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The Closer season four episode reviews

The Closer

Season 4, Episode 1. "Controlled Burn" A great performance from Jason O'Mara (returning to the show) highlights another solid Closer outing. It's fun watching Brenda and the gang do their thing, and the show usually delivers very strong stories. Like this one about an arsonist.

Season 4, Episode 2. "Speed Bump" Having Brenda and Flynn differ over how to treat the murder of a murderer is hardly original. We've seen it before. What makes it (just about) worth watching are the subtle character moments between them and the acting from the guest cast. I also loved the bit at the very end where Brenda put aside the wine bottle and lay down to sleep beside Fritz. Very romantic.

Season 4, Episode 3. "Cherry Bomb" Serious contender for best ever episode. A recently-raped girl commits suicide and Commander Taylor turns to Brenda to bring the case home. There's no homicide so Brenda breaks every rule in the book to get the rapist for what he did. And only Taylor knows why she's doing it. And she's doing it because her frequence nemesis feels guilty over his handling of the case. What's not to love here? The case-of-the-week is a real heartbreaker: great guest performances from Andrea Bowen and Marcella Lentz-Pope really sell the heartbreak and shame of the crime, while Daniel Baldwin and Michael William Freeman give us two slimy bad-guys to hiss at. It's great. The scenes between Brenda and Taylor are all superb. They have been enemies so many times on this show, and so much of that came from the fact that Taylor had no respect for Brenda. The fact that he can reach out now, when he needs help, is a measure of how much his opinion of Brenda has changed over the years. And the fact that Brenda can take that hand grasping for her help and do everything in her power for him speaks volumes about her character and why the fans (and her team) love her so much. Yes, she is deeply flawed but aside from that she is magnificent. And never more so than when breaking the rules to do what is right. A great story, with many great moments and clever touches.

Season 4, Episode 4. "Live Wire" Less of the "breaking the rules to do what is right" and more of the "deeply flawed" this time out. The final fight between Brenda and her boyfriend was painful to watch. Painful because she was so so wrong. Oh Brenda, how can you put this right?

It was also painful to watch all the fighting between Gabriel and Daniels. It's been building all season, in little glances and comments here and there, but now that it is out in the open: I'm sad. And saddened also by Brenda's treatment of Gabriel. He used to be her favourite, once upon a time.

Soap Opera elements aside, this was another superb crime story and the whole team got a chance to shine.

Season 4, Episode 5. "Dial M for Provenza" After two serious (and heartbreaking) episodes in a row, the show (wisely) delivers a funny one. Funny? It's frakkin' hilarious. Provenza (a great character played by the wonderful G.W. Bailey) takes center-stage and the wonderful Jennifer Coolidge guests as his nemesis. Coolidge only really does one thing but she does it really, really well and she is perfect for this role. There are many, many comedy highlights and the episode nicely distracts us from the turmoil in the private lives of several of the regulars. A turmoil which, I'm sure, we will return to in future episodes.

Season 4, Episode 6. "Problem Child" Dark stuff. He might only be 13 but the child at the centre of this story is a disturbed individual. He's the victim. And, as the team investigates, they discover that a lot of people had a lot of very good reasons for wanting him dead. In many ways it's more like a Without A Trace episode than an episode of The Closer, because the story really paints a full picture of the victim and who he was. Superb storytelling.

The final scene, where Brenda and her boyfriend talk about a new house (but are really talking about whether they will have kids or not) is heartbreaking and masterful.

Season 4, Episode 7. "Sudden Death" A very sad episode (and a great performance from Raymond Cruz) as the brother of one of the best dressed cops on TV gets shot down in the street near his house. The episode tells a good story and delivers are lot of great moments for several of the characters. It's one of those outings where we get to observe the whole team in a moment of crisis and it's fascinating to watch how everyone reacts to Sanchez and to see who reaches out to him and how. The Closer has a great ensemble, but it's not an ensemble show and episodes like this make me wish that it was.

Stephen Martines returns again as the confrontational reporter who's not afraid to stand up to Brenda and his short scene adds a whole new level to the story as it asks about the reasons behind what makes some murders a priority. Great episode.

Season 4, Episode 8. "Split Ends" Brenda's delightful parents make another visit as The Best Dressed Cops On TV go after a man who battered his wife (and probably killed her). With Provenza's backstory in the mix, and Brenda's dad pushing her to get married, the script is as much about marriage/couples as it is about standing up to bullies.

Season 4, Episode 9. "Tijuana Brass" Surely this is one of the show's cleverest endings ever? Brenda sends the bad guy to prison under the wrong name. She uses the name of the man that he has marked for death. And when he is killed (which we learn in the closing seconds) it means that his intended victim is free to start a new life with new name. Clever Brenda.

This is also a good episode for showing us how much she cares about her team. And (in a rare moment of gushing praise) she shows them how much she cares, too. Nice.

Season 4, Episode 10. "Time Bomb" Teenagers plan to go on a killing spree in this untypical episode. One of them is dead before the episode starts (it is his death that starts the investigation) and a second one is dead in police custody by the mid-part of the episode. After that, the police assume that the threat is over. But the script leaves enough questions unanswered to keep the viewer (and Brenda) unconvinced. The tension builds until most of the regular characters are caught in the middle of a long, graphic gun battle. Slow-motion violence is not normally what you expect to see on The Closer, but when they go this route they really pull out all the stops. It's stunning television. And makes for a great cliffhanger when Sanchez takes three bullets in the back...

Season 4, Episode 11. "Good Faith" A death, previously ruled a suicide, is now being investigated as a murder. Which requires a delicate touch. So, obviously, they gave the case to Brenda...

The events of the previous cliffhanger are now a distant memory and Sanchez is now back at work, but not at full duty. The episode deviates somewhat from formula by not having a live crime scene for the team to investigate. Instead they have to make do with photos of the body and a mannequin on the floor. It's not much of a change, but it does make an otherwise average story a bit more interesting.

Season 4, Episode 12. "Junk in the Trunk" A very large man is found dead in the trunk of his car.

A mixed bag of an episode. It has some severe flaws: the twist that the 'girl' will turn out to be a 'guy' is very, very easy to predict and the unprofessional behaviour of Sanchez in the squad room is difficult to swallow. It's just too darn crazy to work.

However... the opening sequence is genuinely hilarious, the bad-guy-of-the-week is one of the very best they have ever had on the show and the episode's real twist (where Fritz finds a way to nab the killer) is a doozy.

So... it's a mixed bag. The stuff that doesn't work falls flat, and the stuff that does work is off the chart excellent.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it.

Season 4, Episode 13. "Power of Attorney" The suspect's clever lawyer is, himself, the suspect's partner in crime.

For the second week in a row Brenda matches wits with a very, very clever bad guy. This time, however, she loses and the guy gets away with it.

As gripping an hour of TV as you are ever likely to see. This is superb stuff.

Season 4, Episode 14. "Fate Line" Text messages on an abandoned phone point to murder.

A great case-of-the-week and a great guest star (Amy Sedaris). One of the things that impresses me most about "The Closer" is the way it can change tone. Sometimes it is funny and silly, and sometimes it is deadly serious and dramatic. Last week's episode was one of the most dramatic and intense, so this week - to change pace - they deliver a hilarious episode. Even so, the case-of-the-week is still very clever (revolving around texts messages on a phone that has been found on the street). Amy Sedaris makes a fantastic addition to the show's extended cast and I hope we see more of her in the seasons ahead.

Season 4, Episode 15. "Double Blind" Brenda works a robbery/murder case on the day of her wedding.

There's a nice bit at the very end (when Fritz and Brenda have a heartfelt exchange just after their wedding) but this is a very weak episode to close out the fourth season. The wedding itself is a total anti-climax and the case-of-the-week is boring and simplistic. The resolution might be the weakest they have ever had on the show: one suspect is tricked into saying bad things about the other, and the other hears this, and starts talking. Yawn.

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