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.


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (268 Votes)

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


I agree with you that I saw her mom's death coming when she kept wanting to talk and Brenda kept putting it off. The focus on her dad's health also gave me a clue of what was coming. Of course, that did not lessen the impact, which was brutal. However, I do have small bone to pick with the episode in general. There is no longer a sacrament called "Last Rites" in the Catholic Church. It is now called the Sacrament of the Sick, and is administered to anyone who is ill, about to undergo surgery, or possibly dying. This is *not* new. I taught religious education for many years, and focused on the 7 sacraments, and this was over 10 years ago. While the episode was a good one, where is the proper research that the writers should have done?


The leak to me would have to be Gabriel.


Pope has to be the leak. The way it is going he is expecting to "move upstairs" which means we would still see him from time to time - but J.K. is leaving the series and therefore I suspect is not being moved upstairs. The Pope character seems too disloyal and emotional for the top job. I think there was also a hint in the fake complaint against Brenda. You don't do that to people, it was malicious. So I'm betting it's him. Whoever the leaker is, they won't be around for the new series, so the only other person has to be Gabriel. I think the death of Brenda's mom was unexpected and that's a good thing because many are just that way. It was a very realistic make up and face look, which made it very dramatic, more so for people who have not yet been there to witness someone who passes away. Frances Sternhagen is such a great actress and it's a shame we won't see her in that role anymore. I suspect Kyra will parachute in from time to time, after a year or two, assuming the new series clicks with viewers. And that will be interesting to see, how much of the series was Kyra and how much was the great ensemble cast and writing. I suspect she will stay away long enough to see if it floats by itself.


I want to know how the final scene was filmed. I suspect Kyra was kept away from seeing the final make up and positioning of her mother until the shoot. Her acting was beyond performance art, it was real. If it was pure acting.....OMG is she good!


Yes, I saw it coming, but I've been tearing up all week whenever I think of Willie Rae's death. I keep think I need to call my mom to let her know a family member has died. Willie Rae's character was such a warm, loving 'Mom' figure, brilliantly played. I'm guessing the impetus for Brenda leaving will be her need to care for her dad. As far as the leak goes, I've been thinking Pope, but the last couple episodes seem to suggest Gabriel: dating a lawyer, and his comment to Raydor that he always sounds things off of her. The character has been closer to Brenda than any others on the squad so perhaps that will turn out to be the ultimate irony. Whatever the case, Kyra Sedgewick has been brilliant in this role and created an unforgettable character, the like of which I think we will not see for a long time. I wish the show well, but it will take a lot to succeed without her.


I will truly miss the show but was glad to have picked up each season's DVD so I'm never without a Kyra 'fix'. I also have DVD of other favorite shows but never watch them as much as I watch the previous seasons of this show. I'm sorry they had Willy Rae die, I thought that it would have Brenda Leigh find her sick and get her treatment and then decide to leave the job so she can take care of her parents and that be the way to write her out of the show. She was interviewed and said she wouldn't be killed off so there's always a change for guess appearances. I unfortunately think it would be easy to write Gabriel as the mole as a previous poster pointed out things from previous episodes that I agree with. I also think that because he's choosing not to sign up for what may be another 7 year run, it would be easy to write him as the leak. On another point, I would love it if they would bring back the female detective that was in the beginning years and she had an affair with Gabriel. Now that he's going, she could and should be brought back, I really liked the character. and I would love it if the first episode of Major Crimes would be killing of Stroh and a total vindication of Brenda! I haven't liked the last season's episodes lately was glad that she was able to bring to closure last nights storyline. I want her to go out with a BIG WIN! NutsforClosure


Brenda, in her grief that she put her job before her homelife,especially after her mother asking to talk to her, I think Brenda kills the serial killer lawyer to do something worthwhile.


I loved this episode! I also picked up early on that something was up with mama but I didn't expect that ending, Kyra's acting was phenominal, I felt her pain along with her! I hope Gabriel isn't the leak because I enjoy the dynamic between him and Brenda! Although he is the only one from the cast not joining Major Crimes!!


I was so disappointed in this episode. Why did they have to end it like that! It was so heartbreaking and not the way for a great show to go out.


I had a feeling that one of her parents would die during the series because they are older but last night was a stunner. I felt it coming about half way also but i never expected it that way...I absolutely balled and called my mother, of course she thinks it's my hormones and she knows how I love The Closer, I told her that I just didn't expect Willie Rae to die. This was a very hard episode....2 more to go....

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The Closer Season 7 Episode 19 Quotes

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


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