You have been a homicide detective for how long, and you still expect life to be fair?
— Captain Sharon Raydor to Lt. Provenza, "Before and After"
An After Show of TNT's The Closer, Major Crimes premiered August 2012, starring Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor, alongside much of the parent Major Case Squad. Raydor takes the helm of the MCS after the departure of Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda Leigh Johnson, the heroine of the parent show.With Captain Raydor taking over the squad, the focus changed from getting confessions to getting plea bargains, which are not nearly as dramatic but which save the city millions in trial expenses. The delicate balance between getting criminals put away even at a reduced sentence and pursuing true justice is a running theme of the series, as is the tension between the squad and their new boss, who, as an Internal Affairs veteran, is not exactly trusted. And finally, the series opens up new insights into its lead character's personal life, mostly through her relationship with Foster Kid Rusty Beck.Even before producing a single episode, the show developed a small but devoted fan following, both from The Closer's existing fanbase and from fans of Mary McDonnell, many of whom turned up because Mary is in it.The Other Wikihas more information.
This series provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: Rusty's mother let her boyfriend beat him up. Daniel, Rusty's "sperm donor," also hit him in a moment of anger. Sharon's threat of arresting him for abuse is enough for him to sign away his legal rights to Rusty.
Acting Unnatural: After eavesdropping on Rusty and Kris's conversation, Sharon has a tough time appearing innocent when Rusty leaves the room to ask her a question.
After Show: To The Closer, taken to the literal extreme — it premiered immediately after that series ended.
All Women Love Shoes: According to Twitter, Sharon Raydor has a thing for shoes, most of them high heels. Given that she can be accurately described as a fashionista — her clothes are almost exclusively designer, or at least high-end department store — this isn't much of a stretch.
Ambiguously Gay: Rusty is still trying to figure out his identity, though there are many hints that he is probably gay. Though he does take offense when the Defense Attorney accuses him of being gay on the stand.
Amicable Exes: Sharon and her husband Jackson are separated but they still have a semi-civil relationship.
Amoral Attorney: Zigzagged - there are some who're in it for the money, and some attorneys, like David Ahmed, who are genuinely motivated by a sense of idealism and principles. There's also one lawyer who, upon realising that his brother killed two kids with poisoned drugs and framed his wife, immediately calls him out and refuses to help him.
Phillip Stroh or course.
Artistic License - Law: After the numerous times that The Closer screwed itself over with 6th Amendment violations, this has changed in Major Crimes. The way they get around it now is usually with the interrogated person saying some variation of "Maybe I should call a lawyer,"(without actually saying "I want a lawyer") whereupon Sharon tells them they can, but this is their last chance to make a deal before going to trial.
Chad Raber raped a dozen young women and forced them to film endorsements of his gym. No one is too upset that his wife killed him.
One murder victim was a rapist who was released on parole. And was planning to engage in sex/likely rape once again, telling his own father who discovered his intentions to "mind his own business"
A corrupt ICE agent who managed to steal a retirement home away from its residents by contesting a will. Major Crimes can prove conspiracy to commit murder, but they can't actually prove the murder because of how everybody did it, and the DA's office settles for a plea of Manslaughter, with a sentence of house arrest (mind, the residence is an apartment complex with pool and other simple luxuries). Raydor and Provenza aren't too bothered, when all is said and done. It also helped they were quite old and any amount of jail time could have become a life sentence.
Badass Adorable: Sharon Raydor, given her actress. Don't let those big eyes fool you. Cross her or hurt someone she cares about, and she will screw you over six ways from Sunday without batting an eyelash or so much as messing up her hair.
Badass Bureaucrat: Raydor again. The feats of badass she can accomplish with a pile of paperwork are truly remarkable.
Bait and Switch: In "Pick Your Poison" Rusty agrees to see a therapist provided he can understand him. Sharron thinks he means whatever his sexual orientation is. She is stunned when Rusty wants a therapist who can play chess.
Berserk Button: Harming Rusty is a really good way to get Sharon Raydor pissed off at you. This does not qualify as a smart plan. Regarding Rusty's biological father who hit Rusty a few times, Sharon says the below.
Sharon: ...we are now at the "please don't let me drive over to his house and shoot him in the head" phase.
Blind Without 'Em: Doris Roberts played an elderly woman who is like this. She is so blind, she cannot even tell Flynn isn't Sanchez at a reasonable distance.
Provenza is not quite blind without his glasses, but he did keep missing all his targets until he borrowed the above elderly woman's glasses (at which point he got a perfect score). He now wears his own glasses whenever he has to drive or shoot.
Bothering by the Book: Raydor's specialty. She's incredibly adept at wielding her extensive knowledge of laws and rules to get the results she wants. Including purposefully refusing to answer Rusty's father's phone calls because she cannot record the conversation without a warrant, but voice mail is legal evidence. Him talking to her and her openly holding out a recorder and asking him in front of her and his dismissive affirmation is permissible.
Call Back: In "Return to Sender, Part 2", Provenza makes one to his perfect qualification score in "There's No Place Like Home."
Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Some college kids scrounge a rolled-up rug that was left out for the trash, only to discover a body inside when they unroll it.
Character Development: It's taking awhile, but Rusty is definitely showing signs of caring for things other than himself. Like Sharon, for instance.
Sharon was slowly shown to have good sides on The Closer, and that's only gotten clearer now in Major Crimes due to her having to actively earn the trust of the team and deal with Rusty. It's also becoming evident that not only did she learn a thing or two from having to monitor Brenda and her crew for three years, but she's also beginning to take on some of the very same characteristics that she'd once found so exasperating.
Dawson Casting: Sixteen year old Rusty is played by Graham Patrick Martin, who is 20.
Dead Man's Chest: The body of a a young man is found in a barrel labeled "Hazardous Waste" at a recycling center. The killers know that the owner ships the barrels labeled hazardous up north to a landfill without opening them, were they are to be buried for a thousand years. Had their plan been successful, the body would never have been found, but unfortunately for them, while the barrel is still at the recycling center it's accidentally tipped over and the lid comes off, thus exposing the body.
Deadpan Snarker: Provenza. Flynn. Sanchez. Morales. Even Buzz! But the Queen of Snark on this show is Sharon Raydor, who can skewer people on the end of her biting wit and does so on a regular basis. The snarkier she gets, the more furious she is.
Death Glare: Raydor's got one that could fell an ox at fifty paces. The rest of the squad have them too, and deploy them toward Daniel Dunn in 1x09 with very good reason.
Diet Episode: Flynn has an unexpected health kick in Season 2. Because of a high blood pressure diagnosis and his daughter's upcoming wedding.
Disappeared Dad: Rusty never knew his father because his mother said he ran off before Rusty was born. Once the team finds Rusty's father, however, he explains that he had no idea Rusty existed and expresses an interest in getting to know his son. Also happens with Sharon's kids, as their father is largely absent from their lives - he hasn't spoken to either of his kids in five years.
Discretion Shot: When Sharon is finally told about the threatening letters Rusty has been getting, we never see the actual conversation, because not even Mary McDonnell can top whatever is in the audience's mind at that moment.
Everybody Did It: In "There's No Place Like Home", all of the tenants are responsible for the death. As Major Crimes can prove conspiracy to commit murder, but not if the death was actually murder, the killers cop to a collective plea of manslaughter.
Exact Words: Tao and Sanchez discuss the exact wording of a contract a TV producer signed in "Under the Influence" to follow Tao for research when they are about to enter into a high speed chase. Tao and Sanchez unbuckle so they can better dodge bullets. When the producer wants to do the same, he is told not to. The contract he signed doesn't include him getting injured if he removes his seat belt. It does include him being shot though.
Eye Take: All the main characters, pretty much. Often crosses over with Facial Dialogue, when two characters are communicating their mutual disgust non-verbally.
Facial Dialogue: Mary McDonnell essentially built her entire career on being able to speak volumes with a facial expression, and she hasn't lost that talent one bit. Raydor has also got quite good at speaking without words to her squad, especially Provenza and Flynn, with whom she can communicate with a mere eyebrow twitch.
Freudian Slip: Sharon to Taylor about Rusty in "Pick Your Poison."
Sharon: My primary concern as his mother is—as his guardian—is his safety.
She does it again in "All In":
Raydor: I do not need your permission to seek medical attention for my son.
Fun with Acronyms: In "Under the Influence" the show lampshades the Patriot Act is fully titled the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.
The Gambling Addict: Jack Raydor had a serious gambling problem in the past. The fact that he was recently living in Las Vegas suggests he might not be over it completely.
The Ghost: Both Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson and Phillip Stroh. Both of them have not been seen since The Closer's finale, but their influence is still felt, with Provenza asking Fritz to pass along their regards to Brenda, and the preparations for Stroh's trial being a key sub plot of Season 2.
Amy Sykes can be a sweet, friendly person unless one messes up their job and then she can become tough as nails. Rusty discovered this when he messed up his undercover training.
The S.I.S. department, the ones who do undercover operations and protection, make it very clear to the ones they protect and use in operations, they will not take slack from anyone as a single mistake could lead to plenty of deaths in the field, including civilians. To test Rusty, they had an officer approach and claim they had his birth mother and she would be dead if he didn't cooperate.
Hoist by His Own Petard: At the preliminary trial for the Stroh trial, because of the lack of solid connection between the sender and Phillip Stroh, the judge rules that the threatening letters cannot be entered into evidence. They cannot even be spoken of if the Defense raises an objection. Later, when Rusty is being cross-examined, he, being completely honest, admits to having lied a few times to the police, such as his age back in his 911 call. The Defense lawyer, enjoying this as it hurts his credibility, asks why he saw a therapist and he admits it was because of another lie he told Captain Raydor. The Defense demands to know the lie and Rusty is shaken and unsure to answer. When the Judge orders him to answer, Rusty tells them it was because of a police operation to catch the man writing threatening letters to him and Sharon. Defense is outraged but the Judge shuts her down as she was the one to open the door here. The letters are back in.
Hypocritical Heartwarming: Provenza likes to grumble about working for Raydor, likening it to "working for a hall monitor," and has no problem when the rest of the squad joins in — but God help anyone not on the squad who says a bad word about her.
I Have This Friend: Provenza claims to have a friend who needs some spiritual advising in "The Ecstasy and the Agony" but he's obviously talking about himself.
Impersonating an Officer: The episode "Return to Sender" has Rusty's stalker pretend to be an undercover officer in order to find out the details of Rusty's police protection and lure him into an easy place to kill him.
The mere mention that he's facing a woman who spent most of her career in Internal Affairs is enough to get the cooperation of a Las Vegas detective who was proving rather stubborn.
In the pilot, Taylor points out to Raydor that her entire career has been Internal Affairs, which means that she will need to work at gaining the trust and respect of her team, never mind other cops. This is also why she wasn't promoted to Commander like she was promised.
Iron Lady: Sharon. Which makes a great deal of sense.
In the beginning, Rusty acted liked this. He even interrupted an investigation because no one acknowledged that he was there. And hasn't gone five minutes on screen without complaining that they are not doing what they promised him. He finally cuts it out a few episodes in, when he accepts that his mom isn't coming for him and Sharon is the best thing to happen to him in a long time.
He gets it from his father who is more concerned with how Rusty is going to fit into his life and upcoming marriage than the fact he has a son he never knew about, including refusing to contact any of his family to tell them of Rusty. It gets to the point that when he is given a choice between being arrested for child abuse — as he confessed hitting Rusty to Sharon and a recorder on the table — and forcing child services to pick through his life as he is marrying into a family with young children, or signing away his parental rights, which would also ruin his chances of marriage, he asks Rusty how it felt to ruin his life.
Buzz calls Rusty out on this in "Risk Assessment" as though it had lightened up since the first season, Rusty could still be a jerk at times.
It's Personal: Shit gets personal fast for Raydor during "Citizens Arrest".
I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Tom Berenger, who plays Sharon's estranged husband Jackson Raydor, had co-starred with Mary McDonnell twenty-five years earlier in National Anthems at the Long Wharf Theatre. They'd played husband and wife.
Justice by Other Legal Means: Unable to properly prosecute Rosa Vega, a key member of a drug cartel, because of a lack of evidence Raydor has the culprit extradited to Mexico. Rosa will likely be killed by her supplier because the heroin stash, valued to be worth several thousands if not a million dollars, was obtained by the LAPD.
The Load: Rusty, who for a while did nothing but whine and complain every freaking scene he is in. So much so that in Episode 3 when the mother needed $500 to make it there, the division was happily forking over their own money to get her there.
Buzz: She can have it all if that means I don't have to baby sit him anymore.
Logging On To The Fourth Wall: Raydor, Rusty, and Flynn have Twitter accounts, which are updated even when the show isn't currently airing. Said tweets contain references to "camera crews following [them] around", or did when filming started again, which means that apparently, In-UniverseMajor Crimes is a reality show.
Mama Bear: Sharon Raydor, for Rusty. Especially in "Cheaters Never Prosper".
Sharon Raydor's Rule Fu is stronger than everyone's. Yes, Provenza, including yours.
Which makes it ironic and hilarious when Dr. Joe calmly No Sells her attempts to get him to break privilege and tell her what Rusty's been talking about with him.
Mythology Gag: In the pilot, as Raydor moves into Brenda's office, she opens a drawer, and is briefly thrown off-balance by how packed it is with snacks. Fritz came in an episode or so with a large bag to collect it.
Not so Above It All: On episode involves a dead ICE agent who was handling counterfeit designer handbags. DDA Hobbs and Sykes are visibly reluctant to part with the evidence... as is Raydor, who is wistfully regretful at seeing all those nice bags taken away.
Provenza: You two are like little girls outside a candy store. Raydor: Watching it all being hauled away...
Not So Different: Rusty realizes that the guy that was trying to kill him had a very similar back story to him. This makes him break down in fear that he could turn out just like him. Raydor manages to talk him out of it.
Not So Stoic: Sharon Raydor likes to think she is always calm, cool and in control. She's... not. Although she doesn't take it nearly to the extreme her predecessor did — Brenda's full-on freakout is Sharon's half-sob and teary eyes — she doesn't have to when she's played by Mary McDonnell, who is an expert at breaking hearts with unbelievable subtlety.
An especially feels-infused scene is seen in "Return to Sender, Part 2", where Raydor confronts Stroh's lawyer, and is barely able to keep calm.
Number Two: Resentment or no, Provenza steps up excellently as Raydor's second-in-command, and they make a surprisingly effective team.
Oh Crap: Induced in a particularly irritating LVPD detective with two lines of dialogue.
Raydor: This might be a good time to tell you that I've spent almost my entire career in Internal Affairs and I am this close to calling your department and starting an inquiry into your conduct. *the detective looks at Flynn* Flynn: She ain't kiddin', pal.
Old Cop, Young Cop: Provenza and Sykes are paired together more and more frequently as the show goes on.
One Steve Limit: Subverted. Captain Raydor discovers a little too late that Rusty's mother is also named Sharon.
Passed Over Promotion: Provenza has a lot of sour grapes over anyone but himself serving as head of the department.
Provenza: After all I've given to the L.A.P.D., anyone else besides me sitting in that office is an insult. And it's not fair. Raydor: You have been a homicide detective for how long, and you're still expecting life to be fair?
Poor Communication Kills: In the sting operation to find the man threatening Rusty, the police observers consider a regular at the chess park to be suspicious. The regular gains Rusty's trust by impersonating an undercover cop and keeps the observers from finding out by playing his radio, covering up the sound for the wire. While he does tell Rusty not to let the police know, telling Rusty that he (the supposed cop) would get in trouble with his boss for blowing his cover, the observing cops never mention to Rusty that they've singled out that man, or ask him to ask the man to turn off his radio so they can listen in. Rusty was also never familiarized with any of the members of the undercover team, making the regular's story easy for him to buy.
A truly bizarre and blatant version. The Silver Mercedes S-Class . . . it's perfect for all your hooker-murdering needs!
Sanchez mentions Kelly Blue Book by name when looking up information on a suspect's car.
Nearly every laptop, tablet and phone used by the main characters is an Apple product.
Professional Butt-Kisser: Sykes was this early on. She even waited to express her beliefs on a case until after Raydor stated hers. Provenza calls her out on it.
Sykes: I could go either way. Provenza: Raydor, you need to voice your opinion before Sykes can make up her mind.
Quickly Demoted Woman: Inverted. Lt. Provenza is a Quickly Demoted Man; he's in charge of Major Crimes for one week, before Raydor takes over command.
Rape as Drama: Rusty insists that prostituting himself on the streets to survive was just a choice he made. His therapist, Dr. Joe, gets him to begin to acknowledge that he was a victim in that situation. Since he was underage, Dr. Joe points out, all sex with older men was rape.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Dr. Joe Rusty's therapist. He is kind and perceptive enough to help Rusty. And when Raydor tried getting him to spill the confidential information Dr. Joe knows, first by being an officer of the law and then his legal guardian, Dr. Joe politely states the exact legal requirements to force him to break confidentiality (getting a court order and Rusty's written approval, respectively) and then leaves before Rusty might get the wrong idea about what they were talking about - but not before suggesting that Raydor simply talk to Rusty.
Raydor also tries to be this, balancing out reasonableness with following the book.
Secret Test of Character: In "Year-End Blowout" when working with S.I.S., the undercover task force, Rusty is approached by a man who knows there are cops around, tells him to turn off his mike and go to his car without signalling he was in distress or Rusty's mom would be killed. Panicked and scared, Rusty does this, and in doing so breaks all the protocols he agreed to. When he gets to the car, Sykes grabs him from behind, bitches him out for failing to check the back of the car before entering, and screwing up his exam.
Raydor: "I have all the legal rights and responsibilities of a mother, and I do not need your permission to seek medical attention for my son."
Rusty does this to Rios as well, after getting fed up with her over his safety, he calls her out on how he would be safe if she only took the Death Penalty off the table and made a deal with Stroh.
The Shrink: Dr. Joe comes in during the fall part of the second season. An amicable man who speaks with a soft spoken way, carefully analyzing and regarding his patients, priming them for the next Armor-Piercing Question. He will use any means to connect to his patients, from singing, to cards, to chess. To be allowed to participate in a sting to catch his stalker, Rusty must see him and be evaluated. Rusty finds the sessions, and playing against a stronger chess player, very enjoyable and helpful.
Stalker Without A Crush: In season two, Rusty starts receiving letters from someone threatening to kill him and his loved ones. The summer finale has Sharon starting to receive threats as well.
Stating the Simple Solution: As noted earlier, Raydor attempts to get Dr. Joe to breach confidentiality on his sessions with Rusty, first as the police officer in charge of his safety, then as his legal guardian. Dr. Joe shoots her down on both approaches, and suggests a simpler approach - just talk to Rusty and ask him how he's doing with Dr. Joe.
Rusty also does this. Stating they could avoid this entire trial and his life being in jeopardy if the lawyer just take off the Death Penalty.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. They do have some, but Rusty is dead set against going to one until "Pick Your Poison" when Sharron gets him to agree to see one. His one provision is the therapist can play chess. He can and is ranked as one of the best amateur chess players.
Thicker Than Water: In "Pick Your Poison" this is averted between the murderer and his brother an attorney. The brother-attorney was first brought in to defend his sister-in-law where he learned she did sleep with one of the underage victims but didn't kill them with Molly mixed with cyanide. The attourney knows his brother has been mixing chemicals and always been a bit off. He tells him straight out he will defend his sister-in-law but cannot defend his brother because it would be a conflict of interest and is seriously angered by his brother's evil actions.
Tranquil Fury: When Daniel, Rusty's "sperm donor", hits him, Sharon, and later the entire squad, enters into this when he comes before them. Sharon even notes they are resisting the urge to arrest him then and there.
Vehicular Sabotage: In "There's No Place Like Home", the killers cut the brake lines as a back-up plan on the victim's car in case their first attempt failed. Finding the sabotaged car is what clues the detectives in that the death is not a suicide as it first appears.
Vigilante Execution: Alfred Torres shoots the man who molested and killed his son Matty in "The Deep End".
What the Hell, Hero?: Raydor gives a very calm, but vicious inquiry to Father Healy in "The Ecstasy and the Agony". On Rusty's first day at a private Catholic school, he tells some students his place as a protected witness and would be key to taking down a serial killer with his testimony. Some bullies mocked him and started a fight. Rusty fought back and won. The good father wanted Rusty kicked out for lying and fighting, but Sharon tells him Rusty was being truthful and within his rights to fight back. Upon learning the other boys would only receive a minimal suspension for their conduct, Raydor points out the hypocrisy of this and how the father and school's actions are very far from what Christ's teachings. In the end, Rusty got to stay in school.
Working with the Ex: Sharon gives Jack the opportunity to work as an attorney for a suspect in "Rules of Engagement". He immediately begins belittling her authority in front of her team and DDA Rios.
This also seems to be going on for Raydor and Flynn - she calls him Andy to calm him down or get his attention, and he's started to privately call her Sharon to comfort her after they attended his daughter's wedding together. It wasn't a date.