The Closer

Monday, February 23, at 9 o'clock, we air the finale to our fourth season of TNT's The Closer (and bring down the curtain on our 15-episode exploration of the concept of power) by examining what I personally consider the most important part of our daily lives: the human relationships we count on to survive.

Yes, I said survive. For while a solitary life is possible, the better part of humanity needs another voice, another hand, another heart to thrive. Whether it's a friend, a romantic partner, a parent or a partner, few of us have the emotional and physical stamina to bear all of life's burdens alone.

But the wrong partner is often worse than no partner at all. Bad parents are no replacement for good ones. Friends are not always available. Worse, our search for the ideal can sometimes obscure the best life has to offer, thus robbing us of our chance at happiness.

Yes, relationships are tricky things yet — outside self-discipline - they represent our best opportunity to truly influence any aspect of our own lives for the better.

So how to need others without becoming needy? How to love others with no definite assurance they will love you back? How to put your trust in people when the frailty of our physical form — not to mention the more conspicuous flaws of human nature — means that, at any moment, everything you believed in can instantly slip away.

Brenda Leigh Johnson has spent a good deal of her professional life walking up to strangers and giving them the worst news possible. Usually it begins something like this. "When did you last see your son?" Or "May I ask: was your husband upset about anything recently?" Or "Was your father physically well the last time you spoke to him?" These questions are usually followed by tragedy: someone who was very much loved has met a violent death. An important and necessary individual, a person who helped make life worth living, is gone. That police officers can find the strength to love unstintingly, given their work environment, never fails to impress me. Homicide detectives are reminded, on a daily basis, that the only promise love always keeps is that it will end. And yet they love anyway.

Still. The commitment of marriage is usually the most personal and intimate promise we ever make: an oath taken to accept the good and the bad for however long life lasts. Honorable people must test themselves thoroughly to discover if they are ready to be the partner, friend and lover on which another individual can depend until death.

Brenda and Fritz meet these questions in our season finale when, for a few brief moment, they have the power to determine their future happiness.

I think their final exchange captures the different perspectives of their characters, and that Kyra and Jon have never been better. Our extended cast is on hand to see how this one turns out. And I should remind you — to be fair — that not all relationships have fairy tale endings.

Thanks for being there with us through our five-episode winter series, and for once again making The Closer the highest-rated show on cable. We're honored and inspired by your support.

And we'll be back next June for another 12 episodes in a row, taking as our theme the useful concept of change.

Until then....

James Duff