In this episode about fathers and sons and personal responsibility, we see several strong examples of this season's continuing emphasis on family, as well as yet more evidence that Mac still has a long way to go before he's going to be able to find any real closure on Claire's death.
I had just assumed, I guess, that Claire's body had never been recovered; so many of the bodies of people who died at the World Trade Center never were, and it always seemed likely that would be the case for Claire as well. It's the ultimate cruel irony for Mac: he's dedicated his life to working with the bodies of the dead and to using the evidence lifted from those bodies to find answers to how and why they died -- to bring, in short, closure to the victims and their families.
And that's something he's never been able to do for himself; he's never been confronted with absolute, incontrovertible evidence of Claire's death, and he's never had the opportunity to bury her, or perhaps even hold a funeral. She was taken away from him abruptly, and -- as he's pointed out before, in "Blink," no one saw it coming. He's also spoken, in "The Closer" and (obliquely) in "Live Or Let Die" of the gross unfairness and injustice of the situation, and here we see that explicitly voiced: "No trace at all," Mac says. And so, of course, no closure. Taking that a step further: if he has no proof of her death, can he even bring himself to believe in her life anymore? We know that he got rid of everything that reminded him of her (got rid of the evidence, to put it another way), and so all Mac is left with, even now, is what's not there.
Right there is a major example of another of this show's ongoing themes: negative space. This show (and perhaps crime procedural shows in general, but I think it takes on heavier significance for NY) is as much, or maybe more, about what's not there, as opposed to what is. We find, or fail to find, meaning in the spaces between, and the empty spaces.
It's also important to note, I think, that Reed specifically brings up the idea of responsibility when he and Mac are talking after the funeral. Mac tells him that he's taking on a lot of responsibility, which is heavily ironic in itself: we've seen over and over on the show that this is precisely what Mac does to himself; he takes on the responsibility every time he feels that he's failed someone he loves -- particularly when he feels that he's failed to protect them, or save them, when he should have been able to. There was, of course, no way that he could have protected Claire, or prevented her death, but I don't think this much matters.
(gin200168, this all nicely supports your Last Man Standing theory of Mac.)
This all gives me hope that they're not going to gloss over all of the issues that Peyton brought up in "Raising Shane." I was telling webbgirl earlier that the reason I was concerned after "Silent Night" aired was that their reconciliation scene felt like a possible attempt to gloss over, or brush aside, the very real and complicated issues that were brought to the forefront just one episode prior. The continued focus on Claire, however, and on how much Mac isn't over her, seems a good indicator that this will continue to be a significant factor in the Mac/Peyton storyline. Here's hoping.
The slowly-developing bond between Reed and Mac is also being handled nicely. Reed, who's clearly a decent, well-meaning kid, has gone from, in his first episode, offhandedly dismissing Mac's offers of communication to actively seeking him out. Mac seems to be doing his best, in his own typically awkward way, to reach out to Reed as well, and it seems clear that he's coming to care for him. At first, this may have been mostly based on the fact that he's Claire's son, but the bond seems to be deepening beyond that now. Still, Mac is caught off-guard by Reed's hug, and uncomfortable with it at first. It's an ongoing process.
It's no accident, I think, that both the first suspect questioned in the case and the real murderer speak extensively about their relationships with their fathers, or that not wanting to disappoint his father ultimately proves to be the murderer's motivation. Again, there's a continued emphasis on family this season, and on fathers and sons in particular. The new piece of Adam's backstory that we get in this episode, that his father was "a bully," also seems deliberately and thoughtfully placed within the context of this episode. Even the big piece of Mac's backstory that we've gotten this season would fit with this idea -- note that it's his father who died of lung cancer.
Briefly noted: The references to blueblood society and Mac's sneering reaction, as well as his reaction to the first kid's comments about how powerful his father is and to the murderer's remarks about being expected to follow in his father's footsteps also struck me as good examples of those subtle reactions I keep noticing that have led me to my Mac's-from-money theory. He's impatient with the first boy and displays the expected anger at facing a murderer, but he's openly contemptuous in a different way when the issues of family wealth and expectations come up.
"Boys love their cars, girls love their handbags."
Fashion Watch: Stella very briefly wears a light mauve-colored semi-sheer v-neck with a bit of a sparkle to it, then wears a fitted navy v-neck cardigan and a black wool trenchcoat. Later, she wears a fitted black jacket with a black scoopneck knit shirt, and her long light gray trenchcoat with the white trim.
Danny's hair has grown out! I still don't like those glasses he's wearing, but the hair growing out is a vast improvement over the prickly, extremely close-cropped cut he was sporting for most of the season. It looked darker, too, as if he's stopped dyeing it, or started again. (Danny's been through so many hair shades that I have no idea what his hair color actually is.) Anyway, he begins the episode in a black v-neck sweater over a white wifebeater. Later, he wears a lime-green crewneck sweater, and in the final scenes he has a rust-colored shiny/metallic buttondown shirt over another white wifebeater, along with his distressed brown leather jacket. Please note the way he's wearing the shiny shirt, and how it works for him. (This is going to be relevant in a minute, I swear.)
Mac is taking fashion risks again tonight. He begins the episode in a short leather jacket
Okay. No. I'm not convinced that Mac should be wearing a shiny shirt at all, but if he's going to? It should not be paired with an extremely conservatively-cut gray suit. You can go one of two ways with this kind of shirt: you can pair it with casual pants and a complementing jacket -- which is what Danny does, and why his works -- or, if you're going to go with a suit, it has to be a very sharply-cut, fitted, hip suit. Not the near-shapeless dark gray business wear Mac is sporting.
His final suit of the evening is a return to safe territory, with a black suit and a light blue buttondown shirt. Oddly? I almost think this suit might have worked with a metallic-look shirt. The cut's a little more fitted, and the plain black is simple enough that it wouldn't work against the metallic look the way the dark gray does.
Flack wears a white shirt with heavy gray stripes, and later a light blue shirt with a darker blue stripe and a dark blue tie. Finally, he has a white shirt with rust and tan stripes and a red tie. Hawkes wears his short gray wool jacket with a royal blue crewneck sweater. Later, he wears a striped black suit with an ice-blue shirt. Now, this here? This is exactly the kind of suit that would work with a metallic/shiny shirt.