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There are a plethora of powerful female cop characters in TV land – think Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect, for example. Or, if one were to go further back, it would be Cagney & Lacey.
But few are as distinct or as superb as Kyra Sedgwick in her role as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson in The Closer, which has been bagging awards since it debuted on the small screen.
Having inhabited the character for seven seasons, Sedgwick has effortlessly endeared herself to those TV buffs who enjoy playing armchair detective.
So what do we love about the Deputy Chief?
Actually, there are several things – she holds her own against her sometimes condescending male counterparts. Did I mention her sharp tongue?
And she always gets her guy – although her methods are often questionable. Then again, she is a CIA-trained interrogator.
While we get to see the tough, authoritative cop surface in her Georgia brogue, it is offset by her softer side. She enjoys a big glass of merlot and her cat, Kitty, was her pride and joy until he died in season five and Fritz gave her Joel. And she always has sweet treats lying in her draw – it’s her vice.
And this balance has held her in good stead throughout her crime-solving career. Read on to find out more about her journey.
In this season, titled A Woman Alone, the characters were established with the newly-appointed Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, who was tasked with overseeing the Priority Homicide Division (PHD), battling with her adversary, Robbery Homicide’s Captain Taylor, who tried to force her to resign.
While the squad didn’t deal well with her strong personality and tried to undermine her at every turn, she, in refusing to buckle under the egotistical pressure, eventually won their respect.
The pervading theme was partnerships, with Detective Lieutenants Andy Flynn and Louie Provenza setting the tone through their storylines. While Chief Johnson and Detective Sergeant David Gabriel tried to find common ground, she also struck up an uneasy working alliance with Commander Russell Taylor. On a personal front, Chief Johnson and Fritz were at a crossroad in their relationship and toyed with the idea of moving in together.
After all the snags and personal agendas were cleared up, the PHD finally started coming together as a unified front. In this season, which was all about family, it played a strong role in them coping with a budget crisis and a case involving bigamy. Also, in this instalment, more about Chief Johnson’s personal life came to the fore with Fritz meeting her father after her health crisis.
This time around, the writers explored the subject of power, with Chief Johnson and the PHD clashing with a Los Angeles Times reporter who has an agenda of his own. Also under the spotlight was the issue of the power of the legal system and those who unscrupulously use it as their playground to fight their wars.
Away from the office, Chief Johnson and Fritz were planning their wedding with a little unwanted help from Clay and Willie Rae Johnson.
Now that she was a married woman, change, which is the theme for this season, was inevitable, although Chief Johnson resisted it as long as possible. Back at PHD, everyone adjusted to working for the Major Crimes Division (MCD). Meanwhile, Lieutenant Provenza provided some comic relief with a much younger lover.
And a shooting involving a cop sees Chief Johnson come under fire from Captain Sharon Raydor of Force Investigation.
A QUICK RECAP!
Chief Johnson and the MCD were forced to re-examine a case after learning of an error with a DNA test.
Meanwhile, Fritz and Chief Johnson are forced to pander to her parents who believe a horrible crime should take top priority.
In the finale, Chief Johnson and the team raced to find a missing woman and Gabriel questioned Chief Johnson’s judgement. Meanwhile, Fritz revealed some ugly truths about his past.
In this final season, the themes of love and loss are explored. Deputy Johnson’s career is overshadowed by a lawsuit that stemmed from the case involving a drive-by shooting of three soldiers who had just returned from Afghanistan. While the military believed it had serious terrorist overtones, she believed it was gang-related, which left them at loggerheads. Knowing Deputy Johnson’s tenacity, she will undoubtedly rise above this setback and clear her name.
And in the words of Deputy Johnson: “Thank you, thank you so much,” to TNT (Turner Network Television) for what is one of the most superbly crafted crime dramas spearheaded by a strong and inspirational lead character.
• Don’t miss a nail-biting final season of The Closer on M-Net Series tomorrow at 9.30pm.