The Rookie Episode 11
Today, we focus on the tree instead of the forest.
No, I’m not talking about the arriving Veep code-named Redwood.
Ten episodes in, I thought The Rookie couldn’t surprise me anymore. We’re getting to the dreaded midseason doldrums, a period of mediocre storylines to make room for the exciting opening and closing episodes that bookend every season.
That’s sweet, Mr. Cleaver.
When the plot was revealed in the previews, I stifled a groan because how many did we have already of the VIP protection versus hijinks episodes? Wait, in fact, a few shows I will not mention here on networks unrelated to this review had already aired similar stories.
It seemed to be a required plot device for every procedural show. As much as I have been enjoying The Rookie, I didn’t have high hopes for the episode.
It’s nice to be wrong. Well, regarding this, at least.
It means we’re having different adventures today.
The Rookie started off with a tongue-in-cheek opening that involved a gun buyback program, a dotty grandmother and a claymore from the Vietnam War-era. To say the episode started with a bang wasn’t an exaggeration.
The episode picked up sedately after the flash of the title: the final nail to Nolan’s divorce seemed to have fallen with an offer to buy the house he had built.
The sale of the home he hoped his son Henry would inherit one day plagued Nolan’s mind all day. But before Ben’s Sedona hiking trip could distract him, Nolan (Nathan Fillion) was called back to duty on his day off.
Everything we do today is gonna piss someone off.
With the vice president coming into LA, it’s “all hands on deck” or as Lucy called it: overtime to put down cones and put up roadblocks. This time, it was the LAPD causing traffic.
It’s also a day of reversals for our cast as well.
West (Titus Makin Jr), usually the poster boy, the go-get-’em rookie, got caught looking at his cell phone instead of the briefing conducted by Grey (Richard T. Jones) and Secret Service Agent Danvers.
Chen (Melissa O’Neil), often intense as she struggled to be the by-the-book rookie, was relaxed and almost gleeful about collecting overtime pay that could fix the air conditioning in her car.
Bishop (Afton Williamson) and Nolan were assigned to tracking down Level two threats and Bishop was “happy to do it.”
Who are you and what have you done with my T.O?
With some of the cast acting slightly out of character, the episode appeared primed for laughs. And sure enough, it was a humorous start.
Bishop and Nolan foiled an assassination plot by a not “Jason Bourne” with a flare gun wrapped inside his underwear. Bishop’s glass full attitude started to freak Nolan out (and bemused Grey). Lopez and West encountered some protestors and a very visual moment of projectile vomiting.
But then we get to Bradford (Eric Winter) and Chen’s story and the episode took a sobering turn.
While trying to clear out a street packed with makeshift shelters, Chen stepped in between a fight and gets stabbed by a used hypodermic needle.
What do we do now?
Abruptly, The Rookie reminded us of the dangers our police face. Chen’s POV slowed and distorted similarly to Nolan’s in “Time of Death.” This humanized her. She was no longer Probational Officer Chen, but Lucy Chen now burdened with a fear many of us hear and dread.
Here, Tim Bradford stepped up to plate. He’s becoming one of my favorite characters of the series. He’s the show’s Clint Eastwood with the rough and tough cowboy demeanor and yet with a heart of gold. He took charge of a Chen clearly in shock. He tried to get her to focus on procedure and took her to the hospital to get tested.
Despite Bradford’s earlier scoff that “air conditioning makes you soft,” he proved to be the standout TO in this episode. He remained by Chen, got her fast-tracked into testing (yet was reasonable when the nurse later apologized for a mistake) and kept Chen’s mind from falling into the “WebMD rabbit hole.” Later, when Chen thanked him, he dismissed it as just doing his job.
Get it together, Officer West.
Meanwhile, Lopez and West were knocking doors to take down obscene banners that hung outside the Veep’s route.
As Lopez and West visited each apartment, we gained a bit more insight on West and his relationship with his mother. And each door knock revealed our golden rookie’s tarnished spots especially after the last door opened to a shocking scene of elder abuse. West’s eruption on the son was both a shock and a revelation.
Lopez typically has little patience for her rookie; she was understandably annoyed at West’s uncharacteristic lack of focus. Instead of being angry with West, though, Lopez displayed a stern but tolerant demeanor towards West, reminding him the lapse of concentration could get him killed.
Okay, I’m just gonna say it. It’s starting to freak me out.
Bishop and Nolan were reassigned to rover duty which consisted of going to help bring water, jump in so others could have bathroom breaks, basically LAPD’s version of second string or bench warmers.
The running gag of Bishop’s newfound positivity stopped short after a road rage incident ended with a nearby innocent driver shot. What started out as a funny twist on Bishop became a reveal when it turned out Bishop was seeing a therapist, who recommended the change.
The tragic moment turned into a personal one between Bishop and Nolan. Bishop rarely offered anything personal about herself while Nolan was often more than happy to. The reveal brought the two closer in a way I hope will continue throughout the season.
The overall plot of the episode was about the Veep’s visit and the LAPD. But as the episode progressed, we narrowed down to the individual rookies and their TOs. And it’s this narrowed focus that elevated “Redwood” to something a bit different from your standard storyline.