An Emotional Blue Bloods Leads Frank to Consider a Controversial Stance

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Tonight’s Blue Bloods (CBS, 10/9) takes a look at restorative justice, a process which, in part, offers an incarcerated offender the opportunity to face the victim and/or surviving kin, to in some way account for the harm that has been caused.

In this instance, NYPD police commissioner Frank Reagan (played by Tom Selleck) finds himself in a front row seat for the potentially volatile confrontation, setting the stage for an especially emotional hour.

“For cops, there are always cases that haunt them,” Selleck tells TVLine. “And in this one,” from earlier in Frank’s career, “he couldn’t prevent a mother and father and five-year-old boy from being killed.”

The story picks up with Sarah Grant, the sole survivor of that tragedy (played by True Blood‘s Amelia Rose Blaire), nearing her wedding day when she receives a letter from her family’s killer — a man who during trial said his only regret was not killing the six-year-old daughter as well — asking to meet her face-to-face to apologize for what happened.

Sarah in turn consults with Frank, whom as her surrogate father of sorts she has asked to walk her down the aisle, seeing as she sees no immediate reason to afford this prisoner any excuses, any relief of guilt.

“Frank’s attitude to the [restorative justice] program is very interesting, because he has a personal stake,” Selleck says. And that could lead him to take a stance, as a person, that the public-facing commish would never be able to entertain. “It’s always interesting playing Frank because what he would say at a press conference is not what he would say in private,” his portrayer observes. “He has feelings and opinions about this that probably are not things he could say publicly.”

Especially since, Selleck says, his character “has a kind of hyperactive sense of responsibility anyway.”

Restorative justice isn’t the “grabby” stuff of real-life headlines, but that’s what in part separates Blue Bloods from, say, the SVUs of the TV world. “[Our storylines are] generally not from the headlines,” showrunner Kevin Wade says, “but from doing some research, saying, ‘What if this dilemma presented itself to Frank? Where would it go, what would be the parameters?’ It came as most of our stuff does, out of research rather than a headline.”

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25 Comments
  1. Liz says:

    It’s interesting that the showrunners label this as not being headline stuff, because here in Canada there’s actually been a relatively high-profile (for Canada, anyway) restorative justice process going on at one of our universities.

    Anyway. Very interesting episode!

  2. Sam says:

    Blue Bloods is a solid show. I’ve enjoyed it since the very first episode. Hopefully it gets another season. Hard to judge the Friday shows, but it seems like it’s doing well in syndication – I see it on TV all the time a la Law & Order.

  3. smartysenior says:

    This is one of my favorite shows, in no small part because it doesn’t care much about being politically correct. Some of my favorite story lines was when they rounded up some crooked cops, another when they rounded up a Mexican gang, another when Jaimie went undercover in an Italian mafia family, and pretty much all the ones where Tom Selleck goes up against the black rabble rousing minister. I hope this perp/victim confrontation doesn’t get sentimental where everyone forgives everyone. You should be able to tell a killer he’s hated and let him live with it. That’s more in line with what most of us would be thinking; “I’m glad you’re rotting in jail because you are unfit for society”.

  4. Alia says:

    I miss Jamie.

  5. mike says:

    I really like that they don’t pull from headlines. Cannot stand shows that do that. I see it in RL..don’t need to spend time seeing it as “entertainment”. especially when its so very poorly done

  6. Sam thomas says:

    We wait each each Friday night.this is
    the best cop show there has ever been
    KEEP IT ON

  7. M Smith says:

    As a person who is involved as a community volunteer with a restorative justice program, I was appalled by this Blu Bloods episode. The restorative justice program that I am involved with, as well as all others that I am familiar with, do not involve ant criminals accused of violent crimes, so this would never have happened. Your writers never seem to do proper research and once again make the show rather ineffective. The biggest problem with Blue a Bloods is definitely the writers’ bias and In this case, the writers’ ignorance. Such a disappointment! And certainly not too interesting to anyone who knows much about restorative justice!

  8. Luann says:

    Not happy with this episode. I can understand if the victim is not able to forgive, but it was totally wrong for her to tell him to kill himself. Since this show puts a lot of emphasis on Catholic beliefs, I was surprised they went this way with it.

    • Jennifer says:

      Luann, I agree. It was so wrong of her to tell him to kill himself. Also unhappy about Frank saying no amount of anything, even prayer could make those disturbing images go away. I really thought this show was above this I do not agree with what happened on tonight’s episode. Sad because I used to enjoy it and watching good acting. So many shows have dark, twisted themes, sometimes very subtle, but they are there nonetheless. Those good family quality shows are hard to come by these days.

    • I agree. I enjoy this show and watch every week, but there is a lot of eye rolling involved because the writers’ bias are all very clear. But this episode was way over the top and I didn’t like the ‘try to kill yourself and get it right’ ending. Especially when it was clear that, to the viewer, this was supposed to be seen as a moment of triumph for her. Facing her tormentor and telling him that she hates him, telling him he’s haunted by what he’s done, even telling him she wished he were dead….those all would have been understandable and justified reactions. But wishing someone were dead is not the same as telling them that in order to make things right they need to try to kill themselves and get it right this time. That left a very bad taste in my mouth and, in my opinion, was way over the line of good taste.

    • flutiefan says:

      you all might not “like” it, but it’s true-to-life. the fact is, many people feel this way about the monsters who have murdered their family members, and i’m glad Blue Bloods didn’t pander to the sentimental few who wanted a pat happy ending.

  9. Jane Haslett says:

    I really enjoy and respect your program Blue Bloods. It deals well with controversial topics. However, tonight’s episode regarding restorative justice was pathetic. Your research team obviously has absolutely no idea how this process works, and no respect for it at all. Very disappointing.
    It is a way more carefully worked out process than you imagine, and much more professionally handled than the ham-handed depiction you presented.
    A sad come-down from your usually excellent standard.

    • RMR says:

      So glad to see so many comments on here raising how biased and ill informed this episode was. As someone who has worked in the criminal ‘justice’ system I was deeply offended and upset by this episode.

  10. Kathy Schaefer says:

    This is the best show on television. Last night was a great episode. True to life. I think it would be a natural reaction to be angry and u forgiven of someone who slaughtered your whole family. I’m not saying it’s the right way to feel. But I think it would be the most natural way to feel. I think blue bloods try’s to capture real people and real life situations

  11. Maggie says:

    This is by far, our favorite show. It is the perfect family show with some drama and real life in it. PLEASE keep it running.

  12. Jeanne says:

    I don’t know much about restorative justice, but if this episode was intended to demean the process, I think you succeeded. I am not surprised by that result, the series has always portrayed a stern “law and order” perspective. However, I am stunned by the resolution, which was described as “realistic.” The tight-knit extended family at the heart of Blue Bloods displays its Christian values in every episode, and I am at a loss to understand why this one took such a different direction. Christians pray to be forgiven, even as they forgive; it is the very basis of Christian theology. Perhaps I just missed the intended irony.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Blue Bloods was one of my favorite shows. After the episode on 3/13 I’m not sure I ever want to watch it again. I understand someone not wanting to forgive ( even though that would of been nice ) but to tell someone to kill them them selves.. Extremely disappointed & disgusted … Huge fail !!

    • flutiefan says:

      get over it. it was realistic.
      and to stop watching your favorite show because you weren’t satisfied with one episode is ridiculous.

    • RMR says:

      I had the same reaction, Jennifer. It wasn’t so much the young woman’s reaction, which I thought was realistic, sometimes people cannot forgive and it is understandable her anger could run that deep – it was more that there seemed to be a sense that the writers not only understood her reaction but saw it as morally legitimate. I’m not interested in watching a program with this moral bent and agenda. I’ve watched all episodes to date, I don’t think I’ll watch another.

      • lisa sachleben says:

        Deeply dissapointing episode.. I know most people wouldn’t make the decision to forgive in this kind of a senario; but to hold the womans vengeful, spiteful and vicious reaction as a moment of triumph after witnessing the perpetrators sincere remorse left me feeling so sad and empty. I’d rather watch stories of redemption, grace and forgiveness. I think I’m done with this show.

        • David Parrish says:

          You missed the whole point. It was the grace, forgiveness and redemption of God that found out the prisoner in spite of his sin. Sin that was so heinous in this instance that the women could not find the grace to forgive. The prisoner could not even forgive himself so deep was his sin but God came to him regenerated him and used him for a mission within the prison. That’s like the hymn “Amazing Grace”

  14. Kris says:

    I have generally appreciated this show and the way they handle issues. But as many have stated I was also very disappointed in this episode. They didn’t have to present cliche answers to a vey difficult situation but to show no compassion to this man who obviously had suffered from untreated schizophrenia at the time of the crime and to suggest he should try again to kill himself seemed to be very poor treatment of the issues. Is this the end of the storyline?

    • RMR says:

      It was deeply offensive on so many levels. Firstly schizophrenics rarely become violent in this way – it happens but it’s not common – and perpetuates such an awful myth about the disease. And it is a disease. Not a form of evil. A disease. It also was a terrible and inaccurate portrayal of how restorative justice is handled. Really disgusting.

  15. Andrea Shappell says:

    You did not do enough research on what restorative justice is. A victim is never alone in the process and much preparation is done with both victim and offender before meeting. Both have support people with them. The focus is on repairing the harm done, not on forgiveness. Refer to Howard Zerr’s Little Book on Restorative Justice. I thought the episode was a total misrepresentation of restorative justice and would like to see an episode that shows a true representation of the good work that can be done by a restorative justice process.