On the one hand, it’s as frustrating to watch Brenda Leigh Johnson get so close to the thorn in her side that is the sleazy Philip Stroh and not get him as it is for her to miss him once more.
On the other, it means that we likely haven’t seen the last of him on “The Closer,” which could make these final six episodes that much more interesting.
The show’s final run opens with a case that brings the oily attorney — who memorably escaped Brenda’s clutches in Season 4’s “Power of Attorney” — that seems to fit Stroh’s M.O. just right: A woman is drugged at a club, taken to a hotel and then raped and murdered, and Stroh happens to be representing the primary suspect. It echoes the case in “Power of Attorney,” and Brenda is convinced that she can nail Stroh this time, despite the protestations of the district attorney’s office and her own bosses.
She works around the system and finds a previous victim who survived her attack — only to realize that Stroh was not involved this time (the suspect’s partner was an employee of the club). Justice is served, but Brenda still walks away feeling like she missed out.
That’s not good for the character, but it’s potentially very good for the show. Kyra Sedgwick told Zap2it in an interview that Stroh will be back, and “The Closer” has often been most compelling when Brenda locks in on a potential suspect and goes right up to or over the line in pursuit of that person. Her single-mindedness nearly ruined the case in this episode, and it’s likely only to take Brenda further over the edge when she crosses paths with him again.
Brenda’s actions in the past have put her and her squad on shaky ground, and it feels like the floor could drop out before she leaves. The norms of commercial TV would suggest that “The Closer’s” central character will leave on a happy note — or at least no worse than a bittersweet one — but the fact that the outcome still feels in doubt is testament to Sedgwick’s performance and the show’s honest dealings with what she’s done over the years. It will be fun to see how the next five hours play out.
What did you think of “The Closer’s” premiere? Where do you think Brenda will end up in the series finale?