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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Closer: Controlled Burn

"Hello, just plain Brenda." - Bill Croelick

I was so nice to have Brenda back on my televisions. It's like catching up with an old friend. Or, old friends, as the case may be. And what a way to come back. Multiple homicides, an entire park for a crime scene, the return of an old foe, and more shenanigans on the home front. Brenda's plate is very full as I jump into season four, and that's a good thing.

Right off the bat I was impressed with the scene at the wildfire. The detective shows don't usually get to go all crazy with the effects shots, because it's just not their nature, but that opening scene with the team at the edge of the wild fire was impressive looking. It doesn't hurt that I'm fascinated by natural disasters and how so many of us live under the threat of being wiped out at any time by them.

Enough about the weather though, let's get to the case. I thought they set it up beautifully. The idea that the burning mass in front was the crime scene was a perfect way to jump back into the series. Brenda is a big time investigator that does big time things. I love to see her challenged. So, with that in mind, I was already on board when they started panning through the crowd. I almost jump out of my seat when I saw Bill Croelick (Jason O'Mara) there, looking.

If I was to go back through all the guest star baddies from the show, I don't think I could find a character I was more excited to see return. I really liked watching the two of them in "Fatal Retraction." And they were just as good the second time around. Particularly in the interrogation scene. Bill is just so smarmy. He's so sure of his own wit and guile that he can't fathom that he's not in control at all as I, once again, watch Brenda work her magic. I could really see it as he started mocking Brenda with his imitation of her.

His investigation and explanation of what happened also played very well. I loved the line where he explained that everything they see: "It's all fuel." It also concluded with a great moment as he looked up and fingered Ramos for giving him information on the case. And, of course, there is the showdown at the end. I was on the edge of my seat there because I couldn't figure out how it would go. Would he make a move? Would Brenda shoot him? Was there more to the candles than just candles? It was all very tense.

The way it worked out, with Bill sneaking out the door, supposedly to never see Brenda again, is probably for the best. Of course, I say for the best out of mostly selfish reasons because I'm already eagerly awaiting the episode where he does return. It was an interesting little change of pace for Brenda as she tried to shut it all out as Fritz walked in. Their interaction was one of the more surprising bits of the premiere.
I was curious to see just where they would be in the relationship when they got back into the swing of things. Considering the way things ended in the season three finale I thought there might be more tension. What I saw as they dealt with the cat, and the temporary house, was some of the classic Brenda/Fritz relationship that keeps that part of the show so interesting. Her reaction as she realized what Fritz meant by "I took a shower" was hilarious.

Meanwhile, back at the case, I have to admit that I was totally thrown by Merrick. Looking back, I really should have suspected him. I'm chalking it up to being out of detective TV practice. While I'm sure that many cast a more suspicious eye on him than I did, the machinations of his deed were still well constructed. The fact that he was able to sneak out of the fire by donning his uniform was clever, and a nice bit of detective work from Brenda. His decision to go from the hospital to the impound yard was a bit of the dumb criminal, but then the smart ones generally don't get mixed up in homicides to start with, right?

I'm not sure what I think of Ramos (Stephen Martines). I thought he was a little shifty, and not very likable. But he wasn't supposed to be. I actually like the idea behind bringing him in, and I will be seeing him again, because that relationship between the PD and the media is a real thing, and something that I think there is some mileage in. It's one more thing to set Brenda on edge. He also provided a nice scene for Sanchez.

With so much going on between Brenda and Bill, Brenda and Ramos, and Brenda and Fritz, it was a bit of a quiet week for the team. Highlights for me included Taylor's reaction to Ramos subverting Brenda's investigation, Tao's part in the rehydrated hand experiment, and the ever evolving relationship between Gabriel and Daniels. I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to make of those icy looks they exchanged in the squad room, but my guess is there is more to come on that front.

Overall, it was a very strong premiere. Four seasons in and the show is still cruising right along. The decision to bring back Croelick made the kick off to the season feel like an event.

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