Recap: Rizzoli and Isles Ep. 5.10 Phoenix Rising


by L.T. Milroy

Jane Rizzoli is a pretty fast healer, we learned this week. Barely out of the hospital after suffering internal injuries, she’s already scheming on how to get back to work quicker and is slinking around in sexy undercover clothes. For her, work is the best medicine, I suppose is the message. Back on the horse and all that. Still feels kinda rushed, but at least the baby storyline is over.

On to this week’s show!

It’s nighttime in someone’s home, and a guy is spreading what looks like gas, all through the hallways. There are kids’ drawings on the walls, to imply that a family is present and sleeping. After being very thorough with the gas, the guy lights it.

Jane is at Maura’s place and is acting all antsy. She’s terribly impatient waiting for Ma Rizzoli.

r&i phoenix where's mom

Ma was to stop by Jane’s apartment and pick up her mail, as well as, Jane is hoping, the all-clear from the department doctor so she can return to work. What about that baybee you lost, Jane? Too soon to process, or have you already forgotten the whole thing? I know what my guess is. Maura says to calm down. The letter might not have come yet. But Jane says it’s been a whole week. Oh, a whole week! So she’s had plenty of time to process then. At least by this show’s standards…

Maura knows Jane is anxious to get back to work but says she’ll miss having her around. Of course, Jane has been rehabbing at Maura’s. Where else would she be? Ma arrives, hauling a garbage bag full of Jane’s clothes, in addition to her mail. She complains that Jane’s choice of luggage makes people think she’s homeless, but Jane isn’t paying attention. She’s too pissed that the letter isn’t there.

Ma says the doctor must think Jane needs more time off, but Jane thinks all she needs is to be able to go back to her own home and back to work. Ma tells her to go lie down instead. Jane flops on the couch and bitches about what she’s going to do all day. Ma says she can read magazines and let Ma take care of her. Jane asks Maura for one favor. Will she put Jane in a medically induced coma? That sounds like the best way to handle having to deal with Ma all day.

Allow me to take a brief time-out here to wonder why someone who uses hefty bags as luggage thought it was perfectly okay to have a child? This woman can barely take care of herself, yet she saw her way clear to saddling herself with the responsibility of taking care of someone totally helpless who would be totally dependent on her? Yeah, that would have turned out well. That kid dodged a bullet, figuratively if not literally.

Korsak Visits someone named Rick, who’s in prison. They knew each other from way back in high school but haven’t talked in years. Rick has been serving a long sentence for setting the fire we saw in the opening scene, which killed his wife and daughter. His son survived but understandably hasn’t wanted to have anything to do with dad since his conviction. Rick, who is dying, has a last request. That Korsak prove his innocence. Korsak says Rick has exhausted all his appeals but agrees to take a look at the case.

Later at Maura’s place, Jane bitches to Maura about how Ma is suffocating her, but Maura says it’s just that Ma is concerned, because Jane almost died. Huh, Jane almost died? She seemed to be bouncing out of bed and wandering about the hospital pretty quickly last week. I don’t remember anyone fearing her life was in danger. But, you know, whatever the writers want us to believe this week is fine with me, I guess. Korsak is at the door, bearing a bottle of wine and a box.

r&i phoenix korshak files

It’s the files on Rick’s fifteen-year-old murder/arson rap. Jane grabs one of the files as Korsak asks about her medical release letter. When she says she hasn’t gotten it yet, Korsak takes the file back. Korsak and Maura look at some paperwork, and Maura observes it was ruled arson when Rick had acetone on his pants. All this homicide talk is getting Jane pretty hot, and she can’t resist sneaking a file from the box when no one’s looking. She hides the file in a magazine and says she’s going to bed. Korsak tells Maura Jane gave up way too easy.

Frankie is at the station on a Sunday, helping Korsak with Rick’s case by going through the files. He’s also sitting at Frost’s desk. Well, they said they’d rotate sitting there every so often. Still, it’s kind of unsettling to see someone perched behind that robot toy other than Barry. Frankie says Jason, the son, was lucky to escape the fire, because there was a tree right outside his window. He’s now grown up and married with his own kid but hasn’t spoken to Rick in years. Korsak says he doesn’t intend to speak to the son if he doesn’t have to. He also says if they don’t get traction, he’s only giving the case twenty-four hours. They’re not looking to overturn the case, just cast doubt. He gets a text from Maura.

Ma is still fussing over Jane, who seems to be really into some brainless fashion magazine but is really going through the facts of the grisly homicide file. You know, fun Sunday light reading. Ma is suspicious, but Jane pretends she’s engrossed in a fascinating article about how to please your man and make him happy as a clam.

R&I Phoenix happy as a clam

This from a woman who apparently hasn’t told the father of her child that she miscarried. Unless all that exposition took place off-camera, never be referred to, which is possible. Ma looks doubtful but leaves Jane to her magazine/case file.

Maura and Korsak meet in the park to discuss the case.

R&I Phoenix korshak and Maura have lunch

In going over the forensics, Maura has determined the victims died of super-heated air that burned them internally, not smoke inhalation, because of how hot the fire burned. It burned too hot to have been sparked by just acetone, and since Rick’s case hinged on the acetone alone, Maura says they were wrong.

At the lab, Maura thanks Nina for coming in on a Sunday to help run a fire simulation program.The whole office is pitching in for this one. I hope Rick appreciates it. Using Nina’s digital replica of the house, they run a test using just acetone, which doesn’t burn hot or fast enough.

R&I phoenix fire simulation

Maura then looks at the report and realizes it wasn’t that the chemist didn’t find the accelerant, it’s that he misunderstood what it was. She says the answer was in the report the whole time.

Jane calls Frankie at the station to ask about the case. Frankie wants to know why Jane knows about it, but Jane brushes him off. She thinks that a possible motive for the crime that Rick’s wife, Tanya, had been having an affair. Jane asks Frankie to try to find the boyfriend, as she hears Ma approaching. She gets back on the couch and hides the file between the cushions. Then she opens a magazine upside down, as Ma comes in. Smooth, Jane.

 R&I Phoenix upside down mag

Maura is in the lab with Korsak. She says thirty-eight different substances were tested by the original chemist on the case and starts to list them. Korsak gets a bit exasperated, but of course, it’s more fun when Maura does this with Jane. Hurry back to work, Detective Rizzoli. No one else quite brings out the cute in our favorite ME like you do. Maura says more than one accelerant was used and that Rick’s pants need to be tested for toluene, which the chemist had dismissed as a “burn off,” but that only would have happened if they had hardwood floors, which they didn’t. Both acetone and toluene would have to be present for a fire to burn so hot and for him to be guilty. No toluene on the pants, and Rick is in the clear.

Getting those pants, though, proves to be quite a task. The cop guarding the evidence says Korsak needs to get the okay from the lead detective and DA on the case before he can release anything. Signatures are needed; Korsak says he needs the evidence now, but hard-ass cop wants to go by the book. Korsak leaves empty-handed and pissed off.

Jane and Maura are home making dinner and otherwise being the domestic creatures we know they are. Jane makes a salad, and Maura forces her to wash the lettuce, even though it says clearly on the label that it’s been pre-washed.

 R&I Phoenix salad

Jane goes ahead and washes it, because she knows by now not to argue with her housemate when she gets like this. Maura’s phone rings, and it’s Korsak, complaining about his unproductive trip to evidence.

Maura’s frustrated that the whole thing could come down to bureaucracy. Jane writes a note for Maura to ask about Tanya’s boyfriend. But she writes it with marker on one of Maura’s good napkins.

R&I Phoenix napkin

Maura scolds her for it, and Korsak scolds Jane for taking the case file. Maura looks surprised that Jane would be so naughty, but Jane doesn’t care and says her disregard for the rules sometimes has its advantages. I’d be more careful if I were her, since Korsak is Jane’s boss. He gives a half-assed threat to discipline her for coming back to work early, but we know he won’t.

Frankie finds out that Tanya had been arrested a few weeks before the fire, for an altercation in a bar, but the charges were dropped. Frankie tracked down a witness, who said Tanya was with a guy named Sal, a bar regular. Sal was a bigmouth who was overheard threatening to kill Tanya and her husband. And it turns out that Sal worked in a marina where he’d have access to certain chemicals. Since it’s all fitting together so nicely, you just know Sal didn’t do it. Just sayin’.

Maura is at the café with Nina and compliments her on her work on the case. Jane walks in, dressed like someone who’s all proper and uptight and probably sexually-repressed. Nina says it’s good to have Jane back, but Jane says she isn’t back yet. Maura says Jane doesn’t look like herself, and Jane asks what vibe she gives off. Then Maura recognizes what Jane’s wearing as her suit. She’s raided Maura’s closet, apparently. How appropriate. Jane says she never saw Maura wear this outfit, and Maura says that’s because the suit jacket is for work, and the blouse is eveningwear. Maura should know by now that Jane’s a mix-n-match kinda gal.

Maura asks why Jane is dressed like a flight attendant, but Jane says it’s librarian (Wow, is there any trope that’s more utterly deathless than that of the naughty librarian?). Maura says the scarf screams flight attendant.

R&I Phoenix flight attendant

Jane whips it off. She says she has to look a hundred percent librarian to make her scheme work.

Sal is at the station, being questioned. Frankie brings up Tanya’s arrest, and Korsak says there are still people around who remember the bar fight and the threats Sal made. Sal insists he just said some stupid stuff, but he’s still pissed that Tanya dumped him to work on her marriage. He denies setting the fire and says he was on a fishing boat all that week. He says Rick did it and that the right guy was convicted. Korsak calls and confirms the alibi. It’s airtight.


Korsak and Frankie discuss how to get Rick’s pants out of evidence, when Jane walks in. Looks like the naughty librarian act worked on hard-ass evidence cop, as she’s carrying the pants. She’s ready for abuse from Korsak, but he’s grateful for the help and glad Jane is willing to get fired to offer it. Jane looks shocked she could get fired for this.

R&I Phoenix fired

 Nice empty threat, Vince (And nice cleavage, Jane. I bet a bit of bending over to chat with evidence cop is how she got him to turn them over, as it were. Certainly would’ve worked with me. I’d have given her anything she wanted). Anyway, Jane had gotten the idea from seeing Officer Hard-ass’s calendar, and that month featured a sexy librarian chewing on her glasses, then proceeds to demonstrate.

R&I Phoenix glasses chewing

After testing Rick’s pants, Maura tells Korsak the acetone on them wasn’t from the fire. He had been in the ER the night that night, but for nausea and stomach pains. Turns out he had some sort of alcoholic condition that would cause acetone to be produced by the body and be present in his urine. He peed his pants that night, which planted evidence that looked incriminating. Wow, that’s quite a price to pay for being a sloppy drunk. Let that be a lesson, kids.

Korsak tracks down Jason to tell him about the case, but Jason has no interest. He’s never had a doubt about his dad’s guilt and was hoping he was dead. Korsak says he might be innocent, but Jason doesn’t believe it.

When Jane comes home, Ma wants to know why she’s dressed like a flight attendant. She says Jane must be really bored to be playing dress-up. Jane comes clean and says she went back to work early, because she misses it so much. After Jane raves about how much she loves her job, Ma quietly goes to a desk drawer and takes out the medical clearance letter. It came two days ago, but Ma hid it.

Jane isn’t happy, but Ma takes the opportunity to vent about how much she hates Jane’s addiction to her dangerous job. Ma already opened the letter and tells Jane she’s cleared to return in two days. Jane is happy about that, but Ma’s still worried. Jane says she’ll stay home tonight, and that placates Ma a bit. When Ma has her back turned, Jane gleefully claps to herself.

 R&I Phoenix happy clap

Korsak says the DA needs more than just the pants evidence to clear Rick. After interviewing witnesses, Frankie talks to the current owners of the house next to Rick’s old house. They say after the fire, they made an offer on the house, and the seller took it with no negotiation. Then he didn’t show up for the closing. His name was Melvin, and he had some felony convictions, mostly for cooking and selling meth. Nina finds that he associated with a biker gang, the Scorpions, who likely supplied the chemicals Melvin cooked. Nina also finds that six weeks after the fire, Melvin was stabbed to death in Florida.

At the station, everyone watches a video from three days before the fire. It shows Melvin getting kicked out of a biker bar by some Scorpions, who start to beat him up. He gets away and runs to a red truck. Jane, via Skype, asks for a DMV check, but Nina says they don’t keep records back that far. Frankie checks with the Department of Revenue for a road tax record and finds that Rick and Melvin drove identical red trucks. And they lived next door to each other. It looks like the crime was a case of mistaken identity.

The next morning, Jane is getting ready for her return to work. Ma still isn’t happy, but Jane says it should be an easy day, all paperwork. Ma doesn’t buy it and says it feels like Jane’s first day of school. Jane says she was fine that day, and she’ll be fine today. But Ma corrects her. Jane came home missing a tooth after a fight. They don’t specify what grade they’re talking about here, or did Jane begin every school year by getting in a knock-down drag-out fight and losing teeth? Or are they talking about the very first day of school when Jane was, like, five or six? Her antisocial tendencies were at the forefront even then? Jane says it wasn’t her fault, the other guy started it, which causes Ma to admit that maybe Jane can take care of herself.

Jane arrives at the station and says it’s good to be back. But there are still a few lose ends to the case to be tied up. Korsak says two motorcycles were seen leaving the scene of Melvin’s murder in Florida. One of them was gaudily decked out. Real smart and thoughtful of a perp to be driving something so easily recognizable when committing a crime. The bike is tracked to a guy named Henry, who also happens to be a Scorpion. Jane doubts that setting fire to the wrong house would stop a guy like him from finishing the job by following Melvin to Florida.

Henry is brought in for questioning and eventually confesses after they tell him if he’s serving life there in Boston, he won’t get extradited to Florida, where they have the death penalty. Watching the confession through the glass are Korsak, Maura, and Jason. Jason gets weepy when he finds out his dad has been innocent all along. Korsak mouths “Thank you” to Maura.

At the prison, Korsak tells Rick and Jason that he’s filed a motion to overturn the verdict. In two days, Rick will be released. That quick? I thought that was a somewhat lengthy process. Rick and Jason share a heartwarming hug.

Back at home with the gals, there’s a toast to victory, Maura with champagne and Jane with beer in a champagne glass.

R&I Phoenix toast

Ma isn’t there. Maura wanted some quality alone time, so Ma went dancing. That makes Jane act all Ma-like, and she asks where is Ma dancing and with whom. She doesn’t like that Ma is out clubbing to all hours of the night. Maura points out that it’s only 9:30, but Jane still protests, so Maura tells her to let go and let Ma be an adult. Jane says Ma has only dated two men in her life, and what if she can’t handle herself? Then she plays dirty by mentioning what happens when a woman leaves her drink unattended. “We all know how that turns out,” she says, as a reminder this is what happened to Maura. Jane will wait up like a responsible parent/child.

Maura gives Jane a goodbye present. Some new “luggage.” Hazardous materials bags, garishly marked and made of durable plastic. Maura is so thoughtful!

R&I Phoenix luggage

Then she suggests ordering a pizza while waiting for Ma to come home, and they settle on the couch.

R&I Phoenix waiting up

Jane wonders when they should start calling hospitals. This raising Ma is harder than she thought it would be. Maura is sympathetic, of course.

Two episodes left in the season!


One last thing: I’ll ask again, what happened to Susie?? Is she stuck under a heavy piece of lab equipment?

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