Police detectives aren't supposed to let who crime victims are influence how much effort they put into an investigation.
Major Crimes Season 5 Episode 15 proved that point over and over, with one of the most unsavory murder victims ever and an investigation leading to another particularly nauseating crime.
But did the police overstep their boundaries while investigating a child pornography ring?
The murder of the hour was among one of the most gruesome Major Crimes has ever had to deal with. There was blood everywhere and the victim's head had been bashed in in addition to his throat being cut. The crime scene looked so realistic I had to look away.
No wonder Provenza wished North East Division could handle this case!
Rusty: Did all this stuff belong to the victim or to someone he was blackmailing?
Provenza: That's what we're gonna have to find out. Human beings... what a species, huh?
Provenza predicted that there was some truly horrible stuff going on, and he was right, though at first it all seemed a little convoluted. It was believable that a security alarm installer might use his position to steal from the people he was supposed to be protecting. But holding laptops for ransom seemed to be overkill.
Major Crimes seemed to acknowledge that with the montage of suspects admitting to being blackmailed, most of whom had bizarre excuses for not reporting the theft and/or blackmail. I was surprised that that many people purchasing alarm systems had such huge secrets. But then again, this is Los Angeles!
In any event, I thought the cute blonde girl who didn't trust cops was going to have something to do with the murder since the montage focused on her so much, but that was a complete red herring.
Throughout the hour, the cops seemed obsessed with the fact that the victim's roommate wore a wig and kept calling him "Wigged Out".
This was probably a reference to the fact that he appeared to be a stoner, but my first thought was that the roommate might have been transgender and not out, and from that angle the constant references to the wig were slightly offensive.
Major Crimes has a great track record with transgender issues, so this was likely unintentional, but the timing was unfortunate considering what is going on politically right now.
Tao: Captain, we cracked the passcode on the victim's laptop, and I just want to say... prepare yourselves.
Sanchez: Now we know why he went to the extra effort to protect his files.
Sykes: How old are these girls?
Tao: 10, 11...
In any event, the dude with the wig was another red herring, and one the cops wasted a lot of time on. In fact, the whole story wa a red herring because "Cleared History" was really about child pornography.
Major Crimes took a leaf out of Law and Order: SVU's book and had the detectives make a gruesome discovery that shifted the case into something completely different in the middle of everything. They were still investigating the murder, but they also wanted to know who had child porn and where it was coming from.
And that was when things began to get a little weird.
Rusty: Okay, don't get me wrong, those photos were disgusting, but if the suspect just downloaded them...
Andy: No, no, it doesn't work that way. Trading in kiddie porn creates a market for more children to be abused.
It wasn't bad, at least not all of it. A conversation between Rusty, Sharon, and Andy was not only an effective public service announcement but also tied into Rusty's conflict with his ridiculous boyfriend and helped strengthen the family bonds between Rusty and the two adults.
However, the suspect, Dean Lewis, was a little bit too quirky for the subject matter. He was a young adult author who had been molested as a child and somehow or other started watching child porn.
The cops wanted to shut down as much of the child porn ring as they could, so they coerced Lewis into providing the names of anyone he knew who was connected with distributing the porn.
And that was where I felt like they were crossing a line.
I understood what Flynn was saying about how watching child porn enables and encourages the further sexual abuse of children. I agree with that. And I agree with Sanchez that this is a disgusting crime.
But two wrongs don't make a right and even child porn watchers have civil rights, and watching someone's rights be totally violated by the police didn't sit well with me.
Maybe I'm taking this show a little too seriously, but browbeating a suspect into agreeing to a deal and justifying it by the fact that they will catch lots and lots of people involved with child porn is problematic.
It's a short step from coercing a guilty suspect to coercing an innocent one and I was a little disappointed that his lawyer went along with it.
In addition, I prefer my heroes to be heroic, and borderline corruption is not entertaining to me.
Sharon: Everything okay?
Rusty: No, but I don't know how to talk about it just yet.
Sharon: Did you tell Gus you don't want to move in together?
Rusty: No... but that's what I can't talk about.
Also not entertaining: Rusty's ridiculous boyfriend. Watching him whine all last summer about how Rusty paid attention to stuff he needed for his job instead of just to him was bad enough. Now he's moved on to insisting Rusty move in with him on his timeline.
I can understand Gus being upset, but if he really wants to be with Rusty, breaking up because Rusty doesn't want to move in with him right this second is not the way to go. It's not as if they've been together 10 years with no forward movement, and it doesn't seem like Rusty's given him any reason to think he's not really committed to him.
Gus is being too pushy and Rusty is convinced this is the only man he can ever love. It's a teen romance, and one that should not go any further.
Rusty's discussions about the relationship with Sharon are more entertaining than actual scenes between him and Gus, and that should be a huge red flag for the producers that this relationship is not working.
Did you enjoy the mystery of the hour, or did you agree with Provenza that it would have been better for North East Division to handle this one? Did you think the cops were justified in how they treated Dean Lewis? Am I the only one who can't stand this Rusty/Gus nonsense?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can watch Major Crimes online if you missed anything.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.