"Dismissed With Prejudice" marks the first time I haven't felt Major Crimes took its new dynamic and knocked it out of the park. It's a shame, really, because it was Tao's turn in the spotlight and it didn't turn out at all like I was expecting.
So, let's start with the lighter fare and chat about Rusty...
Rusty going out with Mr. Dunn, his biological father, allowed for another fun exchange with the squad. Provenza and Buzz giving him advice on meeting him was so sweet. I realize it's borderline ridiculous how quickly everyone has taken to Rusty, but it works. Nobody expected it to, and admittedly many of us are probably still expecting it to blow up in our faces, but all signs point to that ship leaving the harbor. Rusty's a keeper.
Rusty's dad was trying so hard to make a connection. I really hope he doesn't turn out to be a lost cause for Rusty, but I worry about him because of his fiance with two daughters. With so many father figures at the office, Daniel leaving would leave a mark - but not a scar any deeper than those Rusty has already suffered. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that's not a route we examine. The kid needs a break.
The only other thing going on was the dismissed murder case Tao worked in 2004. Even though Tao was genuinely sorry for what seemed to be a botched case from years earlier, every time he approached the father or daughter I was uncomfortable. He stepped in front of them, touched them, grabbed Lydia's arm. I didn't expect his interpersonal skills within an investigation to be so questionable.
Given how fleshed out Sanchez has been this season, I had higher hopes for Mike Tao. I've always thought he was more of an expert with evidence, ballistics and such, so discovering he was in charge of a case in 2004 was a bit of a shock. His need to solve the case almost came off as desperation rather than wanting to make things right and prove he had done his job the first time. It didn't seem that the writers gave the same credence to Tao that has been given to the other characters so far this season. I'm going to need another Tao episode as a quick follow up. Michael Paul Chan deserves a better story to shine.
It was nice to see Fritz back, but it was still odd that nobody asked after Brenda. While it's understandable there is a desire to keep Major Crimes a separate series, would it really be too intrusive to just remember that she once ran the department and is now supposedly working right down the street? Or maybe nobody asks about her because she's around so often, off screen, that there isn't a need. It could be my need to for the nod, and I need to get over it!
Despite the unsatisfying showing for Tao, the ensemble focus still rules Major Crimes and makes it a very unique crime drama. Now that it's been renewed for a second season, we can surely expect to learn even more from these intriguing characters.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.