We've reached the end of season four of Rookie Blue - the one that fans seem to either love or hate. That doesn't change with "You Can See The Stars." This finale is pretty much as polarizing as the rest of the season.
The action continues from last week's episode "Under Fire", with Oliver having been kidnapped by unhinged offender and assault victim Kevin Ford (returning guest star Michael Cram), who's pretty much obliterated any chance he had of resuming a normal life at this point. Ford has Oliver in the trunk of his own patrol car, and is driving it to who knows where.
Meanwhile, Sam is questioning Marlo about the last time she saw Ford, since she's Ford's least favorite person on the planet. As if on cue, that's when Nick calls Andy - who happens to be riding in the car with Sam and his girlfriend - and tells her about the wall in Marlo's basement that's all covered in Ford's business.
And Chloe is still in the hospital, where Dov finally tells her husband Wes (returning guest star Cle Bennett) that he and Chloe have been dating. Wes asks if it's serious and if Dov makes her happy, both questions that make Dov uncomfortable. But at least that's all out in the open now.
When they get back to 15 Division, Sam, Marlo and Andy are greeted by Kevin Ford's former lawyer, who claims he attacked her and tells them Ford suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, which may account for his unhinged behavior. Resident tough guy Luke Callaghan (Eric Johnson) is back and in charge of the investigation, with Sam as his number-two man, leaning on Marlo for everything she knows about Ford. Steve Peck (returning guest star Adam Macdonald) is still around, too. So at least all the cool kids have been brought back for this last get-together.
It's not long before everyone realizes that Ford is not only their sniper from last week but also a kidnapper. After Andy asks where Oliver is, she and Sam discover that both Oliver and his patrol car are missing, while Luke and Traci find Ford's hit list, which amounts to everyone in 15 Division other than Frank and Noelle. Sam, Andy and Frank promptly join them, with Frank wanting to bench anyone on the hit list, but not before everyone enjoys Marlo's wall of Ford. This forces Sam and Andy to reveal that Marlo is bipolar. Luke becomes very, very bitchy and leaves before he punches someone.
At the hospital, the guys are told that Chloe needs another surgery to remove a blood clot, which is of course suitably dangerous given that this is the finale.
After Andy does a really bad job of breaking the news of Oliver's kidnapping to Celery (Emily Hampshire), there's an awkward team huddle and then Traci and Luke interview Ford's brother, who reaffirms everything we've been told about Ford "losing it" and 15 Division contributing to that decline.
Then we cut to Oliver coming to in an abandoned building, where Ford blames him for his assault in "Deception", saying that the cops put the angry neighbor up to it because Marlo has it out for him - because every bad guy who kidnaps a good guy usually has some scene where he or she rants about their motivations and/or manifesto.
While Gail and Diaz talk (and are apparently never, ever getting back together), our heroes put their heads together and find the location of an old church that Ford's brother concedes he might be at, because that's where their father abused both of them. Ford is in fact there, and tells Oliver everything his brother just repeated to Traci and Luke, and then some. Oliver being Oliver, he tries to talk Ford down, but in doing so lets slip that all the people Ford wants to shoot will be back at 15 Division. Ford promptly leaves Oliver there and goes in search of other targets.
The entirety of 15 Division is in one more briefing, and Sam, Andy and Nick are not enjoying riding the pine while everyone else goes to rescue Oliver. This goes off without a hitch, because of course Ford is no longer at the church. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the recovery effort leaves 15 Division very short-staffed, and therefore much easier to walk into and, say, start shooting at people. As Marlo wonders if maybe Ford's brother was the real child killer, and Sam and Andy have another awkward moment that involves Sam finally telling Andy he screwed up their relationship (even though she did just as much damage) and wants Andy to be happy with Nick, Ford is skulking around. Sam is the first person to put together what we all figured out an act and a half ago.
As the station goes into lockdown (yet nobody walking the halls seems to notice the guy who obviously doesn't belong), Ford walks into 15 Division. He shoots Sam in the chest before Nick puts him down, in a scene that is way too brief for all the lead-up to it. Andy rushes to Sam's side while a dumbfounded Marlo freezes in place. It's Andy who rides with Sam in the ambulance, because she needs to tell him that she loves him. When they get to the hospital, there's still no sign of Marlo, but Traci is there to give a shell-shocked Andy a hug. Elsewhere, Wes hasn't consented to Chloe's surgery, and has taken the extra step of asking for Dov to stay out of her hospital room.
It turns out Marlo is still at 15 Division with Luke, who tells her that they need to deal with everything that's happened. He advises her to go home before he walks into the interview room and starts interrogating Ford's brother about the abduction and murder Ford was accused of. Marlo finally breaks down when she sees the photo of her and Sam that's in her locker.
Everyone gathers at the hospital for the second season in a row, with Gail introducing Holly to everyone, Celery being reunited with Oliver, and Andy apologizing to Nick, but for what we don't know. He encourages her to go see how Sam is doing, and so we end the season with Andy standing there as the doctors labor over Sam, and there's an ominous buzzing in the background.
"You Can See The Stars" puts the cap on season four of Rookie Blue, and whatever you feel about this season, you're probably still feeling it after watching this episode. Unfortunately, ABC gave away the biggest shock of the episode - Sam getting shot - in the preview that aired last week, so that really crippled the impact of the finale. What was left wasn't nearly as worrisome, whether it was Chloe's fate in the balance or Marlo's future with 15 Division. It's a season finale with not much bite to it.
However, that's because of the writing, not just in this episode but over parts of the season as a whole. For example, Chloe has been a character that fans either love or hate, so perhaps we're not as invested in her fate as we would be as if it were Andy or Traci or Chris. Furthermore, in this episode, the story becomes less about whether she lives or dies, and more about her providing a reason for Dov and Wes to argue. That whole subplot just doesn't create enough dramatic tension.
Are we supposed to be surprised that Ford showed up at 15 Division and started shooting? Again, not if you watched the preview from last week. Also not if you paid attention to the last few episodes, or were using your common sense. Oliver telling Ford that everyone he wanted to shoot was in one place was a rookie mistake, even if it was made with good intentions, and even if he hadn't said that, anyone in Ford's position would know that it's easier to strike at people you're after when they're all in a common location, especially when you're aware that everyone around them is elsewhere looking for you.
Then we get to the scene of the shooting itself. It's hard to believe that with Ford's face and name having been plastered all over 15 Division for awhile now, that all he has to do to get in the door is put on a police uniform. Not one of those dozen nameless other officers in the hall recognize him? Not one person thinks that head wound looks conspicuous? And even if you push that aside in the name of dramatic license, the actual shooting happens so fast that it's hard to believe the whole episode has wound us up for that. If you want to see what a really well-done squadroom shooting looks like, Homicide: Life on the Street did it much better years ago; here's the clip.
As for all the personal drama, it feels particularly contrived in this episode - as if the writers made up their minds and manipulated the rest of the episode to get to those endpoints. Would Marlo really freeze when she sees her boyfriend bleeding on the floor and then somehow not show up at all in the emergency room? She may not be a beloved character, but that just makes her look ridiculous. Of course, there had to be some reason for Andy to be the one to rush to his side, and to be in the ambulance with him so she can say she loves him, so that she can apologize to Nick and keep the angst of our romantic square going. The writers spent a lot of time this season trying to get us to buy the idea of a Nick/Andy relationship, yet now it seems they're not quite letting go of the Sam/Andy relationship, which results in fans scratching our heads as we're pulled from one direction to the next.
And on that note; can the writers please stop having Sam apologize to Andy for the demise of their relationship? He is not the cause of its death. Andy was just as responsible as he was, and they've said as much in past episodes. It's frustrating to see Sam tear himself down like that, and he deserves better - but it's another example of writing for what makes good TV, not necessarily what is right for the character.
So now we can only sit and speculate for season five. Will Sam survive? Will we see Chloe or Marlo again? We don't know, and the writers might not either, since the season won't go into production until January. But, allow this writer to theorize: Sam will survive, of course, because the show would be foolish to kill off Ben Bass, who is unquestionably the strongest actor on the show and one-half of this couple fans have invested so much in. The only way Sam goes anywhere is if this show wants to die.
The writers have given themselves convenient ways to write off both new additions, yet that's a trickier issue. Why introduce two new regulars just to boot them off the next year? That's not really fair to the actresses, or the fans who were asked to accept these new characters. In particular, Rachael Ancheril has really grown on us once Marlo started to develop on her own, and outside of being a third wheel in the Sam/Andy debacle. There's enough in her character for Marlo to come back as a separate entity from all the relationship drama, but will the writers seize on that, or will they get rid of her once she's no longer attached to Sam? Let's hope that she gets a chance to grow even more. Whatever happens, Ancheril and Priscilla Faia deserve at least a proper exit, if for no other reason than we should respect how much time and effort they put into these characters for a whole season.
Rookie Blue is a fantastic show, and one that's been vastly underrated for a long, long time. Some things season four has done really well, and others, not so much. This finale did the necessary and painful job of exposing many of the season's flaws. Let's hope with that done, and the closure to storylines that a season finale always brings, this show can come back next season stronger and better than ever. It deserves a lot more than this.
Rookie Blue will return next year with season five. Until then, you can click here to revisit all my cast interviews and recaps from season four.