Lieutenant Provenza could easily become a one-note joke of a character.
He's always complaining, making wisecracks, and trying to prove that the case really belongs to some other unit.
It would be easy to forget that beneath that crusty exterior, there's a sensitive human being who went into police work for the right reasons.
Luckily, Major Crimes Season 5 Episode 19 gave Provenza a meaty, dramatic storyline that left no doubt in viewers' minds that Provenza is more than all of his grumbling.
Throughout the hour, Provenza questioned whether he should remain on the police force or not. He was especially bothered by this case because the victim seemed to lead a charmed life and it was hard to find any plausible reason to kill him.
He hid his pain underneath his usual crabbiness, of course. At Sharon and Andy's, he groused endlessly about the cake and only Rusty seemed to pick up on the fact that something was bothering him.
Patrice: Louis, what's the matter?
Louis: What makes you think anything's the matter?
Patrice: You haven't turned on the television and you're not complaining about putting stamps on envelopes for Sharon and Andy's wedding. What's up?
Louis: I think I need to quit my job.
Patrice: Yeah right.
Louis: No, really. Maybe next week.
Patrice: Is it this case?
Louis: No. It's this kid.
I absolutely loved the scene between Provenza and his wife where he admitted he was thinking about retirement. Patrice is equally larger-than-life, making her a perfect companion for her often overdramatic husband, and the Provenzas' relationship is generally used for comic relief.
But this time, Patrice knew her husband so well that she had to get out of him what was bothering him. Not only did Provenza actually share his feelings with her, but he also realized what he'd been missing in the case while they were talking.
Having this kind of revelation is a classic detective thing to happen. It also broke up the tension and effortlessly moved viewers back to the investigation.
Accidents happen. They happen and time goes by and it gets better. That's what everyone said. But they were wrong. Because when you lose a child, time does not go by. It just comes to a dead halt.Mrs. Harris
There was no shortage of crazy suspects. Mrs. Harris was positively creepy in the way she described the reasons for the murder and her fervent belief that she would be found innocent because the jury would sympathize with her.
The scary thing is, she could be right.
You want someone to blame? How about the driver? Or maybe look in the mirror, because the LAPD is doing such a great job of protecting the people of this city right now. Am I under arrest? Am I?Cliff
Will's friend Cliff wasn't much better. It was extremely idiotic for him to make dumb race-baiting comments in front of Amy and then pour salt in the wound by telling her she wouldn't understand because she was from an older generation!
All of that turned out to be a red herring since Cliff had nothing to do with the murder. But his attitude might have made Amy determined to find something to get him for if she were a lesser cop than the way she is mainly depicted. Plus he was obnoxious.
Meanwhile, the side drama about the race for the Assistant Chief position contributed to Provenza's distress. I got the feeling that part of why he wants to retire is that he feels like everyone else's life is changing and he's not sure he wants to go along for the ride.
Sykes: How did you end up on the night shift, Lieutenant?
Provenza: Well, Tao had his Hollywood job and Sanchez likes to tuck the kid in at night. Little Mark.
Sykes: Think this'll work?
Provenza: Oh yeah. She'll come out in the morning, see her car is vandalized, bring it to her mechanic. We find the other car and presto-chango, Sharon Raydor is the new assistant chief. Okay. Mark this day, people. This could be the end of an era. My last stakeout pizza ever.
Provenza's explanation for why he was working the stakeout was poignant.
It was couched in typical Provenza sarcasm, but to me, the message was clear: everyone else's life was too full to go on the stakeout and Provenza's was not.
It's really not a surprise that Provenza would feel as if life is passing him by or that his cop days are almost over. He's always arguing that a crime isn't really appropriate to assign to the Major Crimes Unit and many of the investigations involve social media, something which he knows nothing about.
The modern world makes little sense to him, almost as little as the reasons for Will's murder, and he may feel that the time for him to be a cop has passed because of it.
Mrs. Harris: You can call it murder if you like. I call it justice, and I think a jury will agree with mme.
Sharon: Well, we will certainly help you test that theory.
Julio: You're under arrest for the murder of Will Sachs.
Mrs. Harris: There is no such person.
I was glad that Provenza was able to assist with identifying and catching Mrs. Harris. Hopefully, that showed him that he's still a valuable member of the team.
I can't decide whether I want Sharon to become the new Assistant Chief or not.
On the one hand, she's certainly better qualified than Winnie Davis, who is likely to run the police department into the ground with her lack of understanding of police procedures.
On the other, that feels like an ending to the series and I'm selfish enough to want more "Major Crimes."
If the series were ending tomorrow, Sharon being promoted and Provenza retiring would be a lovely, fitting ending, especially since the show began with Sharon taking over Brenda Howard's position in the unit.
But Major Crimes is not ending yet, so I'd rather Sharon stay put and Provenza continues to be a grumpy old man.
What should end is Rusty and Gus' ridiculous excuse for a relationship. Their latest argument seemed to be about Rusty noticing that Gus' boss traveled a lot and Gus accusing him of stalking because he checked the guy out online.
I didn't think this relationship could get any more preposterous, but apparently, I was wrong.
At least in "Intersection," Rusty and Gus' problems were confined to a brief phone call. I really hope Gus doesn't make it back to the unit anytime soon.
What did you think of "Intersection"? Did you find it odd that Will ran over a classmate, then changed his name? Am I the only one who wants Andy's recipe for his gluten-free, sugar-free cake?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Major Crimes online if you missed anything.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.