Rhetorical Analysis of Cold Case

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The essay provides a brief illustration and discussion of the rhetorical strategies used by the TV show ""Cold Case"" to present its predicament. The TV show ""Cold Case"" stars Lilly Rush as a lone female assigned to a cold case in Philadelphia. She disliked homicide detective work until she was assigned the responsibility of investigating and ensuring that the fallen victims received justice. As a result, my artifact for this project will be titled "Will the Dead Get Justice?" Because this is a rhetorical essay, the article will attempt to demonstrate how the various rhetorical strategies can be used to fulfill the task.More often, that persons murdered do not get justice as those who killed them do not get caught and prosecuted. Justice for these individuals and victims is often a challenge for detectives to offer because sometimes the perpetrators of the crimes are influential people in the society. The people use their influence and power to interfere with the justice process (Mesquita & Erikstad, 2016).

The process of finding justice for old murder cases may open new wounds among the affected such as friends and family. The killing cases in Philadelphia often take long to be solved and justice to be served for the victims. The circumstances surrounding the solving of abuse and murder cases also contribute to the committing of new crimes by the offenders in an attempt to cover their tracks and avoid conviction. The new wrongdoings committed obviously affect the witnesses who in most cases are close those killed.

Concepts of the Artifact

The film puts across two important concepts namely, realism and the desire for wholeness. Through serving of justice to the dead, the families will become whole in the sense that they will have peace. Though not confirmed, it is believed that the dead will also lie contented and satisfied in their graves. The society is entirely looking to belong again. They want to have justice served to them. The process does not only affect the victims of murder but also influences the lifestyles, mental and emotional well-being of the detectives. All eyes are pointed at the prosecutor to unlock the mysteries behind the deaths of their loved ones. The investigators carry the hopes and aspirations of many to serve justice. Sometimes, they encounter the bodies of the dead people killed in horrible manners. These pictures and visuals of the dead affect the emotional stability of the officers for they may suffer from periodic hallucinations and seeing ghosts.

The detectives' physical and emotional life is also changed in that they are forced to work for long hours to speed up the conclusion of investigations. For suspects to be vindicated, it depends on the evidence presented by the investigators. The lack of adequate rest leads to depression and stress. The detectives get alienated from their families and friends, and therefore their social life is also affected. Worse cases may result in the development of PTSD conditions. It is also the work of detectives to make sure that no victim is ever forgotten (Heath, Waymer, & Palenchar, 2013).

Therefore, the artifact, 'will the dead get justice?' is very critical for analysis in this movie as it clearly comes out as the central theme. The artifact revolves around two main concepts of desire for wholeness and realism. Moreover, the film is centered on solving murder crimes committed, some that had been forgotten others fresh and current. Even though, the investigations open new wounds and memories in the minds of victims, eventually justice has to be served to them. The persistence in solving cases and repetition of scenes that illustrate to us how Rush got the passion for becoming a cold case detective bringing the artifact to live. In both the traditional and contemporary society, matters of death are horrifying and terrifying. People would not often want to talk about. Hence people would not want to be reminded of the despondency and sorrow they had to put up with all that time. However, much the society would want to forget about the ordeal of losing loved ones; it is important for the victims to get justice despite the long it takes.


Goals of Rhetorical Criticism

Rhetorical criticism is not much concerned with what the writer or author tells but how he delivers his intent. Therefore, it provides a way for analyzing the strategies that the author employs to deliver on his intentions to the audience. By paying close attention to the author's style of writing, one can understand the ultimate message. It can hence be defined as the particular description, evaluation, interpretation, and analysis of the efficient use of communication strategies. Through the work of the author, the reader or audience is exposed to various aspects of things that affect them in their daily lives. The primary aim of rhetorical criticism is to act as a tool that a communication critic would use to bring out an interpretation of intended messages.

The movie as acted by the main actor Rush who had found her passion after being assigned murder and homicide cases leaves the audience in suspense to decipher the perpetrators of the crimes. Rush peruses over the backlog of cases that had defeated experts to unravel the mysteries behind the deaths. She gathers a committee of other specialists to help her with the unraveling of the cases that had long been forgotten. Most of the victims had not received justice until they got forgotten. That is why 'will the dead get justice?' is an important rhetorical question for analysis. There are a vast array of cases that await the intervention of Rush and her team to unravel and absolve the victims with justice. Justice that had been neglected for some time until the victims' lost faith and hope in getting fairness, seeing the perpetrators of crime get punished.

The movie is surrounded by mysterious events more especially the life of Rush who had suffered assault as a child. She grew under the care of John Stillman who in some instances is her boss and her mentor. She had a best friend by the name Scotty who also had lost a girlfriend due to many hallucinations and seeing of shadowy figures before she committed suicide. Therefore, this rhetorical analysis will utilize the SPARTA method to define the subject, purpose, audience, tone, effect and rhetorical devices used in the series "Cold Cases".

The method is an acronym of Subject, Purpose, Audience, Tone, Effect, and Rhetorical devices. It provides the critic with a framework to explore the possibility or probability of a larger and implied issue beyond the immediate subject. Moreover, the purpose of the images and video scenes is defined. The purpose of the method is to ensure that information exceeds the advisory role but connect the audience to a particular action. The public for which the video or movie was created for is also identified and clearly defined through this strategy. Analyzing the tone of the film can also provide an insight into the author's intended message (Mesquita & Erikstad, 2016).

To efficiently conduct my rhetorical analysis, the assignment would follow the below-elaborated steps. The first step would be to describe the content of the argument, followed by the precise description of the form of the argument. The last one will be the evaluation of the first and the second steps for persuasiveness, are they supported by evidence, or do the cases meet the audiences' expectations. Undertaking the above steps will produce an easy to understand the argument.


The "Cold Case" movie series presents a lot of themes touching on the vices committed in the society we live. However, for the case of this assignment, only two subjects are selected, and that is secrets and delayed justice. The movie is based on murders that have been committed but have not been solved by even the best of the best detectives in Philadelphia. As the film progresses, the audience can witness the number of cases that are assigned to Rush. She can be seen to peruse over files of cases of murders that have required attention. Rush identifies that the revisiting of the cases will awaken or refresh memories of the ordeals that the victims had gone through.

The other theme that the movie brings out clearly is the delay of justice for the murder victims. Rush identifies that possession of riches was preventing the sufferers from getting justice. The inability also of the detectives to solve and conclude murder cases is evidence enough that there was a case of delayed justice on the victims. Moreover, the passion for seeing that the victims get justice even if they had died a long time ago gave Rush the motivation to take up the detective job despite being a woman. From the story, we are told that she is the only woman involved in homicide department in Philadelphia to solve homicide murder cases (Heath, Waymer, & Palenchar, 2013).

The author of the movie through the scenes is trying to provide an insight and creating a perception in the minds of the audience on the implications of delayed justice. The character of Rush apparently persuades the audience to understand how the judicial systems are unable to solve cases brought before them making it hard to bring perpetrators to justice. About the artifact of 'will the dead get justice,' the themes identified help expand it more.

Unsolved Murders

The cases that Rush was tasked to solve consisted of actual crimes that had not been resolved by even the best detectives at the time. Several activists had been murdered while others had been executed, but justice had not been solved either. Additionally, throughout the entire movie from episode one to the last in all the seven series showcase a series of cases that had been closed with the conviction of others wrongly (Stewart, 2016). For instance, in season one episode twenty-one narrates a case where a mother of a three-year-old son was murdered before her son. The case had been closed, but Rush was asked to reopen the case by a psychologist for the boy fourteen years later was still affected by the incident. The son suffered from intense nightmares and while his entire life has remained troubled. The psychologist thought that the act of witnessing his mother had affected him. When did this boy, his mother, and family members get justice? The dead mother needed justice to be served by the conviction of those responsible for her murder.

Some instances in the movie in the 20th episode season one, the group formed by Rush reopens a case of a wealthy stock broker who was deemed to have been killed by a person who had attempted to steal his car. However, new evidence presented to the group shows that Charles was murdered. The series of killings and reopening of murder cases continues into season five where a granddaughter of a woman thought to have committed suicide emerged with evidence claiming that a note found at the scene was not in the handwriting of the victim. The entire movie circulates cases of suspected suicides but in the real sense are murder issues between people who had conflicting interests. The close friends and family members of those affected wanted justice which had not been served on the victims. Justice is the only reason all those cases were being reopened, absolving, and avenge for the dead (Luoto, Brax, & Kohtamäki, 2017).

Delayed and Denied Justice

In closing the cases of murder victims is an act of delaying justice for them. The reopening of closed cases is evidence enough that the victims and their families were not satisfied with the verdicts delivered. Moreover, some characters in the movie had been convicted wrongly of murder, a crime she did not commit. Episode 13, season five presents a case that is reopened a 1998 case whereby a father is accused to have killed a seventeen-year-old girl after her father got arrested for abusing another child (Stewart, 2016).

The lack of conclusive investigations in various cases leads to the wrongful conviction of others while freeing suspects that should have been sentenced. Almost the entire of season five episodes tackle and address issues of murder cases confused with suicide. And all these cases relate to killings of women and children in most occasions. Most of the cases reopened had been closed on the premise of death. But due to new evidence that emerges from active investigations carried out by detectives and recommendations made by psychologists illustrate or prove that the victims had not taken their lives but were killed. These acts and progressions are substantial evidence of delayed or denied justice.

Till when will the dead get justice especially if the systems responsible for serving it are corrupt and unable to execute this mandate? The movie gives us an insight into what is actually happening in the society. The gorgeous walk scot free without reprimand or punishment, it is only the poor that have to pay the costs of unfairness. For instance, the case of the three-year-old boy that witnessed his mother get murdered brutally became psychologically affected. He suffered from hallucinations and nightmares of what he had seen. His psychologist recommended to Det. Rush to reopen the case so that the boy could get justice at last. And several other cases throughout the series have been opened for the same purpose (Stewart, 2016).

Moreover, Rush and team recover bodies of persons who had been reported to be missing since 1999 and 2003. The discovery leads the team to realize that they were dealing with a dangerous criminal and a serial killer who covered his tracks so well to avoid detection or apprehension. The inability of the police to catch up with this monster for all that time he had committed these crimes denied the victims justice in some way. For instance, one woman who had lost his son out of drunkenness is reported to have had hallucinations of his son playing in the backyard. The entire movie helps bring out the theme of injustices that go unavenged or solved due to inconclusive evidence or foul play by the criminals and justice systems.


From the analysis, two themes of murder and delayed justice are tackled by the author of the movie, and he presents concrete evidence of various cases that had been incorrectly determined and reopened to ensure that the victims get justice. Moreover, Det. Rush is faced with a backlog of cases that have not been solved by other detectives. She dedicates her energy and time to finding clues and new evidence to convict the suspects and serve the victims justice. Rush discovers her passion after being assigned homicide cases in Philadelphia. She is the only woman in the department interviews victims as well as uses current technology to find new evidence to reopen case hearings for various victims to ensure that they receive fair trials.

There is adequate evidence from the episodes in the series to illustrate that justice has not been served on victims of murder and it is yet to be extended. There are cases of people who have suffered depression after witnessing the execution of their loved ones. The movie presents instances of people being killed while the court has assumed that they committed suicide. The systems of justice had not been keen in conducting investigations to ensure that victims of murder. This is evidenced by the number of case backlogs that waited to be resolved by Det. Rush. She used a combination of modern scientific methods as well as interviews to gather evidence to reopen closed cases.

Moreover, in season seven Rush's drug-addicted sister is abducted while she follows a case that had not been solved for more than seventeen years. However, even if Rush is fighting for the service of justice, she also has her family members afflicted with abduction. She had to partner with a team of colleagues to solve cases and also to team up with psychologists who recommended a boy who witnessed his mother murdered before him. The boy suffers from hallucinations and nightmares something that is affecting his emotional and mental status. The delaying conclusion of cases of deaths translates to the delay in serving the victims fairness and compensation. In episode 12 of season seven, Rush and her team reopen the case of a private investigator who had been killed in 1974.

Rhetoric in public discourse is used to seek membership among the general public in the easiest way possible through playing an influential role. Additionally, it can be used to inspire social change indirectly as it creates varied interpretations in the mind of the audience at various points. The role of rhetoric in public is transformed as a result of technological evolution and digital growth in the contemporary world. Speech helps the authors and artists put their information before the audience to give them a chance to understand on their own what he meant. The rhetorical analysis devices help social activists to motivate the society to instigate and repair reputation. Technology however much it is people have identified themselves with it, it acts as a public utility for storing information for access by the publics can lead to plagiarism offenses as individuals can copy information without authorization and remain anonymous (Heath, Waymer, & Palenchar, 2013).


Heath, R. L., Waymer, D., & Palenchar, M. J. (2013). "Is the universe of democracy, rhetoric

and public relations whole cloth or three separate galaxies?" Public Relations Review, 39(4), 271-279.

Luoto, S., Brax, S. A., & Kohtamäki, M. (2017). "Critical meta-analysis of servitization

research: Constructing a model-narrative to reveal paradigmatic assumptions." Industrial Marketing Management, 60, 89-100.

Mesquita, M. D. S., & Erikstad, K. E. (2016). "Cold case: The death of common guillemots in

the Barents Sea." Significance, 13(4), 28-33.

Stewart, K. (2016). "Democratic Affects and Public Formations." Democracy's Lot: Rhetoric, Publics, and the Places of Invention, 172.

April 19, 2023

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