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What The Rookie Did Right (And Wrong) In Season 4

Theres another season of The Rookie in the books and the show will continue on next year. However more often than not The Rookie that comes back for a new season looks a little different than the one that went away. Hopefully they bring back more of the things the series did right and a lot less of what was wrong. In general The Rookie tends to get the more personal stories right and that tradition continued this season. The unfortunate side effect of this is that tensionbreaking comedy is often then relegated to the police storylines. Sometimes its done effectively like in the two documentary episodes. Other times it undercuts the gravitas of these stories especially when the suspects are used as the punchlines.

What The Rookie Got Right in Season 4
Each season it seems that the series is less and less about Nathan Fillions John Nolan. While some might see this as a problem its not a fatal one… yet. First Nolan has been through a lot in the series. Real police officers might go their whole careers without getting in one shootout and Nolan goes through one each week. TV shows are exciting! Hes also been framed and hes buried two friends. This is on top of the divorce that upended his life sending him to the LAPD in the first place. So his relationship with Jenna Dewans firefighter and Army Reservist and black belt Bailey is a nice change of pace for the character. Hes enjoying his life while still popping into the stories to help his friends and save the day.

Another way The Rookie beggars belief is that Bailey and Nolan would run into each other in their respective jobs so often in a city as large as Los Angeles. Yet such a criticism veers into the territory of being mad at a TV show for being a TV show. With so much onthejob interaction Nolan and Bailey can be all about their work without creating tension in their personal lives. Instead of making the relationship a drag on the life that Nolan wants for himself shes not just emotionally supportive but literally involved in almost all of his cases.
The other great relationship on the series is the one between Melissa ONeils Lucy Chen and Dylan Conriques Tamara Colins. In the absence of Officer West more on that below shes given Chen a person not Nolan or Eric Winters Tim Bradford who can always be there for her. It also is a nice progression for Chen who does not have supportive parents to be a supportive surrogate parent/big sister to Tamara.

Mekia Coxs Nyla Harper and Alyssa Diazs Angela Lopez both worked as detectives in The Rookie Season 4. While it was nice to have the whole gang out on the streets in uniform the addition of two detective characters fans already care about is smart. It allows the show to adopt more procedural stories like other network cop shows. Yet the focus can still be on the uniformed officer level rather than the detectives bullpen. It also will give the rest of the beat cops higherranking friends when Richard T. Jones Captain Grey eventually goes away. The new Captain will likely be a source of tension in Season 5 or later.
Lastly the story around Tru Valentinos Aaron Thorsen was not perfect but the storytellers got more right than wrong. While the choice to make him part of a reality TV family and the son of a hiphop mogul is strange it helps them create this character who shouldnt exist. Only a rich kid could be an excon and a police officer. The fact that he wasnt just wrongfully accused but famously so adds a new perspective. All of our favorite cops on The Rookie are empathetic but Thorsen is actually sympathetic to convicts. This is something that can help the series correct one of the biggest things it got wrong in Season 4.

What The Rookie Got Wrong in Season 4
One problem with Season 4 is how The Rookie handled Harpers relationships. Her romantic life took center stage this season. Harper is a fantastic character a doover for The Rookie to tell a story about how working undercover can damage people. Harpers decision to become a training officer just to keep regular hours and stay close to her kid was inspired. For a time she was involved with both Christian Keyes Alonzo Smith and Arjay Smiths James Murray. The storytellers burst the tension bubble on this very quickly though moving Murray and Harper together really fast. Not long into the season Harper was pregnant. Then because she didnt want to be called baby mama she married him. Rather than the courage to show two coparents who are dating the show gave them a shotgun wedding. It cheapens the bond the characters share even though Smith and Cox deliver strong performances.

Another area where they could have handled some complex romantic storytelling was through the relationship between Harper and her exhusband Donovan Town played by Enver Gjokaj. The series starts off with them in a good place and then they sleep together. Just a handful of episodes later Donovan is planning to move and take the child so Harpers solution is to blow up his relationship revealing his fiancée used to work as an escort. It was an altogether gross storyline and then it simply evaporated.

The other main problem with Season 4 was how The Rookie handled Titus Makin Jr.s exit. Showrunner Alexi Hawley told TVLine that it was Makins decision to not return and the Season 3 cliffhanger finale left him no other option but to kill off the character. It was poorly handed from idea to execution and there were many ways to explain Jackson Wests absence. The most simple one was that he too was kidnapped. His whole adventure could happen offscreen and the character fans loved since the show debuted would be anywhere else but dead in the trunk of a car.

The Rookie also dropped its entire storyline about racism and police corruption. Officer West was the character driving that story so maybe Thorsen can pick it up in Season 5. Similarly Nolans new position as union rep offers a great way to tell stories about police corruption but instead its mostly played for laughs. The story they did tell about problems in the justice system was about a character who had financial privilege. They can do better as Season 3 proved. The real Los Angeles Police Department is not without its scandals and systemic problems and The Rookie is in a unique position among police procedurals where it can tell these stories at the street level. Ultimately they need to make Nolan a training officer very soon. Giving him a rookie helps the shows title continue to make sense. The storytellers need to have patience when it comes to the romances balancing tension with advancing the characters stories. Yet so long as they keep their focus on the characters fans love Season 5 will be another homerun for the series.

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