The final six episodes of TNT’s The Closer will push Det. Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) to the limit professionally and personally. And when creator James Duff and star Sedgwick hopped on the phone for conversations with EW about the end of the series, neither could think of a better way to say farewell to a character whose strength has taken center stage for almost seven seasons.
As the final six episodes kick off tonight on TNT, we take a look at what’s in store and look ahead to the show’s spin-off, Major Crimes, which will follow Capt. Raydor (Mary McDonnell) and several members of Johnson’s existing team (who, Duff says, are “within blocks of each other, if not floors”). But the big question? Will Sedgwick ever make an appearance on Major Crimes? “There’s definitely a chance,” says the actress. “We’ll see.”
ON SAYING GOODBYE TO THE CLOSER:
Kyra Sedgwick: We all felt the weight of responsibility. Having this journey have a really special meaningful and fulfilling end for everybody involved. So I think it was exciting, very emotional. James [Duff] knew how the show was going to end when he wrote the pilot. He knew what her last lines would be; he knew the whole thing. I always felt like we were in really good hands in terms of these final six.
James Duff: I wanted to honor that character and finish telling this story the best way I could. I had dreamed about how I wanted to end the show, and I got to do that. It was sort of a miracle I got that opportunity. Not every show knows when it’s going off the air and not every show gets to finish their story the way they want to, and I felt very lucky that I got a chance to do that.
ON BRENDA’S PROFESSIONAL SCRUTINY:
Sedgwick: That the situation continues to be somewhat untenable for her, and it gets more and more frustrating. And the specter of the week is still hanging over her head, as well as the Johnson Law, which she feels so deeply insulted by on so many levels. [She has] worked tirelessly for years at being — what she feels is — the advocate for the victim, and now she’s being punished for a job well done. Granted, she’s been somewhat morally ambiguous, but to her, it was never ambiguous. It was always black and white. What she comes to realize and comes to face is that perhaps she did make some mistakes. I think that’s something she never would have considered. She never would have been able to admit that to herself or consider that a possibility for these seven years.
ON BRENDA’S PERSONAL STRUGGLES THIS SEASON:
Sedgwick: Putting work before her personal life — there are some harsh consequences to that in these final six.
Duff: Work is a fabulous way of dealing with the free-floating anxiety you have about your personal life. If you just want to throw yourself into work and forget about your issues and the things you should be doing and the problems of interpersonal relationships, work is a fabulous way to do that — especially when your stakes are life and death. Eventually, attention has to be paid, and [Brenda]’s going to get to that place.
ON THE END:
Sedgwick: I think [Duff] did a brilliant job. I think people will be moved and sad because it’s the end. But I think they will be really sated and satisfied. There’s certainly not going to be a bunch of mean letters. It’s not going to be like The Killing or the Sopranos or anything like that. I think that James has always taken the audience into serious consideration, and wanting to please them even with the caveat that he continues to challenge people’s love for Brenda. She’s not an easy person to love, and she remains such. But I admire his understanding of the audience and not wanting to end it on too dark of a note.
Duff: I think we go back to her nickname, the Closer. What will she do to close the case? What sacrifice will she make? And we’ve seen her make really stunning sacrifices along the way. There are two things I will tell you that I was not interested in doing. One was splitting her up with her husband. In my experience, when life is tough, two things happen: You either get closer or more distant from your spouse. And I wanted her to get closer. I felt like she deserved it, and they deserved it. And the other thing was that I didn’t want her to break the law. I wanted her to stick to the law as close as she could. She may violate a rule or two, but she doesn’t break the law.
ON MAJOR CRIMES:
Duff: If Brenda broke the rules, I would say that Capt. Rador enforces them. If Brenda solved crimes by avoiding the rules, Rador gets her convictions and makes her deals by embracing the rules. We’re all very used to the maverick cop who plays by their own rules and now we have someone who insists on following the rules to the letter in order to solve her cases. That’s a very different kind of character from what Brenda was and from what you normally see on television. We’ll see how people feel about it. But I think it provides some guidance for the characters who remain and an interesting change in business. Rules will be followed, is the key to Major Crimes. And we’ll see if that works.