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S02.E15: Curve Ball 2013.12.16

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Major Crimes spends their Christmas vacations investigating the murder of a baseball scout, while Rusty's therapist asks him some tough questions about his mom.

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Provenza taking Flynn to a Venice head shop to get his step-grandsons their Christmas presents and, of course, stumbling into a crime -- I knew I'd love this about 30 seconds after it started.  I love the Christmas episodes (I know we didn’t get one last season, but I’m including The Closer), and I love the Flynn/Provenza messes.  Combine them, and I’m in! 

The victim's son is a well-acted and highly sympathetic character, and I like when Sharon gives him a little supportive touch to his back when he discovers that home movies of him and his sister as kids at Christmas were the last thing his dad had open on his computer, and his moment of relief and gratitude when she gently suggests they pull up the last file the dad created instead.  And when he watches a mother being reunited with her son, knowing it only happened because of his dad, but that his dad lost his life for it.  And when he doesn’t object to giving his dad’s killer a deal, so another son doesn’t have to go through years of testimony, trial, and appeals.  Very well done.

That poor kid, Rory/Reed, is going to be fucked up for a long time.  The psychological trauma inflicted on him by his kidnapper is hard to wrap my own mind around.

The parallels between the various parents and sons are closing in on anvil territory, yes (and the dissolve from Rusty to Rory/Reed is definitely a bit much), but it works for me. 

Rusty's conflicting feelings during this time are poignant; he now loves Sharon and is happy to be with her, and with Dr. Joe’s help he’s confronting just how bad life with his mom got, but he still loves and misses her and thus feels guilty that she's out there somewhere far less nice than where he is.  That he doesn't know anymore who he'd go/stay with if his mom came back today (when before the answer was definitively go, and that has changed, but it’s not yet definitively stay) is both appropriate and moving. 

I like everything about the conclusion of the evaluation: Dr. Joe offering himself for future conversations, Rusty genuinely thanking him (and shaking his hand, which is not just a little thing for someone as immature as he is), and Sharon giving Rusty Dr. Joe’s card – and thus the option and encouragement, but without pressure to call if and when he wants to, without going through her.

Semi-scattered thoughts:

As I noted before, during my second viewing of The Closer, I developed a strange little crush on Andy.  He’s nearly my dad’s age, so it’s not a sexual one, but he's a handsome man with a great smile and a twinkle in his eyes.  That crush of sorts emerges during the Venice scenes, as I find him quite attractive in his casual clothes and sunglasses.  He's breaking into an RV at the time, so it's a bit odd, but whatever..

When I saw the name Jansen Panettiere in the credits, I wondered if he was related to Hayden.  As soon as I saw Rory/Reed’s face and hair, I knew he had to be her little brother; the family resemblance is strong.  I wonder why they cast a kid with straight hair to play Rory as a youngster; natural curls are obvious, especially on males, so it really stood out. 

Provenza’s Christmas ties make smile.  Even better is his giving Tao his credit card and asking him to buy the electric train set the guy who found the victim’s credit card in a dumpster had tried to buy for his son.

I also like that Buzz and Amy are sporting ugly Christmas sweaters – it’s perfectly in character for the two of them to go all out, Provenza to acknowledge the season via a tie, and the others to dress normally.  Especially for Sharon not to change her wardrobe, even though she decorates her office and goes pretty crazy decorating her condo.  And Andrea wears only a small Christmas tree pin.  It’s all so character appropriate.

I laugh when Sharon asks Andy where the victim’s laptop is, he asks, “What laptop,” and she smacks him in the chest with the file as she reminds him his crime report says there was a laptop charger and wi-fi router in the RV.  She poked Julio in the chest with a clipboard in an earlier episode.  It amuses me.

Sharon trying to get information out of Dr. Joe is also amusing.  As are his reactions.  I like him a lot!  I can laugh at it without getting upset with her, because she’s just trying to get a general sense of how Rusty is doing rather than asking him to disclose specifics.  She still shouldn’t be doing it (and she knows that, and when she takes his radical suggestion to simply ask Rusty how it’s going with Dr. Joe, she makes sure to say he doesn’t have to tell her anything if he doesn’t want to), but it’s funny to watch her try.  And even better to watch the look on her face when Dr. Joe shuts her down.

The victim’s son is already at LAX when he texts his dad asking where he is (since he’s supposed to be there to pick him up), and the detectives – having the victim’s phone – head out to meet him.  Without traffic, they could get from the Murder Room to the terminal in about half an hour, but this is Los Angeles.  During the holidays.  There will be traffic.  The son would just hail a cab or something rather than wait up to an hour beyond however long he’s already been waiting.  They account for that by having Sharon tell Julio and Amy to text the son along the way, so he knows someone is coming, it just sticks out at me.

As does the fact this aired nearly 10 days before Christmas (and it’s not a case of show time before further along than real time, as the next episode is still prior to Christmas), but Amy’s family has already arrived for the holiday.  That’s a long visit.  It sticks out to me because I initially thought Tao was a bit out there in saying it’s suspiciously convenient for the victim’s son to have arrived the day after the murder – I thought, “Um, it’s almost Christmas; any time in the next few days is a completely normal time for a son to visit his father.”

Provenza re-wrapping the victim’s gift to his son in the ugliest fashion possible should have been done by Andy instead, continuity with his hideous wrapping skills from The Closer.

Edited by Bastet.
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