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‘The Closer’: Mummy Arms and Whipped Cream

Courtesy of TNT

Last week’s premiere of The Closer kicked off the season with a triple-homicide bang and a jarring new handheld shooting style. They’ve thankfully ditched the technique this time around, so we’re brought back into the regular swing of things — which in Priority Murder Squad deputy chief Brenda Johnson’s nervous, fluttery world includes the discovery by construction workers of a mummified corpse, the presumed murder victim of a gangbanger turned politico who’s in cahoots with a corrupt preacher-man.

Whew! This is truly the stuff of which gripping police procedurals are made.

There’s a scene in which a detective waves a detached mummy limb around the medical examination room, an alarming race-driven showdown between Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda Johnson and Lieutenant Gabriel, and a convincingly acted (if somewhat unbelievable, in this Yankee viewer’s eyes) subplot about Brenda's emotional meltdown about her father's discovery that she’s living in sin with her hot boyfriend, Fritz. Brenda is mortified, and her totally unreasonable bitchiness toward Fritz after the fact drives home one of The Closer's finer qualities: Its writers aren’t afraid to make Brenda wholly unlikable, as long as she comes off as real — which she does, for the most part, though we’ve never seen anyone drink coffee with whipped cream in bed.

Despite insinuations about his pending forced retirement, Detective Provenza (played by G.W. Bailey, best known for his role as butt-of-1,000-jokes Captain Harris in the Police Academy franchise) is still hanging around. A good thing, as he delivers one of the episode’s other most poignant moments, after Johnson tells him the death of the gang member (who had Provenza’s card in his pocket) isn’t his fault. He responds woefully, “My card. My case,” before turning and walking away. —Sara Cardace