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August 29, 2015

The Closer: Tijuana Brass

by Brett Love, posted Sep 9th 2008 8:23AM

Kyra Sedgwick and Jon Tenney - The Closer
(S04E09) It would appear that summer really is coming to an end. The Closer will wrap up its run next week with the big, explosive, finale. And with the end of the season in sight, "Tijuana Brass" started wrapping up the major ongoing story. The infamous Ramos article was finally published, and the the effects were many and varied. It couldn't have come at a worse time either, as Priority Homicide found themselves in the middle of a very delicate case.

Let's start with Ramos, and the reorganization of the department. There is still a little work to do with how things will shake out once titles and responsibilities are shuffled, but we have enough to pass a grade on the Ramos story. All things considered, it worked well. It was an interesting issue to tackle for the simple fact that law enforcement does have a very tenuous relationship with the media. It makes sense that we would see our favorite law enforcement officials struggle with it.

The addition of Ramos (Stephen Martines) injected a whole new tension that we haven't really seen before, and it really spread. You could see the issues between Pope, Brenda, and Taylor coming as it all came to a head. But the entire team ended up being stuck in the middle. It also set the stage for the line of the night as Provenza cautioned Brenda, "Let's fight one Pope at a time."

I'm curious to see what it all means for the show as we move ahead. It certainly seems that the reorganization will be largely cosmetic, as Ramos feared. Brenda is keeping her job, and her entire team. The crucial difference may be what kind of cases they are assigned. It's a clever move after fifty episodes. Opening up the story options to any "major crime" should offer some creative breathing room.

Getting back to the case, I really liked how this one played out. I was completely caught off guard by the opening, simply because they chose to cast Silas Mitchell as Father Donohue. The last three things I've seen him in were Burn Notice (Seymour), My Name Is Earl (Donny), and Prison Break (Haywire). All three are such over the top performances that his presence brings an expectation with it, for me anyway. It took a second to get on board with just what he was up to.

That's no reflection on Mitchell's performance, of course, just an odd artifact of modern television. He actually had a really good performance here, and his scenes with Brenda were my favorite part of the episode. It was given a little extra weight by everyone freaking out at the idea, given the post-article climate, of even going near the church. On a couple of different occasions, as the two went back and forth, neither really giving, it really looked like it would be a no go. The way they found common ground, and the confession at the end, were both really well done.

I was also tripped up when Fritz showed up to vouch for Mateo. The fact that he really was one of the good guys, and had given up everything to fight the good fight, was unexpected. Even with the FBI endorsement, it was still easy for the viewer to remain just as skeptical as Brenda and the team as the evidence piled up. The skepticism did start to wane rather quickly with the appearance of Commandante Vasquez (David Barrera).

It was pretty clear from jump street that he was going to be mixed up in the case somehow. When Donohue mentioned that a hit had been put out on Mateo, I had him pegged for that role. I didn't fully catch on to just how deep in it he was until everyone looked so surprised at who the owner of the truck was. Having the big gotcha scene on the other side of the glass was a nice change. And kudos to everyone for the take down scene. When Vasquez went after Brenda, that was truly frightening. But that's also right where they lost me.

The gambit of booking Vasquez as Mateo was the typical Brenda genius. And I was perfectly willing to go along for the ride as it led to him turning on his bosses and going away for a very long time. But to actually go through with it? Really? I can almost twist it to fit with Brenda's quest for justice, but this was conspiracy on the grandest of stages. It wasn't one person omitting a fact to send someone to death. It was a whole group of people. Despite that questionable ending, still a pretty solid episode. It looks like big things are afoot for the big finale next week.

Michael Paul Chan - The Closer

Other bits:

Hidden in all the serious drama were three fun gags.

Gabriel getting the sponge gun to the face, and his reaction when it became clear that nobody was quite sure what was in the sponge.

Tao putting on his performance for the crime scene footage. "For those in the know, nothing better in the handgun biz." Like he's auditioning for his own show on Discovery.

Fritz making reference to Donahue's church being a good place for a wedding. Brenda shut him down, but it was nice to see it mentioned.

Actual change? Or get the reporters off my back change?
All show. New titles and business as usual.17 (10.8%)
Minor change. We'll see a broad spectrum of cases now.132 (83.5%)
Ramos wins. This changes everything.9 (5.7%)

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Can anyone tell me what Brenda was looking at when she saw Manuel at the church and then what she said to him? i've played it back several times and can't make it out.

September 10 2008 at 2:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iris's comment
Brett Love

I'm not sure what you mean by what she was looking at, but she says, "Manuel, good luck to you sir."

September 10 2008 at 3:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I definitely am afraid of Brenda letting the murder happen, but I have to say Vasquez was the one that condemned himself to being murdered by first arranging a gruesome murder for 2 people, then not confessing to get out being sent to county jail. Brenda, going all the way and not blinking only works in TVland, but I 'll take it.

September 09 2008 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tess Capra

Gabriel's double-handed grabbing of the wipes, then tucking the container under his arm like Pooh with a honey jar was fantastic comic relief.

I understand they wanted to shake things up this season to keep the show from wallowing in the formulaic, but I really miss seeing Johnson toe-to-toe with a suspect in the interrogation room and proving the facts of the crime. It seems like fewer than half the episodes have used the element that actually defined the series.

September 09 2008 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite part of the episode was when Brenda completely turned the article debacle to her favor. She got everything she wanted and even made Commander Taylor her subordinate! She totally turned the tables on Pope who seemed more than willing to sell her out to save his own hide. Granted, it's a cosmetic change, but one that will allow for greater variety in the story lines. Major crimes can over a lot, especially in Los Angeles.

As for the case itself, I was enjoying it until Brenda condemned a man to be murdered. Regardless of whether her deserved it or not, it seemed very out of character for a women who has such a strong sense of the law.

September 09 2008 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ramos' Part 2 article is bound to expose how Pope has let the media govern his decisions. Pope came up with the "major crimes" restructuring idea simply to placate Ramos -- Brenda realized this and brilliantly took control over the situation. Ramos played dumb saying "so this isn't just cosmetic" because his main thesis is that the LAPD lets the media dictate its operations.

Once it is revealed that this is in fact the case, I predict Pope will be forced to resign. Taylor hinted at that in his aside with Brenda about the average lifespan of an assistant chief. He figures one of them will be up for that position. Can't wait for the other shoe to drop.

September 09 2008 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sending Vasquez to jail as Mateo was a great bargaining ploy, but completely illegal and grossly unethical. It was great payoff in TVland, but in the long run cut the legs out of the character that we has been developed. Wasn't Brenda just giving a lecture recently that one of her team's "methods may be affective, but that doesn't make them legal?"

September 09 2008 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kate's comment
BC McKinney

Right, just like one or two episodes last season, it's a contrivance by the writers that's superficially clever but contradictory to Brenda's established character. The only way I would buy it is if it comes up later and she somehow acknowledges it was a bad decision made in a distracted, emotional state.

September 09 2008 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awesome episode! Can't wait to see the new kinds of cases next season.

I was shocked, then proud, when Brenda sent Vasquez to jail under Mateo's name. Justice was indeed served.

Man, I love this show! I hope Kyra wins an Emmy this month. She deserves it.

September 09 2008 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

Fantastic episode. The Closer is such a wonderful series. Stirring the pot up with Brenda's team now being Major Crimes is a brilliant move.

And, I can see the whole team backing sending Vasquez to jail as Mateo. To be honest, the drug cartels are some of the most unsavory, vicious, violent, depraved people on this planet. Think of the innocents that Vasquez -- including Mateo's nephew -- that were killed by his design.

Vasquez was hung by his own petard. He set up the death warrant on Mateo, and it was served to him instead. It was Priority Homicide's brand of retributive justice.

September 09 2008 at 8:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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