Alynda Wheat's Beat Cop: The Last Patrol
There’s no way I’m going to get this right. We never say precisely what we ought to when we part, the words are never perfect enough — not even for those of us who get paid to write them…or used to, anyway. I’m sorry to say that this is the last time we’ll walk the Beat together as I’m leaving EW. So I’ll tell you what, Coppers, let’s save the hugs for the end, stuff down the tears (I grant that they’re probably all mine), and take a stroll. I’m ready if you are.
This, at least, I know you’ll love: Let’s talk about Criminal Minds! There’s a new team leader at the BAU, and he’s one tall drink of water, that Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore). He’s also pretty damned good at running the show. (And to think, you were worried! Okay, no, that was me.) We could tell from jump that Derek had this by the way he masterfully deflected Strauss’s (Jayne Atkinson) attempt to sow discord by trying to hand him Hotchner’s (Thomas Gibson) office. It was respectful but authoritative, clear and firm — and I’m totally taking notes on how to pull that move. Morgan was also in full control on the ground, calling orders and dispatching the team to track an UnSub who blitzes his victims, slices their throats, then uses some kind of freaky ocular melon-baller to remove their eyes.
Which reminds me, Beatniks, did you learn a new word last night? It was enucleator, as in one who enucleates, or removes tumors (or in this case, eyes). We can add it to the Official Glossary of Procedural Terms containing all the words crime and medical shows have taught us: exsanguination, defenestration, contusion, hematoma, mass spectrometer, stippling, Sarcoidosis…. (Oh who are we kidding? It’s never Sarcoidosis.)
We also had interesting fodder for our conversations on violence against women in procedurals. Yes, the episode opened with two young girls getting slashed—that was the crime that drew us in. The UnSub later went after a woman jogging alone at night (who does that?), but he also attacked men. On a show like SVU, the victims are generally kids and women, because they are the most physically vulnerable to sexual predation. (Ooh! Another glossary word!) But Criminal Minds, while making victims of women more often than it has to, also frequently tries to take an even-handed approach to its victimology. The first of the ocularly obsessed UnSub’s victims was, we later learned, a man. The case that brought Morgan into the sphere of recurring guest Salli Richardson-Whitfield involved a trio of thugs who largely targeted men. If anything, Criminal Minds is often less about making women easy prey than it is about making men easy predators.
Picking up on that very theme was CSI, with interconnecting cases of a man raped in an alley and another man dead in a store. It turned out the dead guy was the rapist, the brother of the rape victim’s girlfriend. It was also the rare occasion of a television show focusing on an adult male rape victim outside of a prison. As horrifying as rape is — for anyone — we have to appreciate the way Stokes (George Eads) handled the matter. He was persistent, sensitive, and fought to get the victim (Desperate Housewives’ Cody Kasch) to seek help and trust his girlfriend. It didn’t exactly work, but that’s probably fairly close to reality too. It was a solid episode, but I’m still looking forward to next week’s triple header. Langston (Laurence Fishburne) is growing on me, and it’ll be interesting to see him in all the other environments. Besides, I have a twisted desire to find out if Horatio Caine (David Caruso) annoys him as much as he annoys the rest of us.
Finally, we got some levity. How nice that in a week in which Castle was not at its best, Bones picked up the baton and ran with the funny. The opening scene was of a body found in a swamp, slapped on the exam table, with an eager-beaver troop of Woodchucks standing by. It seems the girls found the body, fished it out, took digital photos, water samples, and soil samples with gps coordinates. For their trouble they got a mini lecture from Brennan (Emily Deschanel) about disturbing crime scenes. “You’re mean!” they yelled. And you know what? Sometimes she is.
But the central conceit of the episode was terrific. The dead guy was a chicken-plant worker who not only died by having his neck wrung by a machine at the plant, his “dancing phalanges” ended up as nuggets at the Chicken Hut. Best part: He looked like a chicken! At that point I couldn’t help but remember the late Frank Perdue, the former head of Perdue Farms, who had a slew of fun ads starring himself, and the distinct bearing of a Carolina clucker. (A pause for nostalgia, please.) Anyway, the list of suspects included his wife, the gang of protestors outside the plant, the guard, and the beak clipper — a hilarious woman named Sufe Bradshaw, who’s popped up in many a guest role of late. Thank goodness for her or I might’ve begun to get annoyed at the heavy-handedness of Angela’s veggie vengeance, and the cheesiness of her budding relationship with Wendell (Michael Terry). Don’t get me wrong, I like the kid — especially in his geek bromance with Hodgins (T.J. Thyne). But we all know that the only other pairing this threesome out to make is Angela/Hodgins, not Angela/intern. Still, my vote for best line of the night? Booth: “Is Angela good or is she good?” Brennan: “Those are the same question!” Yes, Brennan. Yes, they are. We love you for noticing.
What about you, Coppers? Do you dig the authoritative Morgan? Worried, as Rossi (Joe Mantegna) warns, that the day they ask him to step down could get ugly? What’s your take on AngEll? WendelLa? (Angela and Wendell? See, even the franken-monikers don’t work!) And who was that cutie commando who gave Ziva (Cote de Pablo) an assist at the end of NCIS? All I have to say is: more, please.
But I’m afraid there’s no more from me, Coppers. I’m turning in my badge and taking early retirement. It has been my honor to walk this Beat with you. I will miss it and I will miss you. So as always, and forevermore, let’s be careful out there.
UPDATE!: You (very kindly) asked, so I joined Twitter. You can find me here: https://twitter.com/AlyndaWheat