Major Crimes “White Lies, Pt. 1-3”: Mid-Season Finale Review (Season 5, Episodes 11-13)

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On the mid-season finale of “Major Crimes,” another multi-episode arc came to a riveting end, as the team finally got to the bottom of who the mastermind was behind a courtroom shooting that claimed the lives of several people, including, shockingly, the team’s own Chief Taylor (Robert Gossett) and very nearly Dr. Joe Bowman (Bill Brochtrup).

While technically a three-episode arc, it actually started an episode earlier, with “Dead Zone,” which laid the groundwork for what was to come. Buzz’s subplot, which also came to a close here, dates back even further. This, of course, is not the first time the show has done something like this- last season ended with an ambitious five-part storyline that was reasonably well-received.

I guess the biggest complaint I read was that the arc was a little too long, which is no doubt why they shortened it this season, and perhaps why they chose to use it to close out the mid-point of the series instead of the entire season. Personally, I didn’t mind it, but then, I binge-watched last season, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Such wasn’t the case this season, as I was reviewing it, and in retrospect, for those watching it live, I can see where it might have been tricky keeping up for five back-to-back episodes like that. As it stands, it was a pretty tall order for just the three (or technically four) we got this season.

But when all is said and done, what really matters was- was the case worth spending several episodes on in the first place? Ultimately, I’d have to say yes. Sure, it was complicated, and often somewhat hard to keep up with, especially over the course of several weeks, but in the end, I felt the pay-off justified the longer-form format.

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Besides, lest we forget, it took the life of one beloved cast member’s character right up front and very nearly the life of more to boot. I will definitely miss Gossett, who I remember way back from that silly soap my ex used to watch, “Passions” (he played a version of Johnny Cochran long before it was deemed award-worthy), though even I admit he didn’t have as much to do on this show as he did on the mothership connection that was “The Closer.”

Hopefully, Gossett will have a new gig lined up soon. Whatever the case, I liked the way his death was handled on the show, from the respectable funeral to the aftermath. In this episode, we discovered that a park will be named in his honor, which was a nice touch as well.

That said, Chief Taylor certainly went out in a spectacular fashion- one doesn’t often see a courtroom shoot-out, least of all one caused by the defendant himself. In this case, it was neo-Nazi Dwight Darnell (Brett Davern) who, in addition to Taylor and Dr. Joe, also took out DDA Barry Rosen (Jason Kravits), Defense Adviser Marco Calderon (Jos Viramontes), and, weirdly, inside man Deputy Sims, before being shot down himself by Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell).

The question was, of course, why? Darnell had to know it wouldn’t end well for him, so it was clearly a means to an end on his part, but it’s unlikely he came up with the scheme himself, and he certainly had some help, as evidenced by his having access to a loaded gun in a courtroom. The problem was, the most likely accomplice was Deputy Sims, and he was targeted and killed, too, by Darnell.

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In this episode, we finally found out why: to eliminate all the loose ends in one fell swoop. In the end, it was proven to be Martin Borja (Carlos Lacamara), aka Dwight’s own father, who was pulling the strings. Borja himself was coming from a Latino background, which was no doubt part of why he considered Dwight a “lost cause” at this point, thanks to his racist tendencies.

Ironically, had he actually been present in his son’s life, he might have saved Dwight from being vulnerable to the influences of a bottom-feeder like Jordan Graff (Jamie Martz), who ended up being the closest thing Dwight had to a father figure, in light of the absence of a real one.

Unfortunately, all Graff taught Dwight was hate, not love, resulting in his going down a pretty shady path, and one that cost the lives of several mixed-race couples, all the while without Dwight having any idea that he himself was the product of one. Funny how that works, huh? Or okay, NOT funny, in this case, but you know what I mean.

In the end, Dwight’s mother, the oddly-named Wildred (Jaime Ray Newman)- I kept writing “Mildred” in my notes, even though I thought that’s what they were saying, but I couldn’t confirm it until I checked IMDB- confronted her ex, Martin, after being tricked into revealing his identity by the team, demanding to know if he had been involved.

Although she was wearing a wire and camera at the time, allowing the cops to move in at any moment, once she had elicited a confession from Martin, Wildred didn’t let that stop her from taking revenge on the man that had killed her- make that their– own son, when she grabbed a gun she clearly knew he kept stashed in his drawer and shot him repeatedly until he was dead.

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While that makes for a bit of a sad end for Wildred, it did bring the case full circle in the process, and ensure that the deed didn’t go unpunished, though I’m pretty sure revenge wasn’t what the cops had in mind when they tried to bust Martin. But hey, the guy did orchestrate a host of deaths, including that of Chief Taylor, so I can’t say I was complaining.

Also going down in the process was Graff, whose slimy actions caught up with him when the trucking company he used to transport drugs and guns to Mexico and back- albeit not entirely of his own accord, as he inherited the position against his will from his predecessor- was busted big time doing just that under his watch, to say nothing of Wildred’s, who also worked there.

Getting a more bittersweet ending was Mark (Henry Oliver Kaufman), the little kid that Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) was saddled with as a sort of “test” to see if he would make an ideal Foster parent. Mark was decidedly a bit of a handful, having been taught to hate by his neo-Nazi mother and her boyfriend, and spewing racist epithets at anyone who wasn’t like him.

While occasionally somewhat amusing in context- mostly because of the taken aback, spot-on comedic efforts of the main cast- more often than not it was horrifying, and left one thinking that maybe this was an egg that had been hatched bad and was beyond redemption at this point. In time, though, Sanchez, through sheer determination, was not only able to redeem the little Nazi-in-training, but make him a better person in the process.

As such, not only did Sanchez prove himself as a worthy father to the powers that be, he also miraculously managed to win over Mark as well, much to my shock. It just goes to show, no one is beyond redemption, I suppose- at least on TV, lol. (Okay, maybe SOME people are, if I’m being honest, but kids…it’s possible, so I bought it here, at least.)

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In the end, I gotta admit, I almost teared up a bit when Sanchez and the reformed little bugger had to part ways, as did Sanchez himself, when his social worker informed him that Mark’s grandparents had been found and he was going to go and live with them instead of staying put with Sanchez. Oh well- better luck next adoption, Sanchez. But if he can handle THAT kid, he can handle any kid!

Finally, there was the ongoing saga of Buzz (Phillip P. Keene) hunting down his father and uncle’s killer, which came to a close as well. Interestingly, it was a bit of a letdown- for Buzz, that is. Turns out that, in the thirty years or so since Bill Jones (John Mese) had committed his crime, he had essentially gone straight- or sort of, since he’d become a used car salesman, which, as Provenza (G.W. Bailey) pointed out, is also a bit of a crooked occupation.

Whatever the case, Jones now had a wife and kids and had left a life of crime behind long ago. Does that excuse him from killing two people in cold blood? Not at all. But it certainly did put a damper on the arrest, in which Buzz had to arrest the man in front of his entire family.

As such, what should have been a banner moment for our Buzz also ended up a little on the bittersweet side, as he realized he’d essentially damaged that family beyond repair in the process- much like Jones himself had Buzz’s own. On the one hand, it’s understandable that Buzz would feel bad about this unforeseen outcome, but on the other, the guy did make his bed- and he had to have known that he would likely have to lie in it someday, which proved to be the case here.

Or maybe he didn’t actually, as it sure seemed like he had moved on and made a life for himself. Chances are, in fact, he thought he’d gotten away with it, after thirty years had passed with no repercussions. But fate has a way of catching up to you, right? Either way, he has no one but himself to blame, though I do feel bad for his family, who looked like they had no idea what their dad had done until he told them, one assumes.

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So, all in all, this was another solid arc for “Major Crimes,” and for my money, a much more satisfying one, thanks to the personal things at stake for our team for many of the main characters. Most everyone had a moment to shine, and even if it didn’t directly give everyone a big arc along the way, it would have been a ridiculous endeavor to try with such a large cast. Better to focus on a select few than trying to give everyone their own big arc, too.

That said, we did get the gut-punch of an ending with Andy Flynn (Tony Denison) going down for the count with an uncertain future- and not for the first time, either. The last time it happened, I was concerned, but figured it would turn out okay, which it did, obviously. This time around…I’m not so sure. After all, would they really go to the well a second time without a pay-off? Hard to say.

I mean, it’s not like I want Flynn to die, as I like the character a lot, but at the same time…it would make for some solid drama, least of all with him and Sharon so close to making things official. Factor in the ripple effect it would have on the team, especially with Provenza, and it might actually be a good thing in some ways, but only if they do it right. After the example set by Taylor’s death, though, I think they will, however.

Note also that they not so subtly mentioned a new, albeit somewhat temporary, member of the team just before this happened, in formerly-undercover detective Wes Nolan (Daniel DiTomasso), who helped break the main case in this episode. How much you want to bet it becomes more official if Flynn either dies outright or retires? We shall see.

Until then, I can’t wait to see what happens next when the show comes back in the Winter, and if they will take another stab at a multi-arc series of episodes again next time around as well. As they seem to be getting better with each successive try, I can’t say I’d have a problem with that, though I know some don’t care for it.

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Having grown up with a lot of shows I like being in perpetual continuity, I can’t say it’s a big issue for me, though I can see if that weren’t the norm for other viewers how it might be a problem, which I know wasn’t typically the case until approximately the 90’s or so.

Most of the old shows I’ve seen, you can just watch out of order, as there’s no real major ongoing arcs going on, but that definitely has changed nowadays, so I don’t mind it, personally, as that’s what I’m used to- but I can where it might go the other way if you weren’t. Personally, I hope “Major Crimes” keeps it up, as a little ambition never killed anyone…well, okay, maybe this show is a bad example.

What did you think of the latest multi-episode arc of “Major Crimes”? Were you satisfied with it? Were you able to keep up with all the loose threads going on? Or all the characters in play? Would you welcome another arc in the second half of the season, or do you think they should quit while they’re ahead? What do you think Flynn’s fate will be? What do you hope it will be? Just out of curiosity, what do you think of Rusty’s progression as of late? Sound off in the comments section and see you in the back half of the season!