Photo Credit: TNT
Last night, in the season 5 finale of The Closer on TNT, Brenda Leigh (Kyra Sedgwick) has her genteel, Southern manners put to the test—repeatedly and right from the start.
"Is it too much to ask to at least put your dirty dishes in the sink?" snarls her husband, Fritz (Jon Tenney), as the episode begins. Clearly, his season-long resentment over her workaholic ways has reached its boiling point.
At work, Brenda locks horns (once again) with Captain Sharon Raydor (recurring guest Mary McDonnell.) Granted, Brenda's not the only one harboring enmity: On the office dry erase board, the guys on the major crimes team caricature Raydor as the Wicked Witch of the East.
Brenda responds to aggression, at home and office, like the wonderfully flawed character that she is. In neither case does she feel responsible for any conflict. But frankly, you have to empathize with the people Brenda drives nuts. She does behave stubbornly around Raydor, and she does neglect her hunky husband for her work. Yet I still root for her. Like most women, Brenda's relatably multidimensional.
Near the episode's end, Raydor drops by Brenda's office to discuss the case they've cracked together, and both women are at pains to act friendly. Brenda is a pro; with her honeyed drawl, she dispenses her "pleases" and "thank yous" and "beg your pardons" as automatically as a debutante. But she doesn't shrink from this antagonistic colleague, either.
"The thing is…" says Raydor, and Brenda sweetly interrupts her.
"We just don't like each other," says Brenda.
Raydor's shoulders relax visibly. She didn't expect this bluntness from the southern belle.
"No," says Raydor. "Oh my goodness, no. And you know, that is a very difficult dynamic to change."
Brenda smiles, nods vigorously and adds, "It is."
Then the women bid each other an upbeat "good night."
Brenda's charming, pretty, Southern--but also forthright, complicated and unpredictable. I think that's one main reason The Closer is still the top-rated series on basic cable, and why critics and academies repeatedly nominate Sedgwick for her performance.
And I think it's why Fritz hangs in there, despite the dirty dishes in the sink.