Major Crimes: “Before and After”

You give her that stink-eye, Provenza.
You give her that stink-eye, Provenza.
Oh, what a difference a week makes. I liked this episode so much more than the premiere last week.

Major Crimes’ second episode begins in the personal training gym of an exercise guru and “wellness partner” who helps women get in shape and lose weight. His bloody body is still hanging upside down from workout equipment. His name is Chad—so he’s a “hanging Chad” quips Provenza.

New squad member, Detective Amy Sykes, is a little too enthusiastic as she identifies the murder weapon as a kettle ball and natters on about exercise equipment. Provenza tries to get her away from the scene by telling her to go notify the family. Soon after the victim’s wife comes into the room screaming. Apparently Sykes didn’t go to her home to tell her but told her while the wife was on her way into the gym.

Hobbs shows up at the scene as this week’s token DDA, but Raydor is MIA. When Provenza calls her to find out where she is, we see her showing her home to social services to make sure it is suitable for Rusty, the streetwise teenage witness we first met in The Closer finale and again in the Major Crimes premiere. Rusty tries to convince the social worker that the home and Raydor are unsuitable. The social worker tells Rusty that he is lucky to have such a nice home and then asks what Raydor plans to do with him during the day.

This question is answered back in the squad room as Raydor essentially asks Buzz to babysit under the guise of watching the witness as he studies for a high school placement test.

Yeah, you’re not doig so hot, Sykes!
Yeah, you’re not doig so hot, Sykes!
Provenza is still agitated at Sykes and asks her for a full background report on the victim to get her out of the office.

Raydor takes Flynn to interview the victim’s wife passing over Provenza. They learn the victim had an iPad and an iPhone–both are missing. Then Sykes busts into the interview room to talk to Raydor. She tells Raydor and Flynn—in front of the witness—that Chad, the victim, was a suspect in a rape. Raydor is not happy with Sykes’s outburst. Chad’s wife starts yelling again. Provenza points out that Sykes is choosing sides. Flynn is clearly not as mad at Raydor as Provenza is.

Raydor tells newly minted Assistant Chief Taylor that she thinks one of Provenza’s issue is her rank. She reminds him that she was promised a promotion to Commander. Taylor reminds her that all promotions have been frozen. She can’t be fit to command if she can’t complete the case and run the squad without the promotion.

DDA Hobbs is back to discuss to discuss the chances of getting a conviction if they pursue the father of the rape victim—a woman named Amanda. Provenza suggests that they make sure they get the right guy before they offer him a deal. He has a valid point.

Sykes and Sanchez go to the house where Amanda and her father live, hoping to talk to the father. Understandably, the father is furious about what happened to his daughter. The squad suspects him and a search of the area reveals the victim’s iPad has been thrown in the dumpster behind his shop.  This seems a little too coincidental.

Raydor interviews Amanda and shows her a video of her on his iPad saying he’s a great trainer while she is crying—both on the video and in the interview room. He took the video right after he raped her, and told her he would kill her if she said anything. 

Tao’s looking pretty badass here!
Tao’s looking pretty badass here!
There’s only one video on the iPad, but Tao figures out there are more when he connects the iPad to a remote server. They find nine more videos of female clients and all of the women are pretty upset when they say Chad is a great trainer.

Raydor is afraid she can’t make a deal because these additional victims increase the size of the suspect pool. Provenza is still interested in gathering more evidence rather than making a deal and I’m with him. The deal making so far seems really premature.

Back at home, Raydor still has an angry teenager who still wants his missing mommy.

The squad interviews the nine women in the iPad videos—they were all raped and threatened. They realize that Amanda’s father was framed because all of the other videos were erased. The nine women all have alibis which means it’s time to bring Chad’s wife in for questioning.

The squad gives the wife back the victim’s iPad but they don’t tell her where they found it. Tao has rigged the iPad to monitor what she uses on the iPad and to take videos while she does it.

She tries to delete all of the other women’s videos again but Amanda’s, but then Buzz keeps putting them back as she proves on video that she was framing Amanda’s father. Sanchez and Sykes arrest her.  

Hobbs doesn’t think she can get a conviction. Hobbs and Raydor still want a deal. Provenza doesn’t want to make a deal, but Raydor wants to get the guilty people behind bars faster. Taylor tells Provenza that they could spend two million on a trial and not get a conviction. The question is: Are they settling or are they using the system to put criminals behind bars?  

Raydor and Hobbs meet with the murderer and her attorney. She killed her husband, tried to frame an innocent man and wiped the kettle ball clean—so it’s premeditated. In order to get the deal she has to talk to the judge. She pleads guilty to manslaughter and gets the deal.

Flynn tells Provenza, he’s glad they don’t have to come to court in two years. Tao says he likes it better when a jury decides. Taylor is happy because he just saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for overtime and DNA tests.

The episode ends with Provenza saying that if this is how it’s going to be, “Then I quit.” He starts packing up his desk. Sykes starts chattering on about her grandparents’ retirement and senior singles events in Florida. Raydor comes in while Provenza is griping and the squad clears the room.

Provenza admits that after all these years he hasn’t wanted anyone to run the squad but him because it isn’t fair. Raydor asks Provenza to stay at Major Crimes until he finds someplace completely fair to work. He throws one more item in the box, but we don’t really think he’s going anywhere. Sykes’s threats about senior singles events were probably enough to keep Provenza right where he is. And besides Provenza is me in this episode. Change is hard. Deal making seems like the lazy way out. But there was enough here that I am not going anywhere.

Sykes is a screw up, but her character added interest this week. The Rusty storyline is my least favorite, but it might evolve. The tension among the squad about the deals was interesting, even if the DDA moved prematurely. Taylor is still annoying, but I can live with it. This cast needs to gel in its new skin and after this week, Major Crimes seems to be headed in the right direction.

What did you think of last night’s episode?

See all of Criminal Element's TV coverage in our TV Crime series.

Deborah Lacy likes speakeasies, yellow heirloom tomatoes, and crime fiction. She blogs over at Mystery Playground. She’s on Twitter @quippy.

Read all posts by Deborah Lacy for Criminal Element.


  1. Saundra Peck

    As a retired police officer, I can say with passion that a cop never wants a bad guy to ever get anything less than the maximum penalty for a crime. But long before Casey Anthony, I knew that a jury is a fickle and unreliable part of a system (and each part is fickle and unreliable…that is why we need each part, and each part believes they are right!). Add that to the fact that all court systems and city/states are near bankrupt, and this new direction of Major Crimes makes perfect sense. As for the show and it’s cast of characters, I love them all. Even Rusty serves a purpose, as he is the reason we are getting to know Sharon and her personal life. I am really loving this new take on my old favorite.

  2. Deborah Lacy

    @sk1336 I totally agree. — One question – could Sikes have really gotten through the Academy without knowing how to notify next of kin properly?

  3. Mary Saputo

    I, along with Provenza, was a little upset with Raydor when she asked Buzz to babysit. As to Assistant Chief Taylor, me thinks power corrupts. Looks like he’s back to his old ways. I was proud of Raydor, though, when Taylor said there was a freeze on promotions and she said – not, it seems, for Assistant Chiefs (or something like that). I was just starting to like him. Now he seems to be back to his sneaky, snotty ways.

  4. Deborah Lacy

    @bitsy08 – I was upset about the babysitting thing too. As for Taylor, I am begining to think he is a chameleon, that he never supported Brenda, he just saw that the higher ups were. He does wear that uniform with pride — the peacock kind.

  5. Terrie Farley Moran

    I agree that this was a much better episode than the first one. I think it will take a while for the characters to each find their niche in this story line. Still, I want Rusty to go away. And if Sykes is going to be the dumb female butt of jokes, I’m not having it.

    As to your question. Sykes may have been trained “how” to break the news, but I’m sure no one ever said “if you are told to go notify the wife and when you get to the parking lot ofthe crime scene and see her getting out of her car–tell her to go home so you can notify her there.”

    Notifications are very dependent on circumstances.

  6. Deborah Lacy

    @Terrie – thanks for your answer. I don’t think they can make Rusty go away because without Rusty, Raydor doesn’t have a personal life – although Brenda didn’t really either when The Closer started.

    Which brings up another point, Fritz doesn’t have a whole lot to do without Brenda on the canvas. I wonder if they will do more cooperating with the FBI than they have in the past. It’s interesting because Fritz would often give way for Brenda’s investigation. I don’t see him doing that for Raydor.

  7. Terrie Farley Moran

    Well, I hope the Rusty story line has a quick and happy ending. (Find his mother, turn him over to her–the end.) Raydor has already mentioned an estranged husband and some grown kids. More than enough personal life if needed. What I really want to see is crime solving.

    As to Fritz, Jon Tenny may spend more time behind the camera directing than in front of the camera acting. Just a guess.

  8. Jeanne Knight

    Yikes, basing a show not on solving the crime, but on reaching a plea bargain? The police are not involved in the plea…that is up to the DA’s office. Me thinks it’s akin to watching paint dry.

  9. Mary Saputo

    I have been waiting for 9/4 edition to come so I could comment on this week’s episode and much to my surprise – no column. So – here goes. I was less enamored of this week’s episode. Not only is Provenza looking like a doofus, the whole program seems to be slipping into the comedic category rather than the crime category. I did enjoy it, though, when Rusty was worried about going to Catholic school, not being a Catholic. Raydor said – just look guilty and you’ll fit right in. Good line but the rest – not likin’ it so much! How can this be? It’s the same cast – and the same writers? If so, what’s going on?

  10. Deborah Lacy

    Hi Bitsy08 – We had done so much Closer and MC coverage that we decided to take a break and see what happened. I do think they need more time to gel. It’s the same cast and the same writers, but they’ve changed the whole approach to the show and that has changed the dynamic. It’s a thin line between fresh and not working. I’m having many of the same issues you are. There on some people on Twitter and the message boards that say they are warming up to Sikes, but I am not there yet. The original show order was for 10 episodes, so there is still time for it to work in time for TNT to order more episodes. I’m hoping it does and they do.

  11. Betty McB

    I really enjoyed last night’s episode about the kidnapping. Sykes still puts foot in mouth too much (should look to see who else is in the room before making her announcements). Provenza was satisfied with the outcome. Wonder if the gun was loaded in the gun shop — we saw two sides of (forgot his name) cop in gun store then at end hugging the victim.

  12. Deborah Lacy

    @Betty – I think Major Crimes is getting better and better.

  13. Deborah Lacy

    Good news! Major Crimes has been renewed for another season. I am so glad.

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