“Sometimes I feel like I pay more attention to what murderers have to say than [to] the people that I really care about.”
– Brenda Leigh Johnson
We are almost to the end of The Closer. Tonight’s episode, “Armed Response,” marked the second to last pristine Closer tale. We haven’t gotten over the passing of Brenda’s mother, Willie Ray, last week, and although she has been to Atlanta and back, neither has Brenda. (If you missed last week’s episode, you can read the recap for Last Rites here.)
The show opens up at our crime scene with an officer down, but Provenza determines very quickly that it was a security guard and not an officer. He repeats, “It is not an officer.” (Hmmm.) We do not see Brenda.
My least favorite character, DDA Baldwin, shows up to the crime scene and starts asking approximately forty million questions without allowing the squad time to find any answers. It’s as if she is running things.
The victim was shot in the face and they find an iPod. The victim was a war hero, but all the DDA sees is that the victim had a gun on him and, at a trial, the shooter could say he was trying to defend himself. At last, Provenza asks the DDA to stand outside the crime scene and she does so.
Back in the office at the murder board, Brenda is absent and DDA Baldwin is acting like she is in control of the investigation. No one likes her attitude. Brenda comes into the office—back from Atlanta early from bereavement leave. Her first act is to kick DDA Baldwin out. The DDA goes, despite the fact that Pope asked her to be there.
The squad traces the iPod, and plans to go investigate, but Pope shows up and calls Brenda into his office. He wants her to take her full three weeks of bereavement leave. Pope says that he had to make the compromise to let DDA Baldwin in the room and make Taylor Assistant Chief in order to keep her on the force. We don’t know who is forcing Pope to do these things and his super-fast return to Brenda’s side is a little abrupt, but we don’t have too much time to contemplate this flip-flop because Pope tells Brenda that Raydor has found the leak. But it’s really too early in the show for us to know who the leak is, so he doesn’t tell Brenda and says he can’t until later that afternoon.
Brenda goes back to crime solving and they go see the owner of the iPod who leads them to the suspect. He’s a mild mannered shoe salesman by day. The squad clears the store silently with the exception of one poor girl actually trying on shoes. They grab the suspect and the potential customer is unharmed.
The suspect claims he didn’t shoot anyone but he was with his underage girlfriend (she’s 16) and she might know something. Nice guy.
Next up in the interview room is the girlfriend. She talks about how protective her father is.
Enough with this bothersome case, Raydor looks at her watch reminding us that it is almost time for us to find out who the leak is. She says she needs to speak with Detective David Gabriel. Uh oh. Brenda is afraid that he is the leak. We can see it in her face.
Raydor leads Gabriel to a conference room and as she opens the door she says, “Before we begin this meeting is there anything you want to tell me?”
He doesn’t have anything to tell her. Raydor then tells Gabriel she is sorry “this” has to be handled this way.
We immediately see Gabriel’s fiancé, Ann, who we only met two short weeks ago sitting at the table with tears on her face. We learn, at the same time as he does, that she was the leak but he was the source of information. To make things worse, Goldman set up Ann to meet Gabriel at church and then cozy up to him. And Goldman paid her sixty thousand dollars.
I’ll admit it here. This made me cry. How does someone recover from this? You were ready to marry someone who was selling you out in such a deeply personal way, and then continued to do so because she was afraid you would find out. Gabriel deserves better. (And actually so do we: how can the leak be someone who came from out of nowhere two episodes ago? We didn’t even know Gabriel had a girlfriend!)
Ann claims Goldman told her that Gabriel was a crooked cop, but David is done with her. Done. Done. Done.
He goes to Brenda. She’s mad. It all goes back to the day they let Tyrell Baylor out of that car. “This Tyrell Baylor thing. Sometimes I think it ruined my life,” Gabriel tells Brenda.
Brenda asks him why he didn’t come to her. But he did at the time, and she ignored him. Gabriel tells her that he still doesn’t know if they did the right thing.
But David still has to face the squad and he goes out and tells them everything. About his doubts and how he told Ann about them. And how Ann told Goldman. He apologizes to the squad.
Provenza reminds the squad that they have all said stupid things to a woman they were in love with. He is the first to accept Gabriel’s apology. Then Taylor. Then Buzz. Tao hesitates, but then accepts. Flynn approaches Gabriel to shake his hand and says, “Accepted.” He then tells Gabriel to apply for a transfer.
Sanchez doesn’t answer.
And since this is ultimately a crime show, we still have to find out who the murderer is. DDA Baldwin gets on Brenda’s case about the trial and starts harping about what she needs to get a conviction.
Brenda’s response: “Would a confession help you with that?”
Johnson works her magic. Turns out the underage girlfriend’s father did kill the victim—right after his daughter said the stranger raped her. Brenda goes back to interview the daughter, who cares more about not going into foster care than her father committing murder based on a lie she told. Then Brenda gets the girl to talk about her father carrying the shotgun. When she answers she unknowingly confirms that she was an accessory. The DDA seems happy with both confessions.
Brenda goes back to her office. There, Sergeant David Gabriel tries to resign, but she won’t let him. She takes responsibility.
“You were upset that day,” she admits, “I knew you were upset and I didn’t listen. And I’m sorry about that . . . the not listening well enough.”
And she gives him back his badge and gun. “I need you here.” She tells him.
“Okay, Chief. Okay,” he says accepting them back.
Outside Brenda’s office, Fritz is waiting with Joel the cat (who has been at kitty day care during the Atlanta trip) and Brenda walks off with them both headed for home.
Poor Gabriel sits down at his desk. No one is making eye contact with him or saying anything. Gabriel looks at Flynn who turns away. Gabriel starts wringing his hands.
We flash to Brenda home with Fritz. She tells him she didn’t take a minute when her mother wanted to speak with her and now when Brenda needs a minute, her mother doesn’t have any more. She breaks down crying and we fade to black.
But we know Brenda has a few minutes left for us—about 46, excluding commercials, and then that’s it for The Closer.
Next week I will be here to recap the end . . . as well as the beginning of Major Crimes. And, the charming Mr. Stroh will be back, as if you hadn’t already guessed.
In the meantime, what did you think of the big leak announcement? What about Pope’s sudden turn? Did you know that Corey Reynolds (Gabriel) will have a new show on NBC? Will you watch Major Crimes? Are you ready to say goodbye to Brenda Leigh?
So many questions . . . just like DDA Baldwin.
Read all posts by Deborah Lacy for Criminal Element.