Blue Bloods is one of the few shows not to claim it has all the answers to complex issues.
Blue Bloods Season 12 Episode 1 was no exception.
The wave of violent crime, the investigation Erin reopened, and the incident that Witten got in trouble over were all complicated, and Blue Bloods did an excellent job of demonstrating that there are no easy answers without ever descending into preachiness or out-of-character behavior.
Witten's case was especially interesting.
Many cop shows have tackled the issue of tensions between mostly-White police officers and Black citizens, but often it's depicted as a simple situation in which racist cops respond inappropriately to Black people standing up to them.
But Witten's case was not that simple.
There were a ton of issues going on here that viewers could take one side or the other on.
As Jamie pointed out, Witten's instinct to pull her gun made sense because if you're hit from behind, you don't know what's coming next. But the citizen was unarmed, and Witten wasn't injured, so it looked like overkill to bystanders -- and video showing only one side of the conflict was going viral.
It seemed like no one wanted to consider that the bystander was interfering with an arrest, which is illegal and dangerous, or that he hit a cop. The captain was more interested in optics than in the truth of the situation, and the bystanders had acted without knowing the context of the arrest.
All they saw was a non-white man screaming and writhing, and that was enough, in their minds, to believe they were standing up against racist cops harassing a man for the color of his skin.
This was a situation that called for de-escalation in the first place.
The man was out of control and possibly high or mentally ill.
He couldn't be allowed to continue throwing a tantrum that destroyed the convenience store, but I couldn't help thinking that if there was more of a focus on de-escalating and getting him medical attention in the first place, this very public arrest scene might not have happened.
In any case, there were a lot of complicated factors involved in the decision to suspend Witten after the incident -- including political decisions the captain made.
Jamie: You get hit from behind, you pull your weapon cause you don't know what might happen next.
Captain: Excuse me, did you get a promotion? Because last I checked, you're a sergeant and I'm the captain.
Jamie: Then act like one. Stand up for your cops.
The captain resented Jamie, who is only a sergeant, questioning his decisions, cared more deeply about optics than anything else, and somehow decided that Jamie's objections had something to do with Jamie being a Reagan.
It's not how Frank would have handled a situation like this, and in many ways, Jamie and Eddie's conflict with the captain mirrored the one Frank hand with Mayor Chase.
In both cases, cops who didn't toe the party line found themselves butting heads with someone in a position of power over them who was too focused on how things looked.
The captain wanted to punish Witten based on a video that made her look bad, while Chase didn't appreciate Frank's assessment of the crime wave because tourists wouldn't want to come to New York if there was a ton of gun violence.
Neither of those attitudes solved the underlying problem at all, and the people involved were frustrated that a Reagan was standing in the way of them continuing down that path without any pushback.
Henry was proud of Frank for making an enemy out of the mayor on this issue, and I was too.
Frank was right -- providing the illusion of safety accomplishes nothing and, in the long run, won't help the city recover economically.
Frank suggested real solutions, like stemming the illegal gun trade, demonstrating that you can be both conservative and for common-sense gun safety laws, but Chase never even addressed this issue.
Instead, he demanded Frank close the gun violence cases and stay quiet about the reasons for the crime wave, which made him lose respect both in Frank's eyes and mine.
I have little tolerance for people who want to cover up unpleasant truths and call it politics. Political disagreements are one thing, but it's all too common in the current climate to disagree on the facts instead of starting from a common reality.
And without that agreement on basic facts such as the epidemic of felons possessing illegal guns, there was no way that Frank and the mayor could ever work through their policy-based disagreements. They just weren't in the same reality, and that was a sad state of affairs.
It seemed that all the cops were frustrated and disappointed in how the current hostility toward cops was impacting their jobs and the way people, in general, were treating each other.
I always love the family dinner scenes, but this one was especially poignant because of the discussion about hatred and hostility and what could be done about it.
Frank is in some ways an idealist, but he had a point that if people would just communicate with each other, it would go a long way toward making a more peaceful world.
Sean: So how do we stop all this hate?
Frank: We do what we do. Talk and listen to each other.
Danny: To be fair, you do most of the talking and the rest of us listen.
He was more right than he knew since the boys on the school bus were shot by an angry driver who communicated his feelings with a gun instead of venting to someone.
That was such a tragic waste, especially since one of the boys died. I was glad Frank was at least there for the family of the surviving boy.
Danny's case also featured a pointless crime, but as Frank said, there's no such thing as a love crime. I don't know what was more tragic: that the perp killed his son or that he shot anyone just because he was jealous that he didn't get to be in a relationship with his child's mother anymore.
Of course, that was only half the point of Danny's story, which was also about his relationship with Maggie.
I"m not a huge fan of her, and I'd rather the series go in the direction of a Danny/Baez pairing. And apparently, Baez feels the same way since she kept making comments about Maggie that sounded like jealousy.
Nice nod to Donnie Wahlberg's previous career as a member of New Kids on the Block with Danny's decision to join in at the karaoke bar, though.
Finally, Erin's story looks like it might be another multi-episode arc involving her love-hate relationship with her boss.
Kim resented that Erin reopened the case and that she lost her childhood friend, but Kim also was the one who ordered Sandra's arrest.
Was I the only one who found Kim's attitude confusing here?
She said she didn't regret keeping quiet and would have done it again, then insisted Sandra be arrested and told Leticia about the evidence. And then, when all was said and done, she lashed out at Erin for setting this all in motion.
I wasn't sure why she insisted on the arrest, given that she didn't want to cause trouble in her relationship with Leticia, and the case was so old that nobody but Erin was looking to solve it.
But it seemed unfair to make that decision and then be upset with Erin over it.
Your turn, Blue Bloods fanatics! Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you think.
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Blue Bloods airs on CBS on Fridays at 10 PM EST/PST.