Oh Janet King, my unexpected treasure, what are you doing? This show has been like a kid in a candy store of narrative elements, just running around like “OK I need an armful of red herrings, some meaty political commentary, OOH OOH PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMA, and like fifty good actors.” You love to watch them having so much fun with it, but by the time they get to the checkout they are just dropping shit everywhere and high as fuck on sugar and enthusiasm. They should be narrowing their focus as they race toward the finale, but instead they use their penultimate episode to cry, “NO! MORE SUSPECTS! IF WE KEEP ADDING TWISTS THEN THE SHOW CAN NEVER END!”
We open with a resolution to last week’s tarp mystery: the man whose nose and watch we analyzed so exhaustively (I love you guys for that, by the way) is Judge Granville Umbridge Renmark. That’s a pretty solid twist, but a better one would have been if the corpse were Rizzoli so we’d all have to rethink our theories. Renmark fell from a four-story parking garage and since his wallet was missing, Rizzoli thinks it must have been a robbery gone wrong.
OR MAYBE WE WAS LISTENING TO I BELIEVE I CAN FLY AND IT WENT TO HIS HEAD.
Janet, of course, is unsatisfied with this explanation. This whole season really, Janet has been holding up a connect-the-dots with 99 dots filled in and everyone else looks at it like they’re stumped.
WE’LL HAVE TO SEND THIS TO FORENSICS.
Since Janet the killjoy insists on, like, investigating everything (what a drag) Andy slouches around like “Ugh okay, who all knew that Renmark was being investigated?” Richard informs him that Owen knew, so I guess he’s our misdirection du jour.
At Renmark’s house, the police find the same creepy Sailor Moon fan art USB drive that was at Keith Nelson’s house, only this one is chock-full of child porn. (I’m getting a little tired of the shots they keep using of partially undone trousers to sub in for the porn; just do like you did with Lina and let the actors’ faces indicate what they’re looking at.)
Meanwhile, Janet decides that priority number one has to be persuading Mia Blakely to testify, a challenge made somewhat more difficult by the fact that Janet is not technically allowed to talk to her. Really it’s Owen’s job, but he’s too busy slinking around making mysterious phone calls and generally giving everybody the wrong idea.
While this wholly unnecessary subplot takes place, a development with some actual emotional heft is totally ignored. Tony takes Janet and Erin aside to tell them that he informed the Attorney General that Renmark’s last words to him were “There was totally for sure no wrongdoing between Janet and Erin. They are just work buddies with mad chemistry.” So the investigation has been dropped. DO YOU HEAR THAT, JARIN SHIPPERS? IT’S BEEN DROPPED. Afterwards, Janet assures Erin that they can still be buddies, just not drinking buddies. Erin nods in agreement, but her eyes tell a different story.
I’ll just un-watch all six seasons of “The L Word” then, shall I?
In the past few days I have started to watch Crownies, and it has given me a lot of insight into Erin’s character. I still don’t want her and Erin to hook up because I think ultimately that would make Janet self-loathing and miserable, but I do think that something real is happening to Erin right now. Every time you see Erin kiss a man in Crownies, it is with this bleary-eyed emptiness. But when she leaned toward Janet, there was a deeper and more powerful desire at play. I only wish we had more than one episode left to explore it.
So, back to the Task Force to Investigate Owen. Janet calls Erin, Richard, and Lina into her office to ask whether they have ever suspected Owen of Bad Guyness. And since Owen is a cold and ruthless manipulator, they certainly all have. Also Owen is not helping matters because he has a super secret appointment tomorrow and he is blowing off his lawyer duties to go to it. He doesn’t even have the good sense to lie and say he’s going to a brothel or a Wiggles show, he just shouts “IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME” to anyone who asks.
In Lina news, she informs Andy of her mysterious infertility, and he responds with all the warmth and compassion that make them both such great partners and such flawed members of the justice system. Much as I like their relationship, this is the sort of scene I would want to see in a longer series, not shoved in an episode before the finale.
BUT I WILL TOTALLY TAKE A BREAK FROM THE PLOT FOR THAT SMILE.
There is a scene where Janet talks on the phone to Ash, and even though it doesn’t further the narrative any more than the Andy/Lina scene, I always love the reminders of how much Janet’s family means to her. Also it reminds us how anxious she is to resolve the conspiracy and be reunited with her family. So much so, in fact, that she will push the boundaries of ethics and judgment to do it.
So the next day, Janet barges into the meeting with Mia Blakely to try and persuade her to testify, but her strategy is all wrong.
Thankfully, Tony overhears this dialogue and bursts in to persuade Mia to at least trick Nelson into thinking she will take the stand. The hope is that if Nelson thinks she’ll testify, he’ll choose to cut a deal and unlock the whole conspiracy. Of course, there’s no guarantee that it will actually play out that way, but lawyers really will do anything to get what they want. With that in mind, Lina persuades Drew Blakely to testify as well and confirm that the Blakely kids were left alone with Keith Nelson. Finally guilted into a sense of brotherly duty, he agrees.
The next day at court, Owen’s attempt to broker a plea deal fails, and thus begins what can only be described as a tour de force from Harriet Dyer, starting from the moment she realizes she will have to testify after all.
Owen questions her in minute, agonizing detail about her abuse, and when she describes it, she is seven years old all over again. It is a harrowing scene and no member of the jury (or the audience) is left unmoved. Both Ms. Dyer and the writers deserve serious praise for tackling such difficult subject matter so deftly.
While this is going on, Andy finally uncovers the Blakely-Moreno connection in the form of some original Alex Moreno Crap Photography in the Blakely home. Tragically, this information comes too late to prevent Drew from taking the stand.
Back at the DPP, the whole crew gangs up to steal Owen’s phone in order to find out wtf he’s been up to. They discover that Owen’s mysterious phone calls and meetings have all been with a TV reporter. And given that it is Tony’s job to keep people from talking to the press, this information makes his face do this.
When Drew Blakely takes the stand, everyone expects it to be a by-the-book questioning. All he has to do is confirm that his parents left him and Mia alone with the Nelsons. Instead, he reverses his testimony and claims that it was actually Steven Blakely that abused Mia.
Obviously he was coerced into saying this but still: TWIST!
Owen immediately changes tack and accuses Drew of being out for revenge against his dead father.
Okay, so like, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THIS NEW INFORMATION, Tony leans over to Janet and whispers that it was Owen to told the press that she and Erin were having an affair. There isn’t time during the scene to process this, but my theory is that Owen started the rumor so he could quash it himself. He thinks that Janet is reviewing him for his fancy new job so the last thing he needs is to get on her bad side. If, on the other hand, he gave an interview to the press defending her honor, it could help him secure her vote of confidence. That’s my theory, anyway. Hit me with yours in the comment section.
Back in the courtroom scene, Drew recounts how his father once let him cut his feet on sharp shells rather than help him. The story awakens a memory in Janet: the feet of Blakely’s corpse were cut to pieces.
Next week: Finale! Return of Danny Novak! If Rizzoli is not the bad guy I will feel real dumb!
Special thanks to Jenna Lykes, expert lesbian recruiter and grumpy cat photoshopper.