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We take a break from sociopaths this week on The Closer to concentrate on straight-up nutballs. In this case, said nutball is Fritz’s sister — she’s convinced she’s a psychic (sorry, “intuitionist”), and she’s played by Amy Sedaris. It doesn’t get any nuttier than that…

When a guy cleaning the highways for community service finds a throwaway cellphone, he’s convinced he’s got evidence for a murder. The squad scoffs, but they eventually realize he’s probably right. The texts on the phone go from “We can be together when he’s gone” to “He’s dead” to “Why are you ignoring me” to “Bitch!” So it sure sounds bad — but who’s the victim, and who’s the murderer? The case gets slightly more urgent when the phone receives another text: “UR dead.” Dear potential murderers: Please don’t text your plans to your intended victims. It’s just tacky.

Fortunately, Brenda has  secret weapon: Fritz’s sister, Claire, who is in town before the wedding and who has a psychic gift. She gets several visions — there’s a bridge! A train! Barking dogs! A strange tree! Most of the squad rolls their eyes, but Tao is rapt, and he keeps finding evidence that fits Claire’s intuitionist visions — even though when she talks to the sketch artist about the murderer, she comes up with Pope. Hee!

A schedule on the cell phone leads the team to one suspicious death — Sean Thompson, a horror movie producer who died in a car crash (in view, it must be said, of a bridge.) The team decides to check out his wife, Christine, who may well be in danger. Sure enough, the team finds her in the garage with a head wound and the car running. It may be suicide — but it could be murder. Oh, and the team hears dogs barking from the house, and there’s a model train in the garage.

Tao then does his magic, laying out the phone numbers Christine called on her cell phone on a regular basis. For a while, she was making several calls a week to one A. Raber, but the calls cut off suddenly. Coincidentally, that’s the same day Christine’s disposable cell phone was purchased. Curious (oh, and the graph Tao makes of the numbers? “What could be more odd-looking than a phone tree?”)

Brenda brings stuntman Andrew Raber in for questioning — especially after she sees his demo reel, which includes him diving out of moving cars and engineering spectacular crashes. Andrew is cocky at first, but Brenda builds up a damning case, making it look like a witness produced a sketch, and that the cab driver who took him away from the scene of the accident can identify him. That, plus the disinformation that Christine survived the murder attempt and is blaming everything on Andrew, gets him to crack — I only did it because she told me to! I loved her, but she blew me off! How could she? Tell her I’ll see her in hell! Too late, Brenda says — she’s already there. But thanks for the confession!

The squad room
Hey, Daniels and Gabriel are actually in the same room! And they’re doing a dramatic reading! There’s something alternately sexy and scary about them taking Christine and Andrew’s parts as they read the text messages out loud. This is apparently the only way they can communicate, however, because they spend the rest of the episode at each others’ throats. Ah, but maybe this is an opportunity — Pope is looking to replace someone on another team, and he wants to promote someone from within. Perhaps, Provenza tells Brenda, he should take one of the feuding exes? Brenda pledges to think about it.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • Community Service boy — the guy who found the phone — protests that the sentence he’s serving is ridiculous. Sure, he threw a banana peel out of his car window right in front of a state trooper, but “a banana peel’s biodegradable! And I was driving a hybrid!”
  • I love Amy Sedaris, but a little of her goes a long way. Please, let’s not have Claire show up too often. (Although I do want to see Claire meet Brenda’s parents, just to watch Clay’s head explode.)
  • Tao becomes a believer in Claire when she finds his bag of phone chargers. Tao is officially easy.
  • He’s also adorable when he’s in lecture mode. “Like Claire, I can also see the invisible. Give me a person’s phones and I can draw you a picture of their entire life. Maybe even tell you their destiny. And when I am done, we will have fulfilled Claire’s prophecy!”
  • Claire seriously freaks Brenda out at the end of the episode by saying she’d picked up some intuitions about Brenda’s past — the affair with Pope, the bad first marriage, the fact that Brenda has been afraid to go forward with Fritz. Brenda is amazed — then suspicious: “Did Fritz tell you about all that?” she asks. “No — it was Lt. Flynn,” Claire replies blithely. “And he told me about your secret candy drawer!” That’s what happens when you saddle Flynn with a wannabe psychic…
  • Provenza reactions to Claire’s intuitions — “A river, a train and a barking dog. Throw in a pickup truck and we’ve got a country song!”
  • The squad is tickled by the sketch artist’s portrait of Claire’s vision of the killer — they hang the portrait of Pope up wherever possible.
  • Pope reacts to the evidence Brenda plans to use to nail Andrew. She’s got a phone they can’t connect to him, a cab driver who doesn’t recognize him, Christine… “Who is dead,” Pope reminds Brenda. “Not completely!” Claire protests. “Technically though,” Pope replies. “By the standards of the justice system, and, you know, reality.”
  • During he interrogation, Claire grabs the mic and tries to get Brenda to ask about “an angry wind” and a motorcycle. What? Well, Andrew says Christine’s dogs were named Harley and Davidson, and he decided to kill her after she blew him off —  “Like an angry wind,” Tao intones.
  • The work on Brenda’s case makes Claire feel like she should devote her life to law enforcement. Fritz nearly swallows his tongue.

Posted by:Sarah Jersild