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October 10, 2015

The Closer: Split Ends

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 1st 2008 11:18PM
Brenda TNT"Oh, goodness. Is this where they do Dancing with the Stars?"
-- Willie Ray Johnson, Brenda's momma

(S04E08) Here was an episode that epitomized what I like about The Closer. This was an excellent mystery. It was complicated and drew you into the chase. Like Brenda, you're wondering how it was done, why and by whom.

Of course, it didn't seem like it was going to be a heavy duty episode, not when the opening was all about Willie Ray and Clay's unexpected visit. That damn RV has brought Brenda's parents cross-country, even with gas at $4 a gallon!

Don't get me wrong, I like Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen. They're great actors, but the roles are so broadly drawn. The show uses them for comic relief, even though they can do drama brilliantly. The scenes at the film studio were too jokey to me, especially in light of the heinous crime scene that Brenda was investigating.

The murder reminded me of the O.J. Simpson case. It looked like Ryan -- an actor with anger management issues -- was the murderer. He lied and had a history of beating his wife. The sight of him with the gym bag and then those black gloves were all vaguely reminiscent of O.J. Of course, since he was the prime suspect, I never thought that he was the killer. Too obvious.

I noticed that when Brenda's light bulb went off, noticing the script pages, it was like on House, when House finally figures out a clue in a medical diagnosis. Both characters are detectives, only with The Closer you don't need a medical degree to figure out what Brenda does.

When the squad approached Kelly's home, the mood shifted dramatically. The big close ups on the actors' eyes, the shot of Brenda reaching out her hand, was very effective. Still, the jarring moment when Kelly's spouse grabbed her from behind and threatened to kill her was intense. It captured the terror of a violent domestic attack. It was interesting to note in that scene that Sanchez froze. As Brenda mentioned earlier in the show, he is still not all there because of his brother's death.

Finally, I loved Pope's apology. Ryan, the narcissistic actor, didn't deserve a sincere apology. He wasn't interested in his wife's death, just how it affected him. He didn't shed a tear for Rachel. He had lied and been completely uncooperative. I'm all for the police admitting when they're wrong and apologizing to a wrongly accused person, but this character deserved to be disrespected.

Other points of interest
-- Was the TV show Trauma Unit supposed to be NBC's ER? That would make sense because Warners is one of the only lots where I think you can still take a tour. It was good to give Momma and Daddy something to do. Willie Ray's get up reminded me of a Democratic convention delegate, minus the Obama-Biden buttons!

-- How on earth does Brenda stay so thin? Did you see that breakfast? The junk food? I want her metabolism.

-- I like that Sanchez isn't recovered. He should be grieving and struggling with crime scenes after losing his brother Oscar.

-- The L.A. Times continues to be a big political thorn in Priority Homicide's side. Ramos has an ax to grind with Brenda's unit. Look for the upcoming episodes to deal with his story getting published.

-- Pope and Taylor have come to not only admire Brenda, but they're protective of her. You could see that in Will from the start, but Taylor's come a long way in terms of how he feels about Chief Johnson.

-- It was wonderful that Brenda finally stood up to Daddy, thanks to some coaching by Fritzie, and probably the after-effects of the case. I was all for her telling him to stop with all the wedding talk. Even better was Fritz turning the tables on Brenda and demanding that she get ready to set a date for January or February 2009.
What should Brenda do about Sanchez?
Leave him on active duty65 (29.5%)
Put him on desk duty33 (15.0%)
Send him back to counseling120 (54.5%)
Suspend him for freezing on the job2 (0.9%)

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I thought it was really interesting that neither of the other stylists on the studio lot knew much about the victim or seemed close to her. The first stylist said that the second one (Lindsay?) knew her better, but Lindsay didn't seem very remorseful about her co-worker's brutal death.

At first, that seemed suspicious, but then I realized that it was a statement about how closed-off a victim of domestic abuse must become in order to protect herself. Her abuser victimizes her over and over again that way. Yet this woman stepped up, despite her fear, to protect someone else and paid dearly for it.

I liked the way that the actor/husband was made into a proxy for all abusers, even though he wasn't the murderer (but in a way, he was). And I liked Pope's apology very, very much. I'm guessing that more than one of the people involved in crafting this story has been a close-up observer of an abusive relationship. This was extremely well done.

September 02 2008 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

Another nifty episode. I loved how Fritz stood up for himself demanding a wedding gate. Interesting how Brenda couldn't understand how the victim, Rachel, could be so strong as to leave her husband, but not strong enough to kick the ex out of the home she was paying for. And for Brenda to be so strong against everyone except her father. We all have our boundaries, and sometimes we're not even aware of them.

September 02 2008 at 4:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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