NOTE: Hey, Major Crimes fans. Carissa's on vacation, so I'm filling in for her this week. Everyone wave to Carissa!
While this week may have given us more of Chief Taylor, (and I, like Carissa, don't care much for the character), "The Shame Game" also delivered more of Sharon and Rusty in the midst of our case-of-the-week. And it's Sharon and Rusty who continue to set this show apart from its predecessor.
Using DFCS last week as a way to find out more about Rusty's father was just too easy to be true. There was no way that Rusty would decide not to meet his father and that would be the end of it. Learning that DFCS had brought Rusty's dad to the police station to meet the boy sent Sharon into a spiral of trying to protect not only Rusty, but also herself.
As Captain Raydor on The Closer, particularly in the beginning, she came across as stodgy and cold. But seeing her be so maternal and protective while struggling with the rules she knows are in place for a reason has made her into a character I love. She's conflicted. And that conflict makes her real and relatable.
Rusty has earned a place in this former high school teacher's heart. He wants to seem so strong and grown, but he's really just a fragile kid. All he knows is heartbreak, disappointment and abandonment. Tonight, though, tonight he knew. Tonight he understood that Sharon doesn't want him to leave. He may not understand that she wants to do what's best for him, even at the sake of her own personal loss, but he understood that the adult world is a messy one and her hands may be tied.
The interactions between Rusty and Sharon, particularly her words to him at the end, were superb, proving that they need each other. (You can read what she said, and more, by checking out the Major Crimes quotes page.)
And not only does Sharon need Rusty, but it seems as if her team needs him, too. Watching Flynn and Provenza grow protective over him when just a few episodes ago they were all pitching in money to try to get rid of him shows a different side of these characters, a more loveable side.
I'm pulling for there to be a way for things to work out so that they can all stay together.
The procedural portion of tonight's episode was nothing spectacular, really. An activist working to end sex-trafficking is murdered in his home and a prostitute is seen jumping out of his window near the time of his murder. Provenza is quick to say that perhaps the activist wasn't as pure as he wanted to appear; the others shut him down, as did the evidence.
As it turns out, he wasn't killed because of his work at all. A politician's aide did it. In the study. With a knife. Over a blackmail attempt. While the aide being literally under the noses of Major Crimes the whole time was a decent enough "twist," the story itself was interesting but not integral. We learned that the division all learned a thing or two about interrogation from the Brenda Leigh Johnson School of Detective-ing with all the sleight of hand, including Captain Raydor.
Really though, at least for me, it's seeing the new or slightly different sides of these characters as they interact with one another on the outside and fringe of the week's case that's making Major Crimes a must-see. If we thought they were endearing before, they're even more so now. Case-of-the-week shows are a dime a dozen.
What keeps me coming back isn't the sordid affairs or the brutal murders or the robbery of billionaires. The characters and their stories are why I tune in every week. I feel invested in them and want to see both the subtle and overt ways they grow and develop. I want to know more about what makes each of them tick.
Major Crimes is more personal and that is what makes the show work.
What did you think of "The Shame Game"? Is your favorite part each week the characters or the procedural? Or do they go hand-in-hand?
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.