Each Monday evening brings us one episode nearer to the finale of The Closer. Last night’s episode, “Last Rites,” was third from the end. So the 3-2-1 countdown has begun. The story opens with a phone call to the rectory from a doctor requesting that Father Adam Gray perform Last Rites for a dying man. In the Roman Catholic Church, Last Rites is the combination of prayers and administering of sacraments by a priest to a dying person. The three sacraments that together comprise Last Rites include Penance, (confession) Anointing of the Sick, and distribution of the Holy Eucharist (communion). The Last Rites theme is repeated throughout this episode.
When Father Adam arrives at the “sick call” address, he is murdered and his body is dumped in the schoolyard of the Saint Angelo’s Catholic School, where Father Adam was a teacher. Brenda’s team arrives and begins working the crime scene, but it appears the Archbishop has other ideas and that Chief Pope will clearly side with the Archbishop.
NOTE: We’re in the last-ever episodes after seven seasons. Recaps are bound to be spoiler-filled! If you’re sensitive to that, don’t plow ahead until you’ve watched. Then please come back and let us all know what you thought!
Brenda is not at the scene because she is at home with her mother and father who are visiting California to get a second medical opinion about the post-thyroid cancer medications that her father, Clay, is taking.
Naturally when Brenda hears that Chief Pope is impeding the investigation, she shows up at the scene and tries to circumvent Pope by . . . threatening a priest who has evidence she wants. As is becoming almost routine lately, Commander Taylor tries to run interference before there is a confrontation between Brenda and the Chief, but he is not able to prevent the blow-up.
While in the rectory, Brenda learns about the sick call and passes the address to Sergeant Sanchez so the team can get to the site and investigate before Pope can derail them again.
The building owner lets them into the apartment and he and Sergeant Gabriel go to the office to find the apartment lease. In their search, the team finds porn movies, wine coolers, and school uniforms of a size to fit young girls. Worse there is a collage of hundreds of pictures of various Saint Angelo female students. As the team is concluding that a pedophile lived in the apartment, Sergeant Gabriel comes back with the astounding news that the tenant of the apartment was Adam Gray. Father Adam Gray.
In short order, Brenda decides that there is no reason for the priest to respond to a Last Rites call at that address. If he had already leased the apartment for liaisons with school aged girls, he would know that there wasn’t a dying person there. So, while still trying to get some inside view of Father Adam’s private papers, Brenda has her team look more closely into the background of the landlord.
In the meantime, Clay’s health seems to be improving due to his new medical regime. Brenda’s mother, Willie Ray, keeps trying to talk to Brenda about something but Brenda has very little time because the investigation is so demanding.
The team’s scrutiny of the landlord, Vincent Morris, turns up several interesting things. One is that his wife disappeared eight years earlier and another is that just six months ago he was nearly killed in a five-car collision. Brenda asks the priest in charge of Father Adam’s private papers to see if there is any mention of a man with the last name Morris. Sure enough, there are two mentions of the name, but not of Mr. Morris himself—instead, it is the names of his sons that turn up in Father Adam’s diary. Brenda cross checks the dates of the diary entry with the events in Vincent Morris’s life and discovers that Father Adam had given Last Rites to the victims in the multi-car accident six months before. It seems likely that he gave Last Rites to Vincent Morris, and as we recall, Last Rites includes confession.
What could Morris have told a priest when he thought he was dying that would make him fearful enough to murder the priest to insure the seal of confession? Well, there is that missing wife. Sure enough, the team finds the dead wife’s body in a storage locker. And once again, Brenda “closes” a confession.
But all’s well does not always end well. While discussing the resolution of the case, Chief Pope flummoxes Brenda by suggesting it is time for her to begin circulating her resume.
The next morning, however, Brenda is delighted on the home front to find Clay sitting at the kitchen table stirring pancake batter. He says Willie Ray is sleeping in and asks Brenda to take a cup of coffee in to her mother, since she has been trying to talk to Brenda about something for the last day or so.
Brenda brings the coffee to Willie Ray but cannot rouse her. Clay may be getting stronger, healthier, but Willie Ray has died in her sleep. And that, I think, was the true Last Rite of the title.
Terrie Farley Moran’s recent collection of short stories, THE AWARENESS and other deadly tales, is currently available in e-format for the Nook and the Kindle. Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery and you can look forward to her short story “Jake Says Hello” in the December 2012 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.