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S4x13 – I’ve Got a Secret

June 10, 2010

Secrets are antithetical to rigorous police investigation, yet revealing them is an integral aspect of police procedurals. The episode is riddled in the kind of secrets H:LOTS does best: secrets of the human heart. The saying might go, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” I’m pretty sure even that guy kept a secret or two. As a confessional culture – or at least a cultural addicted to other people’s secrets – we expect secrets to be revealed, mysteries unraveled and questions answered comprehensively. I think this episode does an excellent job of exploring the various ways different folks seek to solicit secrets from others, while attempting to keep their own closely guarded.

This is Clark Johnson’s episode. Lewis has a secret. This is also Melissa Leo’s episode. Howard has a secret. Or at least Munch believes she does. Munch conflates the private with the secret. It’s amusing to observe Munch investing Howard’s private life with the rigor usually reserved for his police work. It’s also a whole lot of creepy. Kellerman inadvertently stumbles onto one of Lewis’ secrets, thanks to some insensitive and ableist chow chow regarding mental illness. If you note a restraint in the prose, it is intentional. This isn’t a “big” episode and there aren’t exactly tons of grand gestures. It is a painstaking, quiet episode, with subtle performances, nuanced writing and a level of intricacy warranting a more subdued approach to analysis.

    Memorable Dialog:

    Let me explain.
    Howard: No, let me explain. My personal life is off limits to the squad room, alright? I learned my lesson when I was dating Ed Danvers and you were the biggest sinner. Jokes, gossip….
    Munch: I can’t disagree with you Kay. But that was the old me, the new me….
    Howard: Is worse. Look, Munch, I know you may find this hard to accept, but I believe in secrets. I believe that we have to have truths about ourselves that we keep from our collegues, our neighbors, our loved ones. I don’t want any one person to know everything about me. I want you to have a few pieces of the puzzle, Gee, a few pieces, my sister, see?
    Munch: Kay, everyday all we do is ferret out secrets. It’s our job.
    Howard: Not today, Munchkin.

Even Gee’s usual bluster is rather restrained. His frustrations quietly typed out on a computer screen rather than performed in front of his squad. Yaphet Kotto gives one of his best performances this episode. It’s not the usual cheeky Gee, but it’s respectful of his recent reversal of fortune and quite effective.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. hsofia permalink
    July 20, 2010 8:02 pm

    Season 4 has really been phenomenal. I also liked (not really) how Kellerman’s response to his ableist flippancy is not contrition or even concern, but to put it back on Lewis, e.g. “YOU never told me! *I’ve* known you for four months!” This is so typical.

  2. hsofia permalink
    July 20, 2010 8:19 pm

    Also, I thought the closing scenes with Frank and Tim were priceless. Tim doing his usual vocal ruminating and Frank choosing silence over going-ballistic (or being accused of “playing the race/class card.”)

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