The subtext for this episode is about reality and artifice. Brenda turns herself into something she's not in order to get closer to the key players and understand the reasoning behind the murder. But at the same time, her transformation serves as a metaphor for her professional life: should she take on the artificial role of political animal, or be who she is and trust that will bring the squad around in time? Meanwhile, the episode draws parallels between Dean's former lovers who continue to work for Heather, which angers Brenda, and her own situation with Will, which she doesn't see - until Fritz points it out.
At the beginning of the episode, we see Brenda struggling to find her way to the scene of the crime along Mulholland Drive. For someone new to LA, this wouldn't be surprising. Mulholland Drive runs from Cahuenga Blvd. near Universal City Studios over the ridge of the Hollywood Hills and Santa Monica Mountains, past several famous canyon roads lined with exclusive homes, including Laurel, Benedict and Coldwater Canyons. At Topanga Canyon Blvd., its name changes to Mulholland Highway. From there it winds 22 miles until it meet the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
Mulholland Drive was named for William Mulholland, an Irish engineer who developed the LA Aqueduct and Owens Valley Project in the 1920's, bringing water to LA from the Owens Valley. The scandal that surrounded the project was fictionalized in the movie Chinatown.
As Brenda struggles to find her way down Mulholland Drive, we see her using a map book. Later, Provenza removes it from her bag and shows it to Gabriel, and they share a laugh. The map book is the LA County Thomas Guide, so commonly used to navigate around LA that many businesses and agencies include the map page and map grid location in directions to a site. The Thomas Guide was family owned and published in the LA area from the 1940's until its 1999 purchase by Rand-MacNally. Guides are printed by county, and updated annually. The company also produces custom wall maps; one can be seen in the room where the detectives monitor the interrogation rooms.
The episode opens with an aerial view of the Hollywood sign. The Hollywood sign was built in 1923 to mark the location of a real estate development and originally said HOLLYWOODLAND. Allowed to fall into disrepair after the developers went bankrupt in 1939, the letters LAND were removed in 1948. After several abortive efforts, the sign was finally restored in the late 70's. Now a cultural and historic landmark, ongoing preservation efforts maintain this most famous symbol of Los Angeles.
Taylor: ...the media is parked in his driveway 'til 11:30 every night.
This quote, as well as Gabriel's entreaty that Brenda not go alone to arrest Kingsley unless she can be sure she won't get lost returning to Parker Center highlight the challenges the broadcast media alone present the LAPD and other Los Angeles area law enforcement. With three network-owned television stations, two network-affiliated independents, three network owned/affiliated Spanish-language stations, and two independent television stations, all with news divisions, as well as major bureaus for national news channels such as CNN, LA has high saturation broadcast news coverage, and the broadcast media are endlessly fascinated with celebrity news. It's not unusual to see seven or eight news vans parked in front of a celebrity home, and as many helicopters circling the site of the latest high-profile case until late at night. 11:30 pm is the watershed hour when they pack up for the night, after the last late news broadcasts end.
This is the second episode where there is mention of Sgt. Gabriel having a Master's degree from USC. USC is the University of Southern California, a private university located south of downtown Los Angeles in a largely African-American community, and famously, where O. J. Simpson played college football.
Among the deadliest poisons, a 40–60 mg oral dose of nicotine can be lethal for adult human beings. Nicotine is a water and fat soluable poison, which can be transmitted through the skin in toxic amounts when dissolved in an alkaline solution, such as hair conditioner.