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September 1, 2015

The Closer: Live Wire

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 5th 2008 10:41AM
Black dress Brenda"You didn't do it for the justice system. You did it to close your case."

(S04E04) Nobody would ever doubt that Chief Brenda Johnson is a smart woman, but how smart was it of her to use Fritz the way she did? That's the question I came away with after seeing this episode. Is closing a case so important for the closer that she'd mess up her personal relationship?

Fritz was rightfully incensed by Brenda's tactics, and yet I could see it from her point of view, too. I guess that's why The Closer remains such a good drama -- the conflicts are real and there are no easy answers.
The killing of Benjamin Masters was a good mystery, especially with the wired camera showing whodunit -- sort of. It was a good twist, seeing the killing, but not being able to ID the killer.

"Now, what did you think of our new friend Ramos (Stephen Martines)?
I thought he was a little shifty, and not very likable."

That's what Brett wrote about the new character in the season premiere, "Controlled Burn." He was right.

Turns out that Ramos is a slimy character. It seemed very coincidental that he happened to discover -- and tamper -- with the body. In a nice switch, Brenda uses the L.A. Times reporter to plant a story in the paper that flushes out the killer. I get the impression that Ramos will be back again, although instead of accidentally getting involved in a murder case, he should be assigned to the beat.

There were a lot of great moments in the show. Tao's magic forensics with the ring was like a great improvisation, especially getting the Q-tip to turn red. I wonder how many criminals are entrapped by cops doing stuff like that?

Certainly Brenda's interview with Dean Murphy stacked the deck against his making a deal with the FBI; I assume there are all kinds of turf wars between cops over who makes what collar -- or so it seems in movies and TV. I think Brenda really thought she'd lost Murphy when she turned him over to the FBI, to Fritz. She seemed genuinely surprised later when Fritz told her that Murphy chose not to take the FBI's deal.

The whole Gabriel-Daniels romance exploded in a very nasty way. I was sort of stunned that these cops would air their dirty laundry in the office, especially since they know that Brenda frowns on love in the workplace. No doubt Brenda's feelings date back to her history with Pope, which nearly screwed up her career. I thought it was great that when Gabriel pulled one of his political moves, trying to get Daniels transferred out of Priority Homicide, Brenda wouldn't be played. He looked shocked and pissed that he may have to transfer out of the unit.

I liked the way Brenda handled it, tearing up the transfer papers and after they both promised to never bring their problems to the office again. She told them, "Then neither one of you will mind complying with my direct order: work it out!"

But the ending was a real knock out and I think the ramifications have to be developed over the next few episodes. Fritz believes that Brenda chose her professional victory over their personal relationship and that's fundamental. He didn't accept Brenda's apology -- which was lame -- and he stormed off with all his addiction triggers having been set off by her actions. He was going to an AA meeting, or two. That's not good.

Kudos to Kyra Sedgwick and Jon Tenney. This was top notch stuff by them.

Other points of interest
-- Brenda's back on the junk food. Didn't you love her going for the chocolate when she was stressed out? Then after throwing the candy in the trash, she actually retrieved it and was ready to finish eating it. Reminded me of George on Seinfeld.

-- While searching the parking garages, Flynn did that thing with the key and said, "I'm using my head as an antennae," said Flynn. Was that hilarious or what?

-- Good catch by Provenza with the orthopedic shoes to ID the victim.

-- I loved when Brenda asserted her authority with Daniels and Gabriel, saying, "I don't come to work everyday to watch soap operas. I mean it." She did.

How will Brenda make it up to Fritz?
She'll apologize sincerely55 (27.6%)
She'll win him over with romance23 (11.6%)
She'll act like nothing happened121 (60.8%)

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I guess I do not agree with #5's daughter. The way I saw it, Brenda was treating Fritz the same way she treats her criminals in the end (the end, justifies the means, no matter how zig-zag: she conned the perp into confessing this time, and raised a murder case to confess a rapist in the last eppy). Now, don't get me wrong - I LOVE BRENDA, and I love professional Brenda, and I understand her side as well as I understand Fritz's, but I also understand why Fritz is very angry with her. She used the same cut-throatness she uses at work to put one over him (he put too much trust in as going to play fair with him) and she did not. Fritz is very soft on her, accomodates all her neuroticness, and I think she definitely used him and should have apologized sincerely, not in the "I am sorry you feel that way," way. Everyone knows, that's not an apology. I understand that she had to close the case, and I love that she did, but she stepped on Fritz on the way there and should be mature enough to understand his side/appreciate it, but also apologize for taking his black book and giving him wasted money and time. She did this not to some random or dumb FBI agent, but to her smart, upright fiancee (they both brought their work home, so they both brought it into the personal zone). I love Fritz and Brenda, forever, but Brenda should apologize here.

On more haha notes, I love Sanchez (I love all the detectives - they all have their little quirks), but no one mentioned Sanchez love this time. I think last week's thread had some, but in honor of Sanchez, my new favorite 2-liner "vamos, ramos." Sanchez is the best good-good cop I would be scared-scared of.

August 06 2008 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The thing is, Brenda flat-out lied to Fritz in their kitchen. In the home they share, she deliberately set him up for a fall, in a way that gave him personal and professional embarrassment. That is inexcusable.

On the professional merits of her actions, she was still wrong. She chose to close HER case, and only hers, at the expense of leaving an entire gang unmolested. A fine day for justice, that was not.

August 05 2008 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

bc's comment prompted this from my daughter:

The only times I can remember Brenda truly blowing up at Fritz would probably be when her cat escaped, and when she found out about the DUIs. All personal things. (And on that latter one, by the way, Fritz out-tantrumed her and gave her a big old dressing down.)

When Fritz frustrates her on a professional basis, she does get short with him, but she doesn't usually work herself up into a big snit fit like he does. She has a firm separation between her professional and personal life, which is why she got so angry at Gabriel and Daniels last night for letting theirs bleed into their work. Fritz, though, expects professional-Brenda to act the same as the Brenda he sees at home, which is why he's always the one who ends up so disappointed.

August 05 2008 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan Chichian

I felt like her apology was of the non-apology variety. The "I'm sorry you feel that way" instead of the direct "I'm sorry". In that context Fritz was justified in not accepting the apology.

Loved the scene with Provenza and Buzz getting caught listening to Daniels' and Gabriel's fight.

August 05 2008 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great post - thanks. Something about the episode hit me this morning - when Fritz first asks Brenda (oh-so-casually) if Masters lived in the valley, the first thought we all had was "Uh-oh, the FBI is going to swoop in and snatch the case again." Since Fritz was so transparent, Brenda short-circuited that move, while damaging Fritz personally and professionally.

But that's what Fritz was going to do to her!(Maybe.) If he had been able to determine the stakeout location w/o giving away his motives, would the FBI have shown up and swiped Dean Murphy as soon as Brenda's team finished cuffing him? You know they would. I'm not saying that Fritz can equal Brenda in the cutthroat department, but he will certainly use his connection with her to gain information and he wants to nail the bad guys and close his cases, too.

Food for thought - and I can't ask for more than that from my favorite series.

August 05 2008 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to FloridaGirl25's comment
BC McKinney

This is very true. And somehow I feel that if the FBI had scooped the perp away from the police, Brenda would have ben frustrated professionally but not as pissy as Fritz about it being a personal attack.

August 05 2008 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew she was using Fritz when she was saying "house" and he was agreeing to it, and I knew the shit was going to hit the fan. One thing they have not really explored is why Fritz loves her. I knew when the show came on that they had back story, but she has never been nearly as good to him and for him as vice versa.

I love Flynn and Provenza. The antenna line was great, as well as Provenza's "thank yew" to Brenda. Given the right story, they could easily have a spin off of a more comical nature.

As soon as Brenda asked Gabriel if he had the skills Daniels does, I got to wondering what he has actually provided to the show and to the team since the first season. Answer? Not very much. I wouldn't be sorry to see him go. Provenza, Flynn and Tao I would love to see explored even more.

August 05 2008 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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