The first part of the Rookie Blue season finale storyline is a big one, or at least it wants to be. The cops of 15 Division have had four cycles to make a lot of enemies, so who's shooting at them now? It's not too hard to find out.
Everything seems to be okay at first, as the rookies are having another night at the bar, including an appearance by Holly (Aliyah O'Brien). Gail is a bit miffed when Holly says she's "meeting someone," so she comes back to sulk next to ex-boyfriend Chris. Where are Andy and her new beau Nick? Yes, they're in bed together again. Andy's still brooding over covering for Marlo last week, but not enough to keep her hands off Chris. So nothing much has changed.
Meanwhile, Sam is still worried about Marlo, who's on her way to stay with her sister. Apparently she's asked him for space and he's not really good with giving it. Traci's temporarily bringing Leo to work, which amuses Steve (returning guest star Adam Macdonald), who tells us that he and Traci have been out "three or four times." Even so, she's still wary of him meeting her son.
And continuing down the Rookie Blue relationship checklist, Oliver is letting Celery crash with him, which Frank points out is not all that far removed from how Oliver's relationship with his ex-wife started. The best news out of all the stuff going on, though, is that Noelle doesn't have cancer.
Andy and Chloe are riding together today, and are startled when they hear a gunshot. That's when Andy realizes the bullet's gone into Chloe's neck. A second shot rings out and she goes down. The bullets keep flying while Andy tries to keep Chloe conscious and everyone else rushes to the rescue, except for Dov, who's on booking duty (because there's less Gregory Smith in this episode, since he was busy directing it). That means he's the last to know that his girlfriend is headed to the hospital. As if that's not enough, Nick is talking to Andy when he realizes she was clipped, too.
While Sam and Traci begin their investigation, Gail and Oliver respond to a 911 call, but it looks pretty sketchy when they arrive. It doesn't take a genius to realize this is another setup. They're not hurt, but two shooting incidents in a row means that Rookie Blue's second badass, Luke Callaghan (recurring guest star Eric Johnson), gets to play. He states the obvious: this is personal.
At the hospital, Dov meets Wesley Cole (former Flashpoint star Cle Bennett), who claims to be Chloe's ex-partner and ex-husband. He finds out from Wes how the pair were impulsively married, while Wes sizes him up. Gail runs into Holly, who is concerned for her welfare, and thinks that now is a good time to tell her that her date from the previous night wasn't a big deal. Gail wisely shuts her up by kissing her. And since Andy was clipped by a bullet, she's pulled off the street and away from her boyfriend.
Since Luke has taken over the second spot on the detective team, Steve suggests to Traci that they partner up. They pursue the idea that the shootings have something to do with the big bust from last week, but they don't really think that's the case. Steve wants to know why Traci doesn't want him meeting Leo, and she meets him halfway by extending the offer for him to come over for dinner sometime.
Gail and Oliver are sent out to another 911 call, with Diaz as backup. However, since he's two minutes out, Oliver decides they should go ahead without him, over Gail's objections. When they enter the apartment in question, they find a man unconscious on the floor and his granddaughter worried sick about him.
Sam tells Luke the two suspicious 911 calls have come from the same guy, which appears to be the biggest piece of evidence that they have. That's until Celery causes a scene in the lobby of the precinct, and tells Andy that a guy looking suspiciously like Kevin Ford was lurking outside of Oliver's house in a van. Since Ford's only really in the picture because Marlo went after him in "Deception", Andy and Sam bolt to find Marlo.
Nick shows up at Marlo's house by himself just in case she's there. She isn't, but he tells Andy there's been a break-in. Sam reluctantly tells Andy to tell Nick to report the break-in, which risks exposing everything Marlo's been up to once an investigation begins. The two of them find Marlo at her sister's place, and explain to her what's been happening and who they believe is responsible. She understandably takes this personally, just as Nick stumbles upon her Beautiful Mind-esque wall and Oliver finds Ford (returning guest star Michael Cram, so it's a Flashpoint reunion), who knocks him unconscious on the lawn.
There's a certain understanding which comes with viewing episodes that are lead-ins to other episodes, and it's that you have to judge them just a bit differently because they're not so much meant to stand on their own as your regular installment would be. Especially ones leading up to a season finale, as this is, are often partly preoccupied with setting the table for the biggest possible climax. Yet even taking that into account, there's a lot lacking from "Under Fire."
Firstly, we're treading well-worn territory here. Every police-related series inevitably has an episode where one or more cops are shot or shot at. It's pretty much a given, and because we've seen it so many times, an episode like this has to work even harder to stand out. When you compare this to something like the Homicide: Life on the Street two-parter "Fallen Heroes," for example, there's not the same level of dramatic tension. The first act does a fair job of causing us worry, but the second and third get bogged down in personal drama. When we're supposed to believe these characters could be in danger at any second, maybe it's not the right day for Steve to quiz Traci about why he can't meet Leo, or for Nick to go somewhere without backup, no matter how urgent the situation. Is there nobody else available in the entire precinct?
And even if you cut the episode some slack under the concept of dramatic license, it telegraphs a lot of its punches. Considering Oliver spends most of the installment pretty happy and talking about the future of his relationship with Celery, he's an obvious target. It's also not surprising Nick is the other person in Ford's immediate vicinity, since we get even more reminders of how happy he is with Andy. On TV, when everything seems to be fine for your characters, that's when they get targets on their backs. That's how it always goes.
The dialogue in the scenes between Dov and Wes couldn't be more on the nose as far as what Wes's arrival means for Dov and Chloe's relationship. And Kevin Ford being the shooter? Considering how many times we've heard his name over the past few weeks, not a surprise either. The biggest shocker is what happens at the end of next week's teaser (which we will not mention for those of you who don't watch the previews).
The one neat thing about this is for Flashpoint fans. Guest stars Cle Bennett and Michael Cram both had regular roles on the show, and true diehards will recall that Ben Bass guest-starred in the season one episode "The Element of Surprise," and that Rookie Blue head honcho Tassie Cameron was also a producer on Flashpoint. None of these people share scenes together in this episode, but it's still fun to know.
Fans just need to cross their fingers, because it's still entirely possible part two will pay off everything that's just been set up, and make it all worthwhile. The season finale airs next Thursday, September 12. In case you missed it, you can click here to see my fresh interview with Rookie Blue star Charlotte Sullivan.