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S02.E06: Boys Will Be Boys 2013.07.15

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A 13-year-old child with gender identity issues is killed after being bullied in a mall bathroom, and Sharon's husband helps Rusty set up a date.

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This episode is heartbreaking, and I think they did a really good job with it.  I don’t watch a lot of TV, so I don’t have a representative sample to evaluate, but from what I'd seen by the time this aired, this was one of only a few sensitive, accurate presentations of a transgender character.  (The “Georgette” episode of The Closer was nowhere near as offensive as I expected it to be, and generally not offensive at all, but this shoots multiple levels above.)

Provenza basically stands in for a large segment of the audience, not really understanding gender dysphoria but regarding her no differently than he does their cisgender victims.  I love that the only time he uses the wrong pronoun is when he rails at Rios for her reluctance to prosecute the mother because Michelle’s gender identify means the victim will be put on trial – “You think I understand boys who think they’re girls?  I’m just as much at sea as your jurors will be, but I know when a kid has had his head bashed in.”  And I am particularly pleased that, other than that once incident, he is among those who use the correct name and pronouns immediately and consistently, as is Andy. 

Then there are Taylor and Rios, who use the wrong pronouns, but are just insensitive, not malicious, and get with the program when Sharon corrects them.  The only deliberate misgendering and odious language comes from the bully who sexually battered Michelle, and the mother.

This isn’t a documentary about transgender youth, and they nonetheless managed to organically weave in the dispelling of several myths*, but if I could add one thing it would be to contrast the scene of the mother talking about her objections to hormone therapy at Michelle’s age (which does, indeed, have drawbacks) with someone talking about the drawbacks of a transgender adolescent going through the wrong puberty.

*The conversation between Jack, Rusty, and Sharon, when Jack flat out asks Sharon if Michelle could have changed who she was and Sharon says it's not a choice is a little clunky, especially as a way to reflect on Rusty (who's also struggling with whether to hide who he is), but on the whole it still plays as a natural conversation.

The actor playing the father does a great job in the scene where he realizes his son killed his daughter.  He truly looks shattered, and like he’s about to puke.  And Matt’s “You know what, she didn’t run like a girl” was absolutely chilling.  He accepted her as his sister, protected her – and then chased her down and beat her to death with a baseball bat because he decided she was the cause of all their parents’ problems (when he knows that’s not true) and he was tired of family decisions accommodating her special circumstances.

And then the mother, who never accepted her own daughter for who she was, helped cover it up.  And declared herself a good mother.  It’s a haunting case.

I said of the last episode that I like being able to see why Sharon married Jack in the first place, in addition to why she’s long separated from him, and I like that again here (him quoting A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues to flesh him out as someone Sharon would have been compatible with), and also that we can see why she had kids with him -- he turned out to be a shit father to their kids, but he’s great with Rusty, so I can imagine him once being good with Emily and Ricky.

I’d love to see them at the movie, or back at Sharon’s condo after, because she’s rather emotionally vulnerable to him that night, given her feelings about the case (I love her wiping away tears as she sees him heading towards her office with Rusty and Kris) and the fact he’s not only generally compassionate about the fact this job is even harder on her emotionally than the one she had in Internal Affairs, but specifically in tune with her about the issues this case raised.  Yet she still has his number, like when he says the evening will be like old times and she comes right back with, “Yeah, really, really old times.  Elizabethan, I think.”

I adore – to a truly irrational degree – Sharon waving her fork at Jack and mouthing at him to stop when he’s on the verge of mentioning Rusty’s sexual orientation.  Not just that I always love the way she runs interference on that issue so Rusty can come to terms with it in his own time, but that I find the fork waving incredibly cute.  I have issues.

Jack scoffing, “Who eats one pancake?” and Rusty answering, “Uh, your wife” is fun, too (and then Sharon never even eats the one, heh).

I have recurring issues with Julio’s physical temper, but when he pushes the bully into the wall (after he bully hurls a homophobic slur at Rusty) and says, “Sorry, I thought you were in the doorway,” I simply smile.  I also like the look he gives Rusty.

Sharon realizing the brother’s calls to Michelle are hinky because kids don’t call, they text – the only person Rusty calls is her – amuses me.  First, because I don’t text unless someone texts me and I have to respond.  Second, because Mary McDonnell, who’s kind of notoriously bad with new technology, once said she had to embrace texting because her son wouldn't call her back, but would answer if she sent a text.

There are a lot of enjoyable exchanges in this one:

“How old are you?”
“Fifteen.  How old are you?”
“Old enough to recommend you get tried as an adult”

“It sounds like this child was in an extremely stressful situation; is it possible she committed suicide?”
“And then buried herself?”

“You spent virtually no time with our children when they were Rusty’s age; why are you so interested in him?”
“I am really aware that I am not a good parent, Sharon, but it’s not necessary to remind me every five minutes.”
“Oh, it is.”
“Well, maybe I’m interested in the kid because you are.”
“I wish you would develop this same interest in finding yourself an apartment.”

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No matter how many times I watch this episode, I'm blown away every time by how well done it is - one of the best of the series - and, while I don't know what else came out that season (I don't watch a lot of TV, and didn't even watch this in real time), I'm rather astounded it didn't get a GLAAD Media Award.

Anyway, something that strikes me each time but I've previously neglected to mention: Obviously the mom is a parenting fail, what with the refusal to accept her child for who she is and the, you know, covering up her murder at the hands of her brother, but even when she's playing at "I'm a good mother" in the beginning, she introduces herself to the squad by pitching a fit that her husband has called the cops when Michelle goes missing.  But he doesn't call 911 until just after midnight (Michelle was last heard from around 7:00, when she called from the mall for a ride because she'd spotted that Lewis shit and was scared, and when calling her friends and looking for her yields nothing by then, he calls), so, while we don't know exactly what time it is when she comes home doing her "Seriously, you overreacted and called the cops?" routine, given that there has been enough time for uniforms to respond and call in Major Crimes and the sun comes up not terribly long afterward, it is in the wee overnight hours.  It's maybe 3:00 in the morning, her THIRTEEN-year-old daughter has disappeared after placing a frightened call, and she thinks that doesn't warrant calling the cops.  Maybe it's the one flaw in this stellar episode that they don't give her the side-eye from that moment on.

Also, since the last time I talked about my irrational love for the scene in which Sharon waves her fork at Jack to get him to stop asking Rusty questions about Kris/dating, I have learned that in one take, Mary McDonnell lost control of the fork and nearly impaled Tom Berenger with it, so now I love that little moment beyond the telling.

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Yeah this was a great episode all around. One of Major Crimes most haunting cases, as you could see from everyone’s reactions to it, they were disturbed, including Morales who always had sympathy for victims, especially children, despite his general enthusiasm and upbeat attitude. 

Provenza was awesome as always, and I loved his rant at the always irritating Rios and urging Raydor to call Hobbs. 

I felt extreme sympathy for the father, who cared deeply about Michelle, it was interesting to see the brother turn from concerned and upset to revealing his true colors as a cold blooded killer who hated his sister, while the mom was just useless and a bitch. 

Julio was awesome dealing with the bully and telling him to have a miserable life. 

Watching awesome episodes like this one just makes me even more pissed about what a shitfest season 6 was.

Edited by Xeliou66.
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