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Major Crimes - Trial By Fire - Review - "A Streetlight Kid"

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3.14 - "Trial By Fire"

This week, after a thug gets off from a murder charge, racial tensions threaten to run rampant through the city, Sharon's ex husband represents a suspect, and Rusty introduces Jeff to the team. 

"Shot to death waiting for the bus..."

The opening scene of the episode depicted an awful sight: a young man gunned down in the street who was simply waiting for a bus. A recent high school graduate, Curtis Wyatt was a streetlight kid - always home before dark, except for Tuesdays, when he had a longer day in his studies. Fast forward to a quick-moving court session, suspect Luis Navarro is on trial for Wyatt's murder. The one witness that could place him at the scene first doesn't appear, and then when she does sit on the stand, she falls apart, cries a bit, and refuses to testify. She is shuffled away and arrested...She doesn't appear in the show anymore after her early scenes this episode.

pew pew

Unfortunately, this seems to break the D.A.'s case against Navarro, and quickly, the scene progresses to a jury member reading a not guilty verdict. As Navarro celebrates his victory over the courts, a brawl takes place in the halls of the courtroom, tense and violent footage that ends up on the news -meaning that there's a strong chance for racially-driven violence in the streets to spill out in the wake of the verdict.

The next day, Luis Navarro is found dead in the trunk of his torched car, and the investigation opens up to find his killer.

"The law is not about right and wrong."

Joe Wyatt is immediately the most likely candidate for being a suspect in Navarro's death, as they come to find out, he did not go with his family out of town, but actually was found driving under the influence with an an unregistered gun in his car. Another suspect was "Zippo," whose M.O. was similar to the circumstances in which Navarro was killed. Upon being brought in for questioning, Zippo lawyered up immediately, but there was nothing outside of circumstantial evidence (a lighter and an anonymous tip) that they could use to pin the murder on him.

When they found out the Wyatt family all went to Disneyland to get away from the situation with the exception of Joe, Sharon looked into the provider of the tickets, and found that they had been donated by a man named Ed Winslow, a former teacher, and a fan of courtroom drama. After meeting with Mr. Winslow, Sharon picked up on a phrase he used, and determined him to be the man in the recording from the anonymous tip that led to the arrest of Zippo as a suspect in Navarro's murder.

Upon confronting Zippo's lawyer (You know, Sharon's ex-husband) with this information, he blew up in her face, and explained that Ed Winslow was Luis Navarro's teacher in high school, and actually physically assaulted Navarro on camera years ago. It was because of that fight that Winslow was sacked as a teacher, which gave him motive to kill Navarro. Upon bringing him in for further questioning, Winslow stated that there was no attention given to the fact that Navarro had just attacked another student right before that video, he had had ties to a gang, and Winslow wanted it known that he couldn't just do whatever he wanted in his class. He never made it about race, he kept it about the safety and sanctity of a classroom. He then laid into his interrogators about how if he were to be the one who killed Navarro it wouldn't be seen  as a murder so much as a failure of the courts, of the Judge, of the police, that Navarro was ever released in the first place after what he did to Curtis Wyatt, the actual victim as far as Winslow was concerned. (Andy agreed from the monitoring room, and I agreed from my living room as well...)

While there were moments in this episode that were solid, from the brawl in the courthouse, to Joe Wyatt's utter despair after the verdict, as well as Ed Winslow's pious rant, a lot of the rest of the case fell by the wayside. As of right now, I am not even sure whether or not the case was dealt with. I remember Winslow asking for protection and then Sharon saying "only if you did it" -- that is all I remember from the end of the case.

There was a lot of talk of a race war, but there was little to say outside of that, and a lot of the tension that the first part of the episode built up was lost early on when it fell back into another ok case of the week. Also, some of the shots, and the techniques used in this episode felt cheap or formulaic, and definitely detracted from what could've been a really effective and emotional episode. This show can pull off a fantastic case of the week, as well as an event episode, but this one felt half-baked for some reason. Still, this time we got to see Sharon end up being wrong about evidence and being called out on it by her otherwise scoundrel of an ex husband. Interesting twist there...

"That's how we met!"

Rusty brought by Jeff for some reference shots of an actual police department office for "Badge of Justice" as it was wrapping up for the season. (Why would they do this after they're an established tv cop drama? I'd think you'd want that early on for your sets and tone of the show?) He mostly followed Jeff around awkwardly answering random personal questions as vaguely as he could, given his history, and stared Jeff down with puppy dog eyes as Jeff obliviously continued to take reference shots in the office.

Later that episode, Sharon came home late to find Rusty on the couch, as he had lent his room to Jeff, after Jeff had apparently broken up with his boyfriend. Rusty was excited for the opportunity to make a move, but Sharon seemed to suspect Rusty may be too young (almost a decade!) for Jeff, but said to go on with it anyway, just so he'd know for sure.

At the end of the episode, Rusty confirmed that Jeff said Rusty was too young, and while he was relieved to know for certain, he wallowed in discomfort of the rejection with Sharon for a little while.


- Another episode where they drummed up the drama for something big (this time, a horrific race war) that seemed to be ignored or dropped halfway through the episode...

- Fritz showed up randomly and got all testosterone-y in Sharon's face about handling the case, and then we hardly heard from him after 1-2 scenes involving Zippo and Joe Wyatt's cases... Seemed like another dropped aspect of the episode?

- Shout out to Provenza's Snowman and Santa Claus ties. And Sykes had a ridiculous Snowman shirt of her own at one point too...

- The end of the first scene where Navarro points his fingers at Raydor like he's going to shoot her? That was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen, any other show wouldn't have had to stoop that low for drama...Not to mention, I doubt that would be taken lightly by anyone...That's threatening an officer. That just pissed me off... (There were a couple other cheesy slow-mo shots this episode...can we please not do those? thanks)

- When Tao called out Fritz and told him to chill out (you know, because he has a history of heart attacks!) I think I laughed out loud for a second

- Also, the "S.O.B." remains the dumbest name for a department ever... I hope it doesn't actually become a spinoff at this point... There was potential there, but let's not force it, folks!

What did you think of this week's episode? Start a discussion below in the comments!

About the Author - Wilson Crawford
Wilson is an avid fan of television, music, and the occasional video game. He enjoys well-written, thought-provoking characters and series that get better with age. Current favorites include The Good Wife and Mad Men. Past favorites include Damages, Fringe, Breaking Bad, 30 Rock, and Veronica Mars.
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