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October 24, 2014

The Closer: Controlled Burn (season premiere)

by Brett Love, posted Jul 14th 2008 11:13PM

Kyra Sedgwick and Jason O'mara - The Closer
(S04E01) "Hello, just plain Brenda." - Bill Croelick

Isn't it nice to have Brenda back on our 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 we 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. I think I'm reasonably safe where wild fires are concerned up here in the north, but I have already had one volcano blow up on my head, and there is that constant threat of the big earthquake. I think we're both, volcano/earthquake - wildfire/earthquake, better off than my friends to the south that have to deal with tornadoes and hurricanes.

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 of us 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. We love to see her challenged. So, with that in mind, I was already on board when they started panning through the crowd. Did you almost jump out of your seat when you saw Bill Croelick (Jason O'Mara) there, looking?

As I said in my early look post, 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 we, once again, watch Brenda work her magic. You 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, we have 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 we got back into the swing of things. Considering the way things ended in the season three finale I thought there might be more tension. It's something that stuck out all the more given that TNT ran the season three finale right before the premiere. They kind of tied it up at the end of that one, but it did seem like there was more room there for exploration. I'm okay with putting it on the back burner for now though. What we 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, and the fact that I just have Brian Krause stuck in my head as a good guy from watching him on Charmed. While I'm sure that many of you 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? In watching the premiere again, Taylor mentioning the cars being towed in the opening scene was also a nice clue that was easy to miss.

Now, what did you think of our new friend 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 we 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 we were 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.

Brenda is back. How did you like the premiere?
Excellent. It's great to have The Closer back.205 (88.4%)
Not great, but still a solid show.23 (9.9%)
Eh, I'm losing interest.1 (0.4%)
Oy, they've lost me.3 (1.3%)

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Tess Capra

Don't forget the holiday episode that took place after the Season 3 finale. It gave Brenda and Fritz more time to work on their old issues (and develop new ones) so it would have been strange had there still been heightened tension between them six months (or was it three months?) later.

July 15 2008 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thegirl74

Just want you to know that I, too, was duped by Leo-lol

July 15 2008 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lorie

I thought the reporter was the arsonist so that he could write the big story. Too bad he wasn't the guilty party. He got on my last nerve.

I LOVE JASON O'MARA! I hope Billy and Brenda meet again.

I never considered Daniels being pregnant. Could be. I just thought she and Gabriel were fighting. Time will tell.

I'm so glad the gang and Kitty are back!

July 15 2008 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jessica

I am glad the show is back too. I just love Brenda.

I guessed in the beginning when Gabriel wanted to help Daniels with the boxes is because she's pregnant. But then Gabriel cut Daniels off in the homicide room, I thought maybe they broke up or were fighting. So, now I just don't know.

I love this show and I am glad it is back. I am actually looking forward to Mondays.

July 15 2008 at 9:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan Chichian

Man I missed this show - great characters and smart writing!

i couldn't decide between Merrick or Ramos as the killer. Ramos as the killer may have been more compelling since he was with them most of the time.

July 15 2008 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan Chichian

Man I missed this show - great characters and smart writing!

i couldn't decide between Merrick or Ramos as the killer. Ramos as the killer may have been more compelling since he was with them most of the time.

July 15 2008 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Great episode. There's nothing like getting back with Brenda and the gang after a couple months without compelling TV.

I too am a bit rusty in my TV detective work and forgot to suspect everyone, even the seemingly unsuspectable.

And here's hoping Ramos' involvement will inject some great new material for the show. Gotta hand it to the writers for always keeping things fresh.

And about Merrick going to the impound lot being dumb, as he himself said, arsonists tend not to be the smartest people. I guess the same can be said or accidental arsonists.

July 15 2008 at 8:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joanna

I love that it's back! This is the first time I guessed everything in the first 5 minutes. But, as always, there is more to this show than just solving the main murder case. It's the relationships.

The Closer, Saving Grace and In Plain Sight...3 strong women saving the world one case at a time.

July 15 2008 at 2:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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