The Closer: “Drug Fiend”

The Closer
Brenda’s not happy.
The Closer, for me, has always been about the tension between idealism and pragmatism, which are perfectly expressed in the ideals of our justice system and daily, dramatized to us as individuals by the pressures to balance our professional and personal lives. In this way, Brenda’s journey has been that of nearly every adult on the planet, even if her stakes were always slightly elevated by murder.”

This is a quote from a letter sent by James Duff, The Closer and Major Crimes co-creator, executive producer, and writer of this week’s episode. It describes this week’s episode perfectly. (You can read the entire letter here.)

Gabriel and his mysterious girlfriend
Where has he been hiding her? And why?
The episode starts with Sergeant Gabriel and his girlfriend, Ann, in the car outside of this week’s crime scene. We’ve never met Ann before and as Gabriel brings her into the crime scene, we realize that no one on the squad was aware of her either mostly because of their facial expressions. Of course, Provenza’s cutie faces were the best.

Our victim is a popular cancer doctor who was murdered in his office late at night and all of his chemotherapy drugs were stolen. The doctor was known for treating those who could pay for their drugs as well as those who couldn’t. His office partner, Dr. Parr, is more concerned with giving treatments in the office/murder scene the following day than who savagely murdered his office mate. Dr. Parr and Brenda do not like each other. Brenda sees a heartless man who makes money from cancer treatments and doesn’t seem to care that his partner was killed. Parr sees a cop who doesn’t care about what happens if his patients don’t get their potentially life saving treatments.

Brenda wants the names of all of the people who were in the office on the day of the murder. Turns out that dear little Ann, Gabriel’s girlfriend (Is it normal to bring a girlfriend of a crime scene?) is a law student and she tells Brenda she needs a special Master Warrant thingy because medical records fall under HIPAA.

You know how Brenda likes to be instructed, especially about paper pushing that will slow down her investigation. She isn’t going to listen to wannabe lawyer-girl for one minute. Ann is not shy about voicing her opinion. She is confident, righteous, and she has been dating Gabriel for a year. Hmmmm. 

Parr asks Brenda why she doesn’t care about the lives of cancer patients. She leaves and Parr is told of her father’s condition. Brenda consults with pathologist, Dr. Morales, which was great because we haven’t gotten to see enough of him this season.

At Pope’s insistence, Raydor calls the DDA, but she is able to keep her focused on the Master Warrant thingy, which meant the DDA doesn’t come to bother Brenda. I was as glad as Brenda was that this episode was DDA and courtroom free. Raydor is the one to tell Brenda about this development although she mentioned she would have to do it in the Stroh episode. Pope just gets slimier in every episode, or maybe we are just starting to see what he really is, just as Brenda is.

Brenda finds out that the good but dead doctor had been buying discounted chemo drugs and that his patients didn’t get as sick from the chemo as others. A former employee mentions that she thinks he was defrauding Medicare by purchasing drugs under fake names. The squad learns that Dr. Parr doesn’t buy the discounted drugs and that he has a large vacation home.

Back at home, Brenda is making breakfast for Fritz—super-burned toast with lots of butter—while she complains that Dr. Parr is supremely selfish to make money from cancer treatments.

She tells him, “Selfish bastard puts his career before everything.”

Fritz looks at his oh-so-crispy toast and asks her if that reminds her of anyone. She misses his point, and the toaster pops up with more burned toast. She also tells Fritzie that he was right about Pope. “He doesn’t have my back,” she tells him. We learn that Brenda’s mom and dad are coming for a visit in a few days.

Brenda gets the Master Warrant and begins to go through patient files and sees that both doctors have had higher death rates among patients lately. Dr. Parr confirms that he has long suspected that the discount drugs they were purchasing were counterfeit. He should have done something about it but he was afraid of what it would do to his career.  

The squad, plus Dr. Morales, go after the mild-mannered discount chemo salesman who gets caught, fake chemo drugs in hand. (Morales runs a test to show us it’s saline solution more suitable for washing contact lenses than curing cancer.) He has six million in the bank and a printer at home filled with drug labels. Brenda is furious because he caused the early death of so many people.

But the discount drug salesman sees chemo as the real culprit. The drugs ruin the patients’ quality of life by pumping them full of poison. He helped these people enjoy what little time they had left.

Despite the speech, he goes to jail.

Brenda calls in Dr. Parr and tells him that she checked him out. He is one of the top 50 cancer doctors in the nation. She begs him to help her father. He reluctantly agrees.

This was a great episode and my favorite of the three so far this season. A return to what Brenda does best—get the bad guy.

I can’t wait until next week when Willie Ray and Clay Johnson return to Los Angeles for an episode called, “Last Rites.” There are some spoilers from the weeks ahead just below, so if you are anti-spoiler, skip to the comments section and tell everyone what you thought of this week’s episode.


The promo for next week was pretty action packed. This is what we’ve learned:

• The next episode deals with the murder of priests.

• Will tells Brenda to begin circulating her resume and at one point he yells at her “I need you out of here right now.”

• Clay and Willie Ray come to Los Angeles and Brenda is trying to get her dad treated for thyroid cancer.

The Final Episode:

• Kyra Sedgwick told Jimmy Kimmel on his show this week that Brenda doesn’t die in the last episode.

James Duff, EP, co-creator, and writer posted the following on Huffington Post:

“Trust has been in short supply for Deputy Chief Johnson lately. Her boss and former flame has sold her out. The justice system has let her down. There’s a leak in her division damaging her career. But let me ask you this, dear reader (as writers of yore would have done), because it’s worth a moment’s consideration. What is it, exactly, that you trust Brenda to do?

“Ah, there’s the anxious nerve! When the chips are down, and the game is winding to a close, and the tide turns against her, what will Brenda do? Can you be sure? Let’s have a show of hands.

“It has been my great privilege to examine Brenda for almost a decade, and though I have no doubt she is on the side of the angels, there are still questions about whether she will end up singing with them. ‘Drug Fiend’ offers hints to her ultimate fate, for those willing to look beyond the plot.”


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 on Criminal Element.


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    Excellent recap. The stuff going on among the group of characters is more important than the plot. I loved watching Raydor and Taylor jointly close ranks to protect Brenda from Pope’s orders.

    Thank you! Thank you! For the spoilers!! I love spoilers.

  2. Deborah Lacy

    @Terrie – It was fun to see epsecially how much Taylor has evolved to protecting Brenda instead of trying to tank her. There were so many wonderful things in this episode, I couldn’t mention them all. The writers have done a really excellent job of heloing us to know all the characters. You are welcome for the spoilers…

  3. Mary1232

    [quote]Where are the spoliers?[/quote]

  4. Deborah Lacy

    @Mary – they are written in white. You highlight the area to read them. We wanted to make sure that only those who want to read them, see them. Sorry for the confusion.

  5. keltron

    i am so stressed that this show is coming to an end. is it so wrong to want to see brenda happy and redeemed and with fritzi in a life that she is content in? i guess so…after watching this show from the start, i know that is a tall, if completely unrealistic, order. if gabriel is the mole i will be SO sad. the way he defended brenda to ann made me feel better about that idea though, and i also think taylor being the mole is a stretch, but you KNOW it is not tao, sanchez, flynn or provenza… sigh…i dunno!

  6. Mary Saputo

    When they showed clips from next week’s episode of Chief Johnson yelling at Brenda – I need you out of here now! I was shocked. What has made this man change so? Why is he getting “slimier?” Do you think that perhaps he’s protecting her in some misguided way? His character is so out of character. By the way – the spoilers – how cool is that to highlight them to see them.

  7. Deborah Lacy

    @keltron – I don’t think the mole is either Taylor or Gabriel at this point. This show was my favorite so far this season. Kyra Sedgwick said on several talk shows this week that the ending was satisfying, so I hope we agree with her.

    @bitsy08 – Maybe he always was slimey, as Fritz has always thought, but we are just seeing more of it as Brenda does. He originally brought her to LA to close cases and get his department’s open case numbers down. But then Brenda became competition for him politically, then a burden. Perhaps he’s always been more of a political animal than Brenda was willing to admit.

  8. Saundra Peck

    I agree Deborah!!! I believe Pope has always been slimy, but Brenda could never acknowledge it. He brought her out to be the closer, but he def did not always have her back. And, when she became more powerful and liked, he began to see she would stand in his way of becoming the chief of police. In the very first episode, she called him on his 2 faced ways, and after his divorce from Estelle, she got caught up in his child custody fight. The Pope uses her, and I believe he is the one trying to take her down.

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