Jon Tenney and Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

On Monday, January 26, at 9 pm/ET, The Closer returns for the final five episodes of our fourth season, concluding our meditation on power.

How do these shows differ from what we do during the summer? They are both more personal and more experimental.

During our regular season last year, we concentrated on the story with the slow but steady deterioration of Det. Sanchez's life, the difficulty Brenda was having with following through on her commitment to get married to her long-time boyfriend, Special Agent Fritz Howard of the FBI, and the sniping Gabriel and Daniels employed in the workplace as they failed to gracefully let go of their relationship. But, for the most part, these personal issues always took a back seat to the necessary business of the justice system.

Not anymore.

In our premiere, "Good Faith," we take as our theme the power of the body versus the power of the spirit. I think of it as the concentration on story as opposed to the attention we pay to character.

The mystery is rather simple. A man who embezzled from his brother, and withheld child support from his wife while in thrall to a drug habit (is this a physical or spiritual problem?) finds his way to a church dedicated to reclaiming lost souls. A few months later, the penitent drug addict is found in the bathroom of his apartment with a bullet through his head. Is this murder? Or suicide? A spiritual failure? Or a physical attack?

The fragility of the human body remains very much on the mind of the detectives in LAPD's Major Crimes Division. Julio Sanchez was shot three times last September and flown out of a mall parking lot (at low altitude to keep his lungs from collapsing) in Brenda's arms. Will Sanchez survive this attack on his body? And what will squad member's reactions be to his fate, especially Lt. Provenza, whose life was saved by Sanchez's... well, was it heroism or a suicide wish?

Brenda's parents visit, stopping by their daughter's house on their way to a 50th anniversary cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. They are also there to help settle the details of their daughter's wedding. Will the bride and groom add the traditional spiritual blessing to their already fully physically consummated relationship? Can Brenda ever consent to being Mrs. Howard?

Oh. And someone has a heart attack.

Meanwhile, a crime must be solved, because this is a procedural. But in ways we have never tried before, this episode is more about character. There is still a murder, of course. In fact, the homicide and the personal stories of our characters are more thematically united than ever, but the plot is also more evenly divided between the two. We would never try this during our regular summer run. But this winter, in our experimental mode, we give something to those fans wanting more from the private lives of our characters.

Next week's episode, "Junk in the Trunk," tilts back a little more towards the crime as we explore the power of fantasy in our daily lives. The week after that, in an episode aptly named "Power of Attorney," we are back for a dark mystery that dwells on manipulation as Brenda confronts a lawyer every bit as good at his job as she is at hers. Again, though this story is purely procedural, and concentrates entirely on Brenda at work, it is highly unusual both in its execution and its ending.

Our next-to-last show in our season of experiments has to do with power of the unseen, especially as the invisible manifests itself in psychic ways. "Fate Line" also introduces Amy Sedaris as Fritz's sister (and, as one of our lighter outings, turns into a bit of a spoof on horror films). And, in our finale, we answer the question of whether or not Fritz and Brenda will marry. While "Double Blind" plays a little like a romantic comedy, it has dark undertones as Gabriel and Daniels (whose relationship is getting worse and not better) split irrevocably, and in a somewhat spectacular fashion for a paramilitary organization.

Those who understand our affection for rondos in The Closer universe will not be surprised to find that the end of our finale "mirrors" exactly the beginning of our premiere, though the reflection may somewhat surprise, and harkens back to Brenda's first week on the job.

I'll be back to speak more specifically to the following episodes. But I'm glad to be in contact with everyone again as we prepare Season 5, and allow me to put in a word for my partners, Greer Shephard and Mike Robin, who are helping to bring Hunt Baldwin & John Coveny's brilliant, eccentric take on work and friendship to the hour after our premiere. I found Trust Me, starring Eric McCormick, Tom Cavanaugh and Monica Potter, to be a pure delight from beginning to end.

Hope to see you on Monday night.

James Duff