The Closer: Pipe Bomb Dreams

Just when we thought we’d seen the last of high school kids running around with home-made bombs and illegally purchased guns, The Closer manages to go out with the proverbial bang by reviving the Columbine shooting theme in the season finale, “Time Bomb.”  Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) and her team of seasoned detectives are called in to a routine homicide investigation only to discover the victim, 19-year-old Darren Melman, has foaming pipe, three kinds of ammunition, and rifle bullets strewn about his humble apartment.  Further investigation indicates that his wounds may have been caused by an explosive device when they find shrapnel on his body.  The detectives immediately evacuate the premises, carrying stubborn Johnson over their shoulders as she screams for them to grab the victim’s wallet and cell phone for evidence.

The bomb squad and its ever-reliable, unmanned ground vehicle, bomb-detecting robot, Babs, swarm over the area.  While the other detectives watch, mesmerized, as Babs slowly goes to work to detect any bombs in Melman’s apartment, Johnson sneaks back to try and retrieve the cell phone and wallet.  She discovers the wallet just in time to find a ticking pipe bomb attached to Melman’s body.  The bomb squad is able to get Johnson out, and Babs, detecting that Melman’s explosives are unstable, is forced to blow the explosives in place.  There is a huge blast.

Back at the office, some background work indicates that Melman’s previous junior arrest two years before was for vandalizing school grounds when he broke in and defecated on the principal’s desk.  In the words of Johnson-GROSS!  They also find a cryptic symbol, a pair of Es, facing downward, tattooed on Melman’s wrist and on a flyer from the apartment.  Det. Lt. Tao (Michael Paul Chan), having done some research on the symbols, finds no match in any language database for a possible meaning.

A receipt for $358 found in Melman’s wallet from Home Supply Central leads detectives to the videotape footage of Melman and his co-conspirators on his last supply run.  Frank and Keith, two Home Supply Central employees and students at Melman’s high school, Oak Valley, identify one of the other conspirators as John McFadden.  Detectives, escorted by the bomb squad and Babs, who survived the previous explosion, go to Oak Valley in search of McFadden and any residual explosives.  At the school, the principal describes Melman as the trouble maker, but John as “a good kid” whose parents are “involved.”  They come up empty-handed, as Babs detects no bombs and John McFadden went home sick.  They do, however, find another flyer with the face down Es in one of the lockers.

Residents of houses near Oak Valley High School are evacuated after being told there is a gas leak.  At the McFadden house, Johnson and Sgt. David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds), or Mr. G, as the students like to call him, pose as concerned Oak Valley teachers who have swung by to check on John.  John, realizing they are cops, runs into his room and locks the door.  Johnson and Gabriel break in, cuff him to find the E symbol on his wrists, and drag him down to the police station.  An empty bottle of pills lie just under John’s bed as he is taken away.

In the interrogation room, John appears more like a troubled kid, as he unabashedly chomps on a gigantic chocolate bar-a guy after Johnson’s own heart-with a sly smile on his face.  He looks as if he is high and denies having known Melman, although they verify having seen him in the videotape.  After babbling ambiguous phrases such as “read your Darwin,” “time is running out,” and “one was supposed to die,” John clues the detectives in that the double Es stand for Evolution’s End.  Evolution’s End was the massive attack Melman, John, and their crew were planning as a justification for taking out the rapidly-expanding human race.  Before Johnson can find out more, John overdoses on the anti-depressant pills stuffed inside his candy bar.  They try to resuscitate him, but he still dies.

In an effort to gather more information, including where Melman and McFadden purchased their guns, Johnson, Agent Howard (John Tenney), and a handful of detectives go back to Home Supply Central.  Meanwhile, Asst. Police Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons), happy that his unit has been able to prevent a disaster in the face of the media, for once, decides to give a press conference at Oak Valley High School and congratulates Johnson.  But after she speaks with one of the Home Supply Central employees, she realizes that Oak Valley High School had not been the target at all. 

In an effort to stop the last surviving member of Melman’s Evolution’s End group from recreating another Columbine massacre, Johnson and her limited crew rush to a bloody shootout that leads to the serious injury of one of her officers.  After an intense season of ups, downs, and everything in between, the explosive season finale leaves viewers wondering if Johnson’s team will still be intact and what new crimes will be awaiting the Major Crimes Division.


For another opinion on this episode, check out Time Bomb by Tanya Lane.

All new episodes in January 2009 on TNT

Photographs courtesy of TNT and IMDbPro


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