The Closer‘s final six episodes kicked off tonight by pitting Brenda against one of her greatest foes. She and the boys found themselves on the trail of a rapist who seemed scarily similar to a previous suspect — Phillip Stroh (guest star Billy Burke), the lawyer who Brenda had previously accused of heinous crimes but continues to elude punishment.
Now, let me start by saying that I love seeing Brenda win. She can outwit and out-investigate the best criminals (and investigators, for that matter) and there’s nothing like watching her smile smugly at people after she screws them over. But even more compelling? Watching Brenda lose.
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it brings out the shades of her personality that make me believe she’s one of the best female characters on TV. Whether she suffers a loss at the station or suffers a moral loss (like, for example, the creation of the Johnson Law last season), you can see the fire light up in her eyes. And such moments were present in this season premiere.
While searching for a solid reason to have charges brought against a suspect — who, surprise, was Stroh’s client — Brenda herself took the stand and was questioned by the creepy lawyer. But when she tried to use the fact that the suspect had two keys made at the hotel on the night of an alleged rape — one for him and one for the person with whom he was working — as a reason to suggest he was working with a partner, Stroh fired back, “I have two keys to my car, two keys to my house. Tell me, Chief Johnson, does that make me a rapist?”
It doesn’t make you a rapist, but you ARE one, scum. Of course, she didn’t say that verbatim, but she did later accuse him of being his client’s partner in crime. The problem? It turned out not to be true. At the end of the episode, we learned that Stroh was not involved — the man’s partner turned out to be someone else. And Stroh was more than happy to dangle that fact over Brenda. “Lighten up,” Stroh told her as the case came to a close. “You got your man, as always. Right?”
She may not have gotten Stroh, but she will eventually — even if it means breaking Pope’s order to drop her vendetta against Stroh. In fact, he can “count on it,” per Brenda. And one thing we can count on? As The Closer nears its end, it’s only going to get better.