The Closer's Dark Twist: Mary McDonnell Dishes on What's Next and Brenda/Raydor Bonding

TNT’s The Closer (Mondays at 9/8c) closed its seventh season opener with a jaw-dropper, capping an already intense hour by having Chief Delk (played by Courtney B. Vance) suddenly gasp, twitch and collapse to the squad room floor. While devastating in its own right, the downed officer also came on the heels of an announced LAPD reorg which promised to send Pope packing and put Taylor again in charge of Brenda’s division.

So, is said overhauled hierarchy now up in the air? “It’s safe to say it’s gone kablooey,” Mary McDonnell, who just last week netted an Emmy nomination for playing wave-maker Capt. Sharon Raydor, confirms for TVLine.

Raydor, though, is not one to be left flustered by this most unexpected wrinkle in the LAPD shuffle. “No,” McDonnell reports, “she can snap to any situation.”

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With her right-hand man, Delk, out of the mix, Raydor will remain as squarely as ever in Brenda’s grill, especially as Internal Affairs expands its investigation into a pattern of behavior which earned the Deputy Chief and the LAPD as a whole a major lawsuit.

McDonnell, though, does not see Raydor as Brenda’s adversary – not by a stretch.

“Here’s the thing about Raydor that’s emerging and is so amazing: When she talks about her commit to the LAPD, she means it,” professes the actress. “She is perceived from the inside as the enemy, because she’s Internal Affairs and they’re always the people we don’t like. But she also has a strong, protective passion for the LAPD, and the more she gets to know Brenda, she [realizes] she does not want to see anything bad happen to her. She’s the best detective we’ve got!”

The curious dichotomy that Raydor represents – ball-busting, yet one wanting to have your back, if merited – delights McDonnell, who looks forward to seeing her character’s layers further peeled away as The Closer‘s final, 20-episode season unspools. (A spin-off titled Major Crimes and revolving around Raydor will premiere sometime thereafter, in summer/fall 2012.)

“Right from the very get-go, when I started to interact with [series crator] James Duff and I realized the way his minds works and the openness and ‘daring’ that he had with Raydor, I knew the potential for her to be quite special was there,” McDonnell shares. “But I think that it was probably at the beginning of last year, when they did the arc of five [episodes], where they started to give her such an interesting way of communicating ideas. When I realized that she would go out on a limb as a woman in power, that’s when I went, ‘This is a blast!’ She could be truly, truly interesting, and flawed, and wonderful.”