The Rookie‘s Season 3 premiere ended with John Nolan sweeping up plaster dust at his home. But whether he can clean up the mess he made of his career remains to be seen.
The new season picked up right where the last one ended, with sirens wailing outside Nolan’s home just as he discovered the evidence planted inside his bedroom wall by dirty Detective Nick Armstrong. Nolan smartly phoned a lawyer, Wes, just before Sergeant Gray came to lead him away in cuffs. Back at the cop shop, Nolan ignored much of a frustrated Wes’ advice, choosing not to keep mum but instead tell all about what he and Harper had been through in the name of proving Armstrong is on the Darien crime family’s payroll. With Armstrong himself recuperating from his gunshot at the hospital, Nolan threw a hail Mary, offering to arrange a meet with Ruben Darien under the premise of wanting to replace Armstrong as his inside man.
Gray begrudgingly agreed to the scheme, but despite the team’s best efforts they lost track of Nolan after he got picked up and had a hood thrown over his head. Next thing Nolan knew, he was dropped off at night in the middle of a junkyard lot, where he was met by Ruben… as well as Armstrong, who slipped away from his hospital detail with Rosalind Dyer’s help. What happened next… well, it was a bit unclear? Armstrong’s gun jammed when he went to put down Nolan, and a weird melee broke out. Scrambling on and out of shadows, Nolan picked off the henchmen one by one, then got the drop on Darien himself and called 911, while Armstrong appeared down for the count
Back at the precinct, Harper tried to take the blame for Nolan’s misguided, rule-bending approach to justice, but Gray wasn’t having it. And while Nolan wasn’t booted off the force, his brush with noble cause corruption (“the end justifies the means”) did earn him a letter of reprimand in his file. And for a rookie, that typically demarks a big, dead end. Meaning, any dream of one day being a detective is (probably) dashed.
“He got as close to getting fired as he could,” showrunner Alexi Hawley tells TVLine. And though Nolan (played by Nathan Fillion) in an upcoming episode “will be hopeful that he can overcome” this roadblock, it will be made clear to him, “That letter went to everybody, and they’re all younger than you are, so they’re going to outlast you,” Hawley previews.
Breaking down the decision to dampen the oldest rookie’s prospects, Hawley says, “I do think that it’s very important that actions have repercussions, and noble cause corruption is a huge thing. It is a big problem of policing, but it’ll also open up other opportunities for him, and it’ll give him something to try and overcome, which is ultimately more dramatic than him just getting an easy pass.”
So while Nolan in success can become P2 (a regular patrol officer) and, in theory, become a training officer at some point, “to get out of uniform, to become a detective, or even to go to a specialized unit like S.W.A.T.” is not going to happen, Hawley explains.
“It’s important that we set up situations that we honor,” Hawley says, as was done in the Season 1 episode where Nolan killed an armed robber. “We took everybody through that process of what it was like, and that set a bar for us,” he notes. “On most cop shows, cops kill people and they end up back on the street after the commercial break. We can’t. That’s not what we do. And it definitely affects our storytelling, I think, in a good way. In the same sense, we need to honor this punishment, but it’ll open up other doorways for stories for us.”
Elsewhere in the season opener, on a lighter but similarly career-shifting note: Officer Angela Lopez (played by an expectant Alyssa Diaz) learned that she and Wes (Shawn Ashmore) are expecting a child, just before Sergeant Gray (Richard T. Jones) delivered the news that she has been promoted to detective. But rather than share her personal situation with Gray right then and there, her plan is “to keep her pregnancy a secret as long as she can, as long as she’s not showing enough,” says Hawley.
“Her point, which is very relevant, is that she can’t show up on Day 1 pregnant, because they’ll see her differently. They’ll judge her,” says the EP. “They’ll think she’s delicate, and they won’t give her a real shot. This is a struggle that a lot of other women go through in the workplace, and a lot of women do hide this, and so we will explore that and the toll that takes — and then, at some point, when she decides to talk about it. It adds a really important dynamic.”