Recap/Review – The Closer – “Last Word” – 8/13/12

Brenda risks everything to put Phillip Stroh away for murder.


The Hollywood Division dug up 3 bodies in Griffith Park, and they suspect that two more are still buried. They received the tip from a young 9-1-1 caller, who says he saw a man dumping a body. He refused to give his name, but the phone number came back registered to a Douglas Grand, who reported the phone stolen last night.

Jump with me to read more.

All three women were raped, strangled, and buried with their clothes. The last body, Karen Onceedi, is fresh and was buried with her purse. Tao notes that while she may have been murdered last night, the killer must’ve dug the grave two nights prior. There are tracks leading away from the body; the killer was interrupted by a noise and walked in the direction of the sound.

We flash back to last night: a middle-aged man is in the park with a young boy, undressing. They see a masked man carrying a body over his shoulder. The older man runs off, leaving his coat and the kid behind. His phone rings at the most inopportune moment, alerting the masked man to his presence, and the masked man then runs off after the boy, shovel in tow.

Back to the present day, Brenda has followed the killer’s tracks to find the boy’s red shirt on the ground and a suit jacket on a tree branch. There are three sets of tracks now: the sneakers from the boy, the killer who ran after him, and the older man who ran off earlier.

We flash back again to last night. The killer catches up with the boy and knocks him over a cliff with the shovel but not before losing his ski mask in the scuffle. After recovering from the fall, the boy calls 9-1-1. The operator is hesitant to believe the boy’s story and asks him to meet officers in front of the Greek Theatre. Not wanting to come face to face with police officers, the boy dumps the phone in the trash.

Douglas Grand is brought to the park (and he looks just like the man from the flashback!), and he sticks to his original story: his phone was stolen last night. They must’ve been stolen along with his coat, glasses, and pen. He didn’t admit to owning the other items until Brenda offers to show them to his wife. Suddenly, he’s an open book; he insists that the man he was with last night is 18 and only knows him as Rusty. Upon sight of the masked man dumping the girl’s body, he ran. Brenda sends him off with two detectives to go find Rusty.

Karen’s credit card was last used at a perfume shop in the Grove. When they watch the security footage from the store, they see a man approach Karen, his back to the camera, hand her something, and then leave. Brenda (and I) are sure that that man is Philip Stroh.

Pope isn’t convinced, but Brenda knows this man six ways to Sunday, as she’s previously followed him. The GPS tracker she put on his car never placed him at Griffith Park, but he could’ve had access to another vehicle. Brenda wants permission to search his financials and phone records, but given her history with this man, even though she’s steered clear of him for a whole seven weeks, Pope won’t sign off on it. In fact, he assigns both Raydor and Taylor to watch over Brenda to assure him that no missteps are made.

They’ve found Rusty! And he’s not too happy about being brought into the station. And it’s a good thing too because Tao hasn’t found any connection between Stroh and Karen, and the rape kit didn’t turn up anything useful. Flynn, like the others, is irritated and voices his complaints. He is sure that no one will squeal if they peek into Stroh’s information, especially since Gabriel isn’t in the room. Brenda won’t tolerate anyone bad-mouthing Gabriel. And Raydor points out that, for one, Stroh isn’t a sex offender, and two, his past “crimes” have been committed with a partner. The evidence in this scene only shows the presence of one assailant.

Brenda, probably assuming that Rusty is much younger than he looks, urges Rusty to tell them everything he knows to protrct him from a “bad man.” Rusty points out that he relies on bad men to make a living. He proclaims that he’s 18, but his birth certificate says otherwise. He was in foster care until he ran away; his mother left him at the zoo and never returned. He tells them the same thing he told the 9-1-1 operator and takes off his hat while doing so. Brenda unfolds the “hat” to look at it and discovers that it’s actually a ski mask. He won’t admit that he took the mask off the killer unless Brenda finds his mother.

Brenda has an idea to bait Stroh using Rusty since he’s being less than forthcoming. She has him dress as the masked man last saw him and has Tao take photos of Rusty speaking on the phone.

At Brenda’s home, the news shows the photo of a “missing” Rusty, photoshopped to look like he was at the Greek Theatre, courtesy of Tao, in the background. Before he leaves for Washington, Brenda confesses to identifying with Rusty; they’ve both lost their mother and make their living listening to bad men.

Rusty is put back on his usual corner along with the men of Major Crimes, some on the street and some in the van, identifying licenses of passing cars. One rental car that’s passed by seven times stops, and Philip Stroh exits the car. He’s not able to say but a few words to Rusty before being ambushed by some very angry cops.

Stroh, now back at the station, takes careful measures to not leave his prints anywhere. He denies being in the store and says his interest in Rusty was his civic duty: to bring him back to the LAPD. They have nothing to keep him there, so Stroh takes his leave and gives his condolences to Brenda before entering the elevator. That has sent Brenda entirely over the edge, as she rams into him just as the elevator doors are closing, breaking his nose. The shocked detectives struggle to open the elevator doors and detain Brenda. It goes without saying that she’s been suspended. She heads to Dr. Morales to clean up and to ask for a small favor: planting evidence in the ski mask. She has back-up, too; Hobbs says that the cap will only be used to get Stroh to confess, not to prosecute him. Morales agrees and collects the “evidence” from Brenda. Once he’s done, Hobbs offers Brenda an administrative position at her office, assuming she’ll no longer have this job.

Brenda takes Rusty home with her and tries to convince him to admit to the origin of the mask over dinner. This upsets Rusty, as he’s only concerned with finding his mother. Brenda goes to the bathroom to cool off and sees that her window is open and the screen has been removed. She reaches for her gun and then remembers that she left it in her purse in the kitchen. She slowly heads back to look for Rusty and finds him with a knife to his neck held by Stroh. He instructs Brenda to sit on her hands, and she tries to tell him that the evidence they found was planted, but Stroh doesn’t believe her. Rusty uses Stroh’s weight against him and flips Stroh onto the floor, giving Brenda enough time to make a dash for her bag. She isn’t quick enough, as Stroh grabs her leg. When Rusty interrupts, Stroh slashes the boy’s leg, and Brenda goes to grab her purse. She doesn’t have time to take it out of her bag and shoots Stroh three times. Stroh, barely breathing, asks Brenda to call an ambulance while Rusty encourages Brenda to kill him. Brenda, hesitates, considering her options, and then calls 9-1-1.

Brenda has been cleared for the shooting in her home since she saved Rusty’s life, but in order to continue as Chief, she must agree to have a formal reprimand on her record for the elevator incident. Brenda won’t agree to that and has, instead, chosen to accept Hobbs’s job offer, taking Gabriel along with her.

It’s time to say goodbye to the rest of her squad. They’ve bought her a special gift: a new purse, filled with Ring Dings!


That was so exhausting and exhilarating! I’m very happy that her character wasn’t killed off but instead followed a slow and realistic decline. While I knew they had to catch Stroh in the end, it was great to watch it unfold. She’ll be sorely missed!

– Lindsay

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