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S02.E17: Year-End Blowout 2013.12.30

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The son in a father/son used car dealership is killed in a car explosion on the lot, and Rusty tries to pass his field training for his undercover assignment.

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Sharon's struggle to allow Rusty to go through with the SIS operation is so well played; I love the scene that starts with them arriving at the Murder Room for the morning, conversation in progress as he’s recounting what to do if shooting starts (hit the deck and wait for it to be over; he jokes “or bleed out; whatever comes first”) – as Rusty heads off to meet with Amy and Cooper, Sharon maintains an upbeat attitude as Rusty is assuring her he can handle it, and not to worry, and then the moment he’s out of sight her eyes fill with tears and she takes a deep breath.  I also love the mix of emotions on her face as she watches Rusty get ready for his first day and as she helps him with his vest; she's equal parts proud and worried.  Mary McDonnell is fantastic.

She’s also fantastically funny during Rusty’s driving lesson, a scene I love from beginning to end.  Sharon’s facial expressions, body language, and dialogue are absolutely perfect (my favorite is her “the way you drive is a life-and-death situation" comeback), and Rusty’s protest that signaling before changing lanes in L.A. is like asking the people behind you to speed up is spot on.  It’s made all the more fun being interspersed with Provenza's commentary as he watches the live feed of the roof footage (because he doesn't climb, heh) -- "Is that a kneecap?”  I also enjoy when Amy, agreeing to take over Rusty's training and excited to be the one asked, says, “Of course; sounds like fun,” and Sharon immediately replies, “It’s not.”

Rusty falling for the "turn off your wire, don't give the signal, and follow my instructions or we'll kill your mom" ruse was incredibly predictable, but I like the way they tricked him because it was the perfect way to get through to him how dire the consequences can be of not following instructions.  "Great, we'll put that on your tombstone: Here Lies Rusty Beck, He Was Really Sorry."  He’d been so typically Rusty up until then, blowing off the admonitions (like because he knew how to drive normally, that meant he didn't need any special instruction on how to drive in a way that left him easy to follow by his protection and primed to make an evasive maneuver if necessary), and just generally not taking things seriously enough (listening to the importance of not deviating in the slightest from the plan and then ten seconds later asking what if he needs to change plans).

This episode has one of the show's least-sympathetic victims in "Little Ted."  To paraphrase Sharon from a later episode, who wouldn't want to blow this guy up?  But I wasn’t sure who’d done it; it was hinky that the comptroller said nothing unusual had happened that morning (except for Little Ted’s car blowing up, heh), when he knew about the mass layoffs, but the dad’s “I told him not to; I didn’t want you bothering them when it couldn’t have been any of them since the bomb was planted before they got their termination notices” explanation made sense, especially given how he'd tried to stop it in the first place; he truly is that protective of his long-term employees.  With all the emphasis on the financials, I should have put it together sooner that the comptroller had been up to something and wanted to keep it from being revealed and that the second bomb being in his car was a red herring.  But I didn’t put it together until they brought him back in.

Nice touch that as Little Ted hands out pink slips, the dealership’s commercial (how awful that it apparently airs on a constant loop in the showroom!) hits the part where they say, “Our family gives yours the royal treatment.”

I like that Big Ted (who’ll always be Dr. Anspaugh from ER to me) doesn’t care that Teddy was running off with a guy (“some people like automatic, some people like manual”), he only cares that the divorce means a percentage of his business is going to leave the family and their ledgers are going to be scrutinized.

I like Tao's excitement at detonating the second bomb.  I also like him repeatedly translating the bomb squad guy for the rest of the squad.  (They really shouldn’t need it for at least half of what the guy says, but I go with it because it’s funny.)

Julio’s "Who buys Christmas lights after Christmas?” suspicion turns out to be spot on in that the purchase was not made by Teddy, and was to buy bomb-making materials, but it’s silly as a general statement.  The charge was made to something like Christmas Depot on 12/26 – that’s when a lot of people buy, because of the deep discounts. 

I recognized the actor playing the wife's divorce lawyer as a “Hey, it’s that guy!” actor, and checked his credits on IMDb.  Indeed, I’d watched him in quite a few things (a regular on My Sister Sam and a guest star on tons of shows), including an episode of The Closer (which I can’t picture him in); he was in the season one episode, Batter Up.

Sharon usually rolls her eyes at Provenza's comments, or shares a look with Amy, or even swats him on the arm, but when he responds to Mike's reading of the "we should take a vacation, because you work so hard" email (from a then-unknown person) by saying, "Doesn't sound like a wife," she smirks.

This episode contains another example of Julio pulling a chair out for Sharon in Electronics.  He always manages to do it in a way that's courteous rather than patronizing.  This time, it's a little crowded in there and she's the last to join them, so he's just making room for her. 

Continuity nitpick: Switching back and forth between takes is obvious in the scene when Sharon makes Rusty pull over so she can drive – they take the beginning part from a shot when she’s putting her purse on the back floorboard, the middle from one where she has it in her hands to get out of the car, and then back to the first because she doesn’t have it with her as she does get out.

Another little nitpick: Andy refers to Judge Richwood as Judge Ridgewood (when saying he denied their warrant request for the dealership’s financial records).  I notice because the actor who plays Richwood has said Mary McDonnell hates his character’s name, because she always wants to say Ridgewood instead and has to concentrate on it.

Another (I really do like this episode, I swear!): How is Olivia getting 1/8 of the dealership?  That would make sense if Teddy owned 1/4: If 1/4 Big Ted, 1/4 Big Ted’s wife/Little Ted’s Mom, 1/4 Big Ted’s brother, and 1/3 Little Ted, then Olivia gets half of his 1/4 = 1/8.  But Mama Ted and Brother Ted already gave Little Ted their shares (which is how he can make all these decisions over his father’s objections).  So let’s say Little Ted didn’t have ownership until then; he just worked there until they gave him their shares so he could change the way the business is run.  Meaning it was 1/3 each Big Ted, Mama Ted, and Brother Ted, and then Little Ted had 2/3 to Big Ted’s 1/3.  How would Olivia wind up with 1/8 in that scenario?  So let's go back to Little Ted already had ownership, meaning 1/4 for everyone and then them giving him their shares would mean he has 3/4 to Big Ted’s 1/4.  That would make 1/8 a low starting point for her – she’d go for half and negotiate down.

Bigger nitpick: The idea is to make it appear to the guy behind the threatening letters that Rusty is just going about his day, without any police protection.  So, even though it doesn't seem likely since the letters don't come direct, just in case Creepy Letter Writer by now knows where Rusty lives and is watching the condo, why risk him seeing Cooper arriving and leaving every morning?  He’s too old to be dating Rusty and too young to be dating Sharon, so what could his sudden routine presence be other than as a cop?  The SIS team member as Rusty leaves the parking garage should be the first step in the chain (and Rusty is alone going to/from the condo to the garage, so it’s not like Cooper keeps him safe for that part of the journey).  But, I guess, since they call the condo building by its real name/address, I should just assume that, like the real building, it's secured, with a 24/7 doorperson, so that even if the stalker knew the building or even the specific unit, he couldn't actually get past the front desk, so he'd have no way to stake out the condo/that floor -- Cooper would just be some guy entering the building every day, with no way of knowing he was heading for Sharon's unit.

Edited by Bastet.
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