Sunday, July 22, 2012

JaneandMaura - Season 1 Stories & Insights

Welcome to the world of Rizzoli and Isles!  As its title implies, the world we’ve just been invited into is based on two amazing women: Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. 

(Thanks to Tess Gerritsen and Janet Tamaro for their creation and, OBVIOUSLY, to the Ah-MAZING talents and hearts of Sasha Alexander and Angie Harmon!)

When we are first introduced to JaneandMaura, it’s clear that they are best friends and have a natural comfort with one another.  They share an intimacy and familiarity that you typically only find in female friendships.  In fact, it’s that very friendship that made Rizzoli and Isles a ratings runner from day 1!  (More on that in another post though: The Reason for RizzIsles’ Reign.)  This post is intended to explore who Jane and Maura are when we meet them, the transitions each of them undergo as individuals in the inaugural season, and how that impacts them as best friends and, what I would like to classify as, pseudo-sisters.

Meet Jane RizzoliIn one word, Jane is a badass!!  She has to be; she’s the only woman on the Boston Police Homicide Team (and also has two younger brothers to contest with).  Her intelligence, quick thinking, quick acting and brave, tough exterior give her the undeniable ability to act as a well-respected, invaluable member of the Homicide Department.  Those qualities also make her someone you wouldn’t want to cross, especially as a suspect in any homicide she’s investigating!  You will be caught. 

Under that tough girl, tomboy front, you quickly learn that she has a heart of gold and will do anything to protect and support her family and loved ones.  Jane’s need to be a constant pillar of strength oftentimes prevents her from letting her guard down and exposing vulnerability.  She’s more apt to clip off a sarcastic comment and get a laugh than truly allow her wall to come down.  She is the oldest of 3, and part of a very typical east coast, blue collar Italian family.  (I know how typical it is because it’s exactly like mine!! J)  Although her family may appear abrasive as they handle each other very directly and sarcastically, they are extremely tight knit!  They have a lot of fun together, meddle in each other’s lives and always come together in a time of need.

Meet Maura IslesMaura is immediately established as cultured, put together and incredibly intelligent as the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  You soon learn that she was adopted at birth and doesn’t know anything about her biological parents.  Her adoptive parents, however, raised her in a very proper, affluent environment which is still very apparent in her grace and general approach on life. 

Maura has a knack for simultaneously letting her brain jump 30 steps ahead to every possible outcome, while analyzing every detail in the current moment, and thinking back to past experiences and knowledge to help her piece together the clues in front of her.  In other words, she is quite literally a genius.  She has a great appreciation for the process of learning and discovering.  She recognizes that this trait can frustrate those around her as she refuses to make guesses, regardless of how educated they may be, and won’t share an opinion until she has ruled out all potential alternatives.  It’s also quickly apparent that despite her often-times awkward social encounters, she is an extremely caring, genuine and warm person, with a sweet child-like innocence.

As with any strong, mature adult, the Season 1 events in Jane’s and Maura’s lives impact who they are and how they function both as individuals and as best friends. 
Here are some of the key events and their apparent impact that take place for each woman this season…

1.)  HOYT aka “The Surgeon” Charles Hoyt is a sociopathic serial killer who is already imprisoned when we meet him.  Through various flashbacks we soon learn that not only has he committed horrific, unthinkable murders, but he has also become infatuated with Jane and has marked her as his most worthy adversary.  She is, after all, the only person he has ever targeted who has lived beyond the encounter… and she has the scars to prove it – physically and emotionally. 

His character is introduced in the Pilot and recurs a 2nd time in this Season.  Each time you see more and more of Jane’s vulnerability and unadulterated fear of this monster.  We also get to see her true courage as she, once again, is alive to tell the story after fighting him off when he escapes custody and abducts her.  Her good nature gets the best of her though; she is not a cold blooded killer and can’t bring herself to kill this unarmed, already injured person laying at her feet.  Her restraint speaks volumes to her character and integrity.

The JaM:  Hoyt’s presence and storyline gave us as the audience an opportunity to see how close JaM truly are, both in terms of an established intimacy and in terms of the lengths they’ll go to in protection of the other. 

Here are a few examples of how:

(a) At the Crime Scene in the beginning of the Pilot:  As soon as Jane connects the dots and realizes that it mocks his style, her fear is tangible.  Maura takes this opportunity to jump in and berate Korsak for not warning them, especially Jane, that this is what they were walking in to.

(b) Both times Hoyt comes up, Jane doesn’t sleep in fear that he’ll come for her or send someone for her.  Even though there are patrol cars outside her apartment, Maura’s presence is always one that grounds her. 

In the Pilot, Jane leaves her own apartment and goes to Maura’s in the middle of the night.  She didn’t seem to deliberate this decision, and Maura didn’t seem surprised in the least to see Jane at her door.  Maura helps settle Jane into the guest room, then climbs in bed with her and lays close.  Jane, in typical fashion, makes a sarcastic comment (“Are we having a sleepover or is this your way of telling me you’re attracted to me?”) in an effort to deflect the fear she is obviously trying to keep at bay.  Her courage escapes her though when there is a knock on the door, and then when they hear another random sound.  After Maura reassures her that it’s safe, Jane finally admits “I’ve never been so scared in all my life”.  That moment is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.  Not only does it scare and sadden you to know that someone so strong is so afraid, but it proves how much Jane trusts Maura to let her wall crumble so completely.

When Hoyt returns in 1.08 “I’m Your Boogie Man”, we get a similar glimpse into JaM’s friendship.  Maura insists on staying awake and forcing Jane to go to bed.  This encounter also results in a very memorable RizzIsles moment as Jane teaches Maura how to use her gun.  Time flashes forward a few hours and we see that Frost has joined Maura’s all-nighter, then Korsak arrives.  As Korsak and Frost metaphorically begin, in Maura’s words, “comparing the size of their penises”, Maura takes a very Mom-like role to quiet them so Jane isn’t woken up.

(c) Hoyt works his monster magic and gets into Maura’s head too… in a valiant effort to help Jane, Maura goes to the prison with Agent Dean to speak with Hoyt and learn from him.  She does a phenomenal job of keeping her cool and showing him she isn’t terrified of him.  At the end of the interview though, he makes a comment that haunts her: “That’s because you’re like me”.  We learn a lot about Maura’s childhood and adolescence in this episode because she takes her turn to let her wall crumble around her and shares some very deep, painful insights with Jane.  This is another scene that just hurts your heart and makes you want to hug her through your TV, but at the same time you’re grateful for it because you can see how much she relies on her best friend for support and validation.

Although Hoyt’s appearances are rooted very deeply in fear and create some great dramatic plot lines, I think one of the greatest things that come from his appearances is how much closer we get to Jane and Maura because of who they are and how much they mean to each other.

2.)  AGENT GABRIEL DEAN He comes onto the scene in the Pilot episode as a Federal Agent following the Hoyt case and tends to reappear anytime Hoyt does.  As an intelligent, mysterious, handsome stranger, both Jane and Maura find themselves attracted to him.  I guess I can see the allure that pulls both Jane and Maura toward Dean when he first arises.  In my opinion though, there isn’t enough chemistry there to make us really care about his character or to invest ourselves in a potential love story involving him.

The JaM: Meeting Dean let Jane and Maura tell us something very early on: they are NOT catty and competitive with one another!  They have a funny conversation about how one of them should date him, but their body language in that conversation and actions from that point forward tell us very clearly that a man is not something that can come between them.  He tends to gravitate more toward Jane so without even a conversation or second thought, Maura is no longer showing any interest in him.  So although I’d prefer for his tepid chemistry with Jane to be a passing thought, I’m grateful for his presence since he taught us a very important lesson about JaM.

3.)  THE FAIRFIELD FAMILY It’s a well-known fact that Maura was raised in an affluent environment.  Aside from her head-turning wardrobe, you don’t see this side of her much.  Episode 1.05 – Money for Nothing takes us there.  The victim’s brother turns out to be Maura’s ex-boyfriend who was almost “the one”.  She slips into her old world very naturally and can be perceived to be taking the victim’s side instead of trying to help the investigation move along.

The JaM:  This situation creates a few growth and learning opportunities for RizzIsles.

(a)  Jane is caught off guard in many respects; she gets frustrated when Maura isn’t supporting her in front of the family, and gets defensive that Maura is “slumming it” with them.  This tension leads to a few fights between them and a lot of passing remarks.  A conversation with Korsak helps Maura realize what Jane may not even know consciously: Jane needs to know that Maura has her back.  To prove this, Maura does as asked and gets information from her ex-boyfriend and immediately shares it with Jane.  Jane, still frustrated and upset, asks “Why you doin’ this?” to which Maura replies “Because I have your back”.  It’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes a tense situation to bring sentiments like that to the surface, but that’s just one of the million examples of how REAL these characters are and how true their friendship is.

(b)  Maura takes Jane into her world as her plus one to Adam’s Memorial service.  At the end of the episode, Jane shows Maura more of her world by having beer at the Dirty Robber.  It’s amusing to watch how uncomfortable one can be out of their element, but also comforting to watch how hard they try to please their best friend and be part of that world.

(c)  JaM square away their differences and get back into their typical grove just in time; Maura doubts her judgment and abilities when the case is solved and she is shocked that she was ever in love with a killer and missed some clues in the beginning of the case.  As any good best friend does, Jane reassures her.

4.)  UNDERCOVER AT LESBIAN BARThe victim in 1.06 – “I Kissed a Girl” was killed outside of a lesbian bar.  In an effort to draw the killer out, Maura, Frost and Korsak create an online dating profile for Jane, and Jane and Maura collect DNA samples from a laundry list of suspects.  These scenes are hilarious and create the stage for a few really funny, interesting conversations between Maura and Jane.

The JaM:  Men may find this shocking – or even alluring, who knows – but girls often have the “what would it be like to be a lesbian?” conversation with their female best friend.  It’s something everyone has considered at one point or other (er, right? ;) ), and it’s safe to be that open and laugh about it with your best friend.  …especially after said best friend shows you the online dating profile she created for you!

This situation also gives Maura the rare opportunity to tap into her “Samantha-ness”.  (If you’re not a Sex and the City fan, #1 become one! J, #2 that means her sexuality and sensual side.)  Let’s face it, it’s no secret that our two leading ladies are freaking HOT (and, yes, have an INCREDIBLE chemistry that fuels the Rizzles Ship).  Sash gets to show her hotness a little more because of Maura’s style, but she REALLY got to tap into that in this episode!  Perhaps the most amusing part of Maura’s Samantha-ness coming out, is how Jane steps in as protective best friend and, literally, tries to cover her up.

5.)  COLIN & PADDY DOYLE Episode 1.09 – “The Beast in Me” brings a very interesting plot twist: the victim’s DNA profile proves that he is Maura’s half-brother.  This realization also leads to the discovery of who Maura’s biological father is: Paddy “The Executioner” Doyle.  Paddy is a big time Irish Mob Boss who has been off the radar for nearly 20 years.  Maura’s encounters with him boggle her mind in terms of questioning who she is (since the only two blood relatives she knows of are both criminals), finding out that he’s been keeping an eye on her for her entire life, and in the ethical decision she has to make to let him kill the guy who is probably coming after her next or not.

The JaM:  This engaging, heart-string-pulling story gives us further confirmation on something we should already know by now: Jane and Maura truly are pseudo-sisters and will do ANYTHING to protect and support one another.  It’s Jane’s turn to demonstrate that as she listens to Maura’s inner most thoughts, offers her assistance and keeps her distracted by including her in her own family. 

One of the most interesting conflicts we see is Jane deciding if she wants to tell Paddy who the killer was so he can “send a message” to protect Maura.  Helping a human being kill another human being obviously goes against the grain of who Jane is as a person, let alone as a homicide detective; yet she legitimately considers the option if it will truly save and preserve the life of her best friend.  I’m pretty sure I’d be considering the same thing!  Wouldn’t you?!  Well, in more true best friend fashion, she respects Maura's wishes and doesn't call Paddy.  It is implied later though that Korsak may have.  "You do what you have to do to protect family"... even when that means finding a loophole by having someone other than you make the call so you don't have to defy your best friend.

6.)  HELD HOSTAGE TOGETHERThe heart racing Season Finale mostly focuses on Jane, Maura and Frankie hiding in the autopsy room of the BPD Headquarters to steer clear of the gunmen who have taken over the building.  The most terrifying twist of this story is that Frankie’s life is in grave danger from taking two bullets to the vest when the gunmen first entered.  Maura must improvise and do everything she can to save his life and we all know how challenging it is for Maura to guess and not necessarily do things in the most effective manner.

The JaM:  There are many times in this episode where Jane and Maura are literally screaming at each other.  Ya know what they say though, right?  You are often the hardest on and the harshest toward those you love and trust most because of the fact that you trust that they will always be there.  This episode depicts that point very well.  It also illustrates how much Jane and Maura constantly challenge each other to be the best version of themselves they can be… perhaps that wasn’t demonstrated as they were yelling at each other, but it was definitely demonstrated in every one of Jane’s attempts to encourage Maura to keep trying new techniques to save Frankie and to trust herself.  Once again, it’s blatantly obvious that RizzIsles has an incredible level of respect and admiration for one another!

7.)  JANE SHOOTING HERSELF In an effort to escape headquarters and not get caught, Bobby Marino, the dirty cop, takes Jane hostage at gunpoint.  The SWAT Team doesn’t have a clear shot of him since he’s using Jane as a shield.  Jane takes matters into her own hands so the encounter can end faster and medical attention can be sent inside to Frankie… she struggles with him for control of the gun and shoots him – by shooting herself and the bullet going through her into him.

The JaM:  I’m sure we’ll learn more about this implication in Season 2, but Season 1 ended with Maura running out of the building toward Jane to help save her life…. WOW!

SEASON 1 FINALE left us in the balance, waiting to find out if Jane survives her injury, if Frankie received medical attention fast enough, and what the ripple effect of that horrendous experience would be…

Check back for an analysis of Season 2 for more insights!  In the meantime, please leave your thoughts, comments and insights to keep the conversation going!  J

…and here are some other posts to keep you thinking about R&I!

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