In the seventh episode of our summer long examination of identity, we actively consider that oldest of old saws, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." We are usually taught this elemental lesson in judgment when we're very young, and (for many) it begins the effort to hone the native suspicion of human nature. There are too many examples of how people have been led astray by appearances to repeat them here, but one should not have to go back very far in American history to locate tragic mistakes that occur when people form false impressions based entirely on semblance. But Major Crimes is only an hour drama on television, and not a civics lesson; many of the questions we ask have no answers.
Detectives are trained to look beneath the surface of every crime, so when gangsters are shot up in a drive-by, and innocents lose their lives, the cynical Lt. Provenza can survey the damage and ask, "Where's the sense in that?" Of course, sense is what we expect our law enforcement officers to provide, and no one studies the intricacies of the gang world more closely than Det. Julio Sanchez. As the story unfolds, he and his fellow officers watch as the four homicides investigated by Major Crimes begin shape shifting from one kind of murder to another.
And Captain Raydor, pressed for time, and hoping to avert more violence, needs a court-appointed attorney. Asking a favor from her visiting husband, Jack (played with real genius by Tom Berenger), Sharon inevitably ends up opposite her problematic spouse in an interview room. Is their clash of wills more a personal argument, or is it a professional dilemma? Or does one lead inevitably to the other? And will the cagey Jack use Rusty to create havoc in his wife's life? Already overwhelmed by the demands of teenage social life, will L.A. county's most important witness find himself traumatized and abandoned by yet another role model? For a few moments, Jack Raydor seems to have the last word in his conflict with Sharon. But will it matter?
Titling a show "Rules of Engagement" almost requires us to begin with a bang. David McWhirter does just that, directing with an eye for the explosive in every scene, and our cast of series regulars has an opportunity to flex their muscles as they brace for our sprint to summer's end.
Four more episodes remain. Next week, an attack on an internationally acclaimed swimming coach leads to a media frenzy over race and highlights, some of the justice system's more intractable challenges. Lori Laughlin guest stars in an emotionally wrenching episode during which we ask even more unanswerable questions.
Until then — James Duff