The Closer

Season 3 Episode 10

Culture Shock

2
Aired Monday 9:00 PM Aug 20, 2007 on TNT

Episode Recap

Provenza and Tao respond to a crime scene in Chinatown; meanwhile at Brenda's house, Fritz humors Clay by listening to his future father-in-law ramble on about things that do not interest him. Brenda snaps at Willie Rae because she is packing a lunch to take with them on their planned outing, and the resulting discussion leads to Brenda's blurting out her diagnosis of early-onset menopause. Delighted to be interrupted by the telephone, Brenda snatches it up. Fritz looks less than pleased when he hears Brenda assure the caller that she was placed on active duty as of the day before.

Arriving at the crime scene, Commander Taylor informs Brenda that the victim is a 33 year old Chinese national with permanent resident status. Her name was Ping-Mei Chen. She operated Eight Stars Bus Tours. Brenda climbs onto the bus to view the body. She asks Taylor why this crime is a priority, and learns that Ping-Mei's company was currently shuttling around major Chinese Party officials from the mainland. Tao informs her the cause of death looks to be blunt force trauma to the head, adding that the blow looks to have been delivered while the victim had been on her knees. "Or, she was looking for this." Brenda picks up a small video camera and hand hands it off, asking the team to find out what was filmed. Buzz, meanwhile, is making his own tape of the crime scene. Exiting the bus, Brenda asks who called in the death. Taylor tells her it had been the husband, who had arrived before 6 am to do general bus maintenance. The husband and father-in-law are waiting to speak to Brenda. Rounding the corner of the bus, Brenda overhears a heated discussion take place between the dead woman's husband and his father. The older man is pointing at her. She asks Sanchez about the language skills of the two men. He tells her that the husband has limited English, but the old man speaks only Chinese. He adds that the translator won't be available until early afternoon. She asks the husband if he has any idea who might have killed his wife. Mr. Chen tells her of seeing a blond man the night before, as he was leaving work. The man had turned and walked rapidly away when he saw Mr. Chen. The older Chinese man interrupts his son, speaking furiously, but only in Chinese. Brenda asks if there is something his father believes they should know. Mr. Chen says his father is worried that he and his son might also be in danger. Exchanging words again with his son, and again pointing toward Brenda, the old man stomps inside the office. Brenda asks the husband to accompany her to Parker Center for an interview. Sanchez takes Mr. Chen and leaves, but Brenda notices that Tao has something to say. He tells her that even after generations in the U.S., no Chinese child would ever use the tone Mr. Chen had used with his father. Brenda observes a bit sarcastically that 'Honor thy parents' is easier to preach than to practice.

In the electronics room, the squad listen while Mr. Chen translates the video tape found in the camera at the crime scene. Ping-Mei is seen in action on her tour bus, pointing out various tourist attractions. Provenza looks to Tao for reassurance when Mr. Chen tells them Ping-Mei is telling her customers that he, her husband, is the light of her life, but Tao can only shrug. Brenda asks if Mr. Chen can assist further by translating his wife's phone messages. He agrees to help. Sanchez escorts the husband into an interview room as Gabriel enters to tell her the translator is about five minutes away. He wants to know if Brenda wants him to send the translator into the interview when he arrives, or if she wants to wait. Brenda has a different idea, she wants the translator to be escorted into the electronics room to verify whether or not what she is being told by the husband is accurate.

Sanchez plays the recorded phone messages when Brenda arrives. The first message is translated as being left by Ping May's friend AnLee, and it is about a new pair of shoes AnLee has bought. The second message is translated as being from a Chinese gentleman who has called to say he believes he has left his video camera on the tour bus. The third message is from a male caller who speaks in English. He identifies himself, however, as Woo-Ming. It appears he and Ping-Mei have an arranged meeting later in the evening. Brenda asks Mr. Chen to help her understand who the caller is, pointing out that the call makes it appear his wife was having a relationship with another man, asking if Chen knew about the affair. Mr. Chen immediately asks for a lawyer, effectively ending the interview.

Detective Daniels is walking Brenda through the information gathered on the murder board. The most interesting item is the fact that Ping-Mei had incorporated her business under her name only, not jointly with her husband. In other information, they have learned that the name Woo-Ming in Chinese means 'mystery man', and the friend AnLi had been convicted of prostitution. Provenza, Flynn and Tao believe the husband killed Ping-Mei, since adultery is a common reason for murder, and is a particularly sensitive topic with Chinese men. Before the debate can continue, the squad is interrupted by a visit from Willie Mae and Clay Johnson. As Willie May calls for Fritz, he rounds the corner with a very unhappy look on his face. He is carrying a box and Willie May's purse. The box contains gifts Willie Rae has brought for the squad, and as she hands them out, Fritz drags Brenda into the hallway. Asking how she feels, and hearing she is feeling fine, he demands that she stop leaving him alone to deal with her parents, handing over the purse for Brenda to hold.

Brenda, her parents, and Fritz emerge from the car in Chinatown. As Willie Rae remarks that she hadn't realized how close Chinatown was to Parker Center, Fritz asks whether Brenda had also told them she was investigating a murder there, glowering at Brenda. Brenda purchases two tickets for the bus tour for her parents. Clay asks if the tour guide will be speaking Chinese, and Brenda replies "Yes, that's how you know it's authentic." She begs off the tour herself, assuring her parents that she and Fritz have been on the tour several times already. As her parents board the tour bus, Brneda begs Fritz to help her investigate while her parents are occupied. He agrees, and Brenda approaches AnLi Wong, who pretends she cannot speak English. Fritz tells Brenda not to bother with her interrogation, adding that when she arrests AnLi's boss, he will call in the FBI and Immigration, then the girl can be interrogated in any language she speaks. AnLi begs them not to call Immigration, and she suddenly speaks English very well. She admits that Ping-Mei had known of her prostitution conviction but hired her anyway, had helped her to lead an honest life. Brenda asks if AnLi knew who Ping-Mei's friend 'Woo-Ming' was. AnLi says that Woo-Ming is no friend, and that his name is Chris. She adds that Ping-Mei had called her to say she was going to meet Chris the night before. Brenda asks if Ping-Mei had seen Chris often, and is told the meetings took place once or twice a month, but Ping-Mei was planning to tell Chris she would not see him any more. AnLi has no idea if Ping-Mei's husband knew of the relationship with Chris. Brenda asks where Chris is from, but AnLi seems to be guessing when she says Chicago or perhaps Florida. She is sure that Chris always stays at the Pacific Regal Hotel when he is in town. Brenda thanks the young woman and prepares to leave, but AnLi jumps up and assures Brenda that Ren-Di Chan was a good husband to Ping-Mei. She tells Brenda that she knows Ren-Di had not killed Ping-Mei.

Brenda and her entourage enter a hotel lobby to have lunch; her parents are telling of the bus tour. Brenda spies Tao and Gabriel heading for her and waves at them to remain inconspicuous. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom, adding that Fritz and her parents should just 'scoot along', she will catch up. Her squad members approach to tell her what they have learned. They have pulled hotel surveillance tapes and found shots of Ping-Mei and the mysterious Chris. The hotel desk clerk identified him as Christopher Conroy. She is interrupted by a call from Daniels, who tell her that an examination of the tour bus company's business accounts shows there is too much money in them to be coming from the tour guide business alone. Brenda asks if there is enough money to suggest that Eight Stars had been using other tour guides as prostitutes. Daniels says it is possible, over the last year, there seemed to be an additional $200,000.00 on the books. Hanging up, she turns back to Tao, who tells her the hotel cameras have Ping-Mei and Conroy arriving together at the hotel at 11:15 pm the night before, and leaving together this morning at 4:35. She asks when Mr. Conroy had checked out, and learns he is still a registered guest. Gabriel adds that Sanchez has learned that the local Chinese gangs have been warned off of Eight Stars Tours. This indicates a large Party interest in the business, and Mr. Conroy just happens to be a major importer of Chinese clothing. Brenda asks them to keep a look out for Mr. Conroy, and to approach her discretely if they see him enter the hotel. She will be in the restaurant. After the meal, her father offers Fritz a glass of champagne, only to be told by Fritz that he is allergic to alcohol. Clay attempts to toast the engagement, but only ends up insulting Brenda as Gabriel arrives. Gabriel is surprised to hear from Willie Rae of Brenda's engagement to Fritz, but manages to whisper into her ear that Conroy has come back to the hotel and is in room 901, before Fritz insists that Gabriel join the party. Brenda excuses herself once more.

Knocking on the hotel room door, Tao and Brenda confront Conroy with the pictures of him with Ping-Mei and are invited into the room. Conroy assures Brenda he is happily married. Brenda asks if that means he used Ping-Mei as a prostitute, and he tells her they began in that way. He tells them of the snakeheads, men who arrange passage from China for women such as Ping-Mei. They are not nice men, and they expect to be paid for the passage. He insists he helped free Ping-Mei from the clutches of the snakeheads, asking if that is such a crime. With a few more questions, Brenda learns that Conroy had loaned Ping-Mei the start-up money for the tour company in return for a small percentage of the profits. "Does Ping-Mei's husband know your pursuit of this opportunity includes sleeping with his wife?" Tao asks. Conroy tells the detectives that Ren-Di is more than happy with the arrangements that made his business and comfortable life possible, including the arrangements of transportation and visas for Ren-Di's family. Brenda replies that her source tells her that Ping-Mei planned to terminate the relationship, but Conroy assures her that whenever Ping-Mei wished to renegotiate the terms of their agreement, she would withhold sex. He adds that he has told them all he intends to, unless they tell him why they are there. Brenda tells Conroy of Ping-Mei's murder, adding that she believes he had been the last to see her alive. Conroy appears genuinely shocked, but asks if they are looking at Ran-Di for the murder. Brenda declines to answer, adding that he shouldn't make plans to leave town in the next 48 hours. Brenda returns to the restaurant to see an inebriated Clay telling off-color jokes to Gabriel and Fritz. She asks Gabriel to keep watch over Conroy, and Fritz adds that he thinks they should all return home immediately. To his great frustration, Brenda asks for a minute to drop by her office.

Her family is seated in the back of the murder room as Brenda gets her update. The search of Eight Star Tours has gleaned little, the most interesting items are a 2gb flash drive and an additional $100,000.00 in cash. As the detectives sort through the confiscated items, Clay points out that a wrench is missing from one of the tool kits; he knows that specific brand is sold with eight wrenches, there are only seven present. Brenda asks that they track down a duplicate of the missing wrench and check to see if the tool is consistent with the injury. Daniels speaks up, she has just been alerted by MasterCard that the victim's husband had purchased a one way ticket on Trans-China Air 15 minutes ago. The young detective is ordered to obtain the relevant flight information. Pope enters the murder room, demanding to know if it is true that Brenda has confiscated a camcorder belonging to the Deputy Undersecretary of Agricultural Affairs for the People's Republic of China. As the argument over the camera and Brenda's general insubordination escalates, Pope catches sight of Willie Ray and Clay Johnson, adding, "Please, please, tell me I didn't just say all of that in front of your parents." Brenda has a smirk on her face as she introduces Will to her parents. The smirk fades quickly as her mother offers her condolences on hearing of Pope's latest divorce, and is wiped away completely as her father asks if they will be seeing Pope again at Brenda's wedding. The entire squad breaks into congratulations and all-round hugs as Brenda and Fritz exchange glances. Saved by the phone, Brenda asks that Gabriel be put on speaker. Conroy is checking out of his hotel, and Brenda orders him brought to Parker Center.

Entering an interview room, Tao on her heels, Brenda greets Ren-Di Chen. His lawyer is present, and tells her that he has advised his client not to answer any questions. Both Brenda and Chen consult their watches. Brenda tells the lawyer that he might want to tell his client that while she isn't ready to press charges herself against Mr. Chen, she is considering turning him over to the FBI on charges of money laundering, tax evasion and prostitution. Ren-Di stands and yells at Brenda, "My wife is not a prostitute!" Brenda tells Ren-Di that Chris Conroy has a different story, he admits having sex with Ping-Mei as recently as the night before her death. She asks if he had been aware of his wife's relationship with Conroy, but receives no answer. Brenda then tries the lawyer, asking him to please tell his client that she might be willing to refrain from notifying the FBI about the tour's questionable business practices since the business had been solely in the wife's name, if Mr. Chen would help her solve his wife's murder. After a brief discussion with his attorney, Mr. Chen begins to answer Brenda's questions. He insists Ping-Mei had not been a prostitute, she had been in a business partnership with Mr. Conroy. She had, like himself, arrived in America with nothing, owing a great deal of money to the snakeheads. The snakeheads had made Ping-Mei do things to pay him back. She was ashamed, but had survived. When the two had met, Ping-Mei had been ready to start a new life, but Conroy had made her a partner in the tour business and had brought Ren-Di's family to America. "Conroy take much for what he give." the husband says. Brenda points out that sharing his wife with Conroy was asking a lot of anyone. Ren-Di looks imploringly at Tao as he describes crossing over on a ship, inside a box, adding that though the price had been high, conditions where he had come from were much worse. Brenda asks if he had ever considered telling Conroy they had done enough. Mr. Chen admits that he had done that a year ago, but Conroy had refused to let go, not of Ping-Mei, not of Eight Star. And, now that he had spoken to her, Conroy would kill Ren-Di as he had killed his wife. Brenda notes that Mr. Chen looks at his watch yet again, and excuses herself and Tao.

In the electronics room, Brenda is told that Conroy is in an interview room and has been read his rights. She looks at Tao and says "Given Mr. Conroy's attitudes, you understand you have to..." He interrupts her to say "I got it, Chief, no need to explain." Entering the room with Chris Conroy, the man is immediately condescending to Tao, asking if he is the 'second string'. Tao orders him to sit. He asks if the $100,000.00 of unreported cash found in Eight Star's safe belonged to Conroy. Still sarcastic, Conroy asks if saying it belongs to him means he can keep the money. Tao replies he will take that as a 'Yes'. Pulling the flashdrive out of his pocket and laying it on the table, Tao tells Conroy that the encryption had been simple to crack; they had everything, transfers to offshore accounts, as well as dates, times and places of cash payouts. Conroy doesn't look impressed. Tao continues, all of this doesn't add up to much of a prison sentence, but assures Conroy he will do life for murdering Ping-Mei. Conroy is adamnant, he did not murder Ping-Mei. Tao shows him the time stamped photo of Conroy and the murdered girl at 4:35 am, telling him the photo had been taken a mere twenty minutes before she had been found dead, and it was known the victim wanted to end their relationship. Conroy tells Tao that Ping-Mei's husband was an ungrateful bastard who had resented everything Conroy had given him. Accenting the term 'given', Conroy demands that Tao find Ren-Di and bring him in. Tao tells Conroy that Mr. Chen had been picked up at the Trans-China Air terminal at LAX. Conroy states that is Tao's proof, Ren-Di had been trying to flee the country. As Tao merely stares at him, suspicion slowly dawns on Chris Conroy that the LAPD is using Ren-Di to build a case against him. Tao leaves the interview room and meets Brenda in the hall. He asks how they are doing on time, and she tells him they are right on schedule, and congratulates him for having done a good job in the interview. Tao looks very pleased. The two of them return to Mr. Chen, and Brenda asks him once more if he believes the person that killed his wife had been Mr. Conroy. He does. She tells him, "Not surprisingly, he has an alternate version of the truth. Therefore, I thought the simplest and most effective way to get to the truth might be to have you both sit down together." Opening the door, Chris Conroy is led into the interview room. He immediately looks at Ren-Di and accuses him of murdering Ping-Mei. The husband only looks once more at his watch. This prompts Brenda to assure him that Trans-China Air Flight 204 has been in the air for over thirty minutes, pointing out that he is not on it. Mr. Chen agrees that he is not on the flight, but his father is, and will soon arrive in Shanghai, far away from her and Conroy. His lawyer tries to shut him up, but Ren-Di insists he isn't addressing Brenda, he is talking to Conroy. Brneda asks why he sent his father away, since he had seemed so certain Conroy had been the killer. Still addressing Conroy, Ren-Di is yelling; Conroy had taken money, he had taken Ping-Mei just because he could, but the worst thing was that he had forced Ren-Di's father to see what no father should see. Conroy had paraded his affair with Ping-Mei in front of Ren-Di's father, making it impossible for the old man to look beyond his son's shame. Conroy has no idea what Mr. Chen is talking about, but Ren-Di assures Conroy that he had intentionally seen to it that the old man saw them together. He reveals that when his father spoke to Ping-Lei, insisting that she could not see Conroy any longer, Ping-Mei had told the old man that her relationship with Conroy was the only reason they had been able to bring him to America, and she could not stop. Brenda asks if Ren-Di's father had killed Ping-Mei with a wrench and forced his son to cover it up. Ren-Di denys this is true, his father had felt sorry for him, "..but he feels no shame that he kill Ping-Mei." Brenda has her confession, and Mr. Chen adds that his father had wanted him to tell Brenda that he had been the one to kill Ping-Mei immediately, but Ren-Di had not agreed, knowing it had been Conroy's actions that had provoked the murder. Conroy is shocked, he has no understanding or feeling for these people's cultural taboos. As the detectives remove him from the room, he cannot believe Ren-Di and his father are going to go free; he asks about extradition. As they turn the corner, Conroy stops dead in his tracks. Ren-Di Chen's father is sitting in a chair in the hallway. He nearly spits at the old man: "And I paid to bring you here." Gabriel muscles Conroy away, and Brenda asks that Sanchez bring the old man into the interview room with his son. Upon seeing his father, Ren-Di breaks down into tears. Brenda apologizes to the son, adding that there was no way he could have known that the LAPD knew the ticket had been intended for the father, adding that they had picked Ren-Di up at the airport terminal and had allowed the father to pass through security before picking him up as well. She tells the pair she will give them a few moments alone. In the electronics room, she tells her team that no translator is needed, they should have a good idea of what is being said. She adds that she has a doctor's appointment in thirty minutes, she will read the translation later.

In Dr. Dioli's office, Brenda hears her diagnosis. It's not cancer - Brenda's worst fear, but the ultrasound showed polycystic ovarian syndrome, which was benign growths on her ovaries. The doctor believes the cysts are causing the peri-menopausal symptoms. Fritz asks what the treatment options are, and Brenda is astounded to hear that the problem is related to insulin resistance, so the first step will be to cut out any and all sweets and candy. Brenda shakes her head stubbornly "No, no." Fritz points out that she does not have cancer, she should be grateful. A stunned Brenda listens as the doctor continues, she should also undergo an ovulation-inducing endoscopic procedure known as 'ovarian drilling'. As she hears the words 'ovarian drilling' resounding inside her head, she is interrupted by Willie Rae and Clay, who are present at the consultation. Clay remarks that the procedure doesn't sound too bad to him. Willie Rae assures Brenda that while her offer has nothing to do with her wanting grandchildren, she will, however, be happy to stay in LA while Brenda recovers, if she will agree to have the procedure. Fritz asks Brenda what she wants to do, and Brenda asks if the proedure will stop the menopausal symptoms. The doctor assures her it will, at least until they would normally appear. Brenda agrees, and they attempt to schedule the operation. As Brenda flips through her appointment book, claiming to be busy on every open date and time Dr. Diaoli has available, Willie Rae interjects: "Tick-tock, tick-tock." Frustrated, Brenda agrees to the first open date available, grabbing Fritz' hand in a vice grip.

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