Since the death of Actor Lee Thompson Young in August 2013, fans have been wondering how his absence would be explained in Rizzoli and Isles. In the show, Lee played techie Detective Barry Frost who was a good cop but didn’t have the stomach for dead bodies and autopsy rooms. When the show first started Frost was seen doing a lot of upchucking as he learned to deal with death.
Lee died towards the end of season four but Detective Frost’s absence wasn’t dealt with until the season five première, A New Day when we’re told that Frost is on vacation. It’s not until the end of the episode when the team get the call about a fatal car accident in which Frost died, that we start to get closure. The episode ends on a covered body lying in the road but fans of the show know that this isn’t the end of the story. Rizzoli and Isles might be a procedural show but the character’s story arcs play out throughout the season.
In episode two, …Goodbye, Rizzoli (Angie Harmon), Maura (Sasha Alexander), Frankie (Jordan Bridges) and Korsak (Bruce McGill) have to deal with the loss of Barry Frost. Maura advises Jane to cry but you can’t cry on cue. We see the team go through the stages of grief as they help Frost’s mum plan for his funeral.
In time, each team member breaks down and cries when they remember something special about Barry Frost, except Jane who has been riding the boat of denial throughout. She tries to place all her focus on the crime of the week to avoid thinking about the loss of her partner. Denial proves to be a trickster, as Jane has a vision of Frost whilst she’s out working the case. She runs out into the road to go to him and feels stupid afterwards. Korsak tells her a story of a similar experience that he had and reminds her that the mind does funny things. This is so true, when my dad died I used to see him around a lot. Such a weird experience. In the end, I found it comforting and felt like my dad was looking out for me.
Detective Barry Frosts’s funeral
Anyway back to the show. Whilst watching this episode I felt like I was watching the actors deal with the real death of Lee Thompson Young especially during the funeral scene. I really felt it for them relieving their grief on screen and I tip my hat to them all.
Jane gave the eulogy whilst a slideshow of pictures of Lee/Barry played and I admit I lost it a bit here. Especially when Frost’s father, the Admiral (Ernie Hudson) showed up. I would have been so disappointed if he hadn’t been able to get time off to attend his sons funeral.
For me, the funeral was an opportunity for fans to mourn the actor and the character. We’ve had to wait a year to do it but I’m thankful to the writers for the opportunity.
Jane finally breaks down and cries alone in her apartment when she’s checking through her mail and she sees a postcard from Frost’s vacation in San Diego. It reads: “Couldn’t be better here, but I miss you anyway.” With What a Wonderful World playing in the background and Jane curled up on the floor crying, I couldn’t help but have a good cry myself.
Jane ended her eulogy by saying: “Death may have taken Barry, but it can’t take our memories of him, those wonderful and perfect and beautiful memories. Those, thank God, are ours to keep.” Lee Thompson Young played so many wonderful heroic characters and for me, his memory will live on in those.