In this week’s third episode of Season 4, Blue Bloods confronts crime that reaches beyond the greeting New York streets, and into the hallowed halls of justice, nearly costing the life of Erin Reagan (Bridget Moynahan) in the crossfire. Personal accountability rises as a dominant theme of “To Protect and Serve,” and sometimes it takes a crisis to bring relationships and what really matters into focus.
A park shooting in Washington Heights leaves a 13-year-old son with the horrid duty of covering his deceased father’s body, and retelling details of the tragedy to Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) and Detective Baez (Marisa Ramirez), including the distinctive markings of a gun tattoo on the shooter. Erin and her ex-husband, but ever father of their child, Jack Boyle (Peter Hermann) get testy over some concert tickets for Nicky (Sami Gayle). Jamie (Will Estes) and partner, Eddie (Vanessa Ray), rescue a mother and son from a car crash, and Jamie has to decide what takes priority in his role as patrol guide.
From the son’s description, it takes no time to search and find the suspect is Delgado (Armando Riesco) who should be in prison, but has disappeared from the system, thanks to Homeland Security taking him in as an informant. Jamie is ordered to stay and complete the accident report at the scene of his rescue, but wrenched by the calls of the young boy to stay, he chooses to ride in the ambulance to the hospital, knowing he faces suspension. Abigail Hawk is at her best as Baker, verbally sparring with Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) in preparation for his public radio appearance with Rev. Potter (Ato Essandoh) and another vocal Police Department critic. Dino (John Ventimiglia) offers to run defense for Jamie, having a “word” with his superior, newly appointed and out to prove himself, but Frank instructs him otherwise, reiterating that Jamie did disobey an order. Mason (Ron Canada) from homeland security has an order for Frank to “back off the case” and leave Delgado to them, but the Commissioner holds firm for his detectives. Danny initially wants Erin to help him work around homeland security, until she gives him a better, and completely legal, angle. Sure enough, it doesn’t take any time for the son to pick his father’s killer from the lineup as #3, and when the detectives have the joy of taking him in, Danny tells the federal agent to “kiss my New York ass.” When Michael Hudson (Jake Miller) confesses his father’s discovery of drugs in a damaged container at the docks, Danny realizes the further danger. Jack and Erin jostle over using such a young witness, and Jack accuses her of taking his fatherly failings out in the courtroom. Jamie and Eddie share a drink and a late-night date with great rapport, and Eddie is impressed that Jamie doesn’t play any daddy cards to his advantage. Erin makes it clear that she will seek DNA evidence from Delgado, and that puts him in destruction mode. He pulls the court officer’s weapon, crazed and captured. When the stenographer makes a move for her purse, he shoots, and wounds Erin’s shoulder. Frank’s civil rights forum on air is disturbed by news of the courtroom drama, causing him to further reiterate that police protection will continue as long as the need for public safety remains.
Danny agrees to Delgado’s terms, and Delgado promises to release one hostage, but has plans to keep Erin as “insurance” until he reaches the Dominican Republic. He refuses to allow Danny even to speak with her, until Danny dictates that the deal is off without that conversation. Frank watches from a pinhole camera, seeing his wounded daughter, and the sole hostage released. Danny coaxes Delgado outdoors for negotiation, unarmed. Simultaneously, Danny and his father speak the words “Please don’t hurt my family,” signaling police protection to reign down, and Erin is safe.
Stories of suspension are the theme at the Reagan dinner table, as they recall childhood learning of that very special signal for help. Frank reminds his grandsons that standing for personal convictions, not trying for suspensions, is what most matters. Nicky thanks her uncle Danny for saving her mom, who takes a walk outside, and greets Jack, bearing a bouquet of roses. Saying the “loaded weapuns” he would face with her family kept him from home visit, She tells Jack how thankful she is that he was in the courtroom with her. “There is nothing I regret more than letting you go,” he confides with an embrace. The two share a passionate kiss, before Erin asks “What are we doing?” and they go inside together. In Blue Bloods terms, personal choices and accountability go beyond just the professional. Will Erin be adding Boyle back to her name?