I was sure I had last night’s mystery cracked before the first commercial break, but they faked me out. Love that in a cop show! And even better, while the episode lacked dreamy Jason O’Mara, it was otherwise so much stronger and smarter than last week’s fizzle of a season premiere.

Is it my imagination or are the writers trying to steam things up between Brenda and Fritz? I’m still not really feeling it, but I admit it was fun to see Brenda with a major afterglow, tramping around the scene of the hit-and-run in that radioactive fuchsia trench coat, in case we missed the point.

The dead guy was a dirtbag, which is always fine with me. As soon as I heard Roy Wilkinson’s sordid backstory, I thought for sure we were getting a classic revenge narrative. He killed a girl — he didn’t just kill her, he strangled her during sex! — and only served eight years? Well, duh, someone wanted him dead. When the Mayhans walked into the office for the courtesy visit with the cops, I disliked them on sight: Rich, entitled, resentful. I know, I know, they lost their daughter, but I thought the writers worked overtime to make them unsympathetic. And so even when Brenda visited the frumpy caregiver bearing the goodlife-insurance news, I was sure this was but a sly red herring. Thatthe devious Mayhans had somehow rigged the policy to implicate a sad,lumpish prole…

So was I the last person to figure this one out?

Click through to the jump for the rest of my recap, and a burning question I need answered.

Least favorite moment of the evening: Brenda twitches her behindwhile leaning into the candy machine and talking on the phone to Fritz– then notices slimy Pope smirking about a foot away. Ewww.

Favorite moments: Provenza gunning a car over the dummy in the alleylike a little boy with a new Tonka truck. Tao sashaying down the streetrepeating, “Walk with me!” like he stepped out of a David Lynch movie.What was that about?

But, of course, the real highlight was when Brenda finally headedinto the box to work her stuff on the suspects. Here, I felt the showhit its stride for the first time this season. The Closer is best whenBrenda is working her stuff — her professional stuff. Sorry boys, Ilike her vastly better in the interrogation room than in a camisole.

Finally, a question: I glanced away from the TV for about 7 secondsand missed whatever it was that happened with the bottle of booze atthe very end. Had Fritz been drinking? Or was Brenda thoughtfullymoving the alcohol out of easy reach? If you caught what I missed, do share (along with your thoughts on last night’s episode) in the comments section below!

The Closer
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