ABC Police Drama ‘The Rookie:’ Cops Have ‘Have a Hell of a Lot to Make Up For’
For weeks, ABC’s The Rookie hit viewers over the head with the evils of racist white cops, embodied by Officer Doug Stanton (Brandon Routh). While Officer Stanton may be gone, the show is just getting started with the racist white guilt.
Officer John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) is inspired to be a training officer so that newbies no longer have to deal with officers like Stanton. ”
Enter the latest way to include races and Nolan will take an Ethics and Criminal Justice course taught by Fiona Ryan (Toks Olagundoye).
Despite being the main character, viewers may see Nolan the least when they have the entire series so far. Where he’s featured this season is meant to highlight his white guilt, starting with the season’s premiere.
Less than a minute into the show, before the title cards even show up, Nolan reveals he’s not sure whether to share with his classmates that he’s a cop. The sparsely attended class of color vocal students couldn’t be a more annoying caricature when it came to:
Fiona: Good evening. I’m Professor Ryan, and that’s ethics and criminal justice. Now tell me what do these words make you think?
Victor: That …the two don’t go together
Victor: Because the criminal justice system is inherently biased to punish poor and colored people.
Fiona: Okay, if that’s a problem what’s a solution?
Student: Defuse the police to start with.
Fiona: Does anyone disagree?
Nolan: Uh, well, I don’t think it’s that easy – just defuse the police.
Student: Defunding doesn’t mean getting rid of cops. It means no longer prioritizing them over people they are supposed to serve.
Nolan: Yes, no, I appreciate that and I agree. I think a lot more money needs to be invested in communities, but it will be some time before these investments make any real change. If we drastically reduce the police force before that happens, people would be left unprotected.
Winner: It can’t be worse than now.
Nolan: Sure it can. Do not you agree?
Fiona: Oh, I’m not here to agree or vote sides. Ethics often contradict the law. What is right and what is legal are very often all too different. And we want to explore this tension. And it gets uncomfortable so better buckle up.
According to the title card, Nolan bleeds his training officer, Detective Nyla Harper (Mekia Cox), while working on an undercover officers convention. He wonders, “Did I make a mistake” because he didn’t reveal that he was a cop, and ponders, “I just hate the feeling of hiding something.” While Harper had said to him, “I can’t answer that for you. As a police officer, you have to assess social situations on a case-by-case basis, ”Nolan continues to annoy.
Whenever viewers see Nolan in this episode, it is usually in the classroom or he complains of his inner turmoil about the class. Except in Nolan’s head, it is himself who did something wrong, who has to do it better, who has to change.
Viewers don’t have to wonder if his classmates will learn the truth about Nolan’s job. Victor (Denny McAuliffe) happens to be driving past Nolan and Harper in their police uniforms when he takes a picture of Nolan and is excited about the idea of showing the class that they have “a narcotics” under them.
Nolan goes to his next class with the other students who sit together to scold him:
Nolan: Hey. There is no reputation for that. At least let me explain first?
Fiona: Explain what?
Victor: That he’s a cop.
Fiona: Yeah, I know.
Student: What do you mean, you know?
Fiona: Well, I saw it on his application when he signed up for my class.
Student: And you didn’t tell us?
Fiona: Oh, that wasn’t my decision.
Victor: How can you say that? Cops have been spying on people like us for 200 years.
Student: He could go to this class to get closer to us, to deal with LULAC or Black Lives Matter.
Nolan: Oh, I’m not under cover. I’m actually just a newbie.
Victor: Dude, stop lying.
Nolan: I’m not. Um … Two years ago I was working on construction in the east. I moved here to join the police and make a difference. I’m actually taking this course to finally graduate.
Fiona: It’s true. I’ve read his log. Do you really think the LAPD will send a 40 year old white man to infiltrate BLM? Come on now.
Victor: Probably not. He should still have told us he was a cop. Hmm Who here believes that John has an ethical obligation to identify himself?
Student: I do.
Student: This is supposed to be a safe room. What if one of us admitted a crime in the middle of a discussion?
Fiona: Well then you’d be stupid. There are no really safe rooms – I mean, certainly not in a college classroom.
Nolan: But believe it or not, I wrestled with whether or not to tell you last night and … Honestly, I still don’t know what the right decision is.
Fiona: Okay, let’s investigate further. I want everyone here to write a five-page essay. Tell me why or why don’t you think John had an ethical obligation to tell us he was a cop?
One of the last scenes in the episode shows Nolan talking to Fiona on a day they don’t have class. You want takeaway viewers to know that his classmates have “hope and a lot of anger.” Nobody is going to stand up for this character, and he certainly won’t stand up for himself as he instead seeks a way to atone for his white privilege:
Fiona: You know, we don’t have classes tonight, do we?
Nolan: Right. I just needed some help.
Fiona: I won’t write your paper for you.
Nolan: No. No. I was hoping you might tell me what to write. I’ve spent the last two days talking to police officers about whether I should have identified myself and the answers ranged from “probably not” to “definitely not”. But … I have problems with how betrayed my classmates feel. So, I just need … a little outside perspective.
Fiona: You should have said something. I’m sure there are a dozen reasons cops think your job is a must, but come on. It’s 2021. You have a lot to catch up on. So you want to regain trust? You have to take on a greater degree of responsibility. You have to go the extra mile every time.
Nolan: Do you think I have a chance to fix some fences here?
Fiona: Yeah. I do. Everyone in this classroom wants to change the system and they are driven by hope and a lot of anger. But hope keeps them moving. So when they see that you are serious about being part of the change, let you in again.
Nolan: Thank you.
Nolan: It’s like – I – I should have written that down. What was the part in the beginning when you said that? You know what? I understand it. Many Thanks. This is good stuff.
Why did Nolan have such an ethical obligation in the first place? Is it because students in this class couldn’t bear the thought of having someone around them who they might disagree with and who is at least stereotypical? Remember, they only know that he is a cop and nothing else about who he is as a person. It’s terrible to think about what Nolan has to do here to be in good hands again when he can.
That the scenes are almost weird makes the whole episode and the show it has become even worse. Black Lives Matter and their allies take these ideas very seriously. However, that’s what you get when Color of Change, a Black Lives Matter partner, has taken over the creative process of the show this season and is likely to change the show forever.
Conservatives fight back: Advertisers for this episode included Humira, Southwest, Consumer Celluar, KFC, Mars Incorporated, Geico, Liberty Mutual, and Toyota. McDonalds and Subway were repeat offenders in this episode.