I'm just saying that, if these characters were real, their choice of abode would be a little odd.  Then again, Patrice just waltzes in and declares Provenza will be shelling out to redecorate, so maybe it's a good location and she saw the potential to spruce up the interior.

*I only have the Sharon Raydor years of The Closer on DVD, so I don’t know what we saw of Provenza’s homes in between the apartment from “To Protect and To Serve” and this house, I just know that by season five, he's in the house -- in “Make Over”, we see Georgette staying with him, and it’s this house.  (It's in “Blood Money”, when they roll up to the McMansion to find their missing swindler, that Provenza says, “For once, I’m glad to be renting.”)

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“Long Shot” is another one I commented on at length when it first aired under this single-topic replacing the lost vaulted forum nonsense, so I’ll mostly confine myself to thoughts I didn’t express then:

Taylor’s unsuccessful “Mr. Mayor” attempts to get the mayor’s attention never fail to amuse me; it’s one of the perfect little touches in season one showing that while he is less slimy now that he’s achieved Asst. Chief (and, in fact, this started as The Closer was ending, when he knew he was going to get the promotion), he’s still Taylor – wanting to be a player, and in love with the cameras.  They scatter such scenes throughout the rest of the series, too, and it’s always a nice bridge between the two shows.

The one thing I feel compelled to reiterate, because I think I feel it even more than the writers intended with Sharon’s comparison between good fathers and those not cut out for the job, is how much Angel’s father gets to me.  Mr. Reyes was a good cop in Juarez, and his refusal to go along with corruption led to his wife and all but one of his kids being killed; in response, he sacrificed a career of which he was proud to be a maintenance man in a foreign country, always looking over his shoulder for ICE, in order to save his remaining son (and I love the subtle touch that what he’s ironing when the assassin shows up is Angel’s work uniform).  His death really gets to me.

Jumping off that to another new thought (and the fact I can have one after all this time is one of the reasons I love this show), I reflected more tonight than I have upon previous viewings about Angel.  His dad was all he had of his old life, and now Mr. Reyes is gone, too.  So not only is Angel shunted off into a witness protection identity in which he knows literally no one, but he lives with the guilt that maybe if he’d called the police immediately and revealed what he saw, his dad might still be with him -- his decision made sense, especially in the heat of the moment (he didn’t want his dad knowing he’d been taking the extra set of keys to use the vacant penthouse as a love shack, and, more importantly, didn’t want to bring his dad to the government’s attention, given their undocumented status) – but it’s going to haunt him for how it all played out.

(In the midst of this, it’s a nice touch that the son of a cop gives such a good description, better than most witnesses manage, and our cops appreciate that.)

The big emotional thrust of the episode is Rusty now legally being an orphan/ward of the state, but having a family in the squad, and I enjoy that.  But the Reyes family really resonates with me, too.

This episode has fundamental flaws, as I said before, about the assassin’s car (why does he leave the mirror behind, why don’t the cops try to ascertain his license plate the way they did Angel’s) but it’s still a good one, especially because of the personal storylines.  I think it’s a solid conclusion to a short first season, and I’m never remotely surprised TNT looked at that run and said “more please” in response to that experiment.

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“One of the nice things about me, DDA Rios, is when I’m really unhappy about something, people don’t have to ask.”

As much as I hate Rios, I do love Sharon’s reactions to her.

A couple of things about “Final Cut” I didn't mention last time:

I love how, with the big chunk of time that passed between seasons one and two, season two opens with subtle but clear indicators Sharon and Provenza's relationship has indeed continued its positive trajectory; she even sits on his desk without him reacting.  That's huge!  At first, he's counting the money from his prize for being the last member of his academy class still on the job, so you could think he's distracted and didn't notice her sit down, but a) Provenza always notices and b) as the scene goes on, he's part of the conversation, speaking directly with Sharon at one point, and still doesn't kvetch.  He knows, and he doesn't care.  It took Brenda several years to pull off the desk maneuver (I think; the only time I noticed her doing it was in season five, but there may be earlier ones I missed as I don't know those seasons as well), and Brenda and Sharon are the only two who ever do (Sharon does it several times as the show goes on).  So, once he likes them, he makes an exception for his bosses, apparently.

Given Provenza's "it's always the husband" motto, it's a nice touch - that I never noticed until tonight - he's the one the husband is talking to when hubby admits he fabricated an alibi but says he only did it because he knows the cops always focus on the husband.

And one thing I did say before, because it's worthy of multiple mentions: The way Sharon – having dismissed Rios like a fly but then been told by Taylor that if she doesn’t get Rusty to cooperate with the DA in 24 hours he’ll be moved out of her care – gets Rusty on board without telling him his living situation depends on it is masterful.  She won't play that card; as she told Taylor, it would be both harmful to Rusty and counter-intuitive to the case.  The conversation they have about why he doesn't want to testify (or even talk to Emma again) and why he has to do it anyway is another great moment between them.

 

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Does anyone know the artist in the music video Rusty is watching when Sharon comes home to have the fabulous “that would be misleading” talk after the squad nabs their suspect in "False Pretenses"? 

Because ever since finding out the victim with the awful song in season four’s “Turn Down” (the Provenza/Flynn/Buzz misadventure with the best man dead in the bathtub, courtesy of Frank Fontana the father of the bride) was played by the singer of an actual band – Kill Hannah - performing a purposely awful version of "Promise Me", I have thought the brief snippet of song we see/hear in this one kind of sounds like a better version of that guy's voice and wondered if it is the same band.  But I can’t ever hear the lyrics clearly enough to look them up.

Something else that always strikes my ear:  Rios calling Taylor "Russell" in the scene in his office is an oddity; we learned in "Final Cut" Rios is new to high-profile cases, but of course as Asst. Chief he'll know more DDAs than does anyone in Major Crimes, but it's still unlikely -- given what her age suggests of her tenure at the DA's office -- she'd have interacted with the LAPD enough to call him by his first name.  And, indeed, it never happens again.  Weird writing.

Andy snatching the gossip site guy's chips out of his hand amuses me.  Nowhere near as much as "ginko balboa" recommended by the "cute girl at the health food store", but it makes me laugh.

This is one of my favorite episodes for how well the clothes the squad opts to wear as regular folks on the street - not dressed as a specific role undercover, just as generic members of any given crowd - reflect their outside of work personalities; wardrobe is such a subtle but integral aspect of characterization.

I've said this before, but must reiterate as one of the thousands of little touches that make this series great:  Mike's rubbing of his bald head as he announces he's signed up for Dude Ranch as "Mr. Clean" makes me laugh every single time I watch this episode.

And I always like the reveal of the killer's trajectory from opportunistic thief to deliberate one, escalating to a panic-induced shooting, capped off with a deliberate one and a cover-up; it takes the audience on a journey from commiseration to condemnation. 

I love Amy not having any time for Provenza's sympathy for the abusive husband's sorrow at learning his estranged wife was dead.

Rusty, the king of teenage temper tantrums, calmly accepting the restrictions on his life because they're the price to pay to remain with Sharon, is a great way to close the episode.  "He doesn't have to understand.  He just has to stay safe."

Edited by Bastet
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@Bastet 

Sitting here giggling ... not sure if I enjoy watching the reruns more or reading what you have to say here.  I watched the show as it originally aired but don’t ever remember reading here and wished I would have. 
 

Thank you for taking the time to do it. 
 

 

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1 hour ago, Ellee said:

I watched the show as it originally aired but don’t ever remember reading here and wished I would have. 

I didn't start watching the show in real time until the second half of season five (I watched seasons one through four on DVD and the first half of season five via download from a friend's DVR to be caught up as 5B started), but that short period of time I got to watch and comment along with everyone else seeing episodes for the first time was a lot of fun. 

I might not have survived the first couple of hours after Sharon's death without this place!  I knew my mom wasn't going to watch the second episode until the next day because she goes to bed early, and my friend would be delayed in her viewing of that night's two episodes by a couple of hours due to a late night at work -- the time between me freaking my shit as the episode faded to black and answering the phone to my friend's "Are you fucking kidding me?!" that was so loud she almost didn't need the phone to communicate from five miles away was spent on the old forum (the archive of which went poof in the big site update and which very little of is preserved via the Wayback Machine 😞 ).  Knowing I wasn't the only viewer who should be put on a 72-hour hold in the nearest padded room for her reaction to a fictional character's death was comforting.

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoy my syndication ramblings.  This many rounds in, I try not to repeat myself too much; it's wonderful how layered the writing and acting is that there are still additional things to note.

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Tonight's syndicated episodes aired early, because of a concert special in the prime-time slot, so I only watched "Under the Influence" during commercial breaks of another show.  Thankfully, one of those breaks coincided with Rusty's "crisis" -- there is so much great stuff packed into one little scene:

- Sharon whimpering and giving Andy an I've had enough for today; you deal with him face when the writer objects to the FBI listening in on the suspect’s conversation with his lawyer (I despise the PATRIOT Act, so I don't like the handling of this case [between that, overstating the affirmative defense, and flirting with a Johnson Rule violation with Mrs. Vega], but I love that face when he annoys her yet again)

- Rusty rushing into the Murder Room declaring he's in the middle of a huge crisis - which makes Sharon worry he's been threatened again, but which turns out to be that his teacher rejected his college application essay - which Sharon says doesn't sound like a crisis, prompting Buzz to respond, "You haven't read it yet."

- Rusty jumping right back into my teenage life is the most-important thing in the world mode when Sharon, who'd told him she doesn't have time to deal with his essay right now, complains they're stuck doing nothing being met with her talk to the hand gesture of dismissal

- Everyone reacting to the "my greatest influence is me" opening line when Buzz tells her to just read that

- Rusty getting excited when he finds out the guy talking to him is a TV writer, and promptly losing all interest when the answer to what show is “It's not on yet”

- Sharon telling him she'll take his phone and laptop away if he doesn't rewrite it resulting in this exchange between Rusty, Sharon, and the writer:
"You can't take my things away from me."
"They are not your things, they are MY things, and you can only keep them while making mature decisions, which in this case means listening to your teacher."
"Are you sure she’s not your mom?”

Another scene I saw is one that tickles me far more than it would on paper; there’s just something about Julio as he interjects while Sharon is addressing Andrea after figuring out Mr. Blood is the car owner's son:

If Julio’s right-
I am.
and our suspect is cartel-
He is.
then …

I also saw most of the end, and it struck me again that Amy seemed pleased by Jason’s interest; “call me, whenever you want … with questions” was delivered like playing it coy rather than a blow-off.  I wonder if they’d considered possibly bringing that character back, or maybe just mentioning him.  I liked her and Chuck together, so I’m glad that’s the relationship we saw.  And, fundamentally, whatever the original plan, I like things like this, and Rusty's crush on one of the SWAT officers assigned to protect him during the Stroh/Burning Man arc -- where an attraction just exists, without anything ever coming of it.  That's life, but on TV, it usually leads to something.  I like when it's just a little thing that happens but doesn't become a plot.

Tonight was the first time I noticed that when Andy gets distracted by snack food when they go to clear the chop shop, Amy has to snap him out of it to get him moving again.  Which in turn made me pay attention to her smile near the end when he pulls the chips out of his desk drawer -- and thus made me realize she took the bag he was distracted by from the scene and put it in his drawer.  I always took him blowing the dust off the bag to mean they were his, and had been in there for so long (because of this goofy cleanse he’s been on) they gathered dust.  But how much dust can you collect in a drawer?  Not as much as you would on a rack in a chop shop.  So now I look at his reaction to coming across them in the drawer and her reaction to him doing do so and realize she did that for him.  Cute!

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21 hours ago, Bastet said:

I also saw most of the end, and it struck me again that Amy seemed pleased by Jason’s interest; “call me, whenever you want … with questions” was delivered like playing it coy rather than a blow-off.  I wonder if they’d considered possibly bringing that character back, or maybe just mentioning him. 

Yes, re-watching Amy and Jason interact in 2.3 "Under the Influence," she really did seem interested. Oddly, the next episode that aired today was 4.10 "Fifth Dynasty," in which we see Amy and Cooper chatting about their relationship during a stakeout. I had not previously noticed that they were showing them out of order (multi-tasking). Jason looked like a teenager, so I had assumed he was much younger, but IRL, the two actors are almost the same age. I wonder if part of why he never appeared again was that they realized on screen he did look like an infatuated kid? But the actor, Ben Feldman, also has a crazy-busy IMDb resume.

 

The "evil Mother" screaming "don't send me back!" would have made the Major Crimes squad look like heartless pigs had we not just seen her bored, unconcerned observation that her son would have to pay for “his mistakes“ (killing 3 gangsters at her request, gangsters who had stolen her $3 mil worth of heroin) by being sent back to vengeful cartel. Nevertheless, I did get a bit of a flashback to the way Brenda handled things. She would have approved.

 

21 hours ago, Bastet said:

turns out to be that his teacher rejected his college application essay - which Sharon says doesn't sound like a crisis, prompting Buzz to respond, "You haven't read it yet."

. . . Everyone reacting to the "my greatest influence is me" opening line when Buzz tells her to just read that

Having worked with a lot of high school and college kids to help them "format" their citations and papers, I have often tactfully questioned a premise and gently directed the student to arrive on their own to a conclusion that perhaps some concepts might need revising to at least be in keeping with the assignment (while I'm silently thinking: and in line with common sense, basic human rights,  the scientific method, etc.). I would have liked to have worked with Rusty, but essentially this is what Sharon does (and with much more grace and much less time than it would take me). Yesterday in Walmart one such former student recognized me and thanked me, so maybe it's just on my mind.

Anyhoo, my new main take-away was how Rusty's essay's closing words apply to and contrast with the Evil Mother and her son in the A plot, who was willing to send her son to a torturous death rather than make a deal with the California DA and do some jail time in the US herself:

Quote

As my mother drifted further and further away under the influence of crack and finally disappeared, in a curious contradiction of our circumstances, her effect on the choices I make has only increased. I sometimes wonder why she could not choose me over using drugs,  but I will never wonder if I will do that to other people. And I won't run away from my problems again, no matter how threatening they may seem. These are the lessons my mother taught me, even as she failed to learn them herself.

 

 

21 hours ago, Bastet said:

Tonight was the first time I noticed that when Andy gets distracted by snack food when they go to clear the chop shop, Amy has to snap him out of it to get him moving again.  Which in turn made me pay attention to her smile near the end when he pulls the chips out of his desk drawer -- and thus made me realize she took the bag he was distracted by from the scene and put it in his drawer.  I always took him blowing the dust off the bag to mean they were his, and had been in there for so long (because of this goofy cleanse he’s been on) they gathered dust.  But how much dust can you collect in a drawer?  Not as much as you would on a rack in a chop shop.  So now I look at his reaction to coming across them in the drawer and her reaction to him doing do so and realize she did that for him.  Cute!

I was noticing this too for the first time, but until I read this^,@Bastet, I totally missed that Amy had picked up one of the bags of chips and put them in Flynn's drawer.

Edited by shapeshifter · Reason: "Fifth Dynasty” was 4.10; 2.17 is the first episode in which Cooper appears

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50 minutes ago, shapeshifter said:

I had not previously noticed that they were showing them out of order (multi-tasking).

Yeah, it switched at the beginning of the year - instead of airing the next two season one episodes per the usual routine, they aired the next season one episode and the first season four episode.  It continued on that way, so now we're up to early season two in the first slot and middle season four in the second.  It's a little weird, but the show has been in syndication for over three and a half years now, so some schedule changes are to be expected.  And I know some markets only air one of the two episodes each week, so at least this way those viewers aren't missing every other episode.

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I wasn't home last Saturday to see "I, Witness", but now I'll be stuck at home to see all of the original Jack arc starting tonight with "D.O.A.".

There's a lot of entertaining stuff, but I'm always really moved by the scene in the Murder Room when Jack is regaling everyone with his tale of Rusty nearly taking him out with a lamp and Sharon drawing her gun on him (as an aside, I love that she does so even after she realizes it's him, not an intruder).  This episode (and the two that follow) does a great job of showing both why she married him and why they've been separated for 20 years, and that scene beautifully illustrates the dynamic that developed in the marriage. 

The guys (other than Provenza) are entertained by his charm; he's easy-going, well-rounded, and has the gift of gab, so he's quite adept socially.  Rusty wants to play poker with him, be picked up from school by him, etc. rather than stick with the routine he and Sharon had settled into.  Jack is fun.

And Sharon clearly had fun with him back in the day, and can still be entertained by him.  But she, and she alone (because she did her best to fill in the gaps for her kids), fully lived the flip side of that, which is that, especially as his addictions grew bigger than him, he never shifted out of fun mode when life required it of him.  He was never willing to stick it out when life's responsibilities harshed his mellow, which left her to constantly step up when he fell down.  It's easy to be the fun-loving guy when you have a wife to do the dirty work you refuse to do because at least one of you has to.

Sharon's reaction when she knocks on the glass to summon Rusty and he puts her off to finish watching Jack's performance says it all.  We learn through dialogue that he bailed on parenting - and being a partner in their marriage - and only comes around when he wants something, and we see how well she handles him now (love her coming out and ruining his story about the racing horse, and blowing his sunglasses trick with Rusty) but that face and little wave to cover tell us everything about how isolated she has felt along the way in her experience with all of Jack Raydor, not just the Jack he presents to the world.

The Raydor marriage is written and, especially, performed (I love the actors' chemistry, and how happy they are to be working together again) in layered and interesting ways.  And it's not just Mary McDonnell doing her usual great job; Tom Berenger is adept at the hints of Jack's vulnerability and regret beneath the confident bluster.  

Okay, while I'll largely confine myself to expanding on my fascination with that relationship and what it reveals about Sharon (since we get so damn little development of her character over six years as the lead!), I must reiterate my love for a few particularly-amusing moments:

-Dr. Morales warning, "By the way, Rios, this is not a good floor to faint on."

-Taylor not qualifying for the friends and family discount at the printer.

-Provenza, all puffed up by his brilliance at finding the sister, tells Sharon he came up with the lead, the plan is her job -- which results in her sending everyone else undercover as staff members at the assisted living facility, and Provenza as a resident.

-Jack's "I can't believe he's still around" about Provenza.

-Sharon's sing-song "I am not done" when making a deal with Jack.

-Julio's attempt at flirting with Rios via coffee going nowhere (because she's queasy being in the morgue), and Sharon jumping right in for the opportunity to score some wake-up caffeine (and Mary McDonnell does a good job of indeed sounding like this is a first-thing-in-the-morning appointment after a night of interrupted sleep).

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Even as time passes - and thus overall societal understanding of gender identity increases - between airings, every time I watch "Boys Will Be Boys" I am blown away by its presentation of the issues faced by transgender youth.  It's a wonderful episode, and I'm a little baffled it wasn't granted a GLAAD award that year.

There is only one significant gap in the various conversations about gender dysphoria, and that is the lack of anyone countering the mother's list of potential problems with undergoing hormone therapy at such an early age with that of those resulting from a child going through the wrong puberty (and I think the dangers of the latter significantly outweigh the former, so it does bother me - and maybe GLAAD? - they didn't have the father, in talking about how he'd withdrawn money to pay for it, talk about why he agreed with Michelle's request for hormone therapy).

Other than that, though, they weave in all the important points  organically, without ever making it seem like a character is giving an unnatural speech; everyone's reaction is in character.  Right down to who does and does not use the right name/pronoun, and the subtle presentation of the differing motivations (some are just thoughtless and some are willfully ignorant or even malicious) and impact of those who misgender Michelle. 

I love Morales’s “And then buried herself?” when Rios suggests suicide.  Yet, as much as I hate Rios, she's written well here - she initially says "he", but she easily falls in line when Sharon corrects her, and her hesitance in prosecuting the mother (when it seems she did it) is frustrating, but it's realistic in her concerns about the jury's "gender bender" confusion overriding the facts.

Provenza is a wonderful stand-in for the significant segment of the audience who is compassionate yet confused.  "Boys who think they're girls" is offensive on its face, but in context - of his overall treatment of her (he otherwise always refers to Michelle as her/she) and of that scene in particular; he's saying, yeah, many jurors will be at sea in understanding being transgender, as he is, but he knows when a kid has had their head bashed in, and so will jurors, so prosecute, and go down fighting if that's how it ends - it's not.

(And three cheers for character growth in long-running shows, because can you even imagine the reaction of Provenza, Andy, and Julio during at least the first half of The Closer?!)

I'm also blown away every time by the performance of the actor playing Michelle's father; when he realizes what his son did, and that his wife tried to cover it up, his horrified reaction is pitch perfect.  He's equally terrific in the conversation with the squad after he sees Michelle's body; the way he gets lost in thought and says time is progressing normally for them but has come to a complete stop for him is also a stellar representation of that stage of grief.  Yet the character is never unrealistically written as a saint; he shared his wife's bewilderment and denial - and attempts to "fix" things - back when Michelle first articulated her identity.

The case being solved because of a realization of generational differences in communication could so easily have been clunky, but it works here -- Sharon noticing the brother's calls, as different from his history of texts, is a perfectly natural observation that she might well have missed if not for the unexpected teenager in her life ("Kids don't call, they text; the only person Rusty calls is me, Kris he texts").

Jack is wonderfully sympathetic to how hard this case is for Sharon, and his heart is in the right place with using it as a teaching moment for Rusty about the danger of suppressing your fundamental identity; he's perhaps at his most complex in this episode.  Yet Sharon still has his number; she appreciates the support, but she waves him off about Rusty (literally, with a fork, and I'll never be able to properly articulate why I love that moment so, but I do) and counters his "just like old times" with "Yeah, really old - Elizabethan, I think."

I also love the "Who only eats one pancake?" exchange, because it's this seemingly inconsequential thing, but it actually reveals a lot about Sharon and Jack's relationship - he still knows her well in many ways, but he hasn't been part of her daily life since back when she had the metabolism to eat a stack of pancakes and look like she does.

Sharon wiping her eyes at the end, when she sees Jack and the kids approaching, is a lovely moment - another indication of how this case has affected her, and another illustration of the "I don't cry in front of other people" shared trait with Rusty established early on.

One little moment, overshadowed in such an influential episode, is how well this scene plays:

Rusty: [Introduces Kris to Emma, accusing the latter of ruining his life.]
Emma: You were doing a good job of that before I came along.
Jack: Rusty ...
Rusty: Jack.
Provenza: Emma ...

And off they all go.  It's such a little, but terrific, thing.

 

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I noticed a couple of bits watching "Boys Will Be Boys" that I hadn't noticed previously:

  1. Buzz is the first from the squad who pings on Michelle's gender identity status, which I noticed because this was the first time I noticed the oxymoron-ish phrasing of "a tomboy in a white skirt and pink top":
    Quote

    [Dispatcher]: Does she have any defining tattoos or birthmarks?

    [John (Dad)]: No, no, no, no. She's a tomboy. Just tell the police to look for a tomboy in a white skirt and pink top, I think.

    [Buzz looks at framed photo of Michelle]: Is Michelle a boy?

    [Dad]: She used to be Michael. Now she's Michelle.


     
  2. Kris has a type? 
    Quote

    [Kris (Rusty's study buddy)]: You know, the last guy I dated ended up being gay. He wasn't, like, a cross-dresser or anything. He just liked other boys.
    [Rusty]: Yeah, I think that's how it works.

I think there was a key Julio line too, but I'll have to catch it next time, heh.

 

 

19 hours ago, Bastet said:

Provenza is a wonderful stand-in for the significant segment of the audience who is compassionate yet confused.  "Boys who think they're girls" is offensive on its face, but in context - of his overall treatment of her (he otherwise always refers to Michelle as her/she) and of that scene in particular; he's saying, yeah, many jurors will be at sea in understanding being transgender, as he is, but he knows when a kid has had their head bashed in, and so will jurors, so prosecute, and go down fighting if that's how it ends - it's not.

(And three cheers for character growth in long-running shows, because can you even imagine the reaction of Provenza, Andy, and Julio during at least the first half of The Closer?!)

Coincidentally, a couple of hours after this episode re-aired (first aired 2013), episode 5.14 of The Closer, "Make Over" (2009) re-aired, in which:

Quote

Major Crimes runs into a problem when it is forced to reopen an old murder case and discovers that the detective who closed it (Provenza's ex-partner) had a sex change and is now a woman.

 

 

 

19 hours ago, Bastet said:

I am blown away by its presentation of the issues faced by transgender youth.  It's a wonderful episode, and I'm a little baffled it wasn't granted a GLAAD award that year.

I'm convinced that if someone gathered the stats, they would prove my anecdotal observation that spin-offs are rarely taken seriously at awards time these days. 

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On 3/29/2020 at 4:32 PM, shapeshifter said:

Kris has a type? 

In the middle of a serious scene in a serious episode, I always get a little laugh out of Kris saying the last guy she dated turned out to be gay.  Girl has the world's worst gaydar. 

Granted, Rusty's sexual orientation is not outwardly obvious.  My biggest laugh on that front is when Rusty says T.J. is not out to his family - with whom he both lives and works.  Now those folks have the world's worst gaydar.  If they really don't know, that is.  We only know he hasn't come out to them; they could be jackasses in denial, or just letting him tell them in his own time, like Sharon did with Rusty.

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I watched Boys Will Be Boys as well, and I agree it is a good episode although I thought the brother as the killer was somewhat obvious. The case was good though and I liked how Sharon noticed the detail about the phone calls. The case was disturbing and it seemed to affect each member of the squad, I liked their reactions. 

I cannot stand Rios and I was thrilled when Provenza told her to look at the photos of the victims bodies, her squeamishness was tiresome, she was one of the few characters in this franchise that I really disliked. And what was with her in the morgue asking if it was a suicide?! Did she not know the victim’s head had been bashed in? Morales seemed annoyed with her as well. 

I liked Sanchez telling the scumbag bully to have a miserable life. 

Didn’t care about the Rusty stuff, although I did like Sharon telling Jack to back off about whether Rusty was gay or not. 

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38 minutes ago, Xeliou66 said:

I watched Boys Will Be Boys as well, and I agree it is a good episode although I thought the brother as the killer was somewhat obvious

Except there was the red herring of the brother attacking the bully and pummeling him while yelling "You killed my sister!" which I didn't think fit with the reveal that he resented her.

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23 minutes ago, shapeshifter said:

Except there was the red herring of the brother attacking the bully and pummeling him while yelling "You killed my sister!" which I didn't think fit with the reveal that he resented her.

I can buy the brother taking his anger out on the bully, given how angry the brother was about the whole situation. But yeah it was a bit odd how he was yelling “you killed my sister”. 

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1 hour ago, Xeliou66 said:

I cannot stand Rios and I was thrilled when Provenza told her to look at the photos of the victims bodies,

I specifically like that, in doing so, he told her to grow up; Gabriel's squeamishness was funny, but Rios's was childish. 

I enjoyed how much Sharon couldn't stand her, and everyone else's negative reactions to her led to some entertaining moments.  But she's a problematic character.  Who they tried to redeem after realizing the audience hated her more than they intended in introducing this antagonist - although I don't know what the hell they expected - but it was too little too late.  Season two is one of my favorites, despite her presence, so she's not a big problem for me, but I was so very glad when Andrea started handling all their cases.

And I still want to know if Rios was James Duff's idea or a network "suggestion" because she's so out of step with the whole franchise.  The average age of the characters is far older than is typical for TV, yet so refreshingly realistic; all these workplace-centered shows about people who are the best of the best at what they do, with one crusty old guy and a bunch of 30-year-olds, but this one reflected the reality that most of those selected for such jobs are people with the, you know, experience to do them.  Then this young DDA is randomly given all the major crimes cases, including capital cases like Philip Stroh?  Come on.

And she's hardly the only beautiful woman on both shows, but she's the only one to be repeatedly ogled not just by other characters but by the camera itself.  There were one or two okay, knock it off-inducing shots of Brenda, but those were rare (which is why they stood out).  With Rios, it was the MO.  And her wardrobe!  Good gods.  So unprofessional in how revealing her clothes were (which, again, is common on TV, but not on this franchise).

So, she comes across like the typical network mandate - go young, go sexy - but this was under the original good, supportive, we're the ones who suggested this show in the first place leadership at TNT and I've never come across even a veiled statement from Duff and company in talking about the character's origins.  So I don't know what to think.

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I know I’ve said this before, but watching it again tonight compels me to reiterate how much I love all the layers of Sharon and Jack’s relationship on display in “Rules of Engagement”.  The sweetness of his enthusiastic gratitude when she offers him the shot at a court-appointed attorney gig and her reaction to his happiness is one aspect of their relationship that lingers, but her getting door-slamming angry at him and using what she knows about his weaknesses to regain the professional upper hand by getting him fired is the dynamic that carries the day.  And then she comes home to a “Dear Sharon” letter that she’s read so many times before she just rips this one up unread.  (Mary McDonnell plays it so well, I can readily imagine what those letters always say.)  There’s such finality to it and, indeed, the next time we see him she’s ready to finally turn separation into divorce.

I always enjoy watching Sharon as a mom, and in this one I adore how she handles Rusty’s faux illness; even distracted by her frustrating phone call, she quickly deduces he’s faking it, and why (and I love that Rusty asked, in front of Kris, to attend this dinner he now wants to get out of because he thought Sharon would say no).  Jack’s facial expressions as Sharon lets Rusty know she has his number are very funny, and I love how he looks back to his laptop as soon as she looks in his direction – he knows she’ll be onto him, too, if he makes eye contact with her.

I also enjoy Rusty and Jack’s relationship in this one, that Jack really does try to help him; even as angry and humiliated as he is by Sharon winning, he doesn’t lash out with “Just tell her you’re gay!” he comes up with an actual suggestion for how to get out of the Kris mess.  Tom Berenger nails the forced joviality when Rusty says he’ll see him later (when Jack knows he's going to split on yet another kid).

And I like what this reveals of Jack as a lawyer, which makes Sharon's reaction to his excitement at the opportunity all the better because she's painfully familiar with what’s possible and yet squandered (like so much of Jack’s potential, as a father and as a person in general in addition to as a lawyer) – he’s good, and could be great, but he repeatedly gets in his own way by looking too far ahead towards some big score he imagines; he's like a receiver who turns towards the end zone before securing the catch, thus inevitably fumbling what could have been a scoring run.  He's always having to start over; lay a foundation, overstep, watch what he's built fall down, run away - lather, rinse, repeat.

Sharon responding, “Of course not, he’s my husband” when Emma asks, “Are you sleeping with this man?” never fails to make me laugh out loud, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. 

It’s such a little thing, but another thing that tickles me whenever I see it is during the “How Stupid Do You Think I Am?” game – when Taylor offers to keep track of coincidences, Sharon hands him a pen.  And she’s on the phone the whole time, only half paying attention, but she figures Taylor needs a pen to keep track of a handful of things.  And, indeed, he keeps the tally on paper!

Okay, I’ll stop repeating myself, right after I say I like the fundamental underpinning of the case:  The cops initially fell for the staging of this killing as a gang drive-by, but it wasn’t actually one of “those guys” who disregarded the others at the gas station as collateral damage, it was an entitled white guy covering up the fact that when his fiancée dared break off their engagement, his response was to have her killed.

Something I never noticed until tonight:  At home, getting ready to head to work, Sharon has her badge and gun on.  She rarely does that; they’re usually in her purse at home/in the office, and she just dons them when she’s going out in the field.  And they never come into play, so there’s not a storyline reason for her to be wearing them when she normally isn't.

And this is embarrassing, but until tonight I also never really thought about the reason Sharon chooses Julio as the one to join her in interrogating Speedy once they realize he’s admitted to Jack he killed Melissa and hid her body somewhere is that Julio is the other squad member as Catholic as she and Speedy are.  Well played, Sharon.  (My favorite part of the Jesus stuff remains Provenza’s disdain for all things religion, but Sharon has several moments throughout the series of using shared religion to manipulate, and I enjoy those, too; I just didn’t put together that this was as deliberate as some of my other favorites.)

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I promise this will be an abridged version since I raved at length last time it aired, but “The Deep End” has many things going for it, including making me laugh instead of my usual cringing at Rios’s childish antics (when she sticks her fingers in her ears and says “I’m not listening” to Andy’s conversation with Provenza about Nicole’s wedding) and, even more unusual, side with her position on a case; I really feel for her frustration with Provenza’s refusal to deal with the racial angle of this case.

As always, I love the Sharon and Rusty interaction, especially her telling him there are only two things she requires of him in addition to taking his education seriously and staying out of trouble: Be kind, and be safe.  Words to live by. 

I also love the way Sharon uses the case to knock some sense into Andy, without ever having to come out and say it.  Once she learns he’s being an idiot about his daughter’s wedding, she makes him notify the victim’s parents, and takes him with her every time they have to talk to them again, giving him a much-needed but subtly-delivered perspective check that does its job.  Well played, Sharon.

The case is a gut punch, with so many heartbreaking moments.  Again, I swear - abridged.  But: When Mr. Torres realizes he inadvertently prompted the confrontation that ended in Matty’s death by lashing out with the truth about Coach Frey cutting him from the team, his horrified regret is bad enough, but when he realizes the son he’d regarded as an apathetic layabout was instead a traumatized sexual abuse victim?  It’s brutal.

The cast does their usual fantastic job in this one, particularly their mastery of nonverbal reaction – when they watch Matty’s video, and when they see the young victim (their one shot so far at a prosecutable case [due to the statute of limitations]) hesitating in the doorway, they showcase why they’ve had long and respected careers in an industry that tosses actors aside like used tissues.

This episode is very light on humor, but Provenza’s attempt to be smooth with Mrs. Slater before he learns who she is, and, once she introduces herself, using Sharon-like hand signals to Buzz and Rusty is funny.

And speaking of Mrs. Slater, when news broke of Lori Loughlin’s involvement in the college admissions bribery scandal, I said that I was well aware she’s known for “Aunt Becky” and Hallmark shows, but the only thing I’ve ever actually seen her end is this episode, so unlike those who think of her as one of those wholesome characters, I think of her as a sweet-talking but condescending rich lady.  (I love Sharon’s “I’m sure she means well” reaction to her.)

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On 3/30/2020 at 10:21 PM, Bastet said:

I specifically like that, in doing so, he told her to grow up; Gabriel's squeamishness was funny, but Rios's was childish. 

I enjoyed how much Sharon couldn't stand her, and everyone else's negative reactions to her led to some entertaining moments.  But she's a problematic character.  Who they tried to redeem after realizing the audience hated her more than they intended in introducing this antagonist - although I don't know what the hell they expected - but it was too little too late.  Season two is one of my favorites, despite her presence, so she's not a big problem for me, but I was so very glad when Andrea started handling all their cases.

And I still want to know if Rios was James Duff's idea or a network "suggestion" because she's so out of step with the whole franchise.  The average age of the characters is far older than is typical for TV, yet so refreshingly realistic; all these workplace-centered shows about people who are the best of the best at what they do, with one crusty old guy and a bunch of 30-year-olds, but this one reflected the reality that most of those selected for such jobs are people with the, you know, experience to do them.  Then this young DDA is randomly given all the major crimes cases, including capital cases like Philip Stroh?  Come on.

And she's hardly the only beautiful woman on both shows, but she's the only one to be repeatedly ogled not just by other characters but by the camera itself.  There were one or two okay, knock it off-inducing shots of Brenda, but those were rare (which is why they stood out).  With Rios, it was the MO.  And her wardrobe!  Good gods.  So unprofessional in how revealing her clothes were (which, again, is common on TV, but not on this franchise).

So, she comes across like the typical network mandate - go young, go sexy - but this was under the original good, supportive, we're the ones who suggested this show in the first place leadership at TNT and I've never come across even a veiled statement from Duff and company in talking about the character's origins.  So I don't know what to think.

It is so different watching theses earlier scenes with Rios after having recently seen the series finale episodes in which Rios has an untimely demise for one so apparently young, healthy, and, although part of the criminal justice system, not someone who engages in dangerous confrontations.

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It seems like every time “No Place Like Home” airs, another one of the guest stars has died since the last time.

I know I kvetch about this every time, but I just can’t get over the entire premise of the case resting on such a fundamental error.  I’d go in knowing shit like that is bound to happen on, say, Rizzoli & Isles, but I expect more out of this show.  Killing Ed Dagby would not have resulted in the Prognosis Homicide folks inheriting the property; it would pass to his heir(s) – either by will/trust or rules of intestate succession if he didn't have one – and they’d retain their life tenancies.  The characters didn’t know, anyway, so it wasn’t a motive; there’s not even a storytelling need to go down that blatantly wrong road.  It’s a rare misstep by this show.

Which only knocks my love of the episode down to about 95 on a scale of 100, because it’s hilarious.  The La Shangra-La residents are a hoot (and, of course, played by a wonderful guest cast); I love Howard responding to Amy's question about any enemies Ed Dagby may have had with, "You mean besides us?  Because we all hated him."

And I love everyone’s reactions to them, especially Julio’s blank stare when Clayton gets distracted talking about knitting, Sharon’s reactions to Howard telling her all his ex-wives look like her and he loves her perfume, and Judge Richwood’s face throughout their allocution. 

Paul McCrane rounds out the guest cast doing his usual wonderful self as a slimeball you love to hate.  The squad's reaction to the karaoke is fabulous, and I love that they show more of the "Time of My Life" routine under the closing credits.

It’s a good Morales episode, too; I always enjoy seeing him outside the morgue, and his fig leaf drawing covering the pelvic region of the morgue photo makes me laugh every time.  As does Andrea calling him Señor Quincy, and the sheer delight he takes in telling them about the prior 911 call (making the case by proving the residents knew about Dagby's nut allergy).

One of the little things I enjoy is Sharon’s comforting squeeze to Provenza’s arm when “Scarface” walks in right as Provenza is finishing up his theory of the crime by saying this bald, scarred character is clearly some fiction the Lost Horizons residents cooked up based on storylines from their old cop show.  It's such a Sharon thing to do, and I love that their relationship has become one where she doesn't hesitate to do it to him.

My mind automatically fills in the grumble that would have ensued had Andy been present when Mike says, “As we say in the business, everybody back to one” as they’re going to recreate the night of Ed’s death, and then I remember Andy doesn't get good and fired up about Badge of Justice until he finds out Mike got the gig because Pope recommended him for it, and that doesn't happen until "Cutting Loose".  At this point, just a handful of episodes after "Under the Influence" (in which Mike's technical adviser role is introduced), Andy wouldn't have had much, if any, of a reaction, but his visceral reaction to any and all references to "Mike's show" became such a part of the character, it's my automatic response. 

Provenza’s gun qualification woes are fun; I love the guy scoring the target saying “he must have had a good, long career” about the recently-retired Jerry when Provenza says Jerry had been doing his scores since he became lieutenant, and love even more Provenza confidently striding back up to him, decked out in Vera’s bedazzled glasses, with his perfect target at the end.

Even though they’re butt ugly, I like Andrea drooling over the faux designer bags; see, TV and movie writers, when you present women as three-dimensional characters, you can include among their traits/interests stereotypically “girly” things and have it be completely inoffensive.

And on the non-humorous front, I like Sharon reminding Rusty of her requirement he “be kind” when he continues to dither on telling Kris he just wants to be friends.  It’s also a touching conversation between them when he tells her he’s not a kid anymore and hasn’t been in a long time; he had to grow up way too fast, and his experiences keep him from getting close to the kids in his class (not recognizing some of them might not be as "normal" and sheltered as he assumes them to be).  I love that Sharon once again offers therapy, as she does every time Rusty says something that screams “I would greatly benefit from therapy!”, but once again does not force it.

Add that all up, and I will let the will thing slide, along with the fact none of these people would qualify to be Emmy judges (their work isn’t recent enough to get them in the Academy).  Because the episode is just plain fun.

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On 4/19/2020 at 12:27 AM, Bastet said:

It seems like every time “No Place Like Home” airs, another one of the guest stars has died since the last time.

I know I kvetch about this every time, but I just can’t get over the entire premise of the case resting on such a fundamental error.  I’d go in knowing shit like that is bound to happen on, say, Rizzoli & Isles, but I expect more out of this show.  Killing Ed Dagby would not have resulted in the Prognosis Homicide folks inheriting the property; it would pass to his heir(s) – either by will/trust or rules of intestate succession if he didn't have one – and they’d retain their life tenancies.  The characters didn’t know, anyway, so it wasn’t a motive; there’s not even a storytelling need to go down that blatantly wrong road.  It’s a rare misstep by this show.

Which only knocks my love of the episode down to about 95 on a scale of 100, because it’s hilarious.  The La Shangra-La residents are a hoot (and, of course, played by a wonderful guest cast); I love Howard responding to Amy's question about any enemies Ed Dagby may have had with, "You mean besides us?  Because we all hated him."

And I love everyone’s reactions to them, especially Julio’s blank stare when Clayton gets distracted talking about knitting, Sharon’s reactions to Howard telling her all his ex-wives look like her and he loves her perfume, and Judge Richwood’s face throughout their allocution. 

Paul McCrane rounds out the guest cast doing his usual wonderful self as a slimeball you love to hate.  The squad's reaction to the karaoke is fabulous, and I love that they show more of the "Time of My Life" routine under the closing credits.

It’s a good Morales episode, too; I always enjoy seeing him outside the morgue, and his fig leaf drawing covering the pelvic region of the morgue photo makes me laugh every time.  As does Andrea calling him Señor Quincy, and the sheer delight he takes in telling them about the prior 911 call (making the case by proving the residents knew about Dagby's nut allergy).

One of the little things I enjoy is Sharon’s comforting squeeze to Provenza’s arm when “Scarface” walks in right as Provenza is finishing up his theory of the crime by saying this bald, scarred character is clearly some fiction the Lost Horizons residents cooked up based on storylines from their old cop show.  It's such a Sharon thing to do, and I love that their relationship has become one where she doesn't hesitate to do it to him.

My mind automatically fills in the grumble that would have ensued had Andy been present when Mike says, “As we say in the business, everybody back to one” as they’re going to recreate the night of Ed’s death, and then I remember Andy doesn't get good and fired up about Badge of Justice until he finds out Mike got the gig because Pope recommended him for it, and that doesn't happen until "Cutting Loose".  At this point, just a handful of episodes after "Under the Influence" (in which Mike's technical adviser role is introduced), Andy wouldn't have had much, if any, of a reaction, but his visceral reaction to any and all references to "Mike's show" became such a part of the character, it's my automatic response. 

Provenza’s gun qualification woes are fun; I love the guy scoring the target saying “he must have had a good, long career” about the recently-retired Jerry when Provenza says Jerry had been doing his scores since he became lieutenant, and love even more Provenza confidently striding back up to him, decked out in Vera’s bedazzled glasses, with his perfect target at the end.

Even though they’re butt ugly, I like Andrea drooling over the faux designer bags; see, TV and movie writers, when you present women as three-dimensional characters, you can include among their traits/interests stereotypically “girly” things and have it be completely inoffensive.

And on the non-humorous front, I like Sharon reminding Rusty of her requirement he “be kind” when he continues to dither on telling Kris he just wants to be friends.  It’s also a touching conversation between them when he tells her he’s not a kid anymore and hasn’t been in a long time; he had to grow up way too fast, and his experiences keep him from getting close to the kids in his class (not recognizing some of them might not be as "normal" and sheltered as he assumes them to be).  I love that Sharon once again offers therapy, as she does every time Rusty says something that screams “I would greatly benefit from therapy!”, but once again does not force it.

Add that all up, and I will let the will thing slide, along with the fact none of these people would qualify to be Emmy judges (their work isn’t recent enough to get them in the Academy).  Because the episode is just plain fun.

I know how you feel but the guest stars make this episode one of my favs. And I love Tim Conway💗 The scene where he offers to teach Sharon to play dominos and she says that she already knows how, the look he gives her when he says "I bet you do" makes me giggle every time😂. And then later he tells her she reminds him of "all his ex-wives"😂😂 

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Oops; I got a phone call last night, and never got around to hitting "Submit Reply" on this post:

“Backfire” is a good teamwork episode, and a good example of how Sharon solves problems by making the system work rather than trying to subvert it.  I enjoy the way she makes the evidence usable (and won’t let anyone act on it until she does), and how they manipulate the hired killer into giving up the info Judge Grove requires.  It’s not a flashy episode, but it’s a good one at showing how her style of leadership and strategizing succeeds.

It includes one of my favorite scenes: Everything that transpires after Taylor says, “Chief Johnson could have found a way around [Judge Grove refusing the plea agreement, meaning they can’t use evidence learned through Goss’s statement of facts against him].” 

Sharon levels her gaze at him, while most awkwardly look away.  Then Andy literally has her back, and says, “She would have, but then we would be back in court defending ourselves.”  Sharon brings it home, revealing she’s figured out the victim was an FBI informant, but not before telling Taylor about himself, and the only thing I love more than her telling him Brenda would never have reported to him is the smirk on Julio’s face after she says it.

The episode is also a prime example of Sharon offering wise words people would do well to heed:  "If you hang out with criminals, you are eventually going to become a witness, a suspect, or a victim."

The opening setting of this – that they’ve been working overnight, get smacked down in court the next morning, and go right back to the station – is another wonderful example of one of my favorite recurring wardrobe-as-characterization touches: whenever they’re in the office among themselves, the men have, to various degrees, their collars unbuttoned and their ties loosened, with Provenza always the most unfettered.  Except Andy – he’s done up just the same in the office as he is in an interrogation or field interview, even when they’ve been working overnight.

As always, there’s good humor in this one; I laugh at Julio’s “Yeah, come on in” when Andy knocks on the suspect’s door again and asks if anyone is home.  I laugh even more when Mike agrees with Sharon that they don’t have probable cause, irritating Provenza (her response of “Mike’s right, and because I know you hate hearing me go on about the rules, I’m hanging up” is great), to which Mike responds by turning on music Provenza hates and ignoring him.  And my favorite is when Sharon calls to say it’s finally a legal go and Provenza answers his phone, “Joe’s Pizza”.

On the flip side, it’s the episode in which Rusty as the squad mascot annoys me the most – he is there in the Murder Room during a classified FBI briefing, and later shares information from that briefing with Kris!

The parallels between Rusty and Brianna are more pounded into us than I’d prefer, but she’s a sympathetic character in how she buys into the FBI’s promise to protect her if she participates and how she ultimately gets killed because she tries to protect her boyfriend, who turns around and participates in her murder.

I never noticed until tonight that Goss winks at Emma in the opening scene.  Not a big deal on its own, because it’s more about his attitude than her attractiveness, but as part of the pattern I complained about previously, where Emma’s looks are paid attention to in a way no one else’s are, it annoyed me.

Speaking of Emma, I wonder if her confrontation with Judge Grove and Julio offering forgiveness coffee was written to try and get the audience on her side a bit.  Duff & co. have admitted the audience hated her more than they intended, and looking at where this episode falls in the season, it may very well have been written when they’d already received feedback on several aired episodes.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad they created Judge Grove, because his perpetual crankiness – especially with Rusty, despite being friendly with Sharon – entertains me.

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I saw Backfire as well, it was a good episode although a bit different in that the episode started after the suspect had been identified. I liked the scene where Taylor says that Brenda would’ve found a way around it and how Sharon and the team responded. There was some good humor I agree and I laughed at Provenza’s “Joe’s pizza” line. And I like Judge Grove as well. 

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“Poster Boy” has my favorite Emma scene of the series (for which, granted, there is not much competition) – when she realizes the couch she’d been sitting on housed a dead body, and Amy admonishes her, “Do not. Scream.”  I love that there’s no sympathy for the fact she was right about the proximity of the smell all along, just not wanting any part of her usual childish antics at a crime scene.

Brandon North is an interesting villain, with his psychotically diabolical reaction to rejection – real and imagined - and sociopathic ease with using/stealing from people contrasted with his abiding and selfless love for his grandma (he refuses to take more from her even though she keeps offering of her own volition).  He also feels remorse over killing Raquel – one of the few people who, like his grandma, believed in him - so he’s capable of that.  But he could have just stolen from her and taken off like he’d planned, rather than killed her; it wouldn’t really have changed anything because the police had already identified him as a killer and the friend had already specifically identified him as having been at Raquel’s.  So we're not sure what he is, in terms of mental condition.

I like the investigation in general, including that Taylor isn’t completely off base in his “there’s more than one right answer here” about how to handle it; I lean more towards Sharon and Andy’s side of the argument against releasing any info, and don’t quite understand the logic behind the specifics of Taylor’s strategy, but I take his “you’re forgetting the torture and mutilation; what’s functional about that?” point in considering the public safety issue.  So I appreciate that when they realize Raquel was murdered as an inadvertent result of the press release, Sharon says, “Oh my god, we caused this murder,” not any variation on, “I told you so.”

There are also a lot of little realistic touches (something this show consistently includes):

- In the morgue scene, the actors all behave - down to how they breathe - as if they really are in the presence of a hideously stinky corpse

- When Sharon is FaceTiming with Brandon, every time he moves his phone so she can’t see what he’s doing, she calls his name and asks if he’s still there.  It happens enough that from a purely production standpoint they could shy away from it lest it become annoying in its repetition, but they stick with realism – Sharon knows he has Caitlin’s gun, and their FaceTime link is the only way she has of seeing what he’s doing inside Carlo’s house as the LAPD takes position outside, so constantly redirecting Brandon’s attention back to their call is exactly what she would do.

- (My favorite) The extra time they took to record actual video call footage and have it playing on the devices during the shoot (rather than just inserting some pick-up shots in post-production)

One quibble: It doesn’t make sense that Amy’s revelation – after the house has been cleared by the responding patrol unit, after Major Crimes has been called in, and after the squad has been there long enough to be cataloging the trash contents – is that there’s a second bathroom.  That would be incredibly old news.  It should be that she smells bleach in the second bathroom, too, and then they all come in to find the hair dye, and the scene continues as is from there.

Okay, two: Caitlin’s phone shows message 1/21 when her dad texts her (if that’s the most recent, shouldn’t it be 21/21?), and then his follow-up message is 1/20 – but Brandon didn’t delete the previous one (I have that phone; he’d need to push several buttons).

Actually, maybe three: I know nothing about this sort of technology, but even if they were granted subpoenas for all the search engines, would those companies really be able to alert them in real time that someone was using the relevant terms in a search?

I also love the Sharon/Rusty stuff in this episode.  Phillip P. Keene manages to summon up a third facial expression (Buzz normally only has that stupid scowl or that dumbass Dudley Do-Right earnest look) to properly convey Buzz’s sadness and disappointment over Rusty hiding the letters, and the look on Sharon’s face when she holds the letters out to Rusty and tells him, “Whatever happens next, know I love you,” is Mary McDonnell’s usual brilliance.  Sharon is so blindsided by this, and doesn’t know if she’ll be able to argue her way into keeping Rusty this time.  Graham Patrick Martin also nails Rusty’s oh, shit realization as he heads down the hall and sees the letters in Sharon’s hand.  The fear they may lose each other is palpable.

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15 hours ago, Bastet said:

“Poster Boy” has my favorite Emma scene of the series (for which, granted, there is not much competition) – when she realizes the couch she’d been sitting on housed a dead body, and Amy admonishes her, “Do not. Scream.”  I love that there’s no sympathy for the fact she was right about the proximity of the smell all along, just not wanting any part of her usual childish antics at a crime scene.

I, OTOH, who am extremely sensitive to perfumes and who my kids always considered to be a human smoke detector, had a moment of vicarious affirmation in Emma being right. Unlike Emma, in general people like me, but my olfactory sensitivities drive them nuts

 

15 hours ago, Bastet said:

I appreciate that when they realize Raquel was murdered as an inadvertent result of the press release, Sharon says, “Oh my god, we caused this murder,” not any variation on, “I told you so.”

--although the look on Sharon's face when she says directly to Taylor "Oh my god, we caused this murder" was a total I Told You So, but, yeah, way more effective than saying ITYS.

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