Well, it finally happened. On the final episode, “Long Shot,” of the somewhat abbreviated first season of “The Closer”-spin-off “Major Crimes,” everything finally clicked, much like a shell into the suspect’s sniper rifle. With each subsequent episode of the show, it was becoming clearer and clearer that what seemed a bit shaky at the outset could actually work after all.
I think it’s a testament to the writers that they managed to pull off a tricky transition from a beloved and highly successful- and lucrative- franchise to a spin-off people would actually want to stay tuned for, minus the big-name star that helped make the show a hit in the first place. Mind you, that’s not to say that the season was flawless by any means, simply that ultimately the goal was achieved: the show not only got renewed- and an early renewal at that- it got better as it went along.
Clearly, the writers had a long-term plan in mind, and if they took their sweet time getting there to an extent, they got there nonetheless. Still, if you think about it, spinning-off a character originally intended as an adversary to the lead of the original show and successfully transforming her into both a credible and likable lead is no mean feat.
I may have had my doubts going in, and I fully admit to being a bit skeptical almost every step of the way, but if you look back at my reviews to this point, it’s clear that the show has won me over little by little- and judging by the comments I’ve received and the overall buzz on the show, I’m not alone in that. (If anything, some of you were like, “What was the hold-up on you liking the show again?”)
The final episode of the season, “Long Shot,” revolved around a sniper that seemed to have missed his target- or did he? Although I’m sure those of you who watch “Homeland” were having flashbacks at times, down to the locale of the sniper’s perch and the furniture in the room, no less- what, are they repurposing sets to other shows now?- it was still a pretty decent season-ender. I found it interesting that they picked the most laid-back of drugs- marijuana- to inspire someone to take out a judge, but it’s a “Savages” world, after all. (See what I did there?)
Anyway, the sniper had a rude awakening when an unexpected guest stormed in- a teen Angel (Antony Del Rio) looking to score with his lady-friend. Gunfire ensued and Angel barely escaped meeting an angel no one wants to meet: Death. Not so lucky was his unfortunate dad (Ramon Franco), who fell victim to said sniper when he tracked down the boy’s address, thanks in no small part to some helpful cops, no less. Now that’s irony, Alanis.
I don’t know about you, but I got more than a little misty-eyed when Angel revealed his family’s horrific existence than I have all season with the Rusty deal; but I say that prematurely, as that storyline came to a most satisfying end, just like the pro-Rusty contingent predicted, or at least hoped it would. (More on that in a bit.) Turns out Angel’s entire family, aside from him and his father, were wiped out in one fell murderous sweep. All the while, as the gang listened on, they knew what he didn’t- that his father had met his demise as well. Pretty brutal stuff.
Eventually, the gang was able to set up a sting on the sniper, with the FBI’s help- including Brenda’s hubby, Fritz (Jon Tenney) – ending with a fake-out with a disguised cop in Angel’s staid luring him out of hiding and the sniper going down in a hail of bullets, as befits a man who trades bullets for death. We never did get to see Angel get dealt the crushing reveal of his dad’s demise, but between that first bit and Rusty’s fate, the show-runners must have (smartly) determined to quit while they were ahead, drama-wise.
Onto to Rusty. Many, myself included, suspected his dear old dad was up to something, and that proved to both be the case and not, in a sense. Turns out that Rusty’s dad copped to hitting Rusty after he had confessed his unsavory past in shocking terms in front of his father’s fiancée and her kids. So, dad was an abuser, but not necessary up to anything, per se, as some of us predicted. So, good on ya, all who thought Rusty was on the level and not pulling a fast one in terms of something self-inflicted or the like. I will say that, after being more than a little skeptical of Rusty all this time, I was actually ultimately glad they decided to go the way they did with it. You could even say it warmed my cynical heart a bit, what can I say? Finally, my sympathy went out to the poor guy, and not just because he was on the level, but because he finally let down the tough-guy veneer and showed us the scared boy underneath.
Honestly, how could you not be moved at least a little when the gang rallied around Rusty and basically “adopted” him en masse? I mean, don’t get me wrong, a group hug might have been a bit much, but I thought they handled the situation beautifully. I’m the first to admit I can be a bit dubious of certain network practices: it wouldn’t be the first time that they intentionally tried to tug at heartstrings in hope of better ratings, after all. For me, though, it was just enough emotion without going overboard.
I would also like to point out two of my fave moments of the entire series thus far. Firstly, I LOVED it when Provenza referred to Raydor as a “hall monitor.” He really hit the nail on the head as to why I started out actively disliking her- every time she enters a room, you feel like you’re sitting in the principal’s office even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Mary McDonnell just has that disciplinarian vibe, you know? She’d make a hell of a dominatrix, that one. Or at least a stern librarian.
Moment two, though, was part and parcel of what won me over- no matter what you say about her, Raydor genuinely wants justice for the wronged, even if it can get a bit nasty sometimes. As the sniper lay dying, she fixed him with a cold stare and said: “Can I have a name to put on your death certificate?” Even the sniper smiled a bit at that one. And that’s why I now love Raydor, so stop yer bitching, peeps.
Speaking of which, this being the final review of the season and all, let me just take a moment to thank all of you who took the time to leave comments. This show, of all the shows I review, far and away inspired the most spirited and, dare I say, fun debate? As nice as it was to be supported and backed up by some, it was just as fun debating those who had an opposing point of view.
By all means, gloat up your rightness below, or bemoan how wrong you were, as the case may be. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say on tonight’s “Major Crimes” finale, “Long Shot,” and by all means comment away, good or bad. After all, when you’re good, you’re good, but when you’re bad, you’re better.
Feel free to check out some of my other reviewed shows as well, by clicking on my name, and hope to see you back for Season Two!