Brenda Leigh and the crew deal with someone even more loathsome than Speidi this week on "The Closer" when a fraudulent real estate mogul goes missing. Plus, Brenda loses it, Sanchez gets interested, and Provenza is walking on air.
Allan Summer, real estate mogul and all-around schmuck who defrauded his investors, partners and employees, disappears on his way home from the airport. As his accounts are frozen, he's being sued by the whole world and the FBI is investigating him, it's entirely possible he's just done a runner. But his family goes to the bank, claiming he's been kidnapped — unfreeze our accounts so we can pay the (exceedingly random) $1,190,476.19 ransom! The bank is skeptical and refers the case to the LAPD's fraud division.
Curiously, Summer was picked up by a driver, but he's the one driving the car out of the airport. The driver, one Mario Gomez, seems to have disappeared. When the squad finds the car, it's awash in blood. It looks like the case has morphed from kidnapping to murder. The blood type matches that of Gomez, who was apparently an illegal immigrant who came to L.A. after his wife died of cancer. Did the kidnapper kill him — or did Summer?
Brenda is exceedingly frustrated that she's not allowed to contact the family in any way, just in case the kidnapping is legit. But Fritz gives her an idea: The FBI isn't involved in this case — and thank god, because we look like idiots for having lost him when we'd had him under surveillance forever — but we'd be happy to help, in an unofficial capacity. In fact, get us proof of life and we’ll even unfreeze his accounts. That way, you'd be able to put tracer bills in the ransom cash, and you could track the kidnapper (or Summer himself). Ping! "So, I'd be like a bank," Brenda says.
Cut to the bank, where Brenda and the crew are posing as customers and bank workers as the Summer family sweeps in. Mrs. Summer is either an imperious witch or crazy with worry about her husband, and she doesn't take it well when Brenda starts asking questions. Of course, she doesn't do herself any favors by saying "Why would we know the chauffeurs!" Brenda gets on her high horse — "The death of a chauffeur may be beneath your notice, Mrs. Summer, but it's not beneath mine." Oh, they’re going to be great friends….
The Summers agree to let the squad listen in as the kidnappers call with instructions. Gabriel unfreezes the account and turns away momentarily. Just like that, the ransom amount is gone. Doh!
But Gabriel redeems himself when he figures out where that odd ransom amount comes from — it's the payout that each of Summer’s employees would get if their lawsuit succeeded. Tao steps up with is forensics mojo and determines that the blood spatter patterns in the car could not have come from any reasonable pattern of wounds. So it looks like Mario Gomez is alive — and he's not Mario Gomez. He's Mario Vargas, former risk management analyst at Summer's company, who lost everything when the firm went belly-up.
The squad is going through Vargas' house trying to figure out where he stashed Summer, but Vargas is on his way home. Since they wont be able to clear out in time, Brenda invokes Plan B — and the gung-ho SIS director smashed into his car. Wow. They can't afford new camera equipment for Buzz, but they can total cars with abandon?
Vargas is unrepentant — he blames Summer for his wife's death from pancreatic cancer, since they lost their insurance and couldn't afford treatment. He won't reveal exactly where Summer is — just that he's in "a hell of his own making." The teams finds Summer's corpse in one of the derelict houses in an abandoned development.
Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
- Poor, poor Kitty. She's got failing kidneys, and Brenda has to shoot her up with drugs and administer an IV bag twice a day. I'm amazed that the vet would let her do that — but it plays into the plot.
- Vargas cared for his wife by himself, and learned how to draw blood efficiently. So he stockpiled a bunch of his own blood, which he then splattered inside the car to make it look like "Mario Gomez" was dead. It seems like an overly elaborate (and painful!) plan to me.
- Vargas blames Summer for his wife's suicide (she killed herself when she realized the medical bills were too high for them to pay.) "When we lost our jobs, we lost our healthcare!" he cries. "So, the insurance company killed your wife," Gabriel says. I'm going to go with the cancer killed his wife.
- Gabriel is not having a good time of things. Not only is he in charge of carrying Kitty's cage, but he's also trying to prove that he's better than She Who Will Not Be Named. When Brenda asks for a forensic accountant, and is about to invoke the name of Daniels, Gabriel jumps in and says he can figure things out. Hmm. Then the money goes missing on his watch. Doh. Even Brenda admits she doubts Daniels would have been able to do anything about that.
- Provenza, on the other hand, is whistling a happy tune. He's perky and blissful and so agreeable that Pope asks for a breathalyzer test. But when Flynn pumps Provenza about his new relationship, Provenza tells him to butt out. Hmmm.
- Speaking of new relationships — Sanchez is all aflutter when detective Mikki Mendoza, the SIS director, comes on the scene. Sorry, Sanchez — from what I understand, she's just not that into you. She is, however, into kicking down doors and slamming into cars. All righty then! Brenda is disdainful at first, but she seems to be warming to Mendoza by the end. Either that, or she appreciates good car crash as much as the rest of us.
- Was that a moment between Brenda and Pope? God, I hope not…