After putting fans through the emotional wringer in the season 3 finale, Rizzoli & Isles takes a calmer approach with the first episode of season 4, and the title, 'We Are Family,' sets the tone. All told there are four families explored throughout the episode and none more so than the one with no blood ties to boast of.
The first family that the episode peers into belongs to Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), which is something of a no-brainer given where last season's finale left off. Time has passed but not all wounds have healed and the ongoing story between Maura and her birth family is woven heavily throughout the first half of the episode. She's hurting physically, but also emotionally, and this is a good thing.
It's funny to watch her fret about inane things like gossip in the workplace, and her attempts to relieve her angst with a pencil and a gravity inverter are downright hilarious. Her barbs toward Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) about Casey (Chris Vance) felt good at the time, too, though as the episode goes on, it feels a bit heavy-handed in the foreshadowing department. And in the end, she and half-sister Cailin (Emilee Wallace) have a nice moment together that perhaps will allow Isles a full emotional recovery.
Meanwhile, her cohort Jane Rizzoli has her own family issues to explore. Angela (Lorraine Bracco), Frankie (Jordan Bridges), and baby T.J. are all on hand for the town parade at the beginning of the episode, but it's Frankie who gets the spotlight as he's being promoted to a detective in the drug unit.
However, the Rizzolis are fairly drama free this time out, and more attention is paid to fixing up Frankie's new bike than anything of real substance. The exception is in the closing seconds when Angela reveals that she and Lieutenant Cavanaugh (Brian Goodman) are heading out on a date. Jane is not amused.
But while her family is in a good place, Jane takes her own spin in Maura's gravity inverter when Casey literally shows up on her doorstep with the news that his injury was not as paralyzing as they all originally thought. This is one of those age-old plot twists that could go either way for the show.
Yes, it's great to see the old chemistry in action and smile as Jane teases Casey about his accent. It's also interesting to watch her grapple with her nightmares about the invasion of domesticity after he declares he wants them to get serious about their relationship.
But just as quickly as he pops in, he bows out for another trip to Afghanistan, so whether any of Jane's musings and Casey's dreams will come to fruition is still yet to be seen and could make the difference between a good plot twist and a cheesy, manipulative one.
Betwixt all the emotional jumbles is the case which, like the rest of the episode, centers around a family. State Senator Erika Humphrey-Miller's family is anything but picture perfect, but the two suspects in her murder are her stay-at-home-husband, Jeff (Tug Coker), and sister Jennifer (Hayley McElhinney).
Jennifer is the one giving off the creepy vibes from the very beginning, so it's little surprise when it turns out she's the one; though the fact that she had her baby nephew with her when she gunned down her sister is enough to make anyone lose their blueberry waffles too. The case itself is moderately interesting, but it's a little too Erin Brockovich at times.
At the end of the day, the family this show is most interested in is the one within the Boston Police Homicide Division. Everyone from Jane to Korsak (Bruce McGill) to Frost (Lee Thompson Young) is concerned about Maura. They worry about how she's coping with the fallout from her operation and question whether she'll return to her old self. For a show entering its fourth year, this is a good demonstration of the chemistry and talent each member of the ensemble brings to the table.
Of course, the main focus will always be on the title characters, but it's nice to see the guys showing their concern as well. All in all, a job well done. What did you think?
Rizzoli & Isles airs Tuesdays @9pm on TNT.