RogerBW's Blog

Rizzoli & Isles season 7 11 April 2017

2016, 13 episodes: the final season of odd-couple crimefighting from Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles.

This is how a series often ends now, particularly when it's getting too expensive to produce rather than slumping in the ratings: the bosses say "OK, we're shutting you down, but you get a last half-season to wrap things up so that the fans don't whine too much". When production began on this season, everyone knew that this was going to be it, and rather than leaving things dangling they made the attempt to provide a satisfying closing chapter.

And, of course, still to keep the casual viewer interested in case they switched channels and found the show by accident (do people even do that any more?), so the primary plot is still murder of the week. That's not why I watch a cop show; I'm interested in the people and how they tackle the problems they're presented with, much more than in whodunnit (which the experienced viewer can usually spot immediately). Most of this season was relatively light, rather than the gruesome serial killer stuff we've sometimes seen before; this series has diverged substantially from Tess Gerritsen's novels that formed the original basis for the show, and since I tend to feel that television doesn't handle dark material as well as pure words can, that's a good thing for me. There's just one "look at the strange people" episode in this batch, a murder that takes place outside a zombie convention, and even that tends to treat its zombie cosplayers as people with a slightly weird hobby rather than weird people.

Perhaps to encourage a feeling of continuity, screen time is much more evenly distributed this time than in earlier seasons: plenty of scenes have neither Rizzoli nor Isles in them, and the result is an ensemble effect, like the better episodes of CSI. Apart from the basic detective/pathologist split, most of the leads aren't shown as having particular skills (though one character gets to do most of the computer stuff); it's just a matter of which two people get to have the Significant Conversation to bring the viewers up to date. Although by the end of things two of the principals are no longer working in this department, and another is taking an extended break, there's a strong sense that the department's ethos will continue.

The final few episodes play up the feeling of ending: while we know what these characters will be doing next, this era is most definitely over. Sometimes, perhaps, the script is speaking too directly to the fans (words to the effect of "it would be great if things could just go on like this forever, but they can't"), and the closing minutes of the final episode unashamedly push every sentimental button they can as all the regulars get their happy endings; but even though that kind of manipulation normally annoys me, this time I don't mind. This show has earned it.

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