We're hitting the theme of family again, and we're hitting it hard. Not only do both cases in this episode center on family relationships, we learn that Mac hasn't forgotten about Reed Garrett, and is trying to reach out to him.
This episode also offers further proof - not that I really had much doubt about it at this point - that Mac's claims of not letting emotion guide the way he conducts an investigation are not so much invested with a great deal of self-awareness, and are, instead, a classic example of a blind spot and/or wishful thinking. Yes, Mac turns out to be correct about Jesse, and when he picks up on the fact that the boy is being abused by his stepfather, the leap he makes is a reasonable one, but in no way can he claim that he's acting only on the evidence or on logical conclusions. Instead, he's letting his emotions guide him, both out of anger about the abuse and out of his own regrets and hopes about Reed Garrett.
Flack also makes specific reference here to Mac acting on his instincts, and Mac doesn't challenge him on this, although I still suspect that he wouldn't admit it if he were pressed on the issue. And he continues, from that point on, to use his emotions, and that instinct, as his guide for how he handles the case. Don't get me wrong: again, there's nothing wrong in the way he conducts the investigation; he's not deviating from protocol or stepping outside ethical boundaries. But he is working from a place that has nothing to do with chain of evidence.
There's been a continued emphasis on this theme, as well, this season, on how emotional involvement is impossible to escape, so I'm curious to see how this may prove significant as the season goes on.
The argument with Flack is also a nice nod to the continuity gods; we see here that Flack is still angry over the memo book and what happened with Truby. Mac refers to other cops talking about Flack, but what I think he misses is the point Flack makes right at the start of their confrontation: Flack doesn't trust Mac. Period. My feeling is that this is less about the fact that they had to put Truby behind bars - despite Flack's initial argument that exposing him as a dirty cop could jeopardize prior convictions, I don't believe that he's naive enough to want to let someone who's guilty of murder or trafficking walk, nor do I think for an instant that he thinks it's something that should be overlooked - and more about the way Mac handled it. In Flack's eyes, Mac made it clear in that episode that he doesn't trust Flack, or at least doesn't respect him enough to treat with honesty and as an equal while dealing with the situation, and as a result, Flack doesn't trust him, either.
I want to make this clear: I also don't believe for a second that Mac actually doesn't trust Flack.
The problem is in the way he handles these things, as it has been over and over, in episodes like "The Fall" and "On the Job." scarletts_awry points out that Mac seems to want to get a person's unguarded reaction to a situation, so he doesn't tell them everything he's thinking, or everything he knows. In "On the Job," he doesn't tell Danny that they're working to clear him; in "Consequences," he doesn't tell Flack about the evidence he has, and instead approaches him in accusatory fashion. There's something uncomfortably, and inescapably, manipulative about this, whether or not Mac is entirely consciously aware of it, and all it does is foster distrust: he may get an unguarded reaction, but he also, then, creates a situation in which things are more liable than not to deteriorate. Once someone has a damn good reason not to trust you, or to believe you trust them, why should they cooperate, or view you as reliable? In other words, Mac? Self-fulfilling prophecy.
Shorter version: Mac, this is why we can't have nice things.
Returning to the family theme, and to Mac's hopes of making a connection with Reed, there's something desperately sad in his statement to Stella that Claire (and note, too, that he can't say her name without a slight pause first) "doesn't exist anymore." Not that she's gone, not that she's dead, not even any of the polite euphemisms for death people sometimes use...no, she doesn't exist anymore.
Stella corrects him, of course, and the idea that he can share his memories of Claire with Reed does seem to push him to make the visit he does at the end, but that doesn't change his original statement. It's sad, but it's also typical of Mac, and having him phrase it that way was a smart writing choice: he has a need to shut himself away from everything that hurts him, or that could hurt him. If something, or someone, doesn't exist, then it/they can't cause you pain. Or I imagine that's how the theory goes.
It does lend credence to my theory: that Mac isn't anywhere near as okay, or as healed, as he's been claiming for the last year and a half.
I'm also glad that they really are dealing with Claire this season, as I noted after "People with Money" that they needed to; I never thought that they'd deal with her so well or so extensively.
Briefly noted: "Channeling the late great Johnny Cash." ...I'm easily amused.
As methods of giving one of your actresses some downtime while she's pregnant go, a cobra bite is pretty high up there for originality.
In another nice bit of continuity, when Hawkes is giving Lindsay first aid after the snake bite, he has a renewed degree of confidence in his medical abilities.
Also, Hawkes and Lindsay? Very nice, natural chemistry. I'd love to see more of these two together.
Fashion Watch: Danny wears the distressed black cotton hip-length jacket he's been wandering around in lately, along with a rust-colored buttondown over a white wifebeater, and very (pre-)faded black jeans.
Mac wears a navy blue overcoat along with a blue buttondown shirt and a black jacket and pants. I'd say he ought to mix it up a little, but with Mac, that seems to lead to fashion disasters more often than not.
Stella starts off in a black wool knee-length overcoat, and later has a black leather trenchcoat, along with a purple knit scoop-neck top and a dark gray pinstriped blazer, and...are those highwaisted pants again? Please don't. Just...don't. I don't give a damn if they're trendy this season; they slice her in half visually, and if she's not actually shortwaisted, they certainly make her look like she is. Stick with a lower rise, please.
Hawkes wears his gray wool jacket, and later a gorgeous brown suede one, along with a black collared sweater.
Flack begins the episode in a shirt with blue and tan stripes, along with a brown overcoat and a burgundy silk tie with little white squares. Later, he wears an absolutely stunning black chalkstriped suit with a light khaki-colored shirt and a tan tie with tiny white squares that are bisected by small blue crosses.
Best-dressed of the episode? Flack. Hell, at this point he's the best-dressed of the season, one or two minor missteps aside.