"The Closer": The return of Mary McDonnell

Thecloser_290 Once again, ' The Closer' proves why it's fantastic TV, as Brenda and the squad investigate  the killing of two police officers, while Raydor investigates whether those cops killed a civilian.

Two officers -- Mike Stern and Enrique Duran -- are killed when their car is ambushed during a traffic stop. Someone unloaded an awful lot of firepower into their cruiser, and the cops didn't even have time to put the car in park. But there's a wrinkle -- a dead civilian on the scene. Was he one of the shooters, or did dead officers use excessive force or otherwise kill him unlawfully? Captain Raydor is there for that case, and once again, she and Brenda will be hard pressed not to kill each other.

In fact, most of the police force would cheerfully drop Raydor off  cliff when she starts mucking up Brenda's investigation. She's used being the one in prime position, and she's not above using Brenda-like tricks to get her own way. For example, when she accompanies Brenda and the squad to serve a search warrant, she instructs her people to gather all the evidence from the crime scene so they can do their own tests. Brenda -- and Pope -- are not pleased.

The dead civilian is Kevin Weber, and his mom is... well, she's not exactly a prize. We know something's up when she calls Gabriel "boy" and objects to Sanchez trying to restrain her -- "Get your hands off me! I do not want to be touched by Mexicans!" Kevin apparently shared her sentiments, as he's got a huge Swastika flag in his room, and has a proposed tattoo design involving a swastika and lightning bolts. "In Naziland, chief, you don't usually get the lightning bolts until you've killed someone," Sanchez says.

So it's looking likely that Kevin was part of a group of neo-Nazis that ambushed the patrolmen, but Raydor isn't satisfied -- it's not proof! She's appalled when Brenda uses tough (but not physical) tactics to get the tattoo artist to talk, but Brenda's methods work -- he IDs a couple of customers who came in with Kevin. Granted, he only knows their tattoos, not their names, but it's something. In addition, the tipline bears fruit -- there's a potential match on the car seen leaving the scene. Brenda whips all the visiting cops into a frenzy ("We will send a message: Kill cops and you will NOT live to regret it!") and then tells Raydor to talk to them, which is pretty mean. But it gives her a bit of breathing room to check out the tip, which does indeed lead them to the car that broke its taillight at the scene. Raydor follows close behind, and disagrees with Brenda's decision to leave the car there for draw the suspects out. But again, that tactic works, and the cops get two neo-Nazis with the tattoos they're looking for. Granted, Nicki Mendoza had to clock one of them in the face with a baby doll to subdue him, but at least they've got their guys, right? Right?

Sigh -- Kretchner, the one who got clocked, asks for medical attention, which triggers a use-of-force investigation. That means Raydor is the first one in the room with Kretchner, and since she doesn't -- won't -- use any of Brenda's trickery, he immediately demands a lawyer. Brenda, in a fit of pique, asks the other suspect if HE wants a lawyer, so it looks like all avenues are closed. Ah, but this lack of trickery is actually a trick! Brenda puts the two suspects in a car together, and tells Stomper not to forget what they talked about. This gets Kretchner suspicious, and his suspicions grow as he watches the cops search the house. What he doesn't know is that the car they're sitting in is bugged, and Brenda sees and hears everything they say and do, which helps her direct the search. The squad finds drugs and the murder weapons under a planter, and the conversation between the men is recorded, so she gets their confession. Caught!

Brenda runs into Raydor as they prepare for the slain officers' funerals, and lays into her:
Brenda: When officers are shot and killed in the line of duty, they're investigated by me. When they shoot back, they're investigated by you. That means that they'll think twice before defending themselves. That hesitation means that more good cops will die. I have to ask - have you ever considered what your principles cost?
Raydor: [Pause] $70 million - that was the settlement in the Rampart case. One hundred - that's how many convictions were overturned due to renegade policing and lack of oversight in one division alone, not to mention the loss of trust the LAPD needs to remain effective.
Brenda : There has to be a better way.
Raydor: Well, until then, you've got me.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • Raydor was getting a bad rap throughout the episode, so I was glad she got the chance to defend herself. And she's right -- we can't ignore that she's there for a reason. Not all cops are like Brenda and her team. The watchmen need watching.
  • That's not necessarily anything Pope or any of the others wanted to acknowledge, however. When Raydor, at the scene, said she was there to investigate the circumstances around the civilian's death, Pope was incredulous. "You want to question these officers about excessive use of force? Really? Go to the morgue!"
  • When Brenda brings in the tattoo artist, Raydor wants a crack at him -- "I have a list of questions I need to ask this guy." "If you don't hear everything you need from Chief Johnson's interview, you can go next," Taylor replies. " I usually go first," Raydor grumbles. "Then this should be a change for you," Taylor says. Heh. However, Taylor was one of the few who acknowledged that Raydor has a case to make, too, and that it was also legit.
  • After whipping up the cops, Brenda retreats to her office to think. She instructs Buzz that no one is to enter. Which of course means that Provenza bullies his way in, then Tao, Flynn and Gabriel come in the back door. Finally, Sanchez comes in, bodily pushing Buzz out of the way as he bulls his way through the front door. Heh.
  • Kretchner manages to work his cuffs around to the front of his body and starts to strangle Stomper. The cops look on. Raydor eventually storms out of the surveillance van to put a stop to it. "Sorry for the wait, captain, I just wanted to make sure that our use of fore was appropriate and responsible," Brenda says.
  • Before the funeral, Provenza lingers in the squad room. Brenda thinks he's soaking in the quiet now that the chaos is gone. "It's just the six of us again, Lieutenant," she says brightly. "For now," Provenza responds, almost inaudible. It's a punch in the gut.
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