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On 'The Rookie' Cliffhanger, and Whether it Will Return for Season 3

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 11, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 11, 2020 |


The second season of ABC’s The Rookie aired its finale last night, and it was a doozy. Creator and showrunner Alexi Hawley (Castle, twin brother of Fargo’s Noah) has been good about maintaining a few serialized elements, and this season he’s been playing the long game on a recurring character played by Harold Perrineau, a series regular, pre-Lost, on the short-lived cop drama The Unusuals, also created by Noah Hawley (although, Alexi wrote on the series).

Perrineau came in earlier this season as Detective Nick Armstrong, a mentor to Nathan Fillion’s John Nolan. We got the sense, however, that Hawley didn’t bring in someone of Perrineau’s caliber for a few episodes to pat Officer Nolan on the back. At the end of last week’s episode, we find out that Detective Armstrong is a mole, and in this week’s episode, the opening 10 minutes show the viewers how Armstrong has been playing the cops on behalf of an Armenian cartel that has Armstrong over a barrel with a lot of blackmail evidence. In fact, the Armenian cartel strong-arms Armstrong into killing another rookie cop, who was also dirty but about to blow the whistle on Armstrong before he guns her down to silence her.

Officer Nolan manages to put all the pieces together, but because Armstrong is such a respected cop, and because Nolan is a rookie who doesn’t want to accuse Armstrong without any evidence, he decides to pursue the investigation alone. He learns from a serial killer that Armstrong put away a secret stash of weapons and money in his home, so Nolan breaks in. Armstrong arrives before Nolan can uncover it. Armstrong, however, realizes that Nolan has a beat on him, so he quickly hatches a plan.

A little later, Armstrong calls Nolan back to his home, promising to confess. Officer Nolan is naive enough to fall for it. In Armstrong’s home, he tells Nolan that he has planted evidence against Nolan. A brief shoot-out ensues, and both are injured, though not fatally. After pinning Armstrong down and handcuffing him, Armstrong tells Nolan that he’s planted the stash of evidence in Nolan’s house. For some reason, Nolan decides to race back to his home and uncover the dirty evidence before the cops find it, which is the easiest way to ensure you look guilty. However, just as he finds the guns/cash Armstrong planted in his wall, the cops show up at Nolan’s house. He’s f**ked.

Except, of course, he’s not. Officer Harper (Mekia Cox) knew that Nolan was investigating Armstrong, and it won’t take long to put all the pieces together and turn them against Armstrong. In fact, this feels like last season’s huge cliffhanger, which was literally resolved in the opening minutes of this season’s premiere and never spoke of again. I suspect the same thing will happen here, if there is a third season.

My guess is that ABC is probably leaning toward renewing The Rookie, which remained on the bubble last season up until mid-May. Ratings for the series have been decent, even with its move to Sunday nights. Moreover, because there hasn’t been a traditional pilot season this year (because of the coronavirus), returning shows have a huge advantage because there are fewer new shows in competition.

However, The Rookie may face steeper odds because of the coronavirus. It is filmed in Los Angeles, it requires a huge crew, and typically hundreds of extras (or more) each season. Those obstacles may factor into ABC’s decision as it heads into the summer with a lot of question marks about when and how production will resume in L.A. It’s possible that we will never see the second season of The Rookie resolved, although at this point, I would lean toward renewal. If not, however, it would join Southland as another cop show devastatingly canceled in the midst of a cliffhanger.

In the meantime, if it does return, Perrineau would really like to return, as he tells EW. What if “we find out it actually is a double double-cross. He could be really actually working for the FBI and he has to set up John because he’s so deep undercover. We could find it for sure. But that’s an Alexi call because it his show and it’s where he wants to go. But I truly do dig Armstrong and I wish the best for him.”

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: ABC