Graham Patrick Martin
Here's a short post to talk about our continuing story on Major Crimes: the ordeal of the material witness, Rusty Beck, as he travels toward his appointment with destiny.
Series regulars on crime shows tend to represent those most responsible for the proper arrest of a criminal. But the justice system oftentimes depends on witnesses; even DNA evidence must be presented by the person who analyzed it, providing a human face and voice to the dryer aspects of court proceedings.
In the example of someone like Rusty Beck, who has very little to recommend him socially, and who can only say that he did the best he could under difficult circumstances, not only must he raise his right hand and swear to tell the truth, he must also be prepared to answer for his out-of-the-ordinary adolescence. If lawyers don't have the evidence on their side, they will argue over the character of the people presenting it. Preparing Rusty to withstand his ordeal has been part of Sharon's most pressing goal. And the goal of Provenza, Buzz, Sanchez, Tao, Sykes, Flynn, Taylor and Rios as all of them become more entwined in Rusty's life.
We have thought about a couple of issues confronting our witness long and hard. Underneath that veneer of seen-it-all, know everything confidence (some might say arrogance), what, exactly, is Rusty's emotional state? Abandoned by his mother on the streets of Los Angeles, and left to fend for himself, Rusty did what about eighty percent of all teenage males do within the first seventy-two hours of a like experience, which is why underage prostitution is such a problem in our country. One can hardly look at the urban landscape of America, in which thousands upon thousand of boys and girls find themselves homeless, without wondering what Dickens would have made of our modern world. Rusty represents these children, and their trauma. Young people tend to absorb sexual abuse the same way they do violence, except they are even more apt to blame themselves for this form of mistreatment, which is why Sharon has struggled so hard to get Rusty to see a therapist. And why the doctor he meets next week, played by Bill Brochtrup of NYPD Blue, is destined to become an important part of his life.
Then there is the issue of Rusty's identity. This is an awkward question for most teenagers, and we are not making an exception for Rusty, who longs for something resembling a normal life. Already strange and worrisome to the parents of other kids — and even his own biological father — Rusty's desire for an existence more ordinary has, so far, commanded his emotional life. But what will happen when he takes the stand? Or when he comes face to face with the man writing him threatening letters. And yes, both of those things are going to happen this season.
Safe to say, Rusty has his hands full. And so do the people who love him.
— James Duff