Mary McDonnell, Michael Paul Chan, G.W. Bailey

Our summer season comes to an end with what many of us believe is the best episode of Major Crimes so far. I won't go into a long explanation here about the difference between spree killers and serial killers except to say that, usually, spree killers are much more impulsive and lack an exit strategy, while serial killers mainly want to get away with it. Consider the differences between Andrew Cunanan, who buckled under stress and then murdered his way across the United States, and the Zodiac Killer, who has yet to be found.

Why do people become spree killers? It would seem, they encounter a stressor event seriously damaging their self-esteem (which is probably already functioning on life support). Their desire to see themselves as successful, or as an important part of a winning partnership or organization, is more important to them than who they actually are. Thrown upon the world without an ego-enhancing structure, unable to absorb external structures, these lower functioning psychopaths can snap. Lacking the skills and discipline to achieve their irrational dreams, they end up blaming others for their disappointments. Behavior markers in spree killers include careless and pathological lying, unfiltered arrogance, criminal activities such as theft and vandalism, and, of course, murder.

For most of us, failing to achieve a dream is a moment of grief followed by redirection. A relationship goes bad, a job doesn't pan out,  a judgment call turns bad: it happens! We pick ourselves up and move on.  This is not what happens in our finale when one of our worst bad guys ever has a bloody nervous breakdown.

"Poster Boy," as directed by executive producer Michael Robin (who has also directed both the pilot and the finale of The Closer and the first episode of Major Crimes), takes off like a rocket as we shift backward and forward in time, toying with the physics of narrative but always  doing our best to realize a great teleplay by Leo Geter. Mary McDonnell has never been better as Sharon Raydor, G.W. Bailey soars as Lt. Provenza, especially while he leads the division through its most unusual crime scene ever, and Graham Patrick Martin, as Rusty Beck, comes face-to-face with the real world consequences of hiding threats against his life from the police.  The rest of our cast — Tony Denison, Michael Paul Chan, Raymond Cruz, Phillip P. Keene, Kearran Giovanni, Jonathan Del Arco, Nadine Velasquez, Robert Gossett and Ransford Dougherty bring their A-Game as their characters push, push, push to stop a dangerous psychopath before he can kill again.

Major Crimes depends on great guest stars to tell our stories; add Chris Wood to the list of terrific actors appearing this season.  Chris allowed us to do all manner of things to his hair and his personal appearance. We gave him a completely new identity; he fully inhabited it with a performance that blasts across multiple screens during a final interview sequence unlike any we have ever attempted. And special thanks are owed to CNN and Dr. Kris Mohandie for lending an extra layer of authenticity to this summer's final outing.

It's odd that we have done more episodes of Major Crimes this year than last, but are already saying goodbye until the holidays. Maybe it's because last summer we premiered in August instead of June. Or maybe it's because we just received our pick-up for season three (last Friday). It's all happening so fast! Or maybe, because I have been doing some version of this show for a decade, the pace just feels quicker to me. The clock ticks faster every year, and, in this particular case, the dance seems to have come to a halt while the music was still playing.

Regardless, we have reached that point in our season when I must say good-bye and thank-you. It is always difficult for a writer to admit, but no words could adequately convey the gratitude felt by our company to our audience. Please know the cast and crew of never take your attendance for granted, and that we are always working to give you something better than we have done before.  

We'll see you again with eight, brand new episodes beginning November 25th, as we switch from the theme of identity to character. Meanwhile, have a great autumn, and when you notice the leaves begin to fall, and put your plans for Thanksgiving into place, look to TNT on Monday nights. Major Crimes will be there well into 2014.

Until then — James Duff