Brand snazzin’ new episodes of The Closer begin on Monday, December 7th at 9 pm ET/PT. The first episode to bring us back into the life of Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) is titled Dead Mans Hand. Creepy much? And it was kind of a creepy episode, actually. This episode was directed by the series creator, James Duff. This marks the second time he’s directed an episode of The Closer. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Duff before, and he’s very sweet – it’s ALMOST difficult to believe he created such a gritty series. (But come on, I seem sweet and I totally kick ass at ping pong – take no prisoners!) Duff has also directed the  season 5 finale which will air on Monday, December 21st at 9 pm ET/PT.


Chief Johnson is in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department Major Crimes unit, and in the Dead Man’s Hand episode she’s asked (er, ordered) to look into the life of an employee they suspect is being abused. Two-time Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell (from Dances with Wolves) reprises her role as Captain Raydor for this episode. I like Captain Raydor, she seems like a cool aunt that has great clothing to steal.

“I can’t create charges out of thin air, I need evidence!” – Brenda Leigh Johnson, The Life

Chief Pope gets very stern with Brenda when a mistake in following up the abuse case results in a death. I understood why Pope was so mad, but I had a hard time blaming Brenda. I think what’s interesting about this show is that Brenda doesn’t reveal her vulnerabilities to other people on the show, and the show even hides them from US! I got the sense (especially as the episode went on) that she felt regret and remorse, but she kept it professional in the work environment. She stood by her decisions.

As a leader, sometimes it’s important to stand by what you’ve done even if you know you could have done things better. Admitting that you were wrong can give away your credibility and power (maybe even respect from people who work for you), but admitting it to the right people will also make you feel responsible in the way that you should. (This reminds me of an episode of Greek where Franny instructs Casey not to apologize to the pledges…that was such a fun episode…) It’s a very tricky line to walk. Like…walking a tight rope when you’re in a pair of platform pumps and you at LEAST have a baton to use for balance, but then you realize the baton has been heated up to the level of a volcano’s cozy interior (read: molten hot!).

Now, as if it wasn’t enough for Brenda’s work life to be frustrating, Brenda was also facing a very touchy Fritz. What a big man-baby. If he has problems, he should just communicate in a less …mean way! I doubt the fact that Brenda’s clothing was as pretty as ever made her feel any better. She actually received a HUGE shock about Fritz in this episode. Uh oh? I personally don’t like shocks or surprises. Which is why when someone surprises me with an electric shock I get VERY testy. Ahem.

“Which makes your statement – Sargent – complete bullshit.” – Captain Raydor

This episode had me fooled for a lot of the time (in a way that made me impressed, not feeling like a moron)  and the plot was very well-constructed. This show doesn’t dumb things down to be unquestionably understood. Even after the final conclusions have been made, sometimes I still wonder if all of the choices were the right ones for the story. I also wonder what I’d do in certain circumstances. And then I remember that I’m damn lucky not to work in a Major Crimes Unit because the sight of blood makes me dry-heave. And really, that movie about the Zodiac Killer was way too long for me. An hour of investigation with Chief Johnson is all I need. I do my best investigating when I have popcorn handy.

When you’ve seen this episode, let me know what you thought!