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The Closer Review: Just One Minute

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Although I saw the last minutes of "Last Rites" coming somewhere around the halfway mark of the hour, the impact of what occured wasn't obscured by the foreboding. Not in the least. If anything, Kyra Sedgwick's incredible response brought me to tears.

Sedgwick is such an incredible, emotional actress that you have to wonder how much of her was feeling not only Brenda Leigh's pain, but her own pain at the loss of her alter ego. Surely playing those last minutes drove home that the end was near and she'd be saying goodbye to a character that had become intrinsically linked to herself.

Can Brenda Help Her Father?

There was a lot to be learned during this episode, not only the play on words brought about by the title. Finally seeing Clay and Willie Ray again, knowing Brenda's daddy was being brought back to health by the oncologist she knocked heads with in "Drug Fiend," was a welcome relief.

Brenda was obviously having trouble balancing her family and work situation, and it was never more apparent how much time she gave to Major Crimes than it was as she juggled family meals, crime scenes and phone calls from mama. Brenda was coming apart at the seams.

I had to give Clay some credit for allowing Brenda and Willie Ray to gussy up his walker with red and blue flashing lights and crime scene tape. Did we ever get to see him use it? I don't think so, but I'd imagine the cast had a hell of a time playing with that prop between takes.

Kyra Sedgwick and James Duff held a press phone call in June and discussed a lot of the changes that Brenda would be experiencing as The Closer came to an end. For a good portion of the season, Chief Pope has been a thorn in Brenda's side. The department suffered a leak that still remains undisclosed, and he's been at the forefront of the suspect list. Standing close by on the list was Commander Taylor, but in recent episodes he's shown a distinctive change toward Brenda, almost leaning in a protective direction.

When Pope was seemingly more interested in saving his own ass before his next ascent in the ranks of the LAPD - depicted by a written complaint he gave to Raydor as a threat mechanism against Brenda -  it was easy to want to stomp down on him, and hard. Raydor pointed out that they may have been friends and more at one time, but Pope wasn't going to let Brenda disrespect him and it would be in her best interest to let him take the lead with the Catholic Church, even if it was only to make himself feel better.

Taylor, meanwhile, was still looking out for Brenda and trying to keep her out of the line of fire. It was a really strange dynamic.

By the end of the episode, Pope made it clear that he had no intention of actually filing the complaint, he'd just been worried about Brenda and had been trying to scare her straight. He figured maybe if he treated her badly enough she would get the message and stop trying to run freely. Of course, Brenda will never change. She can't and she won't. Not for those reasons. Their discussion, however, was a long time coming and it felt great for both of them to just let their hair down, so to speak, and for us to get a hint of the relationship they used to share. The tensions between all of them has been enormously draining, and until Pope shrugged off that complaint, I didn't realize how good it would feel for them to put aside their animosity.

If things were getting better for Brenda at work, they were only getting more complicated at home. As her mama stalked her with the desire to talk, I had that general sense of foreboding I mentioned at the beginning of the review.

When Joel jumped onto the table, I knew Brenda would never see Willie Ray alive again. Death is a funny thing. You can spend a long time expecting it to come, or it can come in an instant. Either way, mark my words, you will be completely unprepared for it.

It was rather brilliant for Brenda to be so concerned for her daddy that she let herself take her mama for granted. After all, she's fine! That moment was a long time coming for Brenda. Fritz tried pushing her to see within herself, how she spent too much time with work and not enough for herself or her loved ones. In the end, it came after her with a vengeance. It didn't give her any time to flee, or think upon her actions or give a second thought to her behavior. It just walked up, slapped her across the face and ran. Us, too.

Did you see it coming? Knowing that Willie Ray is gone, what do you think this means for Brenda's departure from Major Crimes? We have two episodes left. One will assuredly be spent on the department leak and the other on Brenda Leigh's future. They are coming much too fast.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (268 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I would like to know what willie ray died of? and i wished that they would have went into more detail after she died, with clay and the family.

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Just for the record, I will totally miss the Closer. Here are my two most memorable episodes(died laughing) 1)Flynn and Provenza in dodger duds headed to the game at Dodger stadium but find the dead body, and 2) funeral at the large church and the heavy coffin slips and slides down the stairs and interrupts the wedding (died laughing again)

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Last week I had to catch "Last Rites" at 11 PM since I couldn't catch it at 9. I fell asleep about halfway through the episode only to wake up to Brenda's screaming. Being half asleep I didn't realize what was going on and I thought she was crying for her daddy and I thought they were calling 911 to get an ambulance. Anyway, I caught the repeat last night at 8 and thinking I knew what was going to happen at the end I was devastated that it was Willie Ray and not Clay. I almost felt sick at Brenda's pain and it is still sad to think about it. Then the new episode last night at the end showed Brenda saying she didn't have a minute for her mama and now she could use a minute herself but her mama has no time at all!! Heartbreaking.....

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I don't know about anyone else, but I was so shocked when Brenda walked into that bedroom and started calling Willie Ray to breakfast and, of course, as soon as she did not answer, I knew she was dead. We all did didn't we? Brenda's reaction was probably one of the best moments in acting that I have ever seen. One that comes close to me was in Steel Magnolias when Sally Field lost it at Shelby's graveside. Getting back to The Closer; when Willie Ray died, I was surprised at how viseral my reaction really was. I am so sorry to see The Closer come to an end. It is very difficult for a tv show to "reel me in" like The Closer has done. I am glad that there will be a spinoff with Major Crimes. I really hope it can hold up without Brenda, but I don't have a lot of hope. I will definitely give it "the old college try". I think we owe it to Provenza and the other guys and gals? They have made us laugh and cry too haven't they? We will all miss Brenda whom we love one moment and who absolutely infuriates us the next. That is what great acting is supposed to do.

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I will miss "The Closer"
Kyra Sedgewick & The Cast.
The Guys are Great!
Pope can retire. He was awful this season.
Kyra Sedgewick is Terrific. She gave Us 7 Unforgettable Seasons!
Without Her?
Mary McDonnell (Captain Raydor) Her acting is "A Major Crime"
After the last episode of "The Closer"
I will change the channel.

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tati asked: "Isn't anyone suspicious about Taylor's change of attitude?" No, I'm not, because although they butted heads in the beginning, they've come to respect one another. The turning point was back in season 4 when Taylor went to Brenda for help with a case involving a sheriff's son. The episode was "Cherry Bomb." Taylor had mishandled the case in the beginning and was very grateful to Brenda for all she did.

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Pat, about your complaint that 'there is no longer a sacrament called "Last Rites" in the Catholic Church.' True, but many of my fellow Catholics still refer to it as Last Rites, just like they still refer to Reconciliation as Confession.

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Isn't anyone suspicious about Taylor's change of attitude?

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just hit me that Gabriel said he had been dating his girlfriend for a year. maybe he's been sharing info with her and SHE is the leak unbeknownst to him??

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I did not see Willie Ray's death coming, until I saw Brenda's father at the kitchen table, without Willie Ray. I thought they were going to go with a sudden death, but that it would be Clay. The make up people have to be given some recognition, great shot, and the actress, not even a twitch while your eyes are open. Very good, acting by Kyra as well. I hated to see Willie Ray go, but I will hate to see this entire show go. I've enjoyed every episode.

The Closer Season 7 Episode 19 Quotes

Well, I guess we can all stop wondering if the Pope's Catholic.

Flynn

Provenza: Murdered priest in a grade school parking lot.
Flynn: Makes me think bad things.