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Hooray for Clay and Willie Rae! I always love episodes of The Closer that feature Brenda’s parents. Between Brenda’s barely suppressed panic, Fritz’s suffering, Clay’s glowering, Willie Rae’s relentless cookery, and Provenza’s inevitable charm offensive, there’s always plenty to amuse. Add a disturbing, grisly murder, and you’ve got yourself a party!

This spoiler always cries at wedding planners.

Ominous figures lurk in the Fritz/Brenda household, fingering knives and traumatizing the Lucky Cat on the counter. Thieves? Thugs? Worse — parents!  Clay and Willie Rae dropped by, and Brenda and Fritz are quaking in their beds. Brenda gratefully accepts a call about a murder, and Fritz retaliates with a faked call about a bomb scare at an airport. ("This has got to be the most dangerous city on the planet Earth," Clay mutters.) Since Brenda can’t leave her folks alone in her house, she takes them along to the crime scene, which happens to be on a TV set.

The victim is Rachel Hughes, a hairstylist for a medical drama. She was brutally beaten and stuffed in a storage box. No one heard a thing. But Rachel had a restraining order out against her ex, and his name shows up on the visitor’s log. Easy case, right?

Maybe not. Ryan is either a REALLY good actor or he has no clue what’s going on. He does have a hair-trigger temper, but he’s genuinely shocked by the pictures of Rachel’s brutalized body. The team figures out that Rachel must have lived in a battered-women’s shelter after the last time Ryan beat her, and track down her former abode. Donna, the woman running the shelter, leads the team to Rachel’s new apartment (a place she’d kept secret, to fend off visits from Ryan.) The team finds more blood and hair all over the place — it’s another crime scene, but the victim doesn’t seem to be Rachel. So who was it?

A script in the apartment gives them the clue they need — it belonged to Kelly Rivers, a guest actress on the show. When Brenda and the team show up at the house, she’d bright and smiling — but she’s clutching her robe closed around her throat, and she’s got blood in her hair. As Brenda asks her about Rachel, Kelly keeps talking like nothing’s wrong, but she opens her robe a bit to show Brenda wounds on her collarbone that match the marks on Rachel’s body. Brenda tries to get Kelly to walk out of the apartment, but a man (husband? Boyfriend?) grabs her, dragging her back inside. the team swarms the place. the men are cowed when the guy threatens to kill Kelly if they come any closer, but Daniels marches up behind him and puts her gun at the base of his skull. Go Daniels!

Kelly weeps and says that he didn’t mean to kill Rachel — which wasn’t something SkuzzGuy wanted her to say. It seems Rachel tried to get Kelly into a shelter, but the shelter was full. Rachel offered to let Kelly stay with her. Matt, the abusive schmuckboy who Daniels unfortunately was legally unable to pistol-whip right there, tracked Rachel down using the address on her cosmetology license. He killed Rachel and dragged Kelly back home.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • This was a sobering episode — the domestic violence storyline was arresting enough, but there was also Sanchez, who is still suffering from his brother’s death. He’s out of it, not able to pay attention. He seems to have lost the emotional calluses that cops have to have — he gazes sorrowfully at Rachel’s body, drawn in by the horror of it. A couple of episodes ago, he would have been able to process the scene without blinking.
  • The end bit, where Pope declined to do the ass-coverng and tore Ryan a new one in the guise of an apology, made me very happy. "On behalf of the Los Angles Police Department, I wanted to say how sorry I am that you lied to us so much, and that you knocked your wife around to such an extent, that we considered you a suspect in her murder." Ryan is aghast — you call that an apology? "You people have no idea what I’m going through" — and while that’s momentarily satisfying, the coda brought me back to earth. "I’d still like to arrest him," Brenda says as he leaves. "Odds are, one day, you will," Pope replies.
  • then there’s the Ramos subplot. The reporter wasn’t in this episode, but his presence was felt. Pope and Taylor were squirrelly about this case because the Times is running a two-part article detailing how some crimes (those that involve rich, white or famous victims) get more attention than others (those that involve poor Latinos who don’t happen to be related to police officers.) Brenda basically says "Yeah, DUH!" She couldn’t care less about the politics.
  • This exchange about the subject amused me to no end: Pope: "How do we avoid the impression that we made this murder a priority because of the Hollywood connection?" Brenda: "That is why it’s a priority, isn’t it?" Taylor: "That and the reporters flying in helicopters over the studio."  Pope: "Yeah, but we don’t want to SAY any of that!"
  • On to lighter matters. Willie Rae and Clay are such spot-on overbearing parents. Willie Rae is a sweetheart, but she doesn’t understand how cooking enough food to feed the nation of Switzerland might be a little much. Clay is collecting information about wedding venues, either unaware or uncaring that Brenda is the one dragging her feet. I was glad to see Brenda stand up to him at the end of the episode — but seeing Fritz stand up to Brenda was kind of awesome, too.
  • Provenza! I love his flirtation with Willie Rae, and Clay’s suspicion of it all. When Provenza offers to take the couple around to see where tv shows are filmed, he smarms "Come on, Willie Rae — let me show you where the magic happens." "Oh, Lieutenant — I bet you say that to all the girls!" Willie Rae giggles. "I bet he DOES say that to all the girls — I know his type!" clay grumbles. Hee!
  • Fritz ends the episode saying he wants to be married by January or February at the latest. I smell a special holiday wedding episode!
Posted by:Sarah Jersild