'The Shame Game'

It is hard to begin these blogs with an apology, but I have missed two of the ten I intended to write, and (though I hate excuses) perhaps I should offer some explanation. Regular readers will know that I mostly steer clear from discussion of my personal life, but the night before The Closer finale and the premiere of Major Crimes, my mother passed away. In the immediate aftermath of this loss, I found there were limits to what I could do. I'm trying to "get back with the program," quite literally, and hopefully maintain a much more steady correspondence as we move ever more quickly to the end of our first season.

Last week, we took on the old argument of nature versus nurture, with a talented athlete falling victim to the competitive nature of the game he played. And Rusty struggled to show gratitude to Sharon as he attempted to avoid contact with his newly discovered biological father. In "The Shame Game," we turn to powerlessness, and an examination of just how little control we sometimes have over the course of our own lives.

And what better way to dramatize the unfairness of powerlessness than with young people forced into the sex trade? Human trafficking is a terrible crime, afflicting hundreds of thousands of unwilling girls and boys around the globe, and it is a difficult story to tell on television, but the exploitation of minors demands more attention. Naturally, this is not a PBS documentary, and there are possibly more things at work here than immediately meet the eye: a scary pimp, one of his precocious prostitutes, a dodgy state senator and a military trainer all have a stake in the murder of a political activist. Major Crimes Division has its hands full as they try to sort out whether their victim was as good as he seemed, or worse than they want to imagine.

Also, we explore the limits of control over our personal lives. Last week, in an effort to get more information about Rusty's biological father, Captain Raydor sent DNA information to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, thus beginning a process that will end with a broken promise. That's the way it is: Trying to live by the rules forces us into unhappy compromises. Too late, perhaps, Sharon begins to realize the special, specific dangers lurking in her foster child's past and future, and how she may have inadvertently put him at risk.

"The Shame Game" represents the first time Leo Geter has both written and directed his own script. I think it's an auspicious debut from one of our company's favorite producers, and if the dinner I had with the actors last night is any indication, Leo will be doing this again (and sooner rather than later).

Next week, I'll be back to talk about the meaning of fathers and a spate of bad luck for Lt. Michael Tao, as a man he helped wrongfully convict of murder several years ago is set free. Also, next week, we welcome back Special Agent Fritz Howard, as he helps us unravel an icy cold case with the help of the FBI.

Until then -- James Duff