The Closer: “Armed Response”

Brenda Leigh Johnson
Closing cases, closing series.
“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.

Fritz and Brenda

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.

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

    I have always thought that David’s young and innocent turmoil over the tough, sometimes emotionally difficult, actions that cops take was being exploited by someone….I thought for SURE it was Pope!!! I was sad for him, but I know that in a squad like that, he could never recover their true trust. I really loved him in this show, so I am REALLY happy he has a new show, I am sure I will watch. I will read your final Closer post with more tears, I am sure. I look forward to MANY Major Crime posts in the future!

  2. Deborah Lacy

    @sk1336 – I totally agree. Gabriel has always been one of my favorite characters with his loyalty to Brenda and his angelic name. It will be sad to see him go. And it looks like Pope isn’t in the new series either. It will be funny if Taylor gets the Chief job!

  3. Carmen Pinzon

    I think Taylor in under-utilized in this series. I always though Gabriel was the leak, but I was thinking more along the line of righteous indiscretion, not pillow talk. As for Pope, he’s waivered too much. I guess the writers needed to push him around the board for their own plot purposes.

  4. Mary Saputo

    Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I STILL believe that Pope’s actions were to protect Brenda. As for Gabriel, I’m glad that there was no one on Brenda’s squad that was responsible for the leak – directly responsible – with malice aforethought. I can’t for the life of me figure out how this will end – at least as it relates to Brenda. Could be that she’ll resign to give herself some time to get over her mother’s death and spend whatever time her father has left with him. It seems she has a new outlook on life, one that puts her family first. I’ve really enjoyed her character but for that matter, the whole show has been quality. I will watch Major Crimes because this cast works so well together. One correction though; I believe the question – would a confession help you with that – was made by Pope and not Brenda. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

  5. Deborah Lacy

    @bungluna – I think Taylor will get more of a chance in Major Crimes. He did have a much bigger part in the begining, but now I like him more.

    @bitsy08 – It does make it nice that the leak is outside, but I wish we had a fair shot at guessing who it was. They have left us guessing for the end – except we know that Stroh comes back. I’m glad it’s not obvious at this point. Your correction could be true. I’ll go back and check. It’s hard getting everything perfect in such a compressed time frame and I’m the first admit that I make mistakes sometimes. Nice to have people like you keeping me honest. I am excited for Major Crimes. I love The Closer cast and Mary McDonnell. Everytime I see DDA Baldwin, I get annoyed, but you can’t have perfect harmony or the story gets boring.

  6. Clare 2e

    I hated that DDA- not thrilled she’s a Clare, no matter how she spells it. I actually got to watch this one in real time which I rarely do. Always loved Gabriel. Glad he wasn’t the leak exactly, but sorry his life’s ruined. I absolutely suspect Brenda will take all the responsibility on her shoulders for the situation and the lawsuit when she goes out.

    What’s Corey Reynolds’ new show?

  7. Deborah Lacy

    @clare2e – Reynolds has a talent holding deal with NBC, so supposedly something is under development but hasn’t been announced.

  8. Denise Z

    I always thought it was Gabriel. As much as I like him, his character always seemed to be a bit on the high horse, even as far back as episode one, season one. What really threw me was the girlfriend angle, holy smokes! I was so prepared to stone him and I could only feel sorry for what had happened to him. I am so going to miss this show, I love Brenda. I do feel that Provenza has really stepped up to the plate this season and am really glad he is in the spinoff. I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. I have high hopes as I really like the characters and want to continue watching them. I cannot imagine how Brenda will leave next week, but I am secretly hoping she kicks Pope in the butt and says Thank you, thank you so much LOL

  9. Deborah Lacy

    @DeniseZ – Provenza has stepped up to the plate and admired how he stuck by Gabriel in this episode. I really hope Flynn & Provenza get their due in the next show. They can be so great.

  10. micki miller

    Wow, it’s really almost over..this makes me so sad that I wonder about
    myself a little bit! 🙂 I love Brenda Leigh Johnson, and I will miss this
    show bunches. I love Provenza & the gang also! And who wouldn’t love
    Fritzy?? LOL Well at least we have DVD’s! So long Brenda, and Thank Yew so much

  11. Joe D

    I think from watching the previews that Stroh attacks Brenda and she kills him. This is what will prompt her to retire. I will miss this show – but I will give Major Crimes a chance. I agree – I do not like the DDA, but she too may soften over time.

  12. Leigh

    I thought it was Gabriel all along. He had such a struggle with Brenda Leigh since day one. He’s a man who sees issues in black and white and prefers to avoid the gray areas. It is sad to see this group of detectives shattered like this. I have to say I am glad they had Gabriel do the deed in an inadvertent way. He’s a good man and a good cop.

    I will watch the new show. I very much disliked Captain Raydor in the beginning but the show’s writers have softened her and made her into a person you want on your side. I especially liked it when she supported Brenda Leigh for the chief’s job.

    I will miss “The Closer” for a long time, but I am looking forward to the new show too.

  13. Deborah Lacy

    @nikki – Fritzie IS wonderful. He’s going to be on Major Crimes so he won’t be going away, although I imagine his role with morph since we won’t be seeing the home life with Brenda. I’m not sure how they will handle that. I don’t want Brenda and Fritz to break up either.

    @JoeD – It’s true that the DDA may soften with time as @Leigh points out that Raydor has. I have my fingers crossed.

    @Leigh – I disliked Raydor initially as well and I have enjoyed her evolution as a character. I’m not sure the rest of the squad has seen her evolve as we have or as Brenda has, since most of those conversations were just between the two of them. I think that will cause new tension in Major Crimes.

    There’s a preview for Major Crimes here:

    They are talking about the show morphing from closing cases to the art of the deal. What do you guys think?

  14. Terrie Farley Moran

    Wow! So much going on in the comments. I will just say that I am looking forward to Major Crimes. I already know and like the characters. and like everyone else, I’ve come to repect and sometimes even like Raydor. I’ll miss Brenda tremendously but it will be interesting to see the squad function under different leadership. And I wish Corey Reynolds (David Gabriel) great success where ever he lands.

    As to Fritz–I was never a big fan but if Brenda decides to go home to Atlanta, Fritz could go with her but take some FBI job that has him travel for specific types of cases. And–Jon Tenney seems to like directing so he can participate in that way as well.

  15. Terrie Farley Moran

    Re: art of the deal concept–I think Raydor has the deliberate, think before you speak personality to pull that off.

  16. Deborah Lacy

    @Terrie – I like your plan for Fritz to stay with Brenda and come back to LA sometimes. It works out for everyone. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow in the very last episode of The Closer and the first of Major Crimes.

  17. Kikakiki

    I wish you had developed Gabriel’s girlfriend angle a bit more, but I’m glad the leak line ended the way it did. I cried for Gabriel, especially since his girlfriend from the squad broke his heart to. I’m not sure how I feel about Taylor becoming Chief maybe if it takes time developing and he does something spectacular that really rates a promotion. Fritz in has to mean cameo’s by Brenda otherwise I quit watching MC and she should bring Gabriel. His show is being developed ?- yeah he’s an out of work actor

  18. Deborah Lacy

    @Kikakiki – Corey Reynolds is supposedly in a talent holding deal with NBC for his own show. Maybe I’m being optmistic, but I am hoping something will come of it.
    Taylor is only assistant chief, but he does play nemesis well, and we need some antigonists.

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