Graham Patrick Martin
Mystery stories trade in puzzles and surprise. How did the body get into the library? How was it all the windows and doors were locked from the inside? Why is the victim wearing someone else's cologne? These are the riddles over which Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot expend their energies as private detectives and likable busybodies in British detective fiction. But, in Major Crimes, as elsewhere in the procedural world, sometimes the most difficult conundrum facing our division is the law itself. The suspect may be obvious, the evidence may contradict their statements, the arrest should follow, but the civil liberties of the accused (in our free society) remain sacrosanct. The right to a lawyer, for example, and the right to remain silent, derail investigations on a daily basis. But these commonly invoked privileges are but puny defensive maneuvers when compared to the absolute power of diplomatic immunity.
The list of crimes for which covered foreign service officers (and their immediate families) cannot be charged (or even questioned) is vast and all encompassing. Which is not to say that, occasionally, a diplomat cannot be charged with a crime, but, more often than not, the offender is returned to his or her own country for trial and punishment.
This, of course, is a not-very-satisfying outcome for Sharon Raydor, who finds herself growing angrier and angrier at the obstacles thrown in her path as she investigates the untimely death of an Indian national. Confronted by international treaties, missing teenagers and Special Agent Fritz Howard of the FBI, who is determined that the LAPD will honor the letter and the spirit of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Sharon finds she is not exempt from frustration over the rules.
And foreign service officers and LAPD Captains are not the only ones struggling to hold on to their idea of immunity. Det. Amy Sykes, who has been noticeably unforthcoming about her romantic life, has thus far avoided sharing the identity of her mystery date with fellow detectives. Likewise, Rusty Beck clings to a secret of his own, fearful that the truth will change his most important relationships.
On our way to revealing all, we feature the return of LAPD psychologist, Dr. Joe Bowman, who artfully assists Rusty in understanding why he identified so strongly with a young murder suspect. Played with the kind of diplomatic patience befitting an ambassador, Dr. Joe is only the latest in a long run of memorable characters created by Bill Brochtrup, an extraordinary actor who has compiled an enviable list of credits (including ten years on NYPD Blue and, more recently, recurring parts on Shameless and Kendra) during a decades long career. In addition to being a genius performer, Bill also serves as a Co-Artistic Director of L.A.'s much respected Antaeus Theatre Company, famous for the audacity of its double and triple casting in a succession of brilliantly produced plays. Bill is also a perfect co-narrator for the unusual framing device bookending the criminal mystery of "Do Not Disturb," which also features a great script by Ralph Gifford & Carson Moore, brought to vivid life by Sheelin Choksey(who also supervises our post-production facility). But please stay tuned after the mystery is solved, as the last of our secrets are revealed.
Next week, Major Crimes struggles not only to identify a murderer, but also a victim, in the strange an affecting mystery of a young girl discovered in the trash.
Until then — James Duff