Television Review: The Closer, "Next of Kin"
by R.J. Carter
Published: December 2, 2007
The third season of the hit TNT series, The Closer gets back underway this Monday, December 3, with a two-hour special.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and Detective Brenda Lee Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) is grumpier than Ebenezer Scrooge as she is forced to get her home into the holiday spirit for prospective buyers. Fortunately, fate intervenes with just the thing to take her mind off her troubles -- a double homicide involving an armored car robbery.
When the wounded driver, Wesley Reed (Bill Heck), disappears from the hospital where he's taken for treatment, he becomes an immediate suspect in what has been a string of robberies that has escalated into murder with automatic weapons. Fortunately, Brenda and her crew learn where Wesley took off to, after interrogating his abandoned little brother, Grady (Sterling Knight). The bad news is, it's all the way across the country -- in Atlanta.
Fans of the series will instantly see what's coming for our L.A.-based magnolia flower: a trip back to her home stomping grounds, which by necessity means a holiday guest appearance by her parents (played by Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen), which is guaranteed to create more than one uncomfortable situation for Brenda.
Procedurally, Brenda doesn't have the authority to take Wesley across the state lines and have him flow back to Los Angeles. Authority has never stopped our heroine before, however, but this time she's got the most cantankerous of charges, and he creatively ensures that he will most certainly not be flown back to the waiting arms of the LAPD. Which means the only way to get him back is over the road, setting the stage for a Johnson family road trip in a Christmas-bedecked RV, complete with Perry Como CDs to make the trip all the more enjoyable.
Of course, Brenda being who she is, pulls out all the stops to get the confession out of Wesley and identify his accomplices. But her methods rub her mother the wrong way, setting up a confrontation between the two women about right and wrong, and the way the elder Johnsons get sucked into Brenda's vortex of lying means to justify judicial ends.
While there are several humorous touches in "Next of Kin," the episode ends on a somber note when unexpected events take Brenda completely by surprise as her lies come back to haunt her just as Christmas day arrives. You'll not want to miss this one.