This series is definitely not comprised of one-off episodes where there are no interpersonal issues between major characters. In fact, it's just the opposite. So again, coming in this late in the game required me to get up to speed on who is who on the show and what has happened so far. That said, I picked up on things fairly quickly, so you can step in at this late date and still really enjoy Major Crimes: The Complete Fifth Season, just know you'll miss a few things along the way, at least initially.
The major players are Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica) who heads the Major Crimes division of the LAPD. Her second-in-command, Lt. Louie Provenza (G.W. Bailey), seems like a holdover from the yesteryear of crime-fighting (and attitude, in general) referring to cultural staples as "The Facebook", "The Twitter" and "The Uber," and his most commonly uttered phrase is "Ye gods!" which is kind of hysterical. Then again, I was shocked to see Provenza as the most aware when it comes to sensitive matters and, honestly, I was intrigued to discover he is married to a much younger, beautiful black woman named Patrice (Dawnn Lewis, A Different World). Apparently, he is much more nuanced than he first appears. Detective Andy Flynn (Tony Denison) is Provenza's partner and he and Raydor are romantically involved; their relationship steps things up a bit this season. There's also Detective Mike Tao (Michael Paul Chan), who serves as the techie expert on the team and also consults on a TV cop show called "Badge of Justice," much to Flynn's chagrin. Detective Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) is a bit of a hot-head and gets rather emotional, yet he takes a huge step in life this season by deciding to foster a child, after a disturbing case. This decision will have great ramifications in his life, but for the good, for the most part. Detective Amy Sykes (Kearran Giovanni) is a whip-smart black woman with a military background and she and Sanchez are quite the ass-kicking team. Finally, there's Buzz Watson (Phillip P. Keene), Reserve Officer and basically the civilian team member assigned to digitally record everything at the crime scenes and beyond. His father and uncle were murdered when he was a boy and I get the feeling he has been trying to solve the crime his whole life. This season, he finally has some breakthroughs.
Aside from the Major Crimes Division, we'll also see some major changes in Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin), Raydor's adopted son who has been pursuing journalism and runs a vlog called Identity (working closely with Buzz on his personal case). He begins law school and gets an internship with the D.A.'s office, so he is never far away from the action, and he and his partner Gus (Rene Rosado) experience some ups and downs in their relationship this season. Plus, Rusty's biological mom has a surprise for him as well.
Across the 21 episodes this season, some shocking things will occur, including the murder of a long-term and beloved character in the show, which will have ramifications and shake-ups in the department, as the void left is trying to be filled. The team will be dealing with such things as white supremacists, murder-for-hire, drugs and the porn industry, a potential ISIS-related murder, acts of terrorism, a man with a grudge and a bag of high-powered weapons, and even a drug run gone horribly and weirdly wrong. There will be heartbreak when a shootout occurs in a high profile trial, which reveals a wide-spread conspiracy, leaving Major Crimes not knowing who they can trust. Buzz will dig deeper into his father and uncle's murder, finding evidence and new leads on the case, but will the resolution he gets be what he had expected? It's not all sadness though. There's an amusing episode where coroner Dr. Morales' father, a retired police detective, is in from Uruguay, and it seems Morales may have over-exaggerated his role with Major Crimes and the team has to pretend he is in charge. It's pretty funny and shows just how much this team is one big family and the lengths they'll go to protect those they love. There is some delving into religion as Sharon Raydor struggles with her feelings, following her need to put down a murderer, and Provenza struggles with whether or not to retire, following a close call and then the uproar and changes in the department. Camryn Manheim makes several appearances as Winnie Davis, someone involved heavily in the power struggle and a woman who is constantly on Raydor's one-yard-line. Needless to say, she's not a popular face at Major Crimes. Jason Gedric also makes a return appearance, once again throwing a loop into Amy Sykes' life.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Major Crimes: The Complete Fifth Season. I will say this - when I first began watching the show, I felt like there was an awful lot of overacting going on. I still got that sense throughout the season, but as I grew to truly love and care for each of the characters, it didn't bother me anymore. I still felt like they were overacting a bit, but it was more to emphasize the differences of their characters. McDonnell as Raydor is so calm and collected that, even at her most intense, she is a joy to watch, but again, I found each of the characters to be endearing and I really found myself caring what happened to them.
As far as special features go, there are a handful of deleted scenes and a blooper reel, which was amusing, but you'll be picking this up for the episodes, themselves, and not for the featurettes.
While I can't wholeheartedly advise you to jump into the show at this late game, simply because you may be Googling info as you watch to play catch-up, I am certainly glad I got started on the show. Even if it only lasts another season or two, I have greatly enjoyed my time with these characters, and who knows? Maybe I'll start from the beginning with The Closer and catch up. They really are that much fun and would be worth the time sink.
Warner Brothers provided me with a copy of the DVD for review. The opinions I share are my own.