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

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Closer: Time Bomb

For the season finale, The Closer came up with an episode that was packed with a little bit of everything. There was high drama and suspense, real danger, inappropriate humor and gripping emotion. It wasn't a perfect blend of elements.

In fact, at times I was put off by the deception. However, there's an old adage in show business (or maybe it's just movies?) that says, audiences will forgive you for anything if you give them a good finish. The Closer delivered by that measure in every respect.

The seriousness of the episode was really serious. The seemingly strange actions of some Valley Oak high schoolers were tied to the original victim, a guy who'd blown himself up with a pipe bomb. In this first act, even as fear of the building going up in an explosion was real, Brenda's comical exasperation was disarming.

She was literally carried out of the building by Sanchez because she didn't want to stop investigating, and then defied every L.A.P.D. rule by sneaking back into the building for her purse. In Brenda's defense, I might have done that myself. Losing your purse is a bitch. Still, you know she knows better.

That funny business was then topped by the toilet humor as the squad learned how the deceased had once defecated on the principal's desk. After some bad jokes, the investigation went to Ridgemont High-circa 21st century, where the prime suspect turned out to be Johnny McFadden, a kid with a stash of pipe bombs and propane tanks, bulletproof vests and high powered rifles in the family garage. "So much for involved parents."

The creepiest scene of the show was McFadden's interrogation. I just knew something was going on, and it was more than the fact that Johnny was stoned and taunting Brenda. He gave them no information, which was frustrating. If anything, he mislead them. Also, it was never explained how he got the chocolate. Usually a suspect gets nothing. I wonder, did they provide him with the catalyst to commit suicide by letting him buy a candy bar from the vending machine?

The tragedy at Columbine comes back into the story when Fritz explains how the killers that day in Colorado had not achieved their objective. But it's Brenda's skills of observation coincided with her bad sense of direction that helps her figure out that the target of the bombs wasn't the school but the mall. By then, it was too late to stop the remaining Valley Oak kid from trying to succeed where the Columbine boys failed.

The climax at the mall was action packed, dangerous and lethal. The shooter was heavily armored so despite rounds of bullets being fired at him, he didn't go down. I kept wondering why nobody was aiming at his head, but I know cops are trained to shoot at the body. Still, I wanted to blow his head off.

In the melee, Sanchez saved Provenza's life, but took three shots in the process. Brenda and company finally blew up the shooter's duffle bag full of pipe bombs to kill him as he was going to reload.

A helicopter swooped down and Sanchez and Brenda were loaded on for a fast trip to the hospital. The unresolved ending begs the question -- did Sanchez follow Brenda's direct order to keep breathing and will he still be with the squad when The Closer returns this winter for some holiday episodes?

Other points of interest:

Brenda telling Gabriel to try not to look so much like a cop when they go to the McFadden house, so he introduces himself as Mr. G, everyone's favorite chemistry teacher.

Will Pope was back in uniform to meet the press, and as usual for Pope, he's too fast to wrap up the case and make everything look neat and tidy.

The bomb-disabling robot was called Babs, named for Saint Barbara, the patron saint of bomb techs according to Tao. It was probably a very accurate representation of a robot, but it sure looked like something you might make with an erector set.

It was funny how much Brenda disliked the mall and the idea of shopping for home goods. Fritz was ready to pick out wall paper swatches.

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