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The Rookie

The Rookie Recap – Armstrong’s Loyalties Revealed (2×20)

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In the second season finale of The Rookie, Nolan begins to narrow in on Armstrong, verifying his suspicions that his friend and mentor is dirty. Plus, we reencounter a familiar face and get a few relationship updates!

REWIND

The first act gives us a glimpse of the events involving the death of Officer Chris Rios through the eyes of Nick Armstrong, who at the end of the first part of the finale, was found to be a second dirty cop within the LAPD. As the shooting progresses to the raid on the Rubin Derian’s house, we see him texting the crime family, assisting Serj’s avoidance of the crime. This includes commanding Erin, the other mole, to steal the gun from the squad car.

Throughout this, Armstrong seems to be attempting to help Erin the best he can. While he wants her to get out, Ruben Derian wants her killed, and to save himself, Armstrong has no choice to comply. Armstrong throughout this can be considered a somewhat sympathetic antagonist. He’s not doing these things because he wants to, but because he’s sold his soul to the Derians – they covered his massive debt after the passing of his wife. In the end, however, he still is complicit, and he still puts his survivalist priorities above the morals he vowed to uphold when he became police. He wants out, and he tries to get out by confronting Ruben, but either he stays in as their mole, or it’s his life, and it’s predictable what he chooses.

This plot twist is one that wasn’t completely unexpected but was a big change, nevertheless. Even with Rosalind’s taunt to Nolan about trusting Armstrong, this is not the plot twist I would have expected earlier in the season. Armstrong was good police, and he was a good role model for Nolan to look up to. Despite this, this episode makes it clear how ruthless the detective is, and how far he is willing to go to reach his objectives, even if it means the demise of his fellow officers.

CAT AND MOUSE

Moving back to the current events of this story, we see Nolan convince Harper that Armstrong is dirty. He needs Harper to get the evidence they need to take Armstrong down. With her access, they find that Armstrong sends a text after every major development in the case, and Nolan thinks he sees the hand-off with Erin at the raid.

None of this is strong enough to take him down. They devise a plan to lure Armstrong out into a desert area, where they could access his texts off of a remote cell tower. Armstrong is quickly suspicious however, as the two don’t give him the pertinent information on their destination or Harper’s contact (the ploy to expose him). Harper tells Armstrong and Nolan to wait outside when they reach the location, but Armstrong heads inside when Nolan is distracted by a call from Grace. Harper can play it off, but they suspect that he may have already made out their true intentions as he drives back to the city himself. Unfortunately, Armstrong is smart and is already using a new burner phone. This drives Nolan to the conclusion: he needs to get inside his head.

This scene has shown how far Nolan and Harper have come throughout this season, and while their differences are still highlighted, they make a great team. I love watching set-ups like this that slowly build up the tension later leading to the climactic resolution. Though, I wonder how many times they will be able to use the ‘Harper has a contact’ excuse moving forward. It’s been a consistent device used to move the plot forward this season, and I hope the longer Harper is on patrol, the less this will be used to drive the story.

MEANWHILE…

While Harper and Nolan are trying to obtain evidence to turn Armstrong over to IA, the rest of the station is on the manhunt for Serj. Bradford and Chen seek out a confidential informant who was working in the Derian Family, but they haven’t heard from him, so the worry is that he might be dead. They find him in a brothel, and Bradford slips him a phone and tells him to find Serj.

Lopez and West return to the crime scene, and find out that wedding photos were being taken around the time of the shooting. They use their Instagram-sleuthing skills to located this photographer, and they find a photo of Serj at his car, confirming him as the suspect in the murder. Later, due to the prior work of Bradford and Chen, they receive a location on Serj.

COMMITMENT ISSUES

Throughout the episode, Bradford also contemplates his relationship with Rachel. They’re shown comfortable and intimate together, knowing this will be their last day before Rachel moves to New York. He plans to send her off that evening and assures her that he would visit after Chen’s final 30-day probationary period. This already seems not very Bradford of him.

Later, he confesses to Chen that he is going to break it off that evening when he takes her to the airport. Lucy is a great partner and support to him, and they can share the sadness of losing someone close to them both.

As the manhunt for Serj closes in, Bradford gets a call from Rachel, and he apologizes for being caught up on the job. He says goodbye to her, planning to cut it off later when he calls her she lands. Though he ends up pulling her ride to the airport over, most likely in response to Chen’s encouragement, and they have a romantic scene in the middle of the street, where he decides to try to tackle the future together, meaning agreeing to at least try a long-distance relationship.

Will this last? Probably not. Long-distance relationships are hard, and generally I don’t expect relationships between lead characters and recurring characters to be more than a 1-2 season affair in a show with this type of structure. That’s not to say I don’t like them. I do, temporarily. Part of the issue with this relationship development is that this season flip-flopped a few times on what they were pushing for Bradford and Chen. These two had several deep moments when their lives were in mortal danger, and they were both desperate to be by each other’s side, a point arguably past normal for two partners.

Yes, this still can be chalked up to the two being partners who have grown close and supportive of one another, but I would argue that the chemistry between the two of them leads the audience to believe it’s deeper than that. With the season ending with the two of them in relationships with other people, we may have to wait a little bit for any ‘Chenford’ developments. I do love a good slow-burn relationship, most of the time. And I do enjoy this show’s pacing with character development and pacing, so I could expect some development on the nature of this pair’s relationship next season, assuming The Rookie gets a renewal for season 3.

TOLD YOU YOU’D BE BACK

Nolan pays a visit to Rosalind. As we’ve seen before, she plays mind games with Nolan, only agreeing to give him information if he’d tell her the truth about his romantic involvements. He does, and she for her to give him information on Armstrong, she forces him to call Grace, who he’s been avoiding because he suspects that she will end things with him to give it another try with her husband, and father of her daughter. He does so, and his suspicions are confirmed. It’s a heartbreaking call, as he confesses that he loves her, and he begs her to not stay in a loveless marriage for the sake of her child, a mistake he had made himself. Grace is upset and ends the phone call, leaving Nolan at a loss of words only for a moment.

Then, he receives the info he came for, if not playfully on Rosalind’s part. She reveals that when pursuing Rosalind, Armstrong had broken into her house, so she broke into his. There she found evidence, money, guns, but nothing that was able to help her cause. This drives him to the conclusion that if he wanted to beat him, he would have to do the same. And in a typical altruistic-Nolan way, he decides he couldn’t risk everything Harper has worked to gain. This would be a one-man job.

I love Rosalind, and I loved seeing her again. I think she’s served most of her purpose for this story, but I thought it was an interesting turn of fate that Nolan would have to essentially stoop to her level to hold Armstrong accountable. Nolan is an interesting character. He’s selfless, good, a little preachy, but even with his high moral compass, he turns out to be an end over means type of man. He’s willing to go against the law to make sure they have a respectable force to uphold it.

Nolan and Rosalind play well off each other, even as she’s just watching him speak to Grace. Speaking of Grace, I’ll be interested to see where their story goes in the future. Ali Larter is a talent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they would upgrade her status to a main character next season.

CAT AND MOUSE II

Nolan breaks into Armstrong’s house. The scene is dark and suspenseful as Nolan searches for the location of the stash that Rosalind brought to his attention. He searches for the laundry room but isn’t able to find anything. He feels the walls for a compartment, then fumbling with moving the back of a cabinet to locate it. Nolan stops as Armstrong enters, dusty and dirty, moving to the sink to clean up, which is right outside of the laundry room. The detective hesitates, but turns his back and moves back into the house, as Nolan slips out and escapes. We see Armstrong quickly turn around with a gun in his hand, and he moves forward to investigate his suspicion. Nolan didn’t place the cabinet back in the right spot. He knows.

Armstrong is burning evidence and covering his tracks when he gets news of the police raid. He tries to warn Serj, but it’s too late. Armstrong is a dead man. He calls Nolan up, who still hasn’t informed anyone of his plans since he and Harper hit a dead end. Armstrong wants to explain, and asks him to return to his house through the back door he broke in through earlier.

In the final showdown between the two, the audience is led to believe that Armstrong has given up. He wants Nolan to understand and knows he was wrong, but he had no choice as he was hundreds of thousands in debt after losing his wife. But Nolan has high standards, and he calls him a coward from hiding from his wife when she was dying and from doing the right thing now. It breaks into a shootout, and they’re both hit, but Nolan has a jacket on leaving him only winded. He cuffs Armstrong, and in what I found a great twist, Armstrong tells him he doesn’t have time to turn him. He’s the dirty cop. Nolan. There’s evidence in his house. Serj confirms this when he’s taken into the custody of Sergeant Grey at the raid.

ARMSTRONG’S PLAN

Nolan makes it to his house. He starts bashing in the walls, making the connection that Armstrong had planted it somewhere inside, evidenced by witnessing him washing off the dust during his break-in. Finally, he finds the stash behind his bed, but it’s too late. We see and hear the sirens as LAPD closes in on him.

The final climactic scene of the season delivers. Though I wasn’t a fan of the argument of morals during the scene, as it seemed as it was too frivolous under the high pressure of the moment, it delivered an impactful final twist, and sets up a good premise for the early episodes of the next season of the show, if it is to be renewed. While I wished we could have gotten a little bit more of the supporting characters this episode, enough closure was delivered in the season finale, while also leaving some threads that can easily be picked up in the next chapter of the story. I’m interested to see how the dynamics will change next season, as the rookies finally become full-fledged officers, Nolan struggles with the set-up of him being dirty, and with, hopefully, the well-deserved promotion of Lopez to detective.

LOOKING FORWARD

What did you think of The Rookie’s finale? Do you think Nolan will be able to prove himself innocent? Do you think Lopez will be promoted to detective? Will Lucy and Bradford develop feelings for each other? And what will happen when the rookies are no longer rookies? Let us know what you think below!


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Amanda Reimer is a fresh Angeleno, growing up in Texas and currently residing in LA. Assistant by day, stage manager by night, she writes in between. You can catch her watching sci-fis, procedurals, or perhaps, entrenching in a science documentary. She is also a cat mom to her calico, Kiki.

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