I’m not sure I’ve ever felt worse for one of Brenda’s confessing killers than I did for Monroe last night, as he admitted to whacking his demon seed son to death with a hammer. And I found myself annoyed at Brenda. Couldn’t she be gentler with this poor man? Couldn’t she see what a terrible bind he was in?

Actually, I think she did see, which explains her decision to nix having kids, but more on that later.

I like demon seed plots, because they confirm (albeit in a blackhearted way) my strongest belief about parenting: you don’t mold kids, you unfold them. And sometimes you unfold adorable Dartmouth-bound soccer players, and sometimes you unfold little Sergeis, who stuff their hamsters down the disposal and stomp on baby birds.

So that is my answer to your murmured question, Brenda. I think some people really are just born that way. The Closer writers, however, carefully stayed on the fence with the nature/nurture debate. Sergei was adopted from Russia where maybe he was abused in one of those grim orphanages.

Or maybe he wasn’t.

I do hold parents responsible for some things, and the Monroes had a lot to answer for in their daughter — not a psychopath, just a brat. To start with, they could have taken away the black lipstick. But however obnoxious she was, I knew she didn’t kill Sergei. And I knew the dog-loving neighbor was a red herring, even after his spluttered, “I want that kid dead.”

And heartbreaking Jason Hetner … it’s always rough being 14, but it must be hell if you’re gay and have an unrequited crush on a Sergei who tempts you, taunts you, and blackmails you.

But I knew Jason didn’t kill him.

I knew it was the nice, mild parents. I just knew. And I didn’tentirely blame them, which made the whole episode all the more complexand upsetting. Honestly, people, what are you supposed to do when youhave a little Jeffrey Dahmer on your hands? When anger camp doesn’twork and the Russians won’t take him back? Murder isn’t the answer, butwhat is?

Returning to the interrogation scene, did other people think Brendawas too hard-assed? Did you find her hammer-banging overly, um, hammy?

Obviously, she was more sensitive to what the Monroes were goingthrough than she initially appeared, which I assume informed herdecision, revealed shortly thereafter, to forgo having children.

Fritz: “I take it then you’re not interested in what school district we buy into?”

Brenda: “I don’t think we need to worry about schools.”

Fritz: “I see.”

Fritz! Brenda! Talk to each other! It does not bode well for yourlong-term happiness that something this important is swept so neatlyunder the rug.

But here’s a question: If kids are a hot topic, how old is Brenda?Kyra Sedgwick turns 43 today, which is the tail-end of childbearingage. I think Brenda is meant to be younger. Was her age dropped in aprevious episode?

And given that the guy (boyfriend?) she was dancing with last nightwants to have a baby with her, Grace Anadarka is clearly meant to be alot younger than fifty, which is Holly Hunter’s age.

Yes, I stayed up for Saving Grace. Thanks for all the inputlast week. Coming in at the season’s penultimate episode, I had no ideawhat was going on, but I liked the gritty atmosphere. The music. Theboozing. The dishes piled up in Grace’s sink. Given how the ads haveturned me off, I was unprepared to find myself feeling far more warmlytowards basket-case Grace than I did towards Brenda last night. Am Ithe only one?

The Closer
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