As the end of the season approaches, The Rookie is hitting top form, with three strong plots in this episode. Nolan and Harper are required to escort a group of four cocky, sullen young offenders to a local prison, as part of a Scared Straight programme intended to persuade them that a life of crime is a bad idea. (Like quite a lot of ideas which seem to make intuitive sense, the evidence that these programmes work is mixed at best. At the very best.) They lose one delinquent along the way when he tries to steal the police van, but that still leaves three of them to be, theoretically, Scared Straight by some ferocious prison guards and a couple of inmates. Including, joyously, a recurring Rookie baddie, the urbane but thoroughly nasty Oscar Hutchinson (Matthew Glave).
Then a riot breaks out and, armed with nothing more than bits of wooden chairs, the visiting party has to escape through a prison which, by then, is mostly under the control of inmates who would like vey little more than to take a couple of cops and a few kids as hostages. At this point I started to wonder whether this was all some kind of demented theatrical production aimed at terrifying the kids, but no: it’s a real riot, and after Nolan and Harper get out, with an assist from Hutchinson, they discover that the prison warden has been captured. What to do? Well, plunge back in, of course, still armed with a couple of chair legs, and free the warden with Hutchinson’s help, traded for a plasma TV and a few other privileges. It’s ludicrous, of course, but also properly thrilling in places.
For Bradford, the day starts… badly? Rachel has been offered a new job. In New York. “You have to take it”, counsels Bradford. Yeah you do, Ms Speedbump, I thought; take yourself and your possible life-limiting illness off to Manhattan, and leave Bradford and Chen to get on with it. And for all of them, it gets a bit worse after that: Rachel has been monitoring the health of a young boy who seems to get better when hospitalised, and then worse when back home. His mother, a single parent, has been funding treatment through a Go Fund Me. Well, that all adds up to Munchausen syndrome by proxy if anything ever did, so Rachel ensures that the child is taken into care, only to discover subsequently that the cause of his illness is something else entirely. And then she gets arrested. Does Bradford really need this in his life? Does he, though?
Lopez, meantime, has been flagged, by data-analysing-tech-idiot Elvis Grimaldi, as the Officer Most Likely To Be Sued. And Grimaldi has the ear of the brass. So Grimaldi accompanies Lopez and Jackson on what is intended to be a low-risk, low-impact tour of duty, during which she will help old men across the road and rescue kittens from trees. Lopez, instead, has set up a particularly dangerous operation, intended to give her the opportunity to kick some perps around. While that’s going on, one of Grimaldi’s other clients has appeared at his HQ with a gun. Grimaldi didn’t see that coming, calling into question the predictive value of his algorithms.
And Nolan meets Grace’s husband – not divorced yet – Simon, when he turns up at the hospital. Which is OK as far as it goes, but Simon’s reason for doorstepping his estranged wife is that their son is having trouble at school, thought to be related to his parents’ marital woes. Simon wants to give it another go with Grace, and she’s considering it, because trapping yourself in an unhappy marriage is… a thing, I guess? That apart, though, this was excellent.