Major Crimes is back for eight episodes!
I'm thrilled. I've missed Provenza, Flynn, and Sanchez, and I'm relieved to see Flynn is in okay shape after his health crisis at the end of the summer season.
And if this show being back wasn't good enough news, Major Crimes Season 5 Episode 14 features Camryn Manheim as the new Deputy Chief Davis, whose existence seems to be based on making Raydor miserable.
Major Crimes has always been about characters more than about the mystery of the week.
There's always a crime to be solved and they always manage to solve it, but the fun is in watching Provenza battle with technology, bureaucracy or one of his other enemies while the other characters struggle with whatever obstacles are thrown their way.
"Heart Failure" was no exception.
The opening scene was gritty and realistic. Although the violent-crime-as-training-exercise twist has been done before, somehow it was different here.
Sergeant: I shot the Lieutenant in the head. BAM! There's no talking after death. And he didn't fall down, either.
Provenza: I didn't come here to hurt myself.
Howard: Wait Stop. Stop. Halt the exercise. Lieutenant, when you are killed in active shooting training you are not allowed to order anyone...
Provenza: That wasn't an order, Chief. Those were my dying words.
Howard: Sergeant, will you reset the scenario for Hollywood Division please? This is a fail. Major Crimes will have to repeat this exercise. Now I hope you'll take this afternoon's written exam more seriously. Lieutenant, are you even listening to me?
Provenza: Um, oh, uh... Sorry. We gotta go.
Howard: No, you haven't completed the exercise. And Chief Davis wants these exercises -
Provenza: We caught a murder, and every now and then we actually have to go out and perform the job that we're training to do.
Provenza's frustration was justified, even if Howard did rightly feel he wasn't taking the training exercise seriously enough. Having to practice dealing with the same dangerous situations they deal with on a daily basis in order to please a supervisor has to feel just a little ridiculous
Plus, there was a real murder to solve.
I can't decide which was more interesting to me: the murder mystery or the office politics. I love stories in which politics, bureaucracy, or general idiocy interferes with the protagonist doing their job effectively.
Winnie Davis was overbearing, petty, and really good at twisting facts out of shape to try to score points against Sharon.
Plus she's played by Camryn Manheim, so that's a double win right there. Manheim's performance put this character solidly into the love-to-hate category for me, and I can't wait to see more of her!
Flynn: Hey. You know my buddy in Operations? You remember Clint?
Raydor: Mmm hmm.
Flynn: He says Winnie Davis is up in arms about the way Provenza left training, claiming he cheated. Well, it wouldn't have happened had I been there.
Raydor: Light duty only til the doctor says otherwise.
Flynn: Anyway, Davis could use this cheating business to push you out of the running for Assistant Chief!
Raydor: Let her. I'm happy where I am.
Sharon claimed to be happy where she is but is she really? She does seem to enjoy being out in the field and running her own department; a more political, desk-oriented position may not be for her. Yet I couldn't help thinking there were a bit of sour grapes in her insistence that she didn't need this promotion.
Nobody in their right mind would want to go up against Davis, of course. Davis is great at ridiculous accusations that have no basis in fact, which are unpleasant, to say the least. Her assertion that Sharon wanted to be investigated by IAB because she knows people there made me laugh.
Most of the time, television cops hate and fear Internal Affairs. This is the first time I've ever heard a cop ask for an investigation and her superior refuse it on the grounds that it might go the cop's way!
If that whole exchange wasn't bizarre enough, somehow Davis managed to twist Sharon asking a patrol officer to discontinue a traffic stop into bullying the officer to get her way.
Luckily for Sharon, right now she has Howard's support and he is of the opinion that these antics will backfire and interfere with Davis getting the position she wants.
Time will tell if he's right, but I expect and look forward to Davis upping the ante in the coming weeks.
Furman: So honestly, guys, what is this all about?
Sykes: I'm guessing one of your clients, Mr. Fuhrman.
Furman: Then this is gonna be briefer than I thought. I don't discuss my employers with the police, nor do any of the lawyers or investigators at my firm. That would be unethical. You know, you should look that word up. Unethical. See what it means.
Flynn: How about if we give the word professional a try, huh?
Raydor: We're probably on the same side, sir. We're looking for Allie King and we heard that you were too.
Furman: Why? Find her?
Raydor: We'll trade information about her possible whereabouts for the name of your client. Allie's boyfriend.
Furman: Him? Well, him I literally can't talk about. I signed a non-disclosure agreement. Sorry. You know, I guess if you'd found Allie you wouldn't be bothering with me, so... see ya.
Tao: I'd tell you to get it all on video but there was nothing to get.
On top of these fun rivalry scenes, the murder was fairly interesting. I'm still waiting for Provenza to be proven wrong with one of the tropes he pulls out. This time it turned out to be the boyfriend and he won a bet with somebody as a result of it.
It would have been nice for it to have been a little less predictable, though Provenza's calling it made it more palatable. I would have preferred it to be the obnoxious private detective, if for no other reason than because there is no private eye murder trope.
Nevertheless, the mystery held my attention throughout the hour, and the murderer's interrogation was complex and layered.
There was Sharon using her awareness that Allie likely was drawn to abusive guys to rile up the suspect and cause him to punch her, as well as to catch him for murder.
There was Rusty watching in the background, clearly wondering if his own need for control and dominance was ruining his relationship just like it had ruined Trent's and apparently ruined Jeffrey's.
And there was Flynn undoubtedly feeling useless because he was on modified duty and wanting desperately to defend Sharon after the guy punched her.
If there was one flaw in "Heart Failure" it's that it didn't pick up where Major Crimes Season 5 previously left off. I was slightly confused at first because I remembered Flynn collapsing and didn't know what had happened afterward.
I'd have liked to have seen that in real time, but the conflict between what Flynn is medically allowed to do and what he would like to do made up for its absence.
Flynn thought he should have been part of the training exercise and Sharon quietly told him no. He clearly missed sparring with Provenza and being out in the field. I hope his modified duty doesn't last too long for his sake, but I'm enjoying watching this conflict.
Rusty: Hey guys.
Sanchez: Who died?
Rusty: It's my first day interning at the DA's office and Andrea sent me over to get video from your murder.
Raydor: How's it going so far?
Rusty: It's fine but the servers are down so I'm running around picking up stuff. Documents, briefs, crime scene videos.., and coffee. Mom, do you have a second?
Raydor: Mmm hmm.
Provenza: First you want to be a journalist, now a lawyer. Where did I go wrong?
Rusty: I'm irredeemable, Lieutenant. Um, okay, so I just got this really weird text from Gus this morning from Vegas. Um, visit with Mom is okay. Been thinking when I'm back we should sit down and discuss the future.
Raydor: Did you call him?
Rusty: Of course I did, but he said that he couldn't talk and what he had to say needed to be done face-to-face.
Raydor: Are you two having problems lately?
Rusty: No. I mean, I've been watching myself for things like unconscious selfishness and not paying attention and not wasting other people's time and...
Raydor: Gus may have something good to say, Rusty. Try not to worry so much.
When the heck did Rusty switch from journalism to law? I liked him as a journalist, and I'm not sure if I missed something or if this happened off-screen.
Anyway, Rusty didn't do much work, so I suppose it doesn't really matter. He was too busy obsessing over his relationship.
I know Rusty is young and can be selfish, but why are any and all relationship problems 100% his fault? He seemed to think that if Gus did want to break up with him, it could only be because he had done something wrong.
Taking responsibility is great and all, but there are two people in the relationship, and all I remember is Gus being annoyed that Rusty was working on an investigation and couldn't drop everything to be with him.
If Gus going to Vegas and wanting to talk is giving Rusty this much anxiety, something is wrong somewhere and it isn't necessarily all on him.
Besides, he'll have bigger problems if Stroh is really back, which I hope is not the case. I've really had more than enough of that storyline.
Do you think Rusty will move in with Gus? Did you enjoy the mystery of the hour? Do you want to see more of Camryn Manheim even though her character is beyond obnoxious?
Weigh in below, and don't forget that you can watch Major Crimes online if you missed anything.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.