Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Closer “Waivers of Extradition” A Good Close To Summer

Billed as the “summer” season finale (the series starts back up in December), ”The Closer” episode “Waivers of Extradition” brought a serial killer to the attention of Major Crimes. It also looks like it (thankfully) takes Brenda’s (Kyra Sedgwick) niece “Charlie” (Sosie Bacon) out of the mix.

The gruesome stabbing death of a woman gets major crimes involved. It appears that her husband heard her screams, and saw what looked like a Ninja, dressed all in black, fleeing the scene. Brenda’s team is skeptical. Focusing on the woman’s husband, they soon back off of interrogating him when another witness comes forward who also claims to have seen someone dressed in all black in the area of the murder – and they also got information about a car the suspect was driving.

Tracking down this car points Brenda and her team to Texas where the car was purchased. When El Paso Detective Curt Landry (Xander Berkeley) gets the call from Brenda, he seems to already know some details of the case, and rather than tell Brenda what he knows over the phone, he hops on a plane and flies up to LA. Apparently Landry is all too familiar with this murderer’s MO and multiple killings and wants to track this serial killer down so he can extradite him back to Texas to face the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Brenda’s father Clay (Barry Corbin) has returned to Brenda’s home in order to bring Charlie back home to Georgia. The problem is, Charlie doesn’t want to go back home, and Fritz (Job Tenney) and Brenda don’t want her to stay. Personally, her presence is a distraction to the show so while I watch the episode I am hoping Brenda doesn’t cave in and let her stay.

Landry feeds Brenda just enough information about what he knows to help her a bit, and, after meeting with Chief Pope (J.K. Simmons) agree that whoever had the better case can get the killer to prosecute. Brenda, of course, seems to want to keep the upper hand so she can claim she has the best case. What she doesn’t know is Landry is holding back. But the team’s collective work – along with help from Fritz (yes, he actually did some FBI work in this episode) - helps to focus the team on someone who is transporting cars via a car carrier, and using some of those cars in the commission of the murders. The track one of the cars in question via LoJack to a rest stop. When Sergeant Gabriel (Corey Reynolds) and Detective Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) catch up with the car carrier the driver is nowhere to be found. Rather than wait for the driver to show themselves, they decide to go into the rest stop store and see if they can find him. The problem is, he’s now in the truck and starting to drive away. (Dumb move on the detectives' part, I say.) Sanchez decides to try to get the driver to stop and grabs hold of the passenger side door of the truck cab, and as the drive barrels down the road in his loaded car carrier, Sanchez battles for control. In the process, the driver breaks Sanchez’s arm with a baseball bat. Sanchez hangs tough and gets the truck to stop after it storms through a construction zone (they don’t have fruit or flower stands out on the open road so a construction zone will just have to do.) Landry notices some scratches on the suspect’s neck, but says nothing.

Back at Major Crimes, Brenda and her team still look for the proverbial “smoking gun” in order to connect this suspect to all the murders. They find a bag of items in his truck that Brenda suspects are trophies from his killings. But Landry reveals his ace in the hole – one of the crimes in Texas netted him some DNA (from the scratches on his neck). Brenda knows that having the DNA will trump anything she has – unless she gets a confession. Brenda deftly finds a way to get the suspect to waive his rights – criminals can be so dumb – and dangles the prospect of the death penalty if she releases him to Texas as incentive to talk to her. Of course, he waives his rights and takes the contents of his trophy bag and maps out to Brenda where he picked up every item.

Landry knows that the confession of all the murders will trump his DNA, and tells Brenda that she can have him. But he hands her his file of all the pictures of the victims that he had compiled, and when Brenda looks at all of them, changes her mind and decides to have the killer released to Texas where they will bring him to justice in their way. Landry is happy and indicates this is exactly why he handed those pictures to Brenda. In a way, he worked Brenda just as well as Brenda worked the suspect.

Back at home, Clay wants to get going to return to Georgia and he wants Brenda to decide about Charlie. We know what Fritz wants – he wants Charlie to go home – and Brenda decides to have a chat alone with Charlie in her room. She helps Charlie to come to grips with the decision that she has to go home and give her parents a second chance. Let’s hope that she doesn’t return in December.

This episode certainly had plenty of action and drama. Xander Berkeley was a good choice for Detective Landry and frankly I was glad when Brenda caved and let Landry take the killer back to Texas. Sometimes I think Brenda’s desire to win is overpowering and it was an interesting twist to have her know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em in this case. It was also a nice change for Fritz to actually be doing some work for the team in his FBI capacity and not just be window dressing for the show in the form of kitty sitter and “kiddie” sitter. Hopefully in the season starting back up in December they will give Fritz more credible scenarios.

The confession of the serial killing, in my opinion, was a little too easy to be realistic. Sure, criminals aren’t necessarily the brightest people, but I would think that someone who has such an elaborate scheme to cover his tracks would have known to wait for his lawyer. Not that I plan on being arrested for anything, but I have already come to the conclusion that if that ever does happen, my only words will be “I want a lawyer.” As I mentioned earlier, I think this show will be better if Charlie does not return to the show, no offense to Sosie Bacon, the real life daughter of Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon (who also directed this episode). It is always a good break for the crime portion of the show to see into Brenda’s personal life, but having kids around sometimes breaks the mood a little too much. And I can only beg again for the series to give Jon Tenney a little more serious work with the show rather than being treated like a househusband.

Still, it was a satisfying finale to the summer and I look forward to Brenda’s return in December. Also, the best of luck to Kyra in her quest for this year’s Emmy Award, as she certainly deserves it.

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