"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Closer: Homewrecker

I was very happy that The Closer didn't attempt to go with a big blow-out episode right out of the gate. The season premier was really a pretty typical crime and subsequent investigation. It allowed me to get comfortable with the characters again and reminded me why I like the show. The characters are quirky and there are always plenty of twists and turns in each investigation. Sometimes I can see where they're going, sometimes I can't.

The opening scene featured a series of shaky camera shots and frequent fades to black as an LAPD cameraman stumbles through a crime scene where Brenda and the rest of the high priority homicide team are investigating the murders of a husband, wife, and daughter. The crafty open was a two-fold mechanism to reintroduce me to the team and to establish the case. Pretty successful, I thought.

Brenda and the detectives find a teenage boy hiding in the attic. He's high on ecstasy and he's the only survivor in the family, which automatically makes him a suspect in the brutal stabbings of his parents and his kid sister. The fact that he lies about his whereabouts that night doesn't help him. But I know he's not guilty, right? It's too early in the episode to be picking out a real suspect. I loved the scene where Brenda was interrogating the teenager in the hospital room where she pretended to stab herself with plastic cups and screamed and wailed and hit the walls. I've seen this show enough and I know the Brenda Leigh Johnson character well enough that I knew exactly what she was up to. And, it turned out I was right: she was trying to make the kid feel guilty and want to die so she could hold him longer and put him on suicide watch. It was a tad bit immoral, really, to make the kid think he was responsible for his family's deaths and you could see that in Sgt. Gabriel's face as he reacted to Dep. Chief Johnson's screaming scene.

I also figured out ahead of Brenda that the father who was killed was a bigamist. Sometimes that happens with this series and I'm just thankful that it happened with this interesting plot twist that didn't necessarily reveal the killer. It's a little corny how she always gets a flash of brilliance about her case based on something inconsequential that someone else says in conversation. This time, it was Dep. Chief Taylor's mention of "breaking up a family" that made Brenda realize who her victim really was.

She eventually got the father's other son to cop to the crime. If there wasn't a constant stream of snot running into the actor's mouth, I'd say he rocked that scene. But the quivering lip and the spit and the snot was just a bit much for me. I mean, who just lets snot run into their mouth? I still felt so bad for the kid, though. His father was living a double life and the one he had with the other family was much nicer than the one he had with that kid. Heartbreaking, really.

As for the side stories, I'm hoping this is the last we'll see of the budget cuts plot line. It seems as though Sgt. Gabriel came up with a way to save the homicide team and get Chief Pope some federal dollars to help with overtime. I've been wondering what was going to happen with Brenda and the team this season since a lot of their conflicts are in the past. The first season, she was trying to prove herself to some strong-willed detectives. By the second season, she had won them over but she faced some trying times due to her past relationship with Chief Pope.

This season? Hopefully not budget cuts. I did read that one of the executive producers hinted that Sgt. Gabriel and Dep. Chief Johnson will not be getting along very well. I'm not sure that this episode set that up, really. She suggested to him that he transfer to another homicide division, but really left it up to him. And he was the one who saved her behind so I'm not sure where this conflict will stem from.

It looks like I'm in for more relationship tension between Fritz and Brenda as they move into a larger house together. I've seen some write-ups and I see that her mother is returning this season, and her father will make his first appearance. So that should make for a couple of entertaining episodes.

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