Did you know that bass fishing is huge in Massachusetts?
Credit: TNT

Ohhhh, Mama Rizzoli. If this were an episode of Friends, its title would be called The One About the Yeast. Seriously. (Though Bassholes is certainly a fine title, and if I were the kind of person to find myself around fisherman, I might even have a use for it.) Now I’m not going to say that crime procedurals are running out of things to center murder cases around—but not every installment can be packed with ripped-from-the-headlines freshness. Which brings us to this week’s Rizz & Isles.

It turns out, at least for the purposes of this ep, that bass fishing is huge in Massachusetts. So big in fact, that even just outside of Boston there are local tournaments that can net its winner $100,000. People have certainly killed for less money, but it’s not the sort of thing you’d expect a homicide to hang on, unless you have the keen mind of a Rizz, a Rizz, or a Korsak. It’s also not the sort of thing that screams contemporary. Which is what brings us back to yeast. At the top of the show we learn that Angela, a.k.a. Mama Rizzoli, is cresting into an of-the-moment no-white-foods diet. If you know anything about Jane Rizzoli, it’s that she loves irrational rage. Not like punch-a-hole-in-the-wall rage, but like, make-your-voice-even-more hoarse rage.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The show opens with a line being cast into calm waters, and I, for one, was hoping we were going on a weekend retreat with Korsak and that we’d be able to get a little insight into that ukulele tease from last week and maybe get treated to a sweet jam or two. But that halcyon image is quickly broken when the camera pulls back to reveal a kindly looking man out for a fish being menacingly circled by what we can only assume are the titular Bassholes.

The kindly fisherman heads off on his way, and he’s seen pulling in a big fish by himself before he’s picked off by what looks like an arrow to the back. And now we cut to Maura Isles’ cozy kitchen, where in the longstanding tradition of tough TV female cops (See Benson, Olivia and Laura, Mysteries Of) Jane Rizzoli is hungry. And she doesn’t have a hankering for quinoa—sister is looking for some hard-core carbs: “A piece of bread, a muffin, in your world, a croissant,” she tells Isles. Not in the house I still quizzically share with your overbearing mother! She doesn’t retort. Isles goes on to explain that Mama Rizzoli is on a new no white foods diet. “No white rice, no white flour, no white sugar…there’s healthier way to eat that makes you feel better, and this is it!” she explains to an increasingly exasperated Rizz. And here we are at the episode’s culturally relevant center!

Mama Rizz tells us it isn’t about just weight loss, it’s about having more energy, silkier hair, better sleep…Annnnd now I’ve just purchased the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse on Amazon. Seriously. And if I had Maura’s kitchen I’d have purchased a Vitamix, too. Cut to that kicky theme music and we’re making our way to the crime scene…still talking about how eating right makes you feel better. Seriously guys, I’ve already bought a blender at this point, and we’re only like 12 minute in. Jane is still maintaining that her sugar, alcohol, and caffeine nutrition pyramid works miracles for her (“I’d take coffee and a shot of whiskey any day”) and you have to wonder if Angie Harmon feels marginally irresponsible for leading us to believe that a woman could eat and drink like that and still have her enviable physique. I start to look at the return policy on the blender I’ve just purchased and eye my liquor cabinet. Surely there’s a murder to investigate instead of all this discussion of things that make me question life choices. How is this a very special episode of Rizz & Isles about taking care of myself?

Oh, thank god, there’s Frankie and Korsak talking about Gordy Howe? Apparently Frankie has lost a bet and now Korsak gets to choose his punishment. In what world exactly does one agree to a bet before the terms have been discussed? I’ll tell you what world: Frankie’s. And there’s the vic, seen on the bow (whoa, did I get that right? Is the front of a boat a bow? Thanks, Cub Scout Camp for all that useful nautical knowledge!) and as Maura points out, he’s got not an arrow sticking out of his back, but a “bolt,” something that comes from a crossbow with a pistol grip. “Easy to get and easy to hide,” Jane says. Really? Cool! Annnnd I’m back to Internet shopping.

Isles has somehow already determined how far away the shooter was and Korsak tells the women just what the man was up to: “He was competing in a very important regional bass-fishing tournament,” he says before Jane has that rare moment of saying exactly what I was thinking. “Really, very important? Turns out there’s big money in regional bass-fishing tournaments—and apparently there are enough bass swimming within the city limits of Boston to have a bass-fishing tourney or Rizz and Isles are operating waaay outside of their jurisdiction. Big news first though. This guys bleeding out in a way that excited Isles. We should be back to the M.E.’s office in no time.

But first up we’re back to social commentary, now that Frankie has found the victim, Mark Harris’ car. And it’s really blowing everyone’s mind. Because it’s a Prius—a maroon Prius no less. Also? Harris was a college professor who taught poetry. Not exactly the Raptor-driving outdoorsman Bro and Sis Rizz figured they were dealing with. This, however, is not the most surprising thing about Mark Harris. More on that later.

First we have to meet Skeet Martin (Lochlyn Munro), who you’d think might be the name of the harmonica player on the Rizz & Isles theme song, but it turns out he’s just a real persistent fisherman who wants to get with Jane. And we’re off and running—especially because this guy looks famous enough to be a recurring character this season. And because he’s wearing a gold and blue satin jacket emblazoned with SKEETER on the back.

Conveniently enough, near the vic’s car, there’s also a bag of dead fish with a note attached that says, “Say anything and you’ll sleep with these.” Once again, Jane reads my mind. “That’s not very original.”

NEXT: Maura and Jane and a rowboat (of course)

Meanwhile, back at the police station, we meet the kindly fisherman’s wife and everyone is freaked out. Because she’s hot. And young. And named Carla. She explains that he was an Elizabethan poetry professor (I would have gone with something like a Thoreau/Walden expert to keep with the nature theme, but hey, Mark Harris is apparently a complicated man) who was denied tenure and after months of job searching and self-doubting, their marriage fell apart and she left. Like Thoreau, they don’t allude to, Mark returned to nature to pull his shit together. He wasn’t only pulling it together—he was pulling in tons of fish. And folks were jealous of the newcomer poised to make $100K for it.

Oh there’s the new Scottish doctor from last week! Why is Jane so predisposed to not liking him again? Besides the whole coming to work in nerd costume for a week, he seems charming and on his game, so I’m hoping he’ll stick around. And same goes for Nina Holiday, the crime scene tech. She needs to do more than just make funny faces at Frankie. When she says she’s going to change her Match.com profile to say she’s open to fishermen, I don’t buy that she’s looking further than across the office.

But back to yeast. Korsak shows up to give Frankie his punishment for losing a bet that somehow involved Gordy Howe. And look, he’s introduced that age old beloved trope from high school sitcoms that no one actually does in real life—carrying something around that’s a stand-in for a baby and keeping it alive all week. But because white foods are such a hot button ingredient this week, he’s got to carry around a bag of flour. Through line people, through line.

Anyway, at this point it’s time to return to the scene of the crime where a woman who makes fishing lures may be the victim’s latest paramour. See what they did with lures there? In any event, Linda, of Linda’s Lures, bakes her wares out of her mobile home and apparently it’s a stinky process, because Korsak and Jane can barely stay in her trailer long enough to question her. (I may have suggested moving outside rather than cutting a convo with a potential suspect short, but hey, who am I to judge?)

As it turns out Mark Harris is a literary lothario who was carrying on an affair with owner of Linda, who when questioned as to why she was even dating Mark in the first place (I mean, this poor guy!), she bemoans how tough it is for her to meet men. In a moment of fading self-awareness Jane says, “But you’re surrounded by them.” Korsak sees where this is going: “So are you. Does that make it any easier?” Linda retorts, as if knowing somehow that Jane’s a little unlucky in the love department before passing along a truism, “A cheater is just a fisherman who hasn’t been caught. It’s why I don’t date fisherman,” and then adds “But Mark was a poet who fished.” Ladies love Mark apparently, but fishermen are cheaters who hate Mark and, as Linda suggest, would want him dead. Oh, and she happens to have a list of all the cheaters competing against Mark if Rizz and Korsak want it before they run out of that gnarly smelling trailer of hers.

Oh, and here’s Skeet again, bearing gifts—a split of champagne and a book on bass—just for Jane.

I may have failed to mention before, but Jane and Maura had a weird conversation earlier about the fish that was still in Mark’s boat when his body was found. Jane was convinced that he liked her because he was swimming toward her in a tank. Well, that fish is now dead—autopsied by Maura—and hopefully he’ll be helpful in explaining why Mark Harris is dead. It looks like the fish came from a pond other than the one he was fishing in! Which means he was either cheating or found out somebody else was.

At this point I can’t really go through the many red herrings that transpire when what I really want to know is—how is Mama Rizz’s new diet going? Do I need to return my Vitamix? How is all that roughage treating her G.I. system, and um also, where’s is Uncle Enzo’s chair? Surely Frankie’s interior designer won’t stand for it. UNLESS HIS INTERIOR DESIGNER IS NINA HOLIDAY, WHO HAS A SOFT SPOT FOR ALL THINGS RIZZOLI!

I suppose I also perked up again when I saw Maura and Jane in a rowboat like two crime-fighters out of a Jane Austen novel. Maura even has a jaunty hat. They’re back in the water to see if they can uncover any rigging that suggest cheating and Maura explains that taking a motor boat would scare the fish away? It doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense, but Jane goes for it because it’s a nice way to wile away the hours while a killer is on the loose, presumably. Also, we learn that Skeet made a drawing of Jane fishing. Man, this guy is persistent, but he could have taken some lessons in suaveness from the dead poetry professor instead of trying to take him out of the fishing competition. Maura isn’t so sure, however, but their convo is cut short when they find snow chains that would allow somebody to place big fish in the bottom of the lake to “catch” later.

But anyway, what ensue are some pretty hilarious interviews with other fishermen who all underscore the exciting/upsetting notion that everyone has these pistol-grip crossbows that I’ve never heard of before. My favorite quotes from Mark Harris’s big rival? “He combs our lakes, he takes our fish, he takes our women!” and “Fishing is a cruel mistress” and a dig at someone who cheated in the Boston Marathon and Lance Armstrong. (Noticeably no mention of the Patriots and Inflategate.)

Frankie is still carrying around the bag of flour when he runs into another cop who lost a bet to Korsak—and this guy shows him a tattoo he was forced to get. Who are these guys who make the WORST bets with Korsak? Anyway, in an elevator scene with consequences slightly less dire than what happened in a shaft on Good Times and L.A. Law before it, Frankie loses his flour bag baby. He’ll be carrying around a new one for another day or two or three.

Now we’re back on the water—this time with Maura and the Scottish doctor Kent, but we’re in a motorboat. “If Jane asked, you rowed,” she says to him before he rightly asks, “You two have a unique relationship, don’t you? I’m still trying to figure it out.” Not so surprisingly and in what sounds like a nod to shippers who like thinking of Rizz & Isles as a couple, Maura says, “Me, too!” But Kent isn’t biting. Back to more science that gets to a point that I already kind of assumed: That the shooter was firing from on land. It’s convoluted 7th grade geometry mixed with a dash of high school physics, and I quit listening.

Now here is Mama Rizz again—thank god. And she has… baked goods? Cupcakes made from cricket flour, hemp, and agave. The icing looks suspiciously off diet, but I’m still intrigued and her hair DOES look great. But how is she feeling?!?! Lorraine Bracco’s bawdy Mama would certainly not shy away from telling us. Leave it to Nina to tell Mama how fantastic she looks (she knows how important it is to get in with her!). But Nina’s on a case and leaves Mama Rizz alone, in the office, with Frankie’s flour baby! Clearly she can’t resist. She’s just told her all she wants in the world is some white flour, white sugar, white rice, white anything!

So interestingly enough Korsak and Jane decide that they need to readdress some questions to Mark Harris’s wife—because god knows they can’t go back to Linda’s stinking lure trailer. They talk about how Mark had just won an endorsement deal with Big Rod’s Sporting Goods and how ironic it is. But it’s TNT, she just means that he was never a good fisherman! In any event he got a first payment of $50K for the gig—which he sent back to his wife, saying that he wanted to “make a clean break from fishing.” That may actually be my favorite line of the episode.

Annnnnnd Skeet is back to make a date with Jane. This man has an unbelievable ability to get into a police station, a crime scene, and any number of places that would be otherwise restricted if you didn’t have a gold satin jacket. He does tip her off that he’s in a state of excitement based on her skin color, pupil dilation, and shallowness of breath—all of which make her think about the similar characteristics she witnessed when she was interviewing Linda! I mean…

It took Skeet to make her think revisiting a witness…his ex-girlfriend, no less. Guy’s a miracle worker. In any event, Jane makes quick mincemeat of her, starting first with “Do you own a crossbow?” “Everyone owns a crossbow!” There it comes again! Why are crossbows so cool?!?

But wait! Yes, she killed him, but he was never cheating. She was cheating for him! And then he found out and wanted to get out of the deeply ugly world of bass fishing. “He was a poet—he saw what he wanted to see.” But why kill him? The endorsement deal. “We could have been king and queen of the lakes,” Linda almost wails. Well, this is sad…

Meanwhile, back at police headquarters, Jane runs into The Skeetster—it’s unclear what he prefers still—and rather than thank him for his role in cracking her case she tries to hide from him. Because of course she is falling for him? She does agree to go on his boat to see the sunset for 10 minutes. As it turns out his boat is parked out front of the police station—they share a glass of champagne, and I start to wonder if champagne is allowed on this diet that I’ve been contemplating and how Mama Rizz is handling that. Also, in perhaps his creepiest gesture, Skeeter renames HIS BOAT FOR HER: Jane is totally charmed and tells him to call her next time he’s in Boston.

In the closing moments, we learn a lot about not a lot—other than that Mama Rizz accidentally kidnapped Frankie’s flour baby and turned it into cupcakes. Oh, and that Jane is still considering dating Skeetster. What we don’t know is whether or not Mama Rizz cheated on her diet. Burning question for next week: Can someone please invite Nina and Kent to drinks? It just seems rude at this point.

Rizzoli & Isles
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