The (D)evolution of Lieutenant Gabriel

Tonight I was watching The Closer for the first time in a while, and I have what seems like a small question: What is going on with Corey Reynolds, who plays Lieutenant David Gabriel?

Here is how he has always looked on the show:

And here is what he looked like in a recent photo:

Rarely, in my life, have I seen a better argument for how a mustache can be a good thing.  It lends him gravitas, and its fine grooming bespeaks a man of composure, organization, and even intelligence.  It was a great look for him.

I can see that he has changed his hairstyle, that he no longer has a fade.  In the show tonight, the hair has grown out a little bit further as well.  There’s nothing wrong with this look, but it’s not an improvement on what he had before.

In some ways, that fits well.  He comes across as more boyish, somewhat less serious, and certainly not as fully authoritative.  Gabriel has gradually lost a lot of power and authority in the squadroom, as Brenda no longer seems to have the same confidence in him that she had in the first two years.  Part of this has to do with Gabriel’s broken relationship with Detective Irene Daniels, played by Gina Ravera.  Brenda championed Detective Daniels and came to trust her judgment and actions.  She wasn’t a big fan of their relationship and she seemed to blame Gabriel for a breakdown in her team, which she values more than almost anything.  But more to the point, he no longer seems like an up-and-comer and he doesn’t really come across as second in command, the way he once did.  The team seems more egalitarian than it did at first, and his diminished role seems in keeping with the way the show has highlighted the other actors on the show and given them more to work with.  As that has happened, Gabriel – and therefore Reynolds – has had less to do.  He’s had an interesting episode or two in which to show his acting chops, but as the ensemble has developed, Johnson’s role in the show has certainly diminished.

So maybe the makeover makes sense as a complement to the overall narrative of the show?

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