The Closer brings the creep factor this week with a tale of a killer who just can’t be caught. He has all the answers, and has engineered the situation so nothing the squad does can make a charge stick. Will Brenda be able to break him?

This spoiler will be checking her windows after every delivery.

The cops respond to a prowler complaint and catch sight of a guy scurrying away from the house in question. They chase him down, eventually dragging him out of the tree where he’s been hiding. But apparently the damage is done — the house contains a dead woman who had been bludgeoned and smothered. Her panties were ripped off, but it looks like the perp wasn’t able to complete the rape before he was interrupted.

The man the cops caught is Chris Dunlap. He’s got arrests for indecent exposure and molestation on his rap sheet, but he’s never been convicted. That may be because he has a lawyer on speed dial: Philip Stroh appears just as Brenda is getting Chris to talk. Curses!

The squad builds up quite a bit of circumstantial evidence: There had been six rapes in the area with a similar M.O. — the perp cut through the screen and snuck in through the unlocked bathroom window. All of the victims are blond and in their 20s. And, most damning of all, all of them had received deliveries in the week before their rapes — and Chris was the deliveryman. Seems like a pretty solid case, doesn’t it?

Not so fast: Stroh tells Brenda that if they give his client a deal, he’ll give her the name of his accomplice. Chris wasn’t acting alone — a fact borne out by the curious circumstance of the front door being unlocked when Brenda checked out the crime scene. The accomplice walked out the front door while Chris was leading the cops away from the back.

Brenda bluffs that she’s close to identifying the accomplice and doesn’t need Chris’ help, but Stroh isn’t buying it. Neither is Garnett, the smarmy D.A. He wants to take the deal — Chris gets eight years for his partner’s name. Brenda protests — we haven’t had time to build the case yet! — but Garnett is adamant. But when Garnett presents the deal to Stroh, he snaps that he doesn’t like being toyed with and that he wants to see all the evidence that Brenda has — it’s possible his client can get off with probation. Again, Brenda protests, but Garnett insists. Stroh goes over all the cases — any physical evidence in any of the rapes? No, says Brenda, but one of the victims got a look at her attacker. She’ll be able to identify him! Stroh is unimpressed. Eventually, he makes a deal with Garnett — Chris will trade a four-year sentence for his partner’s name.

And here’s where things get creepy. Chris agrees to name names — and he identifies Stroh as his partner. Stroh is shocked, shocked! and walks out. He proposes getting Chris a new lawyer, but Garnett won’t let him leave until his client gives up the real name.

But that’s just it: Stroh is the real name. He’d represented Chris before, and was giving him money, so Chris agreed to help him pick out victims )”I didn’t want to let him down.”) He served as a lookout while Stroh raped the women, and was a sacrificial decoy in case they got caught. Stroh engineered the deal so he could see what evidence, if any, the squad had that could tie him to the crime. When he knew they had no physical evidence, he let Chris spill the beans — and gloated quietly, knowing he was untouchable.

Ah, but what about the witness? Brenda brings her in for a lineup, and she immediately picks out Stroh — but she says it’s because he came to her work to interview her a few hours before. The lineup is tainted. They’re nothing they can do.

Brenda is furious and goes into avenging angel mode: I will catch you, if its the last thing I do. But Stroh just smirks and walks out, completely calm. He’s untouchable — for now.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • I’m sure all of us thought that something was a bit… off about Stroh as soon as he showed up. He was too self-possessed, too unflappable. But as it became clear how he’d manipulated every situation, he just got more and more terrifying. There’s nothing worse than a brilliant sociopath.
  • Gabriel confronts Stroh about representing Chris — and getting charges against him dismissed. How can you justify defending child molesters? Stroh fires back that sexual offenders are branded with their crime until the day they die, and therefore they need vigilant attorneys to make sure the state makes its case. “If your charmingly phrased accusation really does have something to do with how defending suspected sex offenders makes me feel, the answer is: It gives purpose to my life.” The sad part is, I kind of think he has a point — the state really DOES need to be especially sure that its gotten the correct person for sexual crimes, especially because sex offenders are identified as such for life. But the argument he makes is scuttled when we  realize that Stroh himself is the criminal, and he’s defending Chris so he can have a patsy.
  • Pope and Brenda fight Garnett all the way, but he insists that they cut a deal. Brenda is quick to let him know that his decisions — especially agreeing to show all the evidence to Stroh — is what made it impossible to prosecute the killer.
  • The whole squad is horrified as Chris’ story starts to come out, and they all wander in to loom over where Stroh is sitting. But there’s nothing they can do — and they all know it.
  • Stroh has to gloat after he evades the lineup: “I’m sorry for wasting so much of your time. I really should have mentioned meeting Ms. Clark when I left this afternoon, but it totally slipped my mind. She didn’t seem terribly bright, did she? Pretty, though.” Brrrr.
  • Brenda vows to nab Stroh somehow: “I will hunt relentlessly to tie you to these crimes until the day you die.” Stroh is unimpressed: “You must feel terribly disappointed in the way things turned out here. Look on the bright side, Chief — at least it’s over.” ” It’s not over,” Brenda vows. “It is,” Stroh says — and walks away.

Is Stroh untouchable, or will Brenda get him in the end? Is Brenda in danger of becoming Stroh’s next victim? And how creeped out are you right now?

Posted by:Sarah Jersild