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S02.E16: Risk Assessment 2013.12.23

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A prominent politician's son is murdered in a gang neighborhood, which sparks a new interest in an earlier crime. Meanwhile, Rusty suddenly takes an interest in why each detective joined the squad.

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Other than the rapists and murderers, I don’t think I have ever hated a character in this series as much as I hate the victim’s father, the asshole congressman. (Not even Rios, heh.)  And I’ve liked quite a few of the killers more than him.  What a loathsome person! I love everyone’s reaction to his “those people” and “ghetto woman” comments (and his “I’m sorry if I was misunderstood” apology straight out of the Racist’s Handbook) in Electronics.  And especially Fritz and Taylor telling him they’ll be reporting him to the House ethics committee. 

I think the meeting between Taylor, Fritz, the task force detective, Julio, and Sharon (and later also Congressman Asshole and his other son), is quite interesting for how Sharon is stuck in the middle of this big dick-slinging contest, and can thus go one of two ways:  1) establish that hers is biggest, or 2) try to diffuse things, and facilitate cooperation between everyone as they get back to the case, which is what often happens with a lone woman in the middle of that kind of male dynamic.  She goes for the second option.  It stood out to me the first time around, and then I watched the DVD special feature about season two, and they talked a little about how Sharon in this season, as she continued to get more comfortable with the new job and new team, felt she could start to let the more traditionally feminine aspects of her leadership style emerge.

I don't like Buzz, but I love when he says Rusty expects them all to be fascinated by his life, but puts zero effort into getting to know them.   It's a clunky set-up for exposition, but I like getting the backstory on how everyone wound up on the force.  And they’re all well suited to the characters.  Particularly Sharon’s – she would make a good lawyer, and can think like one better than anyone else on the squad, so it makes sense to find out that she originally wanted to go to law school (Mary has said she has it in her head that Sharon’s dad was a lawyer, and she was intending to follow in his footsteps) – Andy’s – any trouble picturing him as a young troublemaker who decided it would be more fun to put bad guys in jail than to go there himself? – and Julio’s – of course he reacted to his upbringing in a gang-ridden neighborhood by setting out to lock them up, and I love the “avenging his cat” twist on that.

As I said before, I have mixed feelings on how they presented life in gang territory via this case (it’s pretty obvious the consultants come from law enforcement), but on the whole I think it's done well.  And I think they did a great job with the balance the moms have to strike, making their kids “tough but not hard,” and making them aware of reality without taking away all sense of hope. 

Also with the downsides of these well-intentioned outsiders who don’t understand the reality they’re inserting themselves into, coming in and unintentionally messing with all that hard work.  There’s a deleted scene near the end that drives that last part home a little more; when Sharon, Taylor, Provenza, and Fritz are in the conference room and start talking about the threats against Rusty and Sharon, that scene originally starts with them watching a press conference given by Congressman Asshole, out in front of the son’s community garden project.  He starts off with something like, “Robert strove to make his ideal of urban America a reality,” and then goes on to say he’s going to fund programming to keep his vision going.  Sharon turns off the TV in disgust, saying she’s heard enough, and Taylor grimaces that he’s made his son a hero and furthered his political career.

Smaller observations:

Other than because it made it convenient to use the dog to identify the killer, why would Animal Control have kept Max to assess whether he’s a threat?  He wasn’t out on the streets being “vicious,” he was inside his own home barking through a window (and was perfectly well behaved when they led him away). It’s called being a guard dog.  Sure, they’d have taken him temporarily so the police could investigate the apartment, but then released him to the family when they came and asked for him.

"You want to make this about race?  Here we have two white guys who withheld vital information from a black supervisor."  Go, Taylor!  I also like Taylor reassuring Sharon that Rusty is not going to wind up like the victim (who, like Rusty, was a witness); it's a nice moment for him.

There were some funny exchanges, too, like Provenza’s “Well, bah humbug -- you have an unidentified dead body on your living room floor; get drunk somewhere else” when the idiots who dragged the rug home were annoyed by having to cancel their Christmas party.

And, speaking of those guys, I like when one suggests they just take the rug back, the other says it now has their DNA on it, so the police might think they did it, the first one objects that won't happen, and then we cut to Sanchez asking, “So why did you two kill this guy?”

I like that Provenza has obviously heard Andy’s "why I became a cop" story many times; he requests “the short version, please,” and knows Officer Nichols’ name. I also like the way Andy is just nodding his way through Provenza’s story, and then rolls his eyes when Provenza gets to the part about enjoying telling people what to do. 

They don’t ever say it’s USC where the victim was a grad student, which is a bit noticeable (at least to me) in the context of the references to his school, the neighborhood in which he lived, etc., when it’s obvious that’s where he was attending, but USC is written on the Murder Board.

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The Detective Sanchez line of the episode was when he starts giggling and said something to the effect that "we are sitting here" when the suspect threw out the "do you think I'm stupid?" line. Honorable mention was the look he gave when he remembered putting away for a third strike life the gangsters who killed his cat when he was a child.

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26 minutes ago, Raja said:

The Detective Sanchez line of the episode was when he starts giggling and said something to the effect that "we are sitting here" when the suspect threw out the "do you think I'm stupid?" line.

The best part of that was the smirk on his face.  Perfect.

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