It has been one of those weeks. A combination of sugar and a rapid temperature drop gave me a cold, so I have spent the last few days with a semi-permanent headache, sniffling and sneezing my way through multiple episodes of various shows and consequently, wanting to die rather than to face another dose of mind-numbing stupidity brought on through cold relief medicine. (As someone who constantly uses her brain, the concept of walking into a room and not knowing what you came in for does not appeal to me.) Throw a little bit of depression brought on by feeling so lousy into the mix and… it was not a fun week. I cannot remember a thing from the sermon on Sunday, I have probably forgotten most of what we studied in Bible Study on Tuesday (though I do recall meeting a tiny kitten dubbed Chance, whose mother abandoned him — I hope he makes it, with a friend lovingly nursing him with an eyedropper and lots of love), and I have pretty much been on auto-pilot until today.
Yet, in spite of all that, in spite of watching 22 episodes of The Vampire Diaries in five days (the third season premieres tonight, and I am as pumped about it as I can be under the circumstances), in spite of seeing so many episodes of What Not to Wear that I could probably tell Tyra Banks everything that is wrong with her outfit in five seconds flat… there is one thing I remember: this season of The Closer and more specifically, the double-whammy they hit us with on Monday night in their summer finale. If my week had sucked, Brenda’s life has sucked consecutively throughout this season… and all because of her own former choices. That’s something I love about this show, that after seven years of Brenda dodging through loopholes, stretching the truth, and sometimes participating in less than above-board tactics in dealing out justice, she is finally being called on it.
Life isn’t fair, nor is the justice system, but when cops start playing judge and jury rolled into one, that’s when things get dangerous… so taking a fan favorite character, the protagonist of a major crime drama, someone we know and love in spite of her multiple flaws, and hinting that she’s a Bad Cop is a risky move. Morally, certain of her behavior isn’t that great, even if the audience kind of, sort of, well, agreed with it. There was a certain poetic justice in dropping off a criminal who had just gotten a pass on a multiple murderer off at his house, knowing he’d most certainly wind up dead the next afternoon. Every person of sense knows that Brenda is responsible for that death, if only in knowingly driving away and leaving him to his fate. But therein is the complexity of the show…
We want her to get away with it.
Faced with a lawsuit and the potential loss of her job (which seems inevitable considering this is the final season), Brenda is facing her reckoning… and we’re not entirely sure we want to watch her go through it. I don’t want her to lose her job. I don’t want her to go to prison. I don’t think the latter will happen but I’m fairly sure there is enough evidence to get her terminated as the head of Major Crimes. Then too, we have an interesting mystery running throughout — who is the snitch? which one of her team members has turned on her? Is Taylor aiming for her job? Is Fritz right about Pope being concerned only for his career? Does he consider her a threat? Could it be Buzz, who doesn’t like her underhanded tactics and has access to all the electronics equipment? Or has Gabriel’s dislike for her underhanded methods finally prompted him to use his ambition to make a move against her? It pains me to think of any of them betraying her, but someone is, and it’s driving me nuts trying to figure out who.
And then there’s Captain Sharon Raydor, from Internal Affairs. It seems as if everyone except me hated her right off the bat, and I can certainly understand why — she is the complete opposite of Brenda, with total adherence to the rules and an attitude to match. But if you can step outside the hate and actually look at her throughout the course of the last three seasons, you’ll see that there’s more to Sharon than we first thought. Though initially brought in as an antagonist, of late the writers seem to be emphasizing that somewhere in-between Sharon and Brenda is the perfect woman for the job. Brenda has the charm and manipulation down to be a good closer, but Sharon is more cautious about following the law and abiding within the rules. Sharon has played it safe throughout her career — she chose her profession because it seemed to be the fast-track to higher authority, even if it makes her unpopular with fellow officers. Brenda took a more controversial approach, first in becoming involved with her (married) boss when she was just starting out — and she has paid for that ever since, through suggestions that it is not her talent so much as her connections that have risen her through the ranks.
Thus we come to the reckoning, and by a strange twist of fate, I suspect when it all comes down to it, Sharon will have Brenda’s back more than anyone else in her squad. There’s a sense of understanding and female solidarity in there somewhere, even as my favorite fictional cop faces her darkest hour. If The Closer emphasizes anything, it is that no matter what, your past choices will always come back to haunt you. No choice we make is without consequences for good or bad, and Brenda has made a lot of bad choices. Her lax notion of the rules has set a bad example for her division, and caused her subordinates to also engage in questionable behavior. As funny as Flynn and Provenza’s antics are, they have tried to conceal evidence on various occasions, risking their careers in the process. And let’s not forget Gabriel beating a child molester to a pulp, and Taylor covering it up by throwing the prisoner into a holding cell with other thugs to erase the evidence. It’s a vicious cycle — Brenda’s tone encourages bad behavior in her squad, and her squad’s tolerance and expectation of “bending the rules” gives her the latitude to make some very bad decisions.
It really is true that who we surround ourselves with influence every aspect of our lives. We can argue that we set a good example, but do we? If we are the only one, it’s likely that the collective group is having more of an influence on us than we are on them. I have to wonder… if Brenda had met Sharon years earlier, would she have avoided making those mistakes? If she’d had someone to call her out on things with more strength and determination than Gabriel (as her subordinate, he has no influence on her decisions), how would her worldview have been shaped differently? How would her team be different? How would she be different? How would any of us be different if we surrounded ourselves with people who brought out the best in our behavior?
Sometimes the crimes are easy to figure out, and we’re all sitting around waiting for the next humorous exchange, but I do have to hand it to The Closer for making me struggle in what I want for the outcome. My fondness for Brenda makes me want her to emerge from this lawsuit intact, but morally, I know she deserves some form of punishment, because what she did was wrong, even if it was justice. Ugh, it’s going to be a long hiatus.