For some people, family is everything.
On Major Crimes Season 4 Episode 10, a judge with a reputation for toughness was willing to do anything to protect her son – but at what cost?
Meanwhile, Rusty's investigation led Gustav to a seemingly impossible choice. He could make contact with his missing sister and possibly force her back home with their abusive parents, or he could back off 'til she was 18 so she could live with the loving family that wants to adopt her.
Judge Ryan was one of the strongest, most interesting characters I've seen in a while. I hope we see her back in her courtroom at some later point. I really enjoyed her interactions with Sharon. The death notification scene was especially moving. Judge Ryan's movement from angry denial to overwhelming grief was perfect, especially when coupled with the soft way Sharon spoke to her.
I just spoke to him four hours ago. I asked him to come to dinner. He was painting his dining room. YOU have made a mistake!Ryan
In retrospect, I should have realized something was off because the judge seemed so incredibly close with her son. But at the time, it seemed like she was just a mother broken-hearted to lose her son.
Although I thought nothing of it at the time, in hindsight it also seems weird that the bikers who supposedly murdered Chandler would have kidnapped, rather than killed, his nephew. As soon as Henry reappeared, I knew something was not right with his so-called kidnapping.
Henry. I'm so glad to see you're safe. Now, maybe you can tell me... where on Earth have you been?Sharon
The judge's insistence that Chandler never molested anyone made me wonder if she had some of the same views as the bikers she was trying to get locked up for life. She might not have been using vulgar speech, but her insistence that "these people" are desperate enough to stab their lawyer in the back smacked of racism.
I liked the way the mystery was built up around what Tao found out about Chandler. The gradual reveal after Sharon looked at the folder and then showed it to Judge Ryan was very effective.
It must have been heartbreaking for Sharon to have to confront her old friend about enabling her son's molestation of young children.
Did you just look the other way while your son molested minors or did you actively protect him from the consequences of his actions?Provenza
The way this story dovetailed with Rusty's investigation into Alice/Mariana in "Fifth Dynasty" was also perfect, although there was some heavy handed dialogue before and during Mariana's funeral in case we didn't get the point.
Gustav, I know it seems unfair, but sometimes older brothers have to make sacrifices for their younger siblings.Provenza
Mariana and her family provided a counterpoint to all the anti-Hispanic racism being thrown around elsewhere throughout the hour. While they weren't immigrants as far as I know, they were a fractured family that just wanted to be together. Like Chandler Ryan, Mariana's parents were abusers whose abuse seemed to be trumped by their DNA.
Gustav had to make the heartbreaking decision to let his little sister go so that she wouldn't be returned to her abusers. It truly was a sacrifice.
I hope Rusty and Gustav stay in touch. Although there's no real reason for Gustav to appear the in future, it would be nice to see how their friendship develops and how they can support each other now.
Rusty was really broken up over not having been able to help Mariana when she was still alive. His past as a foster kid seems to have bonded him to Gustav and Paloma.
Yeah, well I've been on the other end of a home visit several times and I was coached and threatened about what I can say.Rusty
So what did you think? As summer finales go, did this one pack enough of a punch, or would you rather have seen something else? Did you guess Chandler Ryan's secret before it was revealed? (I didn't.) And what would you like to see happen when Major Crimes returns in November?
If you missed "Fifth Dynasty," don't panic. You can watch Major Crimes online and get caught up.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.