It goes without saying to any fan of Rizzoli & Isles that last season was a heavy one. The unexpected death of actor Lee Thompson Young in the middle of the season meant that his character’s story line had to be resolved the same way you might expect a season finale to do, which also meant that the actual season finale wasn’t dripping with any cliffhanger drama. So to those of us eagerly awaiting tonight’s season premiere, we weren’t exactly expecting to be thrown for a lot of loops.
Yes, there’s a standard issue Rizz & Isles en media res opening: Jane’s putting her Ann Taylor Loft suit into overdrive while chasing what appears to be a cyber-criminal, based on his scrawny build and streak of fluorescent hair dye. Frankie rounds the corner, he and Jane follow him down to the subway platform together, more running and “You take that side” talk ensues, a gun goes off, and Jane makes a slow-mo WTF face. But let’s just get this out of the way right now: The evening’s most shocking turn of events doesn’t kick off until we flash back to a day earlier when Jane’s mom, Angela, drops by Maura’s place with a plastic covered armchair she inherited from her Uncle Enzo. Someone needs to take this chair, Angela proclaims.
Yes, teasers may suggest that this episode centers on whether Frankie shot an unarmed man on the subway platform—and there’s a whole lotta chitchat about a new doctor coming to apprentice in Maura’s office, a Scottish former soldier just back from Afghanistan named Kent Drake. But trust, all the action comes back to Uncle Enzo’s chair. And all of this happens before we hear the kicky Rizz & Isles theme song (which, incidentally, sounds exactly like the theme song to Crossing Jordan).
Post-opening credits, Maura, Jane, Frankie, and Detective Korsak are treated to a crime scene tour, which reveals a dead young woman rolled up in what appears to be a lovely woven silk rug and left in a construction site dumpster. Quick cut and we’re back in Maura’s examining office, where we meet Kent, the aforementioned newbie doc—in tinted glasses, batik print shirt buttoned to the top, and Five Fingers running shoes. If there’s one thing Dr. Maura Isles cares more about than ruining a joke, it’s footwear, so this is an inauspicious start for the two. But Jane looks more troubled than Maura. Something is off here.
Still Rizz & Isles let their heads wander into the case at hand, getting after what Kent might have found in the rug and why he’s wearing Five Fingers shoes, since not only are they unattractive, they’re also not recommended for all-day use. It turns out the victim was wearing a tee from a place called Internet Village—See! Cybercriminals love Internet Village! Who’s the detective now?—and Jane heads over there to investigate. Jane quickly learns her name is Mona and she was a cyberrista at Internet Village. The guy with the mean, er, green streak, is Mona’s high-strung boyfriend Spike, a name that gives him a slight edge until you remember that was also the name of the pregnant girl on the first season of Degrassi Junior High, so he’s not fooling anyone.
NEXT: Frankie, we need to talk.[pagebreak]
Commercial break and NOW Uncle Enzo’s chair is back in play. The scene opens with Jane and Maura wheeling it into an apartment that rivals Maura’s in taste level, but where the hell are we? This is a beautiful loft! And Angela is there! “I don’t remember Frankie’s apartment being this nice,” says Maura. Um, whhhaaaaaat? None of us do, Maura. “Yeah, it’s a different apartment. He moved. This one is two floors higher.”
JANE’S MIND IS BLOWN. She was so overcome by the weight of Uncle Enzo’s chair that she didn’t notice what button anyone pushed in the elevator. “How come I didn’t know Frankie was getting a new place?” “Uhh, he was keeping it a secret?” Angela says guiltily before Frankie emerges from the bathroom in just a towel. And speaking of unexpected developments, last we saw Frankie in a state of undress, he wasn’t nearly this ripped or hairy. Jane asks why he hasn’t told her about his stunning Back Bay showplace. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? “I’m trying to go a different way!” he tells the women. I’ll say. That side-by-side refrigerator, those mullions, the chiseled torso. This isn’t the end of this conversation, Frankie!, no one yells. “But what about Uncle Enzo’s chair?” Jane asks. (Seriously). “Totally cramping my style. Will you get rid of it?” Frankie asks, adding that he’s getting ready for a date.
Next day Korsak is ready to talk more than just interior design. There’s a dead girl who closed down all her “socials,” canceled her cell phone, stopped using her credit cards. Also ready to get back down to business is last season’s new crime scene analyst, Nina Holiday, who is flirting with Frankie a lot for a woman who’s really just talking about about cell phone records.
Fortunately there’s not too much time wasted on sleuthing before we can cut downstairs to the medical examination area and get back to an earlier mystery: Why is this Scottish man wearing Five Fingers shoes? Maura asks, but he’s not telling. Instead he deflects as to why she works in four-inch heels (“Three inch!” she counters). We may have figured out that the dead girl’s boyfriend is named Cecil, but I’ll be damned if the men on this episode aren’t rife with unknowable secrets!
Back on the street, and wait a minute! There’s that Ann Taylor Loft suit and jewel-tone blouse on Jane. Here comes the chase scene we saw before. This time around, we see that Frankie has shot a man on the subway platform who is decidedly not Spike. Yikes. He doesn’t appear to be armed, either. But Frankie’s sure he had a gun! Jane acts like she believes him, but she was also sure Frankie didn’t know what a stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator was!
NEXT: So many questions [pagebreak]
The next 20 minutes we have to pretend to care about finding this missing gun—and Spike—but really all anyone wants to know is… what’s up with the new Frankie, where is Uncle Enzo’s chair, and what is up with those Five Finger shoes? So there’s a lot of crime-fighting to endure, not to mention an internal affairs investigation that is thwarted by all sorts of cronyism perpetrated by: Maura (she gives Frankie a sedative so that he can delay his testimony), Korsak (he gets palmed an insider tips from another precinct), Jane (she lies to Internal affairs and coerces a judge for a warrant to get into Spike’s apartment), Maura again (she uses surveillance video from her examination room to snoop).
It all works, eventually, I think. Honestly, I can’t remember what happened to Spike or what the story of the dude on the platform was—something about a beef with the Boston Transit Authority evicting him from his apartment so they could put down another subway line got my attention. Apparently he was willing to kill over an apartment he had a really sweet deal on, which I suppose I get. But with just five minutes left in the episode shit starts to get really weird. First up, Kent Clarke, back in the examiner’s office. Brother is on his way out on a date (with Senior Criminalist Chang!) in some serious Joseph Abboud for Men’s Warehouse finery—tweed blazer, tailored pants, a collared shirt open at the neck, no glasses. Maura starts in on the footwear and asks what happened to the toe shoes…
“I don’t like people making assumptions about me,” Kent offers. “Ex military guy puts on a slightly nerdy affect to throw off his new colleagues!” Maura guesses.
Does anyone feel like this is an effective strategy? Isn’t he forever going to be known as the dude who showed up to work in a nerd costume his whole first week? “It’s a bit like lying isn’t it?” she asks.
“Yes, but we all lie in our own little ways, don’t we?” Kent counters.
Wait; is he talking about Frankie’s secret penchant for original millwork? And boom! We’re back in the loft—a Restoration Hardware infused version of Cary Grant’s pad in Pillow Talk—and shit only gets weirder. There’s Jane sitting in Uncle Enzo’s chair, Angela on the couch, and Korsak and Maura at the bi-level kitchen island preparing some ill-advised cocktails that look like they involve chartreuse of Midori. “Speaking of hairy chests,” says Jane, where’s Frankie?” (She noticed, too!) I don’t know where Frankie was, but when he comes back he’s carrying gifts for everyone: a signed Ted Williams baseball for Jane, a tasteful scarf for Angela, a bottle of wine for Maura, and a ukulele for Korsak? Now I’m not always entirely sober when I watch Rizz & Isles, but I definitely don’t remember the state instrument of Hawaii making its way into the show before.
In any event, real questions remain: What’s troubling this Scottish doctor, will Angela start dating again this season, who the hell did Frankie get to do his cabinets, and how many different stereotypical Italian names did they try out before settling on Uncle Enzo? Until next week…