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TV Review: The Closer – “Grave Doubts”

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Tonight’s episode, “Grave Doubts” offered a closer look into some of the chief characters in the series. Brenda’s father has discovered she’s “living in sin” with Fritz, her FBI boyfriend. She’s beside herself and doesn’t know quite what to do. In fact, halfway through this episode Brenda’s mother tells her that her father doesn’t want to talk to her, but he has written her a letter. Brenda’s reaction is totally Southern female no matter what the age.

Brenda has always been a daddy’s girl, and her current situation leaves her mortified. She doesn’t know what to do. The last time her daddy wrote her a letter, she had been a freshman in college and had received a B- in a history class. She had disappointed him. Living with a man she’s not married to is a really big deal in her father’s eyes.

The murder of this week revolves around the corpse of a young black male who disappeared back in 1992. He’s so mummified that he’s unrecognizable and potentially can’t be identified. He has a driver’s license on him, but they don’t know if that’s who he really is.

The real kicker is that the corpse has Lieutenant Provenza’s card on him. Provenza gave out a lot of cards fifteen years ago and doesn’t remember the name or the face on the driver’s license.

Before long, though, Brenda and her team start making headway. The forensics doctor lets them know that whoever the dead man is, he was murdered. They find a bullet lodged in his chest where his heart would have been. All indications are that he was shot during a struggle.

After they get a tentative ID on the corpse, Brenda goes down to a local gang rehabilitation center to interview Father Jack, a legendary figure in the neighborhood who has worked for years to get gang members off the streets. This avenue of the investigation immediately grates on Sergeant Gabriel’s nerves. Father Jack is an iconic figure to him, a man who has done immense good in the neighborhoods.

Not only that, but the investigation draws fire from a political figure who happens to be the dead man’s younger brother and a huge supporter of Father Jack. Before Brenda knows it, nobody seems to like her. Her superior, Pope, warns her to handle the case with kid gloves. Brenda takes that suggestion into consideration for about five seconds (a long time for her), then handles the case the way she wants to handle it.

The usual deep background investigation takes place, and all the truths, lies, and half-truths spill out. While the action in this episode is more low-key than in many, the emotional stakes are pumped through the roof. Sergeant Gabriel and Brenda – for the first time ever – end up on opposite sides of the fence in what is almost a grudge match.

The ongoing anticipation of finding out what exactly Brenda’s father has said to her in the letter is well done and doesn’t deliver on that until the final few minutes of the episode.

Especially nice, because he’s one of my favorite characters on the show, are the gentle touches done with Lieutenant Provenza. You can see the way he’s hurting and confused over what he might have missed fifteen years ago. A cry for help went out and he failed to follow up on it. When they tell the mother that her son’s body has finally been found, Provenza’s sorrow and silent support of the woman is almost painful to watch. Brenda remains totally clued in as to what’s going on and the torturous path that the lieutenant is following.

All in all, tonight’s episode was emotionally gratifying. I didn’t learn as much about police work or other background stuff that I usually do during episodes, but I had a good time with this one. It yanked at the heartstrings and left me in a good place when it was finished.

However, we’re going to have to wait to see how the fallout from this case affects Brenda’s relationship with Sergeant Gabriel.

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About Mel Odom

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Well done. I think you have the better deal in reviewing The Closer. I missed this episode, except the last few minutes where Deputy Police Chief Johnson was face down in the bed not wanting to read her dad’s letter, so had no idea what was going on.

    I review Painkiller Jane for my own site and here, though it’s been much better of late. It’s strange that lately series that start out well, ESPECIALLY on basic cable, end up becoming parodies of themselves. I’m thinking primarily of Monk and Psych where the parts of their character’s that used to glance in while the crimes were solved now are doing metaphorical full frontal nudity in the show, with the plot or crime almost secondary. 24 too, to a certain extent though that has had a wide variety of problems in recent years.

    I stopped watching 24 just because credulity was stretched too thin. I can’t watch Monk now, it’s flat out dumb with monk not only being phobic but his social skills being reduced to that of a particularly accomplished amoeba. Psych started out silly so it’s shelf life getting sillier will last longer.

    I’m hoping Brenda Johnson doesn’t end up with her neuroses overwhelming the good investigative story lines. I would hope few people get off on the very few quirks – sugar, southern upbringing, can’t commit – being played as the chorus instead of the melody. Any or all of them can be overdone easily.

    And Painkiller Jane started out very bad and is only getting better, so I feel good about the upswing. … Even if it does get canceled at the end of the year. :-)

    – Temple

  • Mel

    Hey Temple,

    Thank you for the nice comments. I really enjoy the show and the character. I grew up in southern Oklahoma, so the girls I grew up with were (and are) very much like Brenda, trapped between what they’re supposed to do and what they want to do. And, of course, how the world really is.

    The word is that Kyra Sedgwick is under contract for seven seasons. It’ll be interesting to see if the series lasts that long. I think it will. I like the cast and I like the way the murders are resolved.

    I haven’t seen Painkiller Jane yet, but I do have it downloaded. Hope to get to it soon.

  • MaryBell

    My DVR didn’t catch the ending , and I missed what the letter said. I can’t find it anywhere that I don’t have to pay. Help? =)