'The Closer': Mary McDonnell develops a grudge

Coreyreynolds_thecloser_290 It's the battle of the formidable broads on  " The Closer", as Brenda Leigh Johnson goes up against President Roslin Mary McDonnell. I honestly don't know which woman scares -- or thrills -- me more.

Gabriel and Taylor meet for a drink when shots ring out outside the bar. Gabriel springs into action. He sees a victim down, shot three times, and spots a fleeing figure. Gabriel commands him to stop, but instead two more shots ring out. Gabriel fires back, and someone falls. He caught he bad guy!

Or... maybe not. Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell, eeeeee!) of the Force Investigation Division is treating it like a crime -- on Gabriel's part. The only casings on the scene are Gabriel's, and there don't seem to be any slugs or ricochet marks near where he was shot. Plus, there's no gun on the scene, and Erik, the . Uh-oh.

And that's where we get clash of the obsessive,  moderately eccentric, beskirted titans: Raydor is determined to investigate her case -- and she seems sure that Gabriel is guilty of an unjustified shooting -- while Brenda is equally determined to protect her man AND solve her murder. Raydor protests that the murder of Mr. Parsall, the dead newspaper vendor, is completely unrelated to her unjustified shooting case -- which was a tactical error, because it gives Pope the leeway to say Brenda and the squad need equal access to the site. Brenda quickly figures out that Gabriel wasn't standing where he thought he was, which leads to the discovery of slugs in a nearby tree. The slugs -- wadcutters, flat-tip rounds used in target shooting --match the bullets the killed Parsall. Because they're soft, they tend to be used in revolvers. Hence, no casings. Plus, it looks like the shooter was standing behind Eric, the kid Gabriel shot, and thus out of sight.

Brenda determines that Eric was probably the lookout, and is determined to question him. That's not easy, as he's in the process of suing the police department. She gets Flynn and Provenza to distract he parents, then wanders into his hospital room for a little interrogation/threatening. She doesn't get much out of Eric, but she does get an interesting tidbit from his dad -- "You care more about investigating some dead Arab than you do my son." Turns out Eric's uncle was recent killed in Afghanistan, his cousin, Billy, does target shooting in his backyard. Hmm. A bit more distraction -- this time with the help of reporter Ricardo Ramos -- and Brenda makes Eric believe that Billy fingered him as the shooter. Not true! Eric says. Billy shot Parsall! I thought we were just going to rough him us a bit -- after all, he was a Muslim, and we're at war with them -- but Billy brought a gun. I had no idea! That's the confession Brenda needs, and she's got enough to arrest Billy and Eric for murder/hate crimes. Oh, and Parsall? He wasn't even Muslim. He was an Israeli Jew who emigrated to the US almost 10 years ago.

Police politics
At the beginning of the episode, Gabriel bemoans his standing with his quad -- Sanchez isn't speaking to me, To is polite but distant, and the Chief -- well, she's pissed. How is it Daniels got a promotion and yet I'm the bad guy? Taylor recommends he make a lateral move to the detectives' ranks. Hmmm.

But even though Gabriel is feeling abused, the squad immediately rallies around him when he's under a cloud. Taylor sends Gabriel away with Eric, and then sends Raydor to the wrong hospital. Brenda tracks Gabriel down at the hospital to hear his story before anyone else gets there. Everyone wants to make sure he's in the clear. Flynn and Provenza snipe at Raydor, Sanchez rips boards out of fences, and Tao breaks out the SAT words to prove his innocence.  Sanchez even gives Gabriel advice for how to approach the behavioral evaluation so he can get back on active duty. I guess all is forgiven.

But the biggest power play comes from Brenda and Raydor, who immediately hate each other -- in part because they're very, very similar: single-minded and obsessive about solving their cases, willing to throw obstacles in their rivals' paths, and prone to bending rules to get to the truth. These women are going to make bitter enemies.

And it looks like that's what it will come to -- Raydor clears Gabriel, but she makes some veiled (and not-so-veiled) threats that she'll be watching Brenda from now on. There is SOOOOO going to be a smackdown, and I. Can't. WAIT!

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
  • I KNOW I wasn't the only one chanting "Airlock. AIRLOCK!" as Raydor got more and more angry with Brenda.
  • Taylor tries to schmooze his way into Raydor's good graces. It doesn't work. I have a feeling she respects open hostility more.
  • If this were a different show -- if we hadn't spent the last several seasons learning to love everyone on the squad, warts and all -- I'd completely sympathize with Raydor's position. Brenda WAS getting in the way of her investigation, and that's usually not good.
  • I love that Tao chirped about syzygy, rather than just saying "The shooter must have been behind Eric!" (By the way, how many of you know the definition of syzygy only because of the X-Files ep of that name? Just me? Never mind, then...)
  • I love contrasting Tao's approach with Sanchez's. Tao can't reach a bullet embedded in a fence without going onto someone else's property. Sanchez just rips the board from the fence and breaks it with his bare hands, thus bringing the bullet into evidence.
  • Provenza is still in love with love. It's still freaking everyone out.
  • Does anyone else think that asking Ramos for help might come back and bite Brenda in the butt?
  • Gabriel thanks Brenda for sticking up for him. "Well, If I'm going to be upset with you when you're wrong, Sergeant, the least I can do is stand up for you when you're right," she replies.
  • On the home front, we finally say goodbye to Kitty. She's just not going to get better, and she's in a lot of pain. After denying the facts all episode, Brenda finally decides it would be kindest to put Kitty to sleep. She calls the vet to her home. Oof. Poor Kitty  -- and poor Brenda.

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