There was a certain symmetrical poetry in last night’s episode of The Closer: The juxtaposition of silence and incessant chatter, the competing tones of goofy comedy and jarring violence, the sudden and unexpected shifts in power in the ongoing marital debate among Brenda, her parents, and long-suffering Fritz. And of course, for sheer lyrical beauty, nothing could beat the climactic scene of Brenda extending her hand to terrified, terrorized Kelly Rivers (Katherine Boecher), standing in that doorway, literally at the precipice of life and death, and displaying her fresh bruises with the subtlest of gestures. (Paging, Emmy voters: Can an actress score an Outstanding Guest Star nod on the basis of a brief, light-on-dialogue scene?) Heck, even the justice was poetic last night, right down to Pope’s apology to the murder victim’s dirtbag abusive spouse: “On behalf of the entire LAPD, allow me to say how very sorry I am that you lied to us so much, and that you knocked your wife around to such an extent that we considered you a suspect in her murder.”
That kind of organic, effortless comedy is one of the things that makes The Closer such a treat, and separates it from the unrelentingly grim procedurals the big networks tend to favor. J.K. Simmons’ understated delivery was even more delicious during an episode featuring some serious scenery chewing by Frances Sternhagen and Barry Corbin as Brenda’s parents. Don’t get me wrong: I chuckled as Fritz conjured up (very quickly) an emergency scenario (airport bomb threat) far less sexy than Brenda’s competing crime (murder on a Hollywood set!) to escape the “when are you kids getting married?” shtick over a hot, homemade breakfast smorgasbord. (Did anyone else notice Fritz didn’t utter a single word during the entire awkward wedding convo?) It’s just that Sternhagen and Corbin scrambled a little too much ham into the eggs to suit my tastes. Then again, Brenda seems to view Ma and Pa Johnson as larger-than-life characters, the only folks she can’t (or won’t) steamroll, so perhaps their exaggerated behavior springs from their daughter’s exaggerated responses to them, and vice-versa.
And anyhow, all’s well that ends well. Brenda’s chin-held-high, lips-held-quavering ultimatum to her parents was as touching as it was amusing, though I have to admit I was totally blindsided by Fritz’s subsequent (and forceful) (and awesome) demand for a wedding date by the end of February. Fritz is fast becoming the ultimate spousal fantasy, a guy who tolerates, perhaps even embraces, Brenda’s flaws and quirks and eccentricities, but also knows when to put his foot down and demand that she be a better/saner person. Jon Tenney may not get a ton of screentime, but he certainly makes the most of it, no?
On the flip side of Fritz’s partner-y perfection were this week’s perp and prime suspect, the former a skeezy, out-of-control control freak, and the latter a slickly handsome abuser whose self-perceived coolness quickly disappeared in the interrogation room with Brenda. I loved the way she literally licked her lip as the skeezeball started describing himself as “passionate” and “sensitive” in an effort to defuse reports describing him as a wife beater. Her scathing assessment after the guy exploded in rage – “Well, I think it’s safe to say that you’re a freshman in anger management.” – was the episode’s best one-liner. I was really hoping the episode would end with the victim’s estranged hubby behind bars, but the sudden shift in suspects resulted in a climax so emotionally riveting (see aforementioned doorway exchange between Sedgwick and Boecher), it’s proof the show’s writers truly know best.
What did you think of last night’s show? Is anyone worried the Times’ investigation will really lead to the end of priority homicide? Anyone else worried about Sanchez’s post-traumatic hesitations? Who else LOL’d at Gabriel’s wonderfully lecherous “if you think of anything else, give me a call” to that trollop of a makeup chick? And is it just me, or are you also completely fed up with TNT’s ROARINGLY loud ad breaks?