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September 1, 2015

The Closer: Elysian Fields

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 28th 2009 12:20AM

When I say that a lot of this episode of The Closer felt like a CSI episode, with the emphasis on the gory and gruesome aspects of original murder, I'm not being critical. And when I mention there were also elements that reminded of Cold Case, that's also not a diss because Cold Case is an underrated show.

But unlike Cold Case, which brings the past to life, The Closer remained very much in the present. Generally speaking, this was a pretty strong episode that played up Brenda's vulnerability.

Without showing much, it was evident that the body of Howard Greeson had been severely mutilated. Finding the killer proved problematic because Greeson himself was a suspected killer. For Brenda, that meant a lot of questions, a lot of suspects and one major irritant in Tom Skerritt as retired L.A. police detective Joe Olin.

Skerritt was a welcomed presence, bringing the kind of world-weary visage that the role required and just a hint of danger behind his dogged determination to do whatever necessary to close his long-dormant case. Adding to Brenda's vexation was that there seemed to be a conspiracy afoot when all the families of Greeson's victims were all in lock step with Joe, all refusing to talk to Brenda and lawyering-up. Fortunately, they all didn't mind talking to Ramos, the L.A. Times reporter, and he didn't mind making a deal with Major Crimes.

Olin was an interesting character and sympathetic, too. He only had three-to-six months to live and was motivated as only a dying man could be. When Brenda nailed him for what he did, and the brutality with which he did it, she understandably asked Olin how a decorated detective like him could have done such a thing. His answer was just as brutal: "The Make-A-Wish foundation wouldn't do it for me."

Flynn was atypically softhearted about the fate of a fellow cop, even in light of what Olin had done. But when Brenda pointed out why she had to be tough-minded about Olin because vigilantism was not acceptable under any circumstance, Flynn couldn't disagree. My thinking was that even if Brenda couldn't recommend leniency for Olin -- a dying man -- Chief Pope would. Olin would probably not do prison time despite his confession.

Brenda appeared to be off-kilter throughout, beginning with her disturbing nightmare at the top. Her inability to close the Stroh case was coincidental to Olin trying to close his, but by the end of the show, when Brenda finally returned Mama's calls -- after Fritz nagged her -- there was no doubt that Brenda Leigh had issues related to her work and not being able to leave it in the office. She can't talk to Fritz about what haunts her, although she should, and she sure can't talk to Mama. Is it time for Brenda to see a therapist? Hmm ...

Watching as Brenda checked all the locks and spoke calmly to her mother, it was clear by that look at her reflection, she was twisted with pain about the Stroh case. More than that, she was bothered by the fact that she was more like Olin than she wanted to admit. Someday could she cross the line like Olin did?

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I think the twist here might not be that Detective Olin dunnit (could guess that a mile away) but why, he, a decorated, respected former officer) would do it, especially so gruesomely. For that, they provided little clues along the way (first mention of weight loss very early on, then prostate, then pepto, then twin brother's lock and step confession - just like bread crumbs).

July 28 2009 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was a good episode as usual but the main problem I had was that I knew what the ending was going to be before we got there.

From the beginning I knew it was going to be Skerritt's character that did it. That's not good writing in my opinion and what a disappointment. I kept thinking, "There's a twist coming. There's something we (the audience and Brenda's colleagues) are missing that's going to turn this thing in a new direction. Brenda will catch it." But no, "the butler did it." :-/

Good direction, casting (always a joy to see Skerritt's work), and acting but not so good, or at least cleaver, writing.

July 28 2009 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was a guest role.

July 28 2009 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've never watched The Closer. Has Skerritt joined the cast, or was this a one-off?

July 28 2009 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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