Major Crimes can often be lighthearted. But when it goes for serious drama, it really packs a punch.
In Major Crimes Season 4 Episode 2 we got an emotional, Sanchez-centered story we should have had last week. Everyone is dealing with Sanchez getting back now, especially Sanchez himself.
Sanchez's storyline was deceptively emotional. At first, I thought this was going to be a typical episode, since it started with Provenza's signature comments about the crime of the week. Sanchez himself joined in the fun as the detectives watched the cops pursue a psychiatrist at high speed.
The guy was a psychiatrist. Maybe one of his patients had a screw loose. Therapy can't fix everything.Sanchez
But as we all know after watching the ending, Sanchez wasn't joking. Therapy sometimes doesn't work, and the anger management classes he's taking aren't getting to the root of his anger: his wife's sudden death from a seizure disorder shortly before the expected arrival of their child.
This was really, really well done. Over the course of the hour, we went from the standard crime investigation to Sharon insisting Sanchez go out in the field to Sanchez telling Rusty he might not stay with Major Crimes, and then, finally, the big reveal. It was subtle, which added to the emotional impact when Sanchez finally told the detectives what he's been going through for the past sixteen years or so.
I wouldn't have guessed that Sanchez had this kind of tragedy in his past. I thought maybe he was struggling with something having to do with his mother, or perhaps something about the Alice Herrara case. When he was going over it with Rusty, he seemed to get really upset, leading the teen to ask him why he hadn't moved back to his old desk.
Rusty: Are you okay? Why haven't you moved back to your old desk yet?
Sanchez: Because...I'm not sure I'm staying. Put your headphones back on and finish up, Rusty.
Now that was a nice use of Rusty to propel the adults' storyline forward!
Speaking of Rusty, I quite enjoyed the way his personal storyline was juxtaposed with the main case this week. I'm becoming more and more drawn in to his investigation of Alice as it proceeds. Clearly he has a personal stake in it because of his former life on the streets. There was an undercurrent of guilt when he discussed with Sharon how he survived and Alice did not.
One wrong turn, one car ride with the wrong guy and I wouldn't be here. It seems so random.Rusty
His discussion with Sharon, of course, also provided the running theme for this week's episode: why do some people survive and others don't? This time it was slightly more subtle than the theme of Major Crimes Season 4 Episode 1, though it was still pretty obvious. Nevertheless, it was effective when it was all over when Sharon reiterated to the suspect what she had told Rusty about luck being an important part of what happens to people.
You drop an egg. Sometimes it breaks, sometimes it doesn't.Sharon
This was a sad installment all around... for Sanchez, who lost his wife to a doctor's agreement to stop her medication; for the murderer, who lost his daughter to suicide; and even for Rusty, who had to face the fact that not all kids survive the streets, and sometimes the smartest ones die first. The emotional stories were more important than the actual mystery this week, though as always, we had a colorful cast of possible suspects.
I appreciate hours like this because they really make me connect to the characters and break the usual formula for this show. I also appreciated not being able to figure out the mystery at the halfway mark.
What did you think? Do you prefer emotional driven story arcs, mystery-centered hours, or silly cases?
If you missed an episode or want to refresh your memory, ,watch Major Crimes online and catch up!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.