The dynamic between The Rookie‘s Officer Lucy Chen and TO Tim Bradford may have warmed up some during Season 2 of ABC’s light procedural, but that “intimacy” likely won’t segue anytime soon into romance.
From go, Tim (played by Eric Winter) was a gruff, all-business TO committed to cutting his “boot” little slack, all in the name of shaping Lucy (Melissa O’Neil) to be the best officer she can be. But in Season 2, Lucy’s very close brush with death, at the hands of Rosalind Dyer’s protege, Caleb Wright, affected Tim deeply — in part because he felt responsible for nudging Lucy into what turned out to be the date from Hell. In the aftermath of that harrowing ordeal, Tim seemed different, nurturing almost, especially when at Lucy’s hospital bedside he showed up with what he knew to be her specific take-out food of choice.
The Rookie showrunner Alexi Hawley admits there is now a certain “intimacy” between the TO and rookie, but warns that to take things too far would make hypocrites of the series’ writing staff.
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Surveying the “Chenford” dynamic, Hawley told TVLine, “The actors definitely brought it. I mean, they’re just so good individually and together.” Looking back to the drama’s launch, he said, “Tim was always designed to be a character who was much more complicated than he seemed, and Lucy was always designed to be a really strong ,empathetic character, but I think [what we’ve seen] is the magic of chemistry that happens that you just can’t know when you’re writing a pilot.”
That magic, however, won’t make a workplace romance appear. “We do walk a line — me maybe more than some of the staff — about how there’s an intimacy between them that’s born from an incredibly heightened experience over these last two seasons,” Hawley noted. “But Tim would never cross that line. She’s his rookie and he would never even consider crossing that line. So while I’m obviously aware that there’s a big ‘shipping there, and I appreciate any kind of passion about the show, that’s a huge line [to cross]” for a TO and his padawan. (Eric Winter said same during a fall 2019 TV Insider interview: “It’s something that Bradford would never organically do, being a superior to her.”)
Hawley then pointed to the Season 1 plot point that cast aspersion on the secret romance between Chen and fellow rookie John Nolan (Nathan Fillion). “We’d be hypocrites [to write a Lucy/Tim romance] because we made it very clear in those first four or five episodes that female officers unfairly get tagged if they sleep with cops, and it’s why Nolan and Lucy couldn’t be together — and ultimately I think that was the right move. I mean, he was on the rebound from a 20-year marriage and she was 20 years his junior, and so it worked out the way it was supposed to, but if we turned around and threw [Lucy and Tim] together, that would be somewhat hypocritical.”
As for what is ahead for Chen and Bradford in Season 3, which will premiere… actually, ABC hasn’t said boo about its 2020-21 scheduling… Hawley shared in our Season 2 post mortem Q&A, “Tim has made a commitment to at least try and figure out what it’s going to be like with Rachel [now living] in New York.” Lucy meanwhile “is at the beginning of this relationship [with firefighter Emmett Lang] — but she’s probably still got some stuff she’s working out, even if it’s subconsciously, about what happened to her with Caleb back only a few months prior. I just don’t want to gloss over that.”