It’s the third episode of ABC’s The Rookie, and the tale of that “polarizing” Officer Doug Stanton (Brandon Routh) wreaking havoc among the LAPD continues. This was certainly sure to follow given the introduction of Officer Stanton in the January 10 episode “In Justice.”
In the January 17 episode “La Fiera,” Officer Stanton physically assaults an innocent young black man who does not match the description of their suspect, then threatens to arrest the man's entire family for trying to intervene while pointing his gun at them all in an over-the-top scene, with the rookie he is training, Officer Jackson West (Titus Makin Jr.), uncomfortably watching it all.
Dispatcher: All units B.O.L. 211-armed just occurred. Suspect is male, Black, 6-foot, black pants, blue hoodie. Weapon a handgun.
Officer Bradford: Come on. Let's get to work.
Stanton: Hey. There's our guy.
West: I don't think so. Uh, the hoodie's green, not blue. The suspect is 6 feet. That guy's too short.
Stanton: 'Cause some scared rp with a gun in their face is gonna tell the difference between green and blue? 6 feet and 5'6"? Come on. Control, 7-adam-07, 8th and Bronson, got a possible 211 suspect. Code 6. Here we go. Hey. LAPD. Show me your hands. [Music heard through headphones] I said show me your hands now! [Stanton tackles young man]
Young Man: What the hell?! I didn't do anything! I didn't do anything!
Stanton: Roll over, dumbass! On your belly!
Young Man: Aah! I live right here!
Stanton: Hands behind your back.
Young Man: Why are you cuffing me?! Ow!
Stanton: For your safety and ours.
Young Man: My -- Your -- My safety?! Aah! You're hurting me!
West: Look, sir, please, it's gonna be okay. We just have to check you out.
Young Man: Check me out?! I live right here!
Mother: What are you doing?! That's my son!
West: Ma'am. Ma'am.
Young Man: Mama, I didn't --
West: It's gonna be okay. It's gonna be okay.
Stanton: Hey! Back up!
Young Man: I didn't do nothing.
Mother: Let my baby go! Get off of me!
Stanton: Lady, I will knock your ass out!
Father: Get your hands off my wife!
Mother: Are you crazy?!
Stanton: Control, 7-adam-07, I got a house emptying out on me.
Father: Son, it's okay.
Stanton: Send backup.
Mother: Let him go!
Stanton [pointing gun]: Everybody on the ground!
Family members: Whoa, whoa, whoa!
West: Control, 7-adam-07, we need a supervisor out here. Code 3. Everybody, just stay where you are. Just -- Just give us a minute to explain.
Stanton: Everybody on the ground now!
Grandmother: I know, I know, baby. It's okay.
Viewers not only have to be treated to such an intense scene, but are also hit over the head just how “polarizing” Stanton really is, and a racist. It’s so melodramatic that it mainly accomplishes insulting the intelligence of its viewers.
Immediately following the commercial break, the show returns to the aftermath of the scene, where the family directs their disgust particularly towards West and Stanton continues to unnecessarily inflame the situation:
Grandmother: Baby, you're okay.
Doug: Everyone down on the ground!
Mother: Let him go!
Officer Bradford: What do you need?
Stanton: Help Jackson hook these idiots up.
West: We're arresting the whole family?
Stanton: What the hell did I just say?
West: Wait, even the grandmother? Are you serious?
Bradford: Alright, West, Chen, you stay here. Stanton, come here. Let's go sort this out.
Woman: Hey, I'm recording this. I see you.
Man: It's always the same with you guys.
Mother: Get those cuffs off my boy!
Officer Chen: We can't, ma'am. Not yet, anyways. It's protocol. I'm sorry.
Father: Not as sorry as this fake-ass brother. Uncle Tom sellout.
Stanton: We spotted the 211 suspect, ordered him to stop.
Bradford: H-hold up, hold up. They -- They just pinched that guy half a mile from here two minutes ago. You didn't hear that on the radio?
Stanton: I'm arresting all of them. Attempted assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, criminal threats.
Bradford: What are you doing here? There are cameras all around. You nabbed an innocent man. The D.A. Won't file.
Stanton: These people don't respect authority.
Bradford: You grabbed the wrong guy.
Stanton: You're senior officer. It's your call. [ Siren wailing ]
Bradford: Control, 7-adam-19, Code 4. Shut down Code 3 units and cancel the supervisor. Jackson, come here. Uncuff that gentleman with an apology. Talk to the family, explain the situation. See if you can dust them off, okay? Okay. I'll join you in a minute.
Stanton: And now you're gonna kiss their ass?
Bradford: It's called the least we can do.
Woman: It's not right. That's not right.
Man: He should lock him up.
Young Man: Finally.
West: Uh, sir, I am -- I'm truly sorry for the, uh, confusion.
Grandmother: Confusion? You just cuffed my grandbaby and pointed guns at my entire family.
Chen: And we're very sorry, ma'am.
West: Look, ma'am, we were looking for a suspect that fit the description of your grandson.
Brother: Yeah. Young and Black.
Mother: We need to speak to your Sergeant.
Bradford: Of course. Ma'am, here's my business card in case you want to file a complaint.
Father: You bet your ass we do.
Later, in another of one of the episode’s many plots, Stanton shamelessly declares drug lords are just better left to kill each other. This leads to the predictably scripted scene of other characters discussing their thoughts on him, with Officer Chen saying outright, "Stanton is a racist," as well as an opportunity for Stanton to make yet another racist assumption, this one towards West. Stanton presumes that West got into UCLA because of a sports scholarship, rather than because of West’s high GPA and being the valedictorian.
Finally, there is the dramatic interaction between Officer West as he enters the office of Sergeant Wade Grey (Richard T. Jones), just as the older man is leaving, to demand that Stanton goes. Officer Tim Bradford (Eric Winter) also bursts in, to back up West. Though Grey ultimately agrees to put Stanton on desk duty, it’s not enough for West. He even alerts Bradford that “silence is complicity,” a line previewed last week:
Grey: Officer West. I'm on my way out. Can this wait till the morning?
West: Uh, no, sir. This -- This can't. [ Sighs ]
Grey: Alright, come on.
West: It's, um -- It's Officer Stanton. He, um -- He's a bad cop, sir.
Grey: In what way?
West: To be honest, every way. Who he chooses to pull over, how he -- how he treats suspects of color, the things he says.
Grey: Give me specifics.
West: Saying that a crime has "No victims involved" just because the deceased was affiliated [with a gang].
Grey: Look, a lot of cops feel that way. It's an attitude I don't agree with, but it doesn't violate any rules.
West: I-it's not just that, sir. Y-yesterday we felony-stopped a man who did not fit the suspect description. He was outside of his own home.
Grey: I know about that. I read the report.
West: Did you check the body cams? Beca-- Stanton wanted to arrest this guy's entire family, sir.
Grey: Last I checked, it's within cops' discretion to make arrests.
West: It was unwarranted, sir! Look, Stanton escalated the entire situation to the point where it became dangerous for both us and that man's family.
Grey: Bradford, we're in the middle of something, so --
Bradford: I-I think I know what it's about. Look, whatever Officer West is telling you, I stand with him.
Grey: Fine. I'll put Stanton on the desk till we figure it out.
West: With all due respect, sir, that is not good enough.
Grey: Excuse me, son? You've been on the job for five minutes. I've got 25 years. You don't know what I had to put up with, what your father had to put up with to get this far. You stand on our shoulders.
West: And yet the water is still above my head. So, tell me this, sir. What were all your sacrifices for?
Grey: Get the hell out of my office, West.
Bradford: Look, I know you're pissed.
West: Why aren't you?
Bradford: I am. It's just... I've been making excuses for pricks like Stanton my entire life, figured there was no changing them, so I'd let it go, I gave them a pass.
West: It wasn't a pass. You gave them permission. Silence is complicity, sir.
Bradford: Yeah. I get that now. But Sarge is right. Benching Stanton is the only recourse he has.
Similar to last week’s episode, this one felt rather crowded and cramped as it tried to shove this bad cop narrative in with all sorts of other plot lines.
Then again, what else can we expect with such heavy involvement from a group such as Color of Change, which thrust upon The Rookie, and other shows, a 153-page “rather damning” report on a whole host of racist sins police television shows have supposedly perpetrated.
A description for the January 24 episode, “Sabotage,” reads that “Officer Jackson West’s relationship with his new training officer, Stanton, has escalated and he begins to work with Sergeant Grey to find a solution.”
Great, with everything else going on, it looks like next Sunday we can enjoy what is, at best, another increasingly crowded, melodramatic, and poorly written episode of The Rookie.