Mary McDonnell, Graham Patrick Martin
If the recent exigencies of the Great Recession have taught us anything — doubtful, honestly, considering how easily it could all happen again — it's that humans tend to take for granted the status quo in unhealthy ways, and that, worse, we tend to equate being rich with great wealth. During the financial downturn, many people were amazed to find how ephemeral their finances turned out to be. We woke from a sleepy sense of entitlement to find we had been living in a bubble.
So our victim tonight, the manager of a very small investment fund, turns out to have taken on more risk than he knew; his friends and family, who trusted him with their money, are horrified to find that he essentially sold their cow for magic beans, and their lives on country club estates are more tenuous than they first supposed.
Decent returns on investments, however, are not the only things to which people feel entitled. Most Americans consider a loving family and a few good friends high on their list of expectations. Life, however, offers us no guarantees. Sometimes we must manage without the things others take for granted. And, I can promise you, there are lots of people who have flat out ruined their lives because they ended up having less than they expected.
How we deal with diminished prospects, either long-term or short-run, can definitively test our characters as people either rise or plummet to the occasion.
Sharon, for example, must constantly listen to her material witness, Rusty, complain about the unfairness of life, all while housing, feeding and protecting him. While this is actually nothing more than an extreme example of living with an adolescent, it can still be really annoying (even when the adolescent has a point!).
And Lt, Andy Flynn, who spent a great deal of his early adult life drinking in bars, struggles to regain his family's love and respect. Naturally, being a detective, his struggle includes some misdirection and shading of the truth, which leads to a surprising invitation from his daughter involving an extra ticket to a holiday performance of The Nutcracker. As Andy's identification with the murder victim increases, his irritation with the deceased's family grows and grows until finally it leads him to a show of temper. Followed very swiftly by more lying. Well, what do you want from an experienced detective?
Some might think the holidays an odd background for a story about entitlement, but I disagree. The animating spirit behind Christmas and Hanukkah requires us to leave off thinking about what we want for ourselves, and go "All In", just for a few weeks, considering what we most want for others: a little reverse entitlement, if you will, dressed up in Christmas tree skirts and lit by Menorahs.
Special thanks to director Anthony Hemmingway, who leads us through this episode with speed and innovation, and my writing partner, the endlessly creative Det. Mike Berchem of the LAPD, ret. I'll be back with a wrap-up this coming Tuesday, and, remember, we will be doing a Facebook chat starting somewhere in the half-hour before "All In" begins.
Finally, next week, Flynn and Provenza find themselves thrown a serious "Curveball" while Christmas shopping on L.A.'s iconic Venice Beach. Jon Tenney directs while Bill Brochtrup as Dr. Joe returns to finish his mental evaluation of the reluctant Rusty Beck.
Hope you're enjoying your holidays, and we at Major Crimes wish you peace and joy, and just a touch of murder on Monday night.