'The Closer': Brenda, Charlie and the big betrayal

Kyrasedgwick_thecloser_290 Brenda is good at all sorts of things ... well, ok, make that exceedingly good at one thing: solving crime. But this episode of " The Closer" makes a persuasive case that she knows nothing about parenting a teenager -- or acceptable behavior.

Brenda is in the midst of chewing out Charlie for the pot brownie incident when they're interrupted by panicked people fleeing. Someone is shooting in a parking lot. Brenda tells Charlie to stay in the car and goes to investigate. She finds one boy dead, another wounded and hiding under a car. Then she hears footsteps and swings around -- and almost shoots Charlie, who decided to bring Brenda her bag. Charlie! Next time, Brenda, you cuff her in the car.

Brenda rides in the ambulance with Jake, the survivor she found under the car, and has an officer bring Charlie there. After Charlie disappears again -- she went to the bathroom (the nerve of that child!) -- Brenda decides to teach her a lesson: Charlie's job is to stay at the hospital waiting for news of Jake, who's still in surgery. She's to call Brenda as soon as Jake wakes up. Except... oops, Brenda confiscated Charlie's phone. Fortunately, Charlie is very much of Brenda's line: She lies to the hospital that she's Jake's sister, and lies to Jake that she's a youth volunteer. Which is how Charlie comes to be ensconced in Jake's room, hanging out and chatting away, while everyone else just sort of waits.

And that will become important in a bit, but first there's a red herring to get out of the way. The dead teen is Tomas DeLeon, who has a backpack full of pot and $800 in small bills on his person. Taylor starts fairly salivating about working with Narcotics, but a couple of inconvenient facts come up. One, all the drugs -- including a brick of pot in a fake gas tank -- are still there with Tomas, so that rules out robbery. Second, the shooter apparently fired five or six times -- and Tomas was only shot once, while there were a whole bunch of bullets flying in Jake's direction. as the shooter seems to have leaned down to shoot Jake under the car, Brenda thinks he was the actual target.

And here's where she strays into seriously squicky territory. She tells Charlie that sure, she can go talk to Jake... and bugs the ICU room. Yep, she's using her unwitting niece to ferret out information. It works -- Jake tells Charlie that his girlfriend dumped him after she got pregnant, and her dad threatened to kill him. But the problem is, that was a completely illegal recording. It can't be used in court. So Brenda prepares a statement for Charlie to sign, and threatens to send her parents the DVD of her talking to Jake (in which she confesses to sleeping with her boyfriend often, with great vigor, and occasionally in her parents' bed) to her folks. "I'm only doing this to protect Jake!" Brenda protests when Charlie expresses her disgust. "No one believes that, including you!" Charlie responds. "Including me," Fritz adds. Ouch.

Which makes the next bit even more painful. Charlie wakes Brenda and Fritz in the middle of the night. She's hysterical -- she was just on the phone with Jake, telling him how Brenda had betrayed them, and suddenly his fever spiked and a nurse made him hang up. Charlie wants to go to the hospital immediately to be with him, but Brenda refuses. She goes in Charlie's stead, and winkles Jake's girlfriend's last name out of him. That leads them to the girlfriend's house and to the realization that (1) said girlfriend told her dad that Jake raped her to explain her pregnancy, and (2) dad heaped enough bile on Jake's name that his son decided to kill him.

Which he did -- Jake dies of an infection brought on by a perforated intestine. Brenda comforted him in his last moments by pretending to be his mom (who was a flight attendant and couldn't get back from Hanoi in time). But Charlie didn't get a chance to say goodbye -- "Why didn't you even give me a chance!" she sobs. I had to choose between what you wanted and needed, and solving a crime, Brenda replies. I chose solving the crime. And I can't fault her for that, but I do think she should have been open with Charlie when she left. Fritz comforts Charlie, and tries to comfort Brenda -- but she holds herself apart. Is it because she thinks she doesn't deserve the comfort? I don't know.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
  • OK, what's your take on the Charlie situation? I think Brenda using her as an unwitting stooge was unforgivable. And bullying her into signing the statement by threatening to reveal all to her parents? Worse.
  • It's worse when you contrast how she treated Jake -- she comforted him, was there for him, told him what he needed to hear -- with how she used Charlie. It's not that she can't deal with teens, it's that she made a conscious choice to use Charlie as a tool for her own ends. Yes, it was important that she caught the killer, but did she really need to do that to Charlie without telling her?
  • Flynn tells Brenda that a few people at the scene saw someone with a gun -- a woman in a brown dress with blond curly hair. That would be Brenda herself. "Oh, that's horrible," Brenda says. "Not completely -- one of the witnesses described you as being in your early 30s!" Provenza says. Hah!
  • I loved Fritz's reaction when he realized that Charlie had dissembled herself into Jake's room. "You two are SO related!" he chortles.
  • Tao and Sanchez were having way to much fun with the crime scene reconstruction. I kind of love them for that.
  • Provenza reveals that he's bought a ring for Lauren -- he's going to ask her to marry him! Flynn is...unimpressed.

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