SPOILER ALERT! If you want to remain spoiler free you will want to go watch The Rookie Season 1 Episode 16, "Greenlight" and then come back for this review.
You’ve been warned.
Captain Zoe Anderson, played by Mercedes Mason, has been one of my favorite characters since the beginning of The Rookie Season 1.
Anderson was complex: an exemplary mentor, a great cop, badass, by-the-book, yet personal and friendly.
As I watched The Rookie Season 1 Episode 16 I experienced a myriad of thoughts. Everything from No! and Why? to I can't believe they did that.
Captain Anderson’s death in the line of duty makes this an episode that defines what this series is and what it can be in the future. It means that much like in real life, no one is ever safe.
Even though I respect the show for killing off the Captain while she fought for both her life and Nolan's, it's still damn hard to take.
The Captain set the tone. She held her police officers to the highest standard. She didn't play games. She had their backs and she played by the rules.
That's why she didn't blink an eye when Internal Affairs announced they were doing integrity checks.
If you have to change your behavior because of these reversals then we have a problem. My officers do things the right way every day.Captain Anderson
If you're doing your job the right way every day then a reversal shouldn't matter but they still put almost everyone on edge.
Bradford took it the worst, mostly because of his history with Detective Murphy.
That Internal Affairs would be unhappy with Bradford for not turning in Isabel sooner wasn't a surprise, but Murphy still holding a grudge was.
As much as I agree that hiding Isabel's addiction put other cops at risk, it's also easy to understand why Bradford would try to protect and get help for his wife. So why was Murphy still fuming long after the case was closed?
Then there was the celebrity stop. I wonder if LAPD really does have celebrity contacts to help out with these.
As trivial as it might seem, running a stop sign is no joke. People get killed when that happens.
Mario Lopez clearly thought he had a better chance of charming Officer Chen then Bradford and I hoped that his 100-watt smile wouldn't have work on either of them, even if Bradford hadn't spotted Murphy lying in wait.
Mario deserved the failure to stop ticket. After that, Bradford definitely went overboard.
Elsewhere, things got awkward when Officer Lopez ran into Wesley.
I thought it took a lot of courage to apologize and open up to him the way she did, and I hated the way he shut her down as though none of it mattered.
These two are such opposites and both so headstrong that I'm not sure how they'd survive as a couple, but it could be a roller coaster ride to try and find out.
Finally, we get to what appeared to be a superficial call that eventually turned tragic.
An entitled brat who felt a scratch on her Bentley required police assistance seemed like a standard day for an LAPD officer, but when she pulled the knife from her purse and went after the valet, that definitely took things up a notch.
Everyone just assumed, as I did, that Astrid was some wannabe starlet; no one guessed that she was the baby mama of the head of a white supremacist gang.
After she made her one phone call, bullets started flying, and I had to roll my eyes at Bradford's reaction to the hit being put out on Nolan.
How’s a rookie get greenlit before me? I’ve got to step up my game.Officer Bradford
It was a ridiculous thing to say, but I could completely understand how Bradford felt insulted and maybe even said it to break the tension.
But the tension was there for a reason.
Will Nolan always wonder what might have happened if he hadn't gone into work that day? I hope not, because the Captain wanted him there as much as he wanted to be there. She was proud of the rookie she selected to be a part of her team.
Officer Nolan: I mean I can’t just go to work, right? I’d be endangering everyone who came within five feet of me.
Captain Anderson: Being a cop means being at risk.
Officer Nolan: So you’re saying I should just report for duty, act like nothing happened.
Captain Anderson: I think we tell criminals what to do, not the other way around.
Officer Nolan: No matter the consequences.
Captain Anderson: No matter the consequences.
Unfortunately, those consequences were graver than anyone expected.
Cole was an idiot. He either had no idea the type of fallout his gang would have to deal with for killing a captain or he just didn't care. His father understood but couldn't put a stop to his son's stupidity.
I kept waiting for the cavalry to arrive when the Captain was pushed into the swimming pool still chained to that chair. I never expected that she'd fight her way out of those restraints and come up shooting.
So imagine my shock when Cole's bullet caught her in the neck and she slid back into the pool.
I kept hoping that Nolan would stop the bleeding, that the paramedics would arrive, that something would stop the inevitable tragic end. As much as I hate it, I respect the show all the more for going there.
The Rookie always has a bit of humor and lightheartedness running through it, yet it still manages to convey the seriousness that police officers face every day. It's a fine line, and the show walks it well.
The Captain's death never negated her core values for her team as Sgt. Grey pointed out in this The Rookie quote:
Killing this loser won’t honor her memory, doing our jobs will.Sgt. Grey
Even Bishop, who questioned whether Nolan should be on the street that day, reminded him that their Captain died doing her job the only way she knew how and trying to make her death about him would only diminish that.
And Bradford stepped up and reminded Chen that it wasn't the Captain's death she should be ruminating but her life.
Grief is grief. It’s a hole that can’t be filled but over time it will shrink enough so that you won’t fall in every time you take a step. If there’s one thing you can use to make you a better cop, it will be her life, not her death.Officer Bradford
It says a lot about the Captain's legacy that not one officer fired a shot at Cole when he hesitated to get out of his car. I'm sure he probably had a gun in that car, and one officer firing one shot would have meant the rest would follow.
But no one did because their Captain wouldn't have wanted it done that way.
Finally, Nolan learned that the Captain had his back before he even left the Academy. Much to Nolan's shock, she'd requested him for her command.
Sgt. Grey: She felt your experience would make you a valuable addition to our house.
Officer Nolan: I guess I’ve got a lot to live up to.
Sgt. Grey: We all do. We all do.
Mercedes Mason was wonderful as Captain Zoe Anderson, and she will be greatly missed, but The Rookie might end up being a stronger show for her loss.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.