Most of the time, I love characters who break the rules.
These characters are often heroes, fighting against a corrupt system, a ridiculous level of bureacracy or some other obstacle that makes it clear that the only justice lies in breaking the law.
Not so on Blue Bloods Season 7 Episode 16, where Nicky's interfering made a bad situation worse for a change.
One of the amazing things about this show is that it consistently gets me to think in a different way about the politics of police work. It humanizes police officers and uses Frank's struggles to show the other side of issues like broken windows policing and excessive force complaints.
"Hard Bargain" was no exception. Through Nicky's naive interfering, this episode illustrated many of the frustrating nuances involved in domestic violence cases and why sometimes trying too hard to do something about this type of abuse just makes things more dangerous.
Eddie: Are you all right?
Woman: I'm just clumsy. I fell in the shower.
Eddie: You got this bruise falling in the shower?
Man: Where are you going? I told you I wasn't done talking - Oh hello officers, is there a problem here?
Eddie: We're just checking that everything's all right.
Man: Oh, I'm sorry. My kids...
Nicky: If it's just your kids, why are you holding a broken necklace in your hand?
Jamie: We got this, all right?
Man: I was fixing it. This is against the law?
A big part of the problem is that Nicky is old enough to see problems in the world and young enough to think she has all the solutions. Time and time again her insistence on doing things her way has backfired bigtime and got her and others hurt, but she still persists in doing whatever she thinks she should do anyway.
That's what's so annoying about this character; she just never learns from her mistakes.
And in this case, she was acting like a full police officer when she's actually just a student who is there to see what cops actually do.
Jamie and Eddie told her over and over to stay out of it and let them handle the domestic violence case, but she didn't listen. To her credit, she did go to her mother for advice, but after that she went off the rails again.
Woman: You are a schoolgirl. Do you have a husband? Do you have children to take care of?
Nicky: No but...
Woman: If I lose my husband, who pays the rent? Who puts food on the table?
(Husband comes home)
Woman: They just showed up here.
Husband: Ssh. I think we have a misunderstanding here.
Nadja wasn't fully correct that Nicky caused her young son to violently attack his father -- there's more than enough blame to go around -- but she certainly contributed to it by insisting she was going to save this woman singlehandedly, no matter what anyone had to say about it.
Nicky was clearly unimpressed by Nadja's explanation that without her husband's income she literally couldn't survive and that there were other factors at play besides the problem of getting beaten up. Instead of trying to find a real solution to any of it, she decided to leave her phone number for the woman.
This accomplished nothing constructive and just led to a lot more violence. I can't quite get behind Frank's comment that Nicky just made a misstep while trying to do the right thing. She can only do that so many times before she becomes a liability who refuses to learn from her mistakes, no matter how good her intentions are.
I'd probably be more forgiving if Jamie or even Eddie made this mistake. There was a decided lack of Eddie in this episode; it would have made a lot more sense for her and Jamie to be on opposite sides of this issue than for her to stand quietly by while a suspected abuser threatens Jamie and his family in her presence.
In any case, Jamie and Eddie are actually cops and have experience and education on their side, so their mistakes are more forgivable than Nicky's, which are usually borne out of thinking she knows everything when she's experienced nothing yet.
Jimmy: You're looking good. How come you keep getting younger and I keep getting older?
Linda: Oh stop.
Jimmy: What happened to the two little brats?
Linda: They grew up.
Jimmy: I'll tell you stories of what they were like when they were younger. Your father was hell on wheels and your mother was no angel either.
Of course, it could be worse. Nicky isn't nearly as much of a problem as Uncle Jimmy.
From the second he was mistaken for a burglar while sneaking around Danny and Linda's property, it was obvious that Jimmy was going to be a big problem. For some reason, television cops all seem to have wayward family members that could potentially set their career back 20 years or leave them with a dead family.
In any case, Danny knew something was going to go down that shouldn't, and he probably was praying that influencing his pre-teen sons to drink and gamble was the extent of the problems.
Danny kept emphasizing that he was in a tough spot, and he was, but I'm not quite sure why these mob guys had so much power. I guess if someone had arrested them, Danny's family might have been in danger, but it seemed more like they all knew each other from childhood and there were issues of divided loyalties.
LInda: He has four broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a concussion.
Danny: CAT scan came back okay, I saw. That's good news.
Linda: Did you know?
Danny: Did I know what?
Linda: Don't play with me. Did you know this was gonna happen?
Danny: I'm a cop.
Linda: You picked him up at that motel.
Danny: I told you, there's always gonna be stuff I can't tell you.
Linda: This time I gotta know.
Danny: The important thing is your family's safe and your brother's gonna live.
Ultimately, Danny made the questionable moral choice to allow the mobsters to beat up Jimmy in order to put an end to the threats against him and maybe the family.
I wasn't sure whether he was serious about sending Jimmy to be Florida's problem or whether he made that suggestion to inspire Jimmy to go face the music and get beaten up by the mob.
Linda was upset that Danny knew more about what happened to Jimmy than he was letting on, but it seemed like she was less angry about this than about other problems they've had in the past.
Her reaction was kind of underwhelming. Troublemaker or not, Jimmy is her brother, and Danny is a cop who has sworn to protect and serve all the people of the city, including wayward brothers-in-law.
I'd have liked to have seen some real consequences for Danny. Hopefully he'll face some later; a cop giving in to the mob to keep them away from his wife and kids just doesn't sit well with me, not in an era where police are constantly under scrutiny for questionable behavior.
Frank: How's the arm, Rodney?
Rodney: I still can't straighten it all the way and it still hurts when it's about to rain.
Frank: Well it was good of you to come.
Rodney: I didn't do it for you. I did it for me, to show I'm not the man I used to be.
Frank: Well you did the right thing. Will you accept my thanks?
Rodney: Just be careful of the elbow.
Frank's story was the most interesting and unpredictable of the three featured this week. Again, Blue Bloods managed to show the other side of racism claims against the police.
You would've thought we wouldn't allow racist police officers on the street that can't tell the difference between a platinum selling recording artist and a street thug.Lawyer
There is no doubt that racial bias played a role in the cops' assumption that rocker O.V. was the perp who fired a gun, especially since the officers in question had a record of such bias.
There's also no doubt that O.V.'s lawyer was just as biased against cops as the cops were against his client. He chose a case in which no one was physically hurt to use to make a stand against the police department and tried to claim that Frank was covering up his own bad behavior from years before when no such thing was happening.
Frank often emphasizes that cops need to make split second decisions when questioned about why they sometimes get things very wrong, and this was no exception.
He also focused on the rights of cops to privacy, based on the idea that laypeople may not understand the complexities of the situation if they were to review police records.
I'm on the fence with this one.
Frank's argument was interesting and compelling, and it fit in well with the theme of things being more complicated than they appear on the surface.
Yet there is something to be said for holding police officers accountable when they make decisions that harm the people they are supposed to serve, even if they had to make those decisions quickly and under extreme pressure.
In any case, I'd have liked to have seen more time devoted to this case. While I loved seeing Frank get the better of the opposing counsel, I felt like this topical story could have been explored more fully and I'd rather have seen more of the various sides of the situation than as much of Nicky's dilemma than we saw.
What did you think of "Hard Bargain"? Do you think Danny made the right choice? Does anyone have any sympathy for Nicky?
Weigh in below, and don't forget that if you missed something you can always watch Blue Bloods online to catch up.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.