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Major Crimes - Penalty Phase - Review: "Crazy Town"

Happy New Year! Hope everyone has an awesome 2016. This is the last Major Crimes we'll have for a few months, and it was pretty interesting. As with all of this season, this episode took a different approach to the story. We usually ride along with the Major Crimes unit as they try to figure out who the killer is. This episode, we know what the killer looks like from the beginning. It's a matter of figuring out who he is and what his motives are in order to find him.

The episode begins in the aftermath of a school shooting. A screenwriting professor, Professor Ashby, was shot at his desk while watching the video of another murder on his computer screen. It’s quickly obvious that this shooting is personal, but how? And what does the professor’s death have to do with the death of the real estate agent being killed in the video the professor and his murderer were watching when the professor was killed?

When we meet the killer, we find that he’s making a movie. The police cars rushing to the campus offer ‘free production value’; the people begging for their lives offer best performances if he doesn’t try to direct them. My first thought was that he was making a movie, but consciously directing himself playing the killer. Nope, he’s taken up residence in Crazy Town, the movie is his masterpieces, and he’s got a hostage.

The killer doesn’t have a record, so Major Crimes has to gather information from other sources to try to identify the killer. Provenza’s theories were pretty humorous; completely off base but funny. The interview with the husband of the killer’s first victim, the real estate agent, was a literary manager for screenwriters before becoming a real estate agent. In her video she kept apologizing for not remembering him so we can guess the killer is a failed screenwriter.

This piece of information gets them the name of the killer. It’s a different feeling to get information, as an audience member, before the Major Crime unit figures it out. I think this approach worked so well for me because of the way the writers managed this information. We’re never bored with repetitive information. For example, we learn that the hostage is the killer, Brad’s, brother and that Brad took care of their mother when she was, presumably, ill. But it’s with the Major Crimes Unit that we learn she’s been dead for quite some time and left to rot in her bed.

We start to get a clearer picture of the plot of the movie Brad is making. It’s a revenge flick disguised as his breakout movie. The Major Crimes Unit manages to stop Brad from killing either his brother or sister-in-law, but he’s certain they won’t be able to stop him from filming the climax of his movie. I expected his reaction to seeing the police to be some stereotypical suicide by cop thing, but that’s not the case…he remains true to the “original script”. He drenches himself with gasoline and lights the match. Unfortunately, he chose to stage this scene by a swimming pool. Sanchez tackles him, knocking him into the water. The final evidence that this guy is definitely off his rocker is that he’s not angry that Sanchez saved his life, or ruined his movie. He’s upset that his phone is destroyed because that was the only copy of his great masterpiece.

Slider gets his death sentence. His lawyer tries a move to leave himself an opening to file an appeal, but my favorite judge from the entire run of the series slaps him down hard. Rusty decides to take a chance, despite what he told Gus last week, and asks Gus to lunch. Gus can’t make lunch so Rusty invites him to the Major Crimes Christmas party. It’s not really clear whether Rusty burned his bridges with Gus. Seems like Rusty lost his chance.

Rusty’s nightmare about Slider has me a little worried that they’re considering doing another stalker story for him. I’m hoping it’s just his guilt about lying to Slider and his guilt about not being upfront in his dealing with Gus.

Gus does show up at the Christmas Party. Rusty opens up to Gus about all his fears with dating. I think anyone who has watched Rusty’s journey throughout the series might believe, as I do, that the root of this fear is that he will find out that he worked the streets as a kid and run for the hills. Gus isn’t scared, and Rusty decides that he’s going to take the risk.

Sharon discovers that Rusty’s birth mother has been released from prison, but has made no effort to contact Rusty. That contact will likely come in the next season (which we know is going to happen, yay.) I’m curious as to how that will play out, but I’m also hoping it’s a question that will be put to a final rest.

I really enjoyed this episode. As I said, they approached the story a little differently with this episode. I liked the way the writers handled the revelations about the character and his motives.

Did you enjoy this episode? What about Rusty's story? Are you looking forward to his relationship story? Do you think this relationship will work? What about the prospect of Sharon Beck's return?

About the Author - Prpleight
Prpleight is a screenwriter and senior software engineer with solid geek cred. When not writing code, screenplays, or watching TV (sometimes she does all three at the same time), she uses her broadsword Bessie to battle evil. She's been a frequent contributor to the SpoilerTV discussion boards for several years now.
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