opens on a surveillance camera set in LAX. As the credits cut in, Chief Pope is briefing the crew on a case involving a real estate agent Mr. Summers, who is now missing. We find, via the wife's trip to the bank, that he is being held hostage and for a large ransom, over a million dollars and it led to the loan of Detective Mikki Mendoza to PHD; she does not make a great first impression on Brenda, as she mistakenly interrupts her. Also, Kitty, Brenda's cat, is joining the crew for the day (for those who missed the previous episode, Kitty is pretty much on her last leg). Mikki is introduced to the rest of the crew. Lt. Provenza arrives uncharacteristically late but in a much better mood than the previous episode. He greets Nicki as he simultaneously grabs cups for coffee for the bullpen.
Brenda continues on with the bullpen; hypothesizing the case, beginning with Mr. Gomez, Summer's limo driver, whom she believes must be involved in the kidnapping- if it is indeed a kidnapping. Summers is being investigated for fraud by the FBI, so Flynn thinks it may be a way for him to escape, or try to get back to his frozen assets. As they talk, Flynn also takes note of Provenza's pink paisley tie. Brenda noticing the 'very frisky' Provenza, assigns him the task of searching for the town car; which he responds to quite uncharacteristically exuberant. Tao works on tracking the cell phone location, and Pope stops Brenda from talking to the potential suspects. She tasks Nicki with keeping an eye on the residence. She over-tasks Gabriel and he calls her on it; pointing to the audience that she is slightly unfocused, because of Kitty.
Brenda talks Mrs. Ortega about Mario, the driver. He was married, his wife died of cancer the previous year. Mario is also apparently an illegal alien, who does not want to go back to Mexico. Brenda, clad in the pink trench coat, goes to the Gomez residence, where Mikki literally steps over the line by kicking the door down in front of Brenda and not waiting for instructions. Provenza calls, having found the town car, with quite the blood splatter in the front seat. The cell phone was dumped near the car, but no bodies, or leading evidence. Tao examines the blood splatter as they move the case from a kidnapping to murder status.
Brenda moves Kitty out for a shot in her office. Pope comes in and she talks him into helping her as they discuss the Summer's case. Mario was afraid for his life, but the blood found in the car and on the towel in his apartment, while the same type, has not been confirmed as his. She tries again to get Pope to let her speak to the family or have a forensic accounting specialist look at his finances because the specific amount of the ransom is troubling her. As they continue to discuss the case, and she refuses to use Fritz to help, she cries while administering Kitty's medicine. Fritz walks in, Pope leaves, and he asks about Kitty. He tells her the FBI feels stupid about not being able to catch the kidnapping and Fritz offers to help PHD behind the scenes. Fritz tells her to have the family put up the ransom. The FBI will unfreeze the money and they will be able to trace it to its final destination.
Mrs. Summers and her son quickly go to the bank to retrieve the funds, and Brenda is acting as the executor of the transaction. They question the Summers' about Mario. Mrs. Summers fights over the money, Brenda pulls her badge, and tells her she needs all the help she can get in order to find her husband. Brenda asks her if her husband would run, and the son, Adam pipes up about his father's actions. Brenda asks to listen in on the call with the kidnapper and if they get confirmation of life, the FBI will unfreeze the assets.
The FBI, again, is helping PHD as they listen in on the Summers' phone lines while in the bullpen. Mrs. Summer's speaks to her husband, and he tells her to listen to the demands. The kidnapper (at this point, after seeing the photo of Gomez, played by a recognizable character actor, I speculate that it really only could be Gomez) makes the normal threats around the handoff time and location. Since the episode is called 'Blood Money' it very well may be Gomez. Brenda tells them to release the funds and the second they do the hostage funds are gone. For a typical kidnapping/ransom case, the digital bank access steal is a good twist. The bank transfer went to the Cayman Islands, but the money won't reach it until the morning. Brenda moves to analyzing the exact amount of the money.
Tao found that the crime scene was staged, and that the blood was brought to the car and splashed inside. This links the team back to the hypothesis that Summers and Gomez are working together. The case is back to being a kidnapping, with Gomez listed again as a suspect. Gabriel comes in with the FBI file on Summers. He finds that the amount is the exact settlement amount in the case against Summers.
Mario Gomez is actually Mario Vargas, and had a big stake in the Summers' case. His house is being foreclosed and they also think that the death of his wife may be a stressor. Brenda finds flight and bank info in his house. Tao leads her to the wife's bedroom, and Brenda theorizes that he had been drawing his own blood for months in planning. Mikki finds Vargas' car, and Brenda calls him. As he drives onto the street, Brenda makes eye contact with him and asks him if he is wearing his seatbelt. He looks up in shock and is hit by a police vehicle. Mikki jumps out of the car and arrests Vargas. Gabriel reads Vargas his rights at the kitchen table in his house as Brenda looks on. Brenda asks about Summers, and Vargas dances around an answer. Vargas tells her about the lives affected by Summers, and tells her that Summers was not prosecuted for it. Vargas tells her Summers killed his wife. He lost his medical insurance because of Summers, which led to his wife feeling so guilty over the cost of curing her cancer that she shot herself to save Vargas some remaining funds. Vargas gives up the location of Summers and the team finds him tied up- case solved.
This episode hit a pretty raw nerve that is reverberating across the country- insurance losses and creeping expenses and its tie to white collar criminality. It was a solid episode, but also highlights a problem that plagues most crime-solving shows- the casting of the villain/criminal figure. If a character is introduced as possibly involved in a case in the beginning of an episode, and you, the viewer, knows the actor or actress from 'something', then 75% of the time that person is the villain/criminal. I really wish such shows would understand their audience and make it less obvious.
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The Closer Cast: Kyra Sedgwick
, J.K. Simmons
, Corey Reynolds
, Robert Gossett
, Gina Ravera
Story by Sarah Lafferty
Starpulse contributing writer