Thursday, October 11, 2007

Revisiting ‘Case’: The Runner 1x5

By LillyKat
PTR Staff Writer

We know people are never forgotten with Detective Lilly Rush.

But what happens when people want to forget?

It’s an interesting challenge in the handling of cold cases. Not everyone is always ready, willing and able to look back into the past for what it actually was; they prefer to hang on to what they have perceived it to be for so many years.

That includes fellow cops.

And even members of a victim’s immediate family.

“The Runner,” one of the early episodes of Cold Case’s first season, highlighted what I think is the truest reality in dealing with a cold case: looking back can bring closure and justice, but it can also sting in the process.

This wasn’t the first episode to deal with this dilemma nor would it be the last. Many followed. Some good, others not so much. But it gave us yet another important glimpse into Lilly Rush’s choices as they pertain to the handling of a case.

In the infamous words of Captain Kirk: sometimes ol’ Lil’ boldly goes where no one has gone before.

We already know she has a knack for getting the bad guy. And when she’s hot on the trail, rarely does she let up. But what deserves equal mention, and one that requires far more sensitivity, is her handling of a victim’s family and/or immediate circle.

We recall this case revolved around a cop’s death that was never solved. The case file – box and all – had been in homicide for 30+ years. It was a strong reminder of how serious cops take the killing of one of their own; the file would not get relegated to the box room until it could be truly written off as closed. When longtime detective Will Jefferies volunteers – for the first time – to work with Lilly on this case, you started to sense something was running pretty deep on this one.

Going off little more than what appears to be a homeless dope head woman dropping of a tape recorder circa 1970s that held a recording of a shooting, Lilly and Will discover a complex tale of a good cop trying to protect his childhood friend from the dark side of thug life and addiction.

Which the cop’s best friend at the time was well immersed.

It’s one of those classic stories with a stand-up guy trying to do the stand-up thing, even if his own path to being on the right side of law wasn’t as smooth as he let others believe.

But given some early suspicions of why the good cop was found dead in a pretty shady part of town where his best friend was known to hold court on the wrong side of the law, it falls on Lilly to ask some tough questions of the cop’s former partner.

Not surprisingly, this doesn’t sit too well with the partner, and it gets Lil’ kicked out of First Thursday (the monthly tradition of the Philly homicide detectives – both current and retired – to gather round, have a few drinks, talk the job). How funny is it to go back and watch Lil’ try to fit in at her first First Thursday?

Turns out she’s also got to ask some sensitive questions of the good cop’s former wife, who had suspected he was having an affair but, as it turns out, was really just a case of him playing big brother to his young childhood friend.

The one who initially turned in the tape recorder to Lilly.

All these years later.

Present catching up with past.

It is this brilliant balance that was repeatedly struck so early on in this series and of which continues to set the precedent for the show today.

But we also saw a true balance in Lilly being both the crusader and the compassionate woman. She could ask the questions nobody wanted to ask, and yet she could bring together two paths that would otherwise never cross. In this case, it was the former wife and the former childhood friend – both united in the tragedy, but now healed in its closure.

It is through Lilly’s eyes that we walk this walk. And it is through her commitment and drive that even when getting the bad guy, she understands the need for redemption and forgiveness.

She was so fascinating to watch in these early episodes – seeming to know exactly what to say, how to say it, but never letting us think she was on auto-pilot at any time. Today’s Lilly isn’t always as convincing as she was back then. Perhaps she has been hardened by the job, by her personal circumstances, by the complications of her real-life creators seemingly having derailed her from her truest essence.

But it is still there.

She is still there.

And we see that in an episode like “The Runner,” where she has the unenviable task of walking that fine line between getting justice served and healing the past.

Not an easy job.

But one on which Detective Lilly Rush stakes her livelihood.

Then and now.

New episodes of Cold Case air Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS. Mini-marathons of older episodes air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on TNT. You can also check your local listings of your CBS affiliate for additional late night weekend airings.

1 comment:

TVFan said...

There were some classic scenes in this one -- Lil on the track staring Runner down, Lil in the church and the ending scene where she brings the two women together. I like how you really brought out the other side to solving these cases. As you so well stated, not everyone is ready to re-open old wounds. Classic example with this one.