Closing the Case:
Saying Goodbye to Major Crimes
Aired on: TNT
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Last night brought a close to a series I have watched in its different incarnations since 2005. From it’s beginnings in 2005 as The Closer until its 2012 spinoff Major Crimes, my family and I have been a fan of this TNT procedural drama for years. Last night, watching the final episode of Major Crimes brought about mixed feelings, for as much as I didn’t want the show to end, I could see the reasoning behind ending the series now.
We began watching The Closer during a rainy night in Point Pleasant. We found the quirky former Georgian Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick)turned LAPD major crimes closer quickly grew on you. The cases on The Closer were captivating and the ways in which Brenda could get the bad guys to confess to their crimes was amazing. We also loved the rest of the cast: cynical old-timer Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey), annoying hard-head Lt. Flynn (Tony Denison), cyber-geek Lt. Tao (Michael Paul Chan), hothead Detective Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), Civilian Surveillance Coordinator Buzz (Phillip P. Keene), frustrating rival Commander Taylor (Robert Gossett) and more. Each of the characters won us over in their own way. But it wasn’t just the cases that were interesting – you were also captivated by the craziness of Brenda’s home life and her relationship with FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) and her family.
The Closer would end with Brenda Leigh Johnson moving on in her career. Major Crimes would open with former Internal Affairs officer Captain Sharon Rayder (Mary McDonnell) taking over the reins. No easy feat, considering the lack of trust most of the members of the Major Crimes Division have for Internal Affairs. But somehow, Captain Rayder made it work, earning the trust of her new team and working under now Assistant Chief Taylor. A new addition in ambitious young detective Amy Sykes (Kearran Giovanni)kept things interesting as did the return of Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin), chief witness in the Philip Stroh (Billy Burke) murder trial.
But Major Crimes would be a bit different from its predecessor. The Closer would offer up minute glimpses of the personal lives of the other characters, it focused on Brenda Leigh both on and off the job. Major Crimes would allow us to see much more of the personal lives of each of the cast members. We would follow Detective Julio Sanchez as he dealt with an ailing mother and his desire to become a father. We watched Lt. Michael Tao become a major consultant to a television crime drama and the jealousy it invoked in Lt. Andrew Flynn. We watched as Buzz Watson went through Reserve Officer training and eventually pursue his dream to find his father’s murderer. We saw Detective Sachs grow into her own, learning the ropes of Major Crimes and finding time for a personal life with Special Investigation Section Lt. Cooper (Malcolm-Jamal Warner). We saw Lt. Provenza finally find the love of his life (Dawn Lewis) while working a murder case and dabble with the idea of retirement. And Fritz would go on to retire from the FBI and return as Deputy Chief of the LAPD Special Operations Bureau. He would also find himself going through a health scare that threatens to end his career…and his life.
But most importantly, we got to see a different side of Sharon Rayder, who we mostly saw as a by-the-books no nonsense character through The Closer until the very last episodes. In Major Crimes, we learn about what made Sharon Rayder the person she has become and how she is outside of the job. We watch as she makes a life-changing decision to take in Rusty Beck and eventually adopt him. We watch as she frees herself from a manipulative, alcoholic, gambling-addicted, lawyer ex-husband (Tom Berenger). We watch her find love again with Andy Flynn and we watch her deal with her own health scare as well, all while worrying about Rusty’s safety from his drug-addicted, manipulative mother, Philip Stroh and his own psychological demons.
And the cases? Just as engrossing as ever, only now we weren’t looking to close the case with a confession. Now we were looking to make a deal for as much jail time as we could get for the perpetrator of the crime. Of course, that sometimes would mean shorter prison time for criminals, but at least they got prison time, especially when the case was anything but open and shut.
Things were not always great for our main characters. Flynn was put out on medical leave and sidelined to a desk for a good portion of time. The murder of a major character at the hands of a white supremacist and the severe injury of another led to an animosity-filled hunt for a new Chief. Rusty found his mother, lost his mother and found her again, only to lose her yet again. Luckily, Sharon and the crew were there to pick up the pieces and keep him glued together. While ducking attempts on his life by Stroh and his followers, Rusty found a way to deal with his personal demons and come to grips with his sexuality, eventually finding a boyfriend while trying to find the family of a Jane Doe murder victim.
The stories were great. The characters had great chemistry with one another. The new characters were likeable and it seemed a new one came each and every season. We got insight into the older characters and some matured right before our eyes. The writing was awesome with some very memorable, witty lines (Provenza got the best ones, of course). And then, after six seasons, Major Crimes was to air its last show. How did that fare? Well, the last shows of the season gave us a few shockers and Philip Stroh returned this season with a vengeance. One would think we had enough of Stroh, but the writers needed to tie up lose ends and what better way to end a series than with the very bad guy the season began with. And what an ending it was. You could tell that the actors really enjoyed working together and were sorry to see it all end.
And so was I – The Closer, Major Crimes…these were trusted friends. The shows that never failed me – never failed to entertain me, captivate me, make me use my noggin and also make me laugh. They were the shows you ended up laughingly quoting to other fans – "Thank you, thank you very much"…"The Twitter", "The Facebook", "The YouTube" – while the others around you scratched their heads. I know all good things must come to an end and I know it is best to end things on a high note, rather than waiting for the show to grow stale and be cancelled. And so, I can’t be angry at the ending of an era…just a little sad, yet happy that they ended things the right way, with no loose ends and no stray questions. An excellent ending to an excellent series. Case closed.