Lili Taylor, who I until recently only knew as Lisa from “Six Feet Under” played Maldonado. She also recently starred in Hemlock Grove as Lynda Rumancek, but pending incarceration forced her to flee the country and she didn’t spend much time on screen in season 2. Hopefully this will be rectified by a trip home in season 3.
But we’re not here to talk about Peter the werewolf’s doting momma; we’re here to talk about John Kennex’s boss and friend, Sandra Maldonado.
Now Maldonado is not without stereotypes. She’s obsessive about her job to the point where she neglects her personal life. She’s “past her prime” and never married and never had children. In episode 5 a criminal that she’s trying to put away tries to get in her head about it. Only it doesn’t work. At all. She doesn’t start to doubt herself or her decisions. She saves her friend, puts away the bad guys, delivers a venomous smackdown speech and gets hit on by a lawyer.
While even in that episode (which gave the most development to Maldonado’s character) Karl Urban’s Detective Kennex was always front and center he wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for her. She got him back on the force when everyone said he was too damaged, when everyone doubted him, she did not. And she chose Dorian to be his partner.
Because they are friends and peers. They trust each other. She doesn’t have a romantic interest in him, she likes him because they’re relics. They’ve done the job together long enough and watched the world change before their eyes. They have a mutual understanding that John didn’t have with much younger potential love interest Detective Stahl (Minka Kelley). And he knows that he wouldn’t be there without her, and he tells her so. What?! a straight white male action hero MC admits that he’s only there because he’s privileged enough to know someone?! And that someone is a female friend. And she isn’t berated or questioned for it.
Captain Maldonado is well respected, she’s in a position of power and uses her influence to do favors for her friends. They didn’t have the actress portrayed by someone irrationally young (the way the “NCIS” female team leaders are always much younger and saucier than Agent Gibbs). It was believable.
Occasionally Kennex’s tiffs with Detective Paul made her crazy but she never came across as inept or not in control. Like when Kennex spread increasingly ridiculous rumors about why Detective Paul was out of work. Or when Dorian punched Detective Paul Or when Kennex shot an MX. Kennex never pulled these stunts when under her watchful eye. He pulled them off away from her gaze like a cocky 4th grader showing off in front of the class when their classroom teacher is out and the substitute doesn’t know what he’s in for.
A thoughtful friend, skilled investigator, authoritative leader, bold decision maker. A clever boss who looks out for her friends like family so much so that it negates the “Can career women really have it all?” rhetoric and her no frills pantsuits. Sadly, there wasn’t much character development, partially because the episodes were all shown in the wrong order leaving even the main characters with disjointed growth.
I’m still living in a dream world where FOX will reverse their decision and bring back Maldonado and her crew for a second season. Maybe if they win that Emmy they were nominated for…