However, in the interest of time and the 30+ episodes of other shows I still have to watch, I think what we're going to have are generalized reactions to plot arcs from 6x05-11, and then try for mini-reviews of 1-3 paragraphs apiece for each individual episode. Anyone's guess how long I stick to that.
'Plot Arc 1: Cooper
The first time Lil mentioned his name as her "case that's been haunting her," I thought "Wait, a minute, what? I thought this team had a 100% solve rate! Am I supposed to know what this is; a reference to a past episode maybe?" However, having just proved on CSI: Miami that I suck at remembering past cases, I didn't rack my brains too hard about it. I almost went to the internet for answers, but decided I was too lazy to turn on the other computer, and would just keep watching to see if they further explained it.
I'm glad I didn't look, because I might have spoiled myself...by the next episode, after scanning the printed information on Cooper and not seeing any reference to criminal activity, my mind automatically jumped to "her father" and stubbornly stuck with it. In retrospect that was probably supposed to be obvious, but I like to pretend I'm clever for figuring this out. Anyway, it was nice to be able to see that pan out as quickly as possible, because they rather dragged their heels revealing it on the show.
Not sure why she decided to lie and say her mother was fine as opposed to "dead as of last year" - because that might explain why Lily is suddenly reaching out to him, as opposed to seemingly randomly stalking him - but since he seems happy enough to see her, that part was nice and I'm glad that the emotional response was subtle, not overplayed. I don't remember if we've ever heard about her father or not; I always assumed he walked out before she was born, but apparently he was around enough for her to remember him, and even wrote letters when she was a teenager. Interesting.
I could have done without the anvil of "you know how it is with fathers and daughters" line from one of the interviewees, but I think I'd like to see Lil develop a civil relationship with Cooper. It's already 16,722 times healthier than the one with her mother, and just as many times less annoying.
Plot Arc 2: Frankie & Scotty
"HOLY UNEXPECTED TANIA RAYMONDE!!" came my shout when Scotty strolled down to one of the many superfluous techs on this show, and hey, look who it is! SQUEE DANCE! Pretty sure that with Malcolm in the Middle as a precursor, after her stint as Alex on Lost she's become one of my favorite actresses...it doesn't hurt that she's gorgeous, although she doesn't look quite as good with blonde-streaked light brown hair. And the super-red lipstick is moderately unsettling.
But I'm delighted to see her in any context, so hello, jaunty, smirky Frankie Rafferty. I also approve of pairing the good-looking guy with pretty women who are not bitchy ADAs, so that's good. There's an unfortunately squicky aspect in that I cannot believe this actress as being any more than 20 years old...oh hey, according to IMDB she actually is 20...and so the age difference, it's mildly unsettling. I think her character is supposed to be somewhat older than that, but she doesn't look it.
Still. If I resolutely ignore the aspect of squick - easy to do since they haven't even kissed - I'm all for their somewhat jocular banter, and while I hate all things baseball, the batting cages make for a cute date setting on TV. It seems like a very fun and shallow fling so far, which is normally not how I like my workplace romances, but for these two I make an exception. It works SO MUCH BETTER than Lily & Saccardo, you don't even know. Can she hang around until at least the end of the season? I know she's only been in 3 episodes, but she brings so much spark!
6x05, "Shore Leave"
Case: 1950's Marine sailor, shot and stuffed in an oil drum for standing up to mentally unstable superior in defense of his seemingly-cowardly friend, whom I shall call Neville, for obvious reasons. The flashbacks were in black and white, which automatically lowers my interest level by 50%, and I'm never all that intrigued by military cases, but since this one had a whirlwind love story on the sideline, it was OK. Would have been better without the baby drama, though. I mean, really, 1951. Good girls do not randomly sleep with a boy they've known for less than 24 hours, right before said boy ships out overseas, "true love" BS or not.
Fun Bits: Prank callbacks & TIE STAPLING FOR THE WIN!!!!!! It happened so fast I didn't even realize what he'd done at first, but then I had to rewind it about 10 times for the sheer hilarity. Vera's just "casually" hanging out, keeping a shark's eye on Jeffries as the latter sits down, and as soon as his tie is flat on the desk...POUNCE! With the outstretched stapler. "That's for aiding and abetting in the massacre of my best tie last week." And then haughtily blowing on it like a gun!
But even that wasn't as good as how "La Bamba"'s going to get his, too. Followed by Scotty casually walking past...wearing an "Ask me about erectile dysfunction" sign taped to his back. Bwah!
6x06, "The Dealer"
Case: Drama on the car sales lot! Single mom murdered by otherwise sweet old man, for being uppity...not because she was a woman doing well in the business, as the episode seemed to telegraph, but because the former star salesman was losing his repeat customers for no discernible reason, and she had the misfortune to sell to one of them. Well, that was kind of depressing. I really liked the few mother-daughter flashbacks they had, and that the bitter girl who grew up with a mean grandma, hating her mother for abandoning her, finally got some closure and a new perspective. Otherwise, boring.
Fun Bits: Vera interrogating the one salesman suspect with all the smirky attitude and many of the same lines said car salesman himself used on customers. I can't even put it into words; it was just golden to watch.
6x07, "One Small Step"
Case: 1969, 12-year-old science geek boy cracked on the head & washed downstream. OK, I love episodes like this - combination kid story (people under 18 are usually more interesting), interesting adult suspects, and a nice slice of suburban life in a more innocent time. I was on the right track about the murderer from the beginning - I only wavered on whether it was going to be a deliberate shove from the mean kid or an accidental push from the one who grew up crazy - but it was still fascinating to watch it play out, with various twists.
Loved the wild-eyed guy guarding the junkyard, especially when he was nice to Danny when the kid came back with money to pay for the parts...he was kind of attractive, in a Sawyer-esque way. Crazy 08 Seth was heartbreaking in every way (did it hurt that he looked like John Lennon? No, it did not), but I was not expecting him to hang himself. Augh! Auuuuugh! Distressing! Hanging bodies are without question the most disturbing way to find someone (except possibly for bodies that have been in the water a few days), and I'm shuddering just thinking about it. I was so hoping that he hadn't been up there long, but alas...too late.
Fun Bits: ...shoot, I knew I should have taken notes. Can't think of any; I guess the case carried this one. Except that the song at the end drove me nuts because I recognized the lyrics but not the voice...I racked my brains until I finally heard "turned a whiter shade of pale," and then it was DUH! I only know the Sarah Brightman version, which is just different enough that my lack of recognition can be excusable. Good song.
6x08, "Triple Threat"
THAT WAS GOOD. That was golden and glorious and words cannot properly express my love for it, although it needs a better title...like "Zolotoi," maybe - and oh, what a good palomino horse name that would make! - because I am never going to hook that title up to the case. (Which, incidentally, is the poisoned-body-found-in-a-subway-station of a Russian girl, opera starlet turned American high school student.)
The actress playing Nadia was superb, and while I initially had a quibble that her English lines came with a terrible American accent (as in, American trying and failing to sound like a Russian speaking English), um...turns out that the actress is nearly indistinguishable from the character she plays, so never mind! I normally can't stand opera singers, but I loved her voice from the minute the drama teacher told her she "didn't want to hear her technique." (My reaction to people trying to find "raw" expression is usually...less than favorable. In this case it may have been along the lines of "shut up, bitch, talent is the only thing that matters and talent = technical skill.")
She had a heartbreaking story, between seeking asylum in the US, and her mother's grave in Russia/never being allowed to properly mourn her death...I loved that she had to do all the translation in the police station for her father, because she's picked it up from watching American TV...and her brilliant adaptation to the performing arts high school? It's been a while since I fell so hard for a character, which I like to believe is the objective of this show - it's the only procedural that invests so much in its victims that you can come to care for them as much as the investigators - and so that's enough for me to put it into that special top tier of classic episodes.
But wait there's more! Can we say...YOUNG VERA FOR THE WIN! That would have been enough all on its own (*still cannot get over how cute he was*), but then we add in the beautiful bit about his Russian heritage and the little bit of the language he speaks ("curses and toasts," heh), and the personal connection to the family was really touching. I like that they're fleshing him out more this season; just last week he made that crack about how he wanted to be put out of his misery if he ever let a case haunt him so long, so it was nice to see that there is a case he's had a connection to for 20 years. Maybe not haunted, per se, but he was so young then; it clearly affected him.
Not sure how I feel about the final reveal of the killer, though. Going on circumstantial evidence alone, I don't think there was enough evidence to convince the teacher to confess; she didn't have to admit that she gave the tea to Nadia. She didn't even have to admit that she prepared the poison tea on the same night Nadia went to see her; plenty of people plan suicide but don't go through with it. Maybe Nadia was never there that night at all! She could have been sidelined by someone else on her way to turn in the tape, or assaulted afterwards. I did like the clever poisoning aspect rather than the typical "Whoops, we were arguing by the stairs again!" act, but if not for the fact that Nick needed closure, this is one case that I think would have been more chilling and compelling if it had remained unsolved.
Fun Stuff: In addition to "Every single one of both '89 and '08 Nick's scenes," we have delightful Kat/Scotty snark - seriously, Kat Miller can snark with anybody, and I've decided she's criminally underused on this show - as in the following exchange:
Scotty: Oil of wintergreen? What the hell's it used for?
Kat: Flavoring in candy, fragrance in muscle rubs and lip balm, and...beekeeping.
K: "An essential oil for promoting healthy swarms."
S: So after tap class, Chelsea Cutler's...tending her bees.
K: I'm working on it, OK? Don't hate. And why do you keep saying "she"? Could have been a guy, you know.
S: Come on, you know how ladies love to poison.
K: Better watch what you drink.
S: *reconsiders sip of coffee*
Also loved Lil & Vera's late-night pizza sharing while contemplating the board full of Zolotoi-related Post Its.
Finally, the music! I actually recognized most of the background songs, and everything Nadia sang was lovely, but most specifically, I'm thinking of her "Free Fallin'" street performance with the Italian opera song seamlessly woven in. It's not only better than the original by far, it's even better than the Stevie Nicks version. Fine, so the drama teacher wasn't totally off the mark when she talked about finding your voice...
And oh, apparently I am now on an Elena Satine kick, having found not only the above performance on YouTube, but also discovered this beautiful song, "Broken." It's been a really long time since CC gave me music recs, but there you go!
6x09, "Pin Up Girl"
I liked this one too! Mostly because all I could think of was my favorite female contestant from Survivor this year, and how perfectly she fits the 1950's pin-up model definition portrayed in this episode. I'm a little scared to look up any of her actual pics lest they not match my imagination, but my imagination is delighted by the discovery that once upon a time, there was this almost cute version of "selling G-rated sex."
I did peg the killer from the very first scene - as soon as I saw Betty being referred to as a model yet sitting on the sidelines I knew there was going to be some kind of jealous rage flying up - and sure enough, that's what happened. They both started as regular people, soda shop girls, and they get "discovered" but only one of them becomes famous; the other has to continually degrade herself to pay the bills and finally it's too much. "Men don't just like to imagine...they like to see too," or whatever the line was, was as chillingly ominous as it was heartbreaking. Although, it's kind of her fault for being too spineless to say "no" to her father. She was an adult; he had no claim to her salary. She could have at least squirreled her tips away from him. And Rita surely would have let her stay with her if it had been that bad.
I also knew, as soon as they had trouble finding "Stanley Nopell," that it was probably an alias, and I was 99% sure it belonged to Rita. I did not, however, make the connection to "Constantinople," which I thought was really clever. Even I, with my hatred of black and white photography (it's not artistic, it's dull), have to admit that some of her shots were interesting.
Can't say I was all that impressed by her desire to be a photographer instead of a model, though. If you have looks like that, plus a fairly simple and low-stress work environment (as opposed to today's models), you don't get to claim you're "bored" making other people smile. You keep right on modeling and maybe you can take your pretty pictures on the side. (OK, that was possibly more sexist than I actually feel, but I can't resist using the 1950's setting as an excuse to flex my 1950's attitude about stereotypical gender restrictions. All I'm really saying here is that I fully understood where her boyfriend was coming from)
Very much loved Vera's "research" in flipping through all the old magazines, though. Oh, and since I didn't mention it above in the "arcs" section, loved the part where Frankie and Scotty were making up stories to go with the anonymous people in the old photograph. I think that's what sold me on them, to be honest.
6x10, "Street Money"
The case: 2005, hopeful council candidate from da hood gets gunned down prior to the election, found with drugs on him and supposedly dying a hypocrite. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have enjoyed this episode, even if I hadn't been subjected to 8 thousand previews of it during the football game that was on during Thanksgiving, but that didn't help. Bored to tears, I was, and no, your selection of "positive" rap will not change my mind about the genre.
Did enjoy Vera asking if Scotty thought he had a chance with Frankie ("Absolutely") - wait, what happened to the nice single mom he was dating?? - and then strolling over only to find out that Scotty's already seeing her. That was hysterical. ("You're an ass.")
But the damned new ADA = hatred. I still don't think he looks like his brother, but while I didn't recognize him as a LaPaglia at all on NCIS, and in fact it took me a while to remember him as Langer on NCIS, this time I heard that same annoying, grating voice, with just enough of the same weirdly smug Jack Malone attitude, and I went "YOU." Get rid of him immediately! At first I thought he was just making up some kind of act about his ADD to confuse the suspect, and Kat's many disturbed looks were only meant to convey that she wasn't in on the joke either, but apparently he really is that terrible at his job. I don't understand the point of introducing him.
Oh good, finally, a victim I don't feel sorry for! And not just for her feisty feminist ways
You don't turn your back on clearly hysterical, if not mentally unstable women right after you accuse them of being blind about their lover's true nature. In fact, you probably shouldn't confront women about their lover's "true nature" in the first place. If she's been dating a married man for years, she obviously only cares about the side she sees. She's happy with that. Let her alone.
I am, however, pleased to say that I once again pegged the "jealous woman" killer from the start. I felt the prickle of suspicion during the training seminar, placed my bet as soon as I saw her cuddling up to one of the pilots while Allison jerked away, and the nail in the coffin was when she laughed about aging out and said she was only 26. "Liar!" cried my homicide radar, and I knew it was going to be a case of "older" woman jealous of being edged out by the younger and prettier competition.
Did love the vacation snark surrounding Jeffries, though, and his cool-as-a-cucumber "Goin' to Croatia, thanks. Top ten beaches in the world. Hot destination. Keep up, son" smirking. (I paraphrase the quote because I don't have the episode handy, but that's the gist of it)
** = um, could we please not get into the usual ideological debates that come with assuming I'm Super Serious about everything I yell at this show for, and just assume that I say these things in mock-serious jest? You see, the show takes itself super-seriously when it comes to social issues, and so I enjoy knocking it down a peg by refusing to be MOVED with HORROR that such practices existed.