Kyra Sedgwick, <EM>The Closer</EM> Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Note to self: Screen the entire first episode of The Closer's new season before talking to Kyra Sedgwick about it. (Or at least don't admit that you've only gotten halfway through the hour.) "Oh, my god, how could you stop halfway through?!" the Golden Globe winner admonished me — in jest! — upon hearing my (what I thought was passing) admission. "It's so freakin' exciting! I'm telling you, it's such an amazing episode. I was completely blown away by it."

Having since completed viewing the Season 3 opener (airing Monday at 9 pm/ET, on TNT), I can only concur. It's a doozy, serving up one of the most horrific murder scenarios in the show's history and laying the foundation for a head-scratcher of a different kind, the impact of mandatory personnel cuts for Brenda Leigh's Priority Homicide Squad. When Brenda is first handed the directive from Pope, Sedgwick previews, "We come up with some creative ways around dealing with some of the red tape, but it certainly is something that will continue throughout the year and be interesting to watch. Things will continue to be difficult." That said, at the time of this late-May chat, Sedgwick revealed that she had yet to film any scenes involving any actual head-chopping at the PHS. So Provenza, Daniels et al can breathe easy. For now.

Sedgwick never breathes easy when it comes to safeguarding the colorful and compelling crime-solver she created three summers ago. Asked what she is most protective of when it comes to Brenda, she says, "I find her to be an honorable person, and I am very protective of her honor. And I'm protective of making her real, someone that people can relate to, someone that's flawed and quirky, struggling through her work and her personal life. All those things are important to me."

In creating Brenda from whole cloth, Sedgwick likes to think she and TNT have given television a true original, at least in the fact that her detective is a dame. "If there were women like her, they were usually men," she says, surveying TV history. "Colombo was, like Brenda, quirky and unusually smart, and Jim Rockford, Baretta... I don't know that we've ever seen anyone quite like Brenda."

In the interest of full disclosure — to Sedgwick as well as you, the Closer fan — I also admit to the actress that sometimes (sometimes), when blogging epsiode recaps for the site, I cop to not quite understanding how the mystery of the week resolved itself, how all the pieces came together. Luckily (and this is where I breathe easy), Sedgwick confesses that she is the same way. "Sometimes I feel like it takes me several readings to understand what I'm talking about," she shares. "I don't imagine that everyone gets every nuance and every mystery that we try to portray, but I also think there are a lot of people who are a helluva lot smarter than I am who do get it and like to be challenged in that way. I'd rather it be more complicated than have the audience thinking five steps ahead of us."

One major mystery to this day still eludes Sedgwick and viewers. I speak of, of course, the birthday present Pope gave Brenda last season, a special something that we saw the box for, yet were never made privy to the contents. When reminded that series creator James Duff told TVGuide.com last fall that the reveal is coming (albeit in a twisty way), Sedgwick effuses, "I hope that it will, because it will be fun!"

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