I wasn't sure how Major Crimes was going to go on after Sharon Raydor's death.
I was both dreading and anticipating Major Crimes Season 6 Episode 10, which gave her a beautiful send-off before getting down to the business of hunting Philip Stroh.
By Major Crimes Season 6 Episode 11, the dust had settled just a tiny bit, but her absence was definitely felt.
All in all, these two hours were both a tribute to Sharon and an illustration of how much the Major Crimes Unit lost with her death.
I loved the video clips Sharon left behind. I thought that interjecting them into the hours after her funeral was a powerful way to tie the story together.
My beautiful family. Let me first say how much I loved you and how much I felt in return.Sharon
These were so heartfelt, poetic and so Sharon. But it also struck me that with the series ending soon, that Mary McDonnell might have felt a similar grief to what Sharon felt as she contemplated her life ending all too soon.
Anyway, there was a realism to the funeral scenes taking up so little of the first hour that made the sense of loss even more overwhelming.
As in real life, people had to scramble to put the pieces back together and go on with their normal business despite the loss they'd all suffered.
Provenza had to take the reins and take over facing off with Chief Mason and everyone had to somehow work together to try to figure out how to defeat Stroh for once and for all.
I've never been a fan of super villains, Philip Stroh included.
It's just unrealistic that this guy is not only a serial killer but has unlimited resources, tons of accomplices that he can kill when they outlive their usefulness, and the ability to escape undetected no matter how much security is put into place to protect his victims.
Rios' death sequence was ridiculous. The idea that Stroh planted himself in her private swimming pool in a scuba suit so that he could drown her without anyone being aware he was there was over the top. Even if her security detail wasn't at the pool, surely someone heard her struggling for air.
Provenza: There will be no trial.
Julio: Sir, if Stroh had an accomplice, the evidence -
Provenza: Considering how Stroh's accomplices usually end up, I don't think we have to worry.
I know this is the standard operating procedure for Stroh and necessary to set up the idea that Provenza would prefer to take him dead rather than alive, but I found the unrealistic nature of it jarring and the incompetence of the security detail mind boggling.
Rios was one of my least favorite characters, but even she deserved a better ending than that!
Provenza: We could save a substantial amount of money if Gus and Rusty were under the same security detail. Gus could stay at the condo. After all, they're dating.
Rusty: We're not dating.
Provenza: Well, you bat for the same team, so you might as well share a dugout.
One of the places where Sharon was sorely missed was in the dealings with Chief Mason.
I liked seeing Provenza try to fill Sharon's shoes. He was determined to hold his own and not let Mason's obsession with budgetary concerns derail his case.
Mason was stubborn to the point of ridiculousness in his insistence that Stroh had not been in Gus' restaurant -- really, who else would edit the security footage like that? -- and Provenza didn't want to let him get away with it.
Sharon knew how to handle Chief Mason like no one else. She was fiery when she needed to be fiery and firm when she needed to be firm, and she always managed to do what she felt was best for the team despite his opinion.
Provenza wasn't quite there yet and that's how we ended up with this contrived nonsense where Rusty and Gus have to share a house.
Sharon would have had the sensitivity to understand that particular plan was not good for Rusty and would have also found a way to manage Mason without forcing him and his ex-boyfriend back together.
Gus: Wait. That's Philip Stroh?
Rusty: Yeah. Why?
Gus: I saw him. He was at the restaurant.
I wasn't a fan of Gus running into Stroh before that development. It's too big a coincidence that both Rusty and Gus have ended up on Stroh's hit list. And that coincidence being used as a vehicle to put them back together doesn't help.
Gus came across as kind of stupid. What customer interrogates a waiter about his ex-boyfriend? Even if Gus thought Stroh was hitting on him, he should have been freaked out by how personal he was getting and told someone sooner.
Gus and Rusty sharing a home will probably result in them sharing a bed and then deciding they're right for each other after all.
I hope that's not the ending planned for Rusty. He deserves far better than this silly and forced reunion.
The last time I just stood by and let someone do what they wanted, how did that work out? Huh? How did that work out?Flynn
By far, the most emotional arc was Andy trying to deal with Sharon's death and pick up where she left off in helping guide and protect Rusty.
Andy's grief was palatable. His desire to be overprotective of Rusty because he felt responsible for Sharon's death, his attempt to comfort Rusty after he realized the similarities in his own background and Stroh's, and his pain when he received the wedding photos were all highly emotional and realistic scenes.
I really feel bad for Andy that he and Sharon didn't get more than a few minutes of the happy ending they should have had. After seeing these scenes, I wish more than ever that the series had ended with them getting married and Sharon retiring instead of with the aftermath of her death.
Buzz: In my reserve detective training, I learned that Social Security numbers are only sealed in cases of Witness Protection.
Dylan [watching]: Reserve detective training? That's a thing?
If we had to have one last hurrah for Stroh, at least his accomplice, Dylan, was a breath of fresh air.
I enjoyed Dylan's critique of the detectives as if he were watching them on TV and gloating about his ability to stay a step ahead of them. It's a shame someone as bright as him got mixed up with Stroh in the first place.
I had to agree with his assessment of the Major Crimes Unit as incompetent. I guess Chief Mason also cut the IT department out of the budget, because I can't believe nobody figured out their phones had been hacked or even suspected it. Provenza might be computer-phobic, but Buzz should have thought of this possibility.
Sykes: Gwen? We're from the LAPD -
Gwen: Oh no. I knew this would happen someday. You found her, didn't you?
Sykes: Found who?
Gwen: Mary Wellington.
I also had a hard time buying that Gwen/Abigail's dementia was so under control during daylight hours that she had no trouble telling the whole sordid story of Stroh's early life and his first murder to a bunch of strangers.
It seemed like there was a huge suspension of disbelief needed to swallow this particular story, and I just wasn't able to quite get there.
What did you think of the aftermath of Sharon's death? Was she given a proper send-off? What is the biggest hole her death has left in the Major Crimes Unit?
And are you glad to see Stroh have one last hurrah, or is he too much of a cartoon villain for your liking?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Major Crimes online to catch up if you missed anything.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.