'The Closer' taps out with Dick Tracy

Jksimmons_thecloser_290 ' The Closer" covers all the bases this week -- we've got a loathsome reality-show host, a delusional "detective," a shrieking suspect, and Pope discovering what it really means to be "just one of the guys."

Pope meets Flynn and Provenza for a ride-along, only to be distracted by the massive police presence right next door. Flovenza would be happy to ignore it -- after all, it's in Central's territory, so it's not their case -- but Pope insists. Fortunately, there's an exceedingly gung-ho investigator on the scene, Det. Richard Tracy, who is all over the case. Pope is impressed, and even Flovenza is happy when he offers to log all the evidence, including the murder weapon.

Slight problem: He's obviously not a real detective. Brenda is the first to twig -- wait, you gave all the evidence to Det. Dick Tracy? -- and it all goes downhill from there. Tracy seems to be one step ahead of them, and he'd using Flovenza and Pope's cards o pose as a cop. Tao figures out he's using the LAPD's Public Transparency Project website, which includes up-to-the-minute case files. (Seriously?) On the upside, that makes it easy to trap him -- they post an "update" that a witness has been found, and Tracy goes to interview her. That witness is Brenda, and the rest of the squad is with her.

Tracy is actually Jonathan Baird, who is Chiroptera-excrement crazy. Thing is, he's also pretty good at the whole crime-investigation thing -- and GREAT at hard-boiled dialog. He collected the victim's computer, and put a password on it so the squad can't get in. Brenda humors him (Fritz watches, amused), but he won't crack when he figures out there's no way she's going to give him a badge and gun. However, his enmity towards Brenda works to her advantage -- she gets Pope to give her a public dressing-down in front of Baird/Tracy, and he's so thrilled to be "one of the guys" that he gives up the password.

But Tracy isn't even the main case. That privilege belongs to Mark Bernstein, aka Intrigue, a web celeb who advertises a foolproof method for picking up women (which Sanchez endorses). He was shot in an underground parking garage leaving the scene of his latest conquest, who shrieks and screams and yodels her shock and horror. Oy.

Intrigue has been working on a TV pilot, which is, quite simply, vile. It's all about seducing women, taping them in the act without their knowledge, sneaking out, and then ambushing them with the evidence after the fact. "He did this to eight women and he only got shot once?" Brenda asks, incredulous. I'm with her. So the suspects abound -- any of the women he humiliated on his show; the producer's assistant, Marie (aka the shrieker) who was his last conquest; his brother and production partner, who had a crush on Marie; any TV recapper who wanted to avoid getting saddled with this dreck....

But once they get into his computer, Brenda and the squad finger the real killer -- Jill Pappas, the show's producer. It seems the show tested abominably, but Intrigue wasn't willing to make any changes. He was making a gazillion bucks on his website, so what did he care if the show tanked? Jill, however, would lose her job -- "He'd make millions, while I'd be fighting to get a job as Paula Abdul's personal assistant!" she howled. Flynn is aghast. "This is just a TV show we're talking about. On basic cable, for chrissakes! Couldn't you have just canceled it?" "I did," Jill says. "With extreme prejudice."

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
  • Tracy was funny... but a little of him went a long, LOOOOONG way. We need not see him again.
  • Pope and Flovenza contemplate why they thought Tracy was a real cop: "He knew my mission statement!" Pope sputters. "That should have been proof that he didn't work here," Flynn snarks. "How did we miss that?"
  • Sanchez was WAY too self-satisfied about using Intrigue's methods. Ew.
  • The LAPD transparency project website was hysterical. The Pope pics include him as a mounted policeman ("A friend to people and animals," the caption reads), with a group of kids ("Role model to children"), and surrounded by regular cops ("Well liked by officers"). It's fantastic. 
  • Tracy gives his briefing on the evidence: "A parking garage! Cold, dank, unforgiving. As mundane as evil itself, and YET?" Brenda asks him to stick to the facts. "I have to se the right TONE!" Tracy bellows.
  • Brenda used Tracy's delusions against him -- she had him write up an "official report," which doubled as his confession about trespassing, impersonating a police officer, forging legal documents, burglary... Not bad, Brenda!
  • Flynn starts reading Jill her rights. "I know my rights!" she spits. "I produced three seasons of Homicide PI!"
  • Brenda presents the show pilot to the DA to get him to offer Jill a plea for life in prison. Hang on -- Yes, the guy was loathsome, but Jill DID kill him in cold blood. Hmmm.
  • Flovenza produces a report that leaves out all the bits about being taken in by Tracy. I can't accept this, Pope protests. What would the folks on the squad think? This leads to one of the best sequences of the night:
Brenda: That you are exactly who you said you wanted to be - just one of the guys.
Pope: Well what does that mean?
Brenda: We lie to you all the time. Everybody does. Robbery homicide, vice, narcotics, even traffic. It's the one thing that united every division of the LAPD -- we all lie to our boss.
Pope: What am I supposed to say to that? What, thank you?
Brenda: You're welcome! As far as the respect that my division has for you, I can assure you, Will, that nothing has changed from yesterday to today
Pope: Honestly?
Brenda: Honestly.

Think about that for a second, Pope. It's not good...

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