Yesterday, you may recall, I pointed out two TNT crime dramas with overt political messages parroting Democrat Party/Obama administration talking points. So, naturally, TNT ran another such program last night.
First, I will note that last night’s episode of The Closer was free of any political posturing. It’s good to see the program back on track after the previous week’s nonsense, and the episode was far more dramatically effective than its predecessor, as should be expected given the way didacticism tends to ruin fiction narratives.
That happy event was followed by episode three of the new crime drama series Rizzoli and Isles, about a Boston homicide detective named Rizzoli (Angie Harmon, Law and Order, The Women’s Murder Club) and her friend, Isles (Sasha Alexander, NCIS). Each episode follows the two characters as they try to solve murder mysteries in Beantown.
Last night’s episode dealt with the murder of a black teenage male. Intimations are made that he may have been murdered by a street gang with which he may or may not have been involved. Also under suspicion is a weird, local West African church which engages in rituals with voodoo overtones, the pastor of which is an ex-con who may be a thief and possibly worse.
The episode includes some interplay between Rizzoli and Isles regarding religion, in which anxiety-prone Rizzoli expresses fear and skepticism of the church while the breezy and self-assured Isles is both more overtly religious and more willing to see the strange church as arising from good impulses and representing a different way of understanding Christian concepts. In short, Isles is both faithful and tolerant, an appealing combination.
Overall the episode is quite entertaining, but unfortunately it is marred by a very poor resolution. (Spoiler warning.) With a plethora of clearly dangerous suspects, the killer turns out to be the boy’s stepmother, an exceedingly placid woman in her thirties. Her motive: she’s desperate to have children of her own, but her husband does not want to have any more, as he already is satisfied in having a son. So she kills the boy, by poisoning him.
What’s even worse is that the woman is portrayed as so innocent, weak, and needy that it is obvious all along that the writers are going to pin the murder on her, as the Least Likely Suspect. Unfortunately, she is in fact the Impossible Suspect, and they would have done well to leave her that way and attribute the murder to someone with a real motive and a character that would enable them actually to kill someone, not to mention gather up the nerve to murder someone as close to her as her own stepson, with whom she had gotten along quite well, as far as the viewer can discern. (The husband has had no intimation of problems between the two, and he would be in a position to know.)
Thus in a situation involving numerous highly sinister characters, the criminal mastermind turns out to be a middle-aged white female with a sweet and innocent personality—the only white, bourgeois, and most family-oriented person in a world of gangbangers, hucksters, and other raffish individuals, by the way, all of which makes it even more obvious that the writers went overboard in trying to divert suspicion from her. It’s true, no doubt, that some people who seem perfectly innocuous do kill, and a situation like the one depicted in the story may well have taken place in real life at some time or another, but this character is clearly incapable of such an action. The depiction of her character is clearly a clumsy way of cheating on the writers’ part in creating the mystery.
It’s a sadly weak ending to an otherwise engaging episode of a generally enjoyable new series.