'Cheaters Never Prosper'

In the next-to-last episode of Major Crimes, our division encounters various criminals gaming the system, and though nearly everyone gets exposed in the end, it's unclear whether cheaters utterly fail to prosper. Alcoholics who drink in secret, for example, may preserve the appearance of temperance while utterly failing to achieve sobriety. But the notion of prospering depends on your point of view. To some, spiritual losses can be more than offset by sensual gains. And just the idea of getting away with something presents certain people with certain irresistible temptations.

Take a Las Vegas detective, for example, visiting Hollywood in his official car, carrying a badge and a gun. Was he checking up on an open case without informing the LAPD? Or was he here for other reasons his partner doesn't want to explain? And what about a group of young people snatching laptops out of hotel lobbies in Sin City, using them in a bizarre form of identity theft? Is it really cheating if the criminals are not actually stealing money from their targets, but, rather, investing their ill-gotten gains in the names of the victims?

Sooner or later, most people give themselves away, but not everyone who does something criminal, it seems, has committed a crime. Sorting it all out will take a lot of thought.

Also taking a lot of thought? Rusty's decision to spend the weekend with his biological father, and maybe meet his new Dad's fiancée. And while Rusty's fate is not fully decided in this episode, the final scene of the episode provides us with hints. Will he continue to be a "material witness" guarded by a division of hardened homicide detectives? Or will he exit into the arms of a ready-made family, only recently made aware of his existence?

I'd answer these questions for you, of course, but that would be cheating. What's fair is telling you, in advance, that this is the first episode written entirely by that incredible storyteller, Det. Mike Berchem, formerly of the LAPD Robbery/Homicide Division and the third directed by the continuously effervescent Stacey K. Black, both of whom will be back next year as part of the permanent production team that brings you Major Crimes.

Our first season ends next week, and I can truthfully state that transitioning from The Closer to its spinoff has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We learned so much during our freshman year of Major Crimes, and I promise we will apply these lessons to the shows offered up next summer. To our loyal and much appreciated audience, we regret to leave you so soon. But know we will take most of our time off considering how we might improve.

I'll be back next week for a last word on fairness.

Until then -- James Duff