Blue Bloods: Season 8 In Review

I am sure you are thinking, “Who are you?” or “Blue Bloods? Who watches Blue Bloods?”

Those are both valid questions, and I feel like I should address them.

My name is Logan, and I’m new here. I am so grateful to the team at Writes of the Roundtable for letting me join up! I cannot wait to get to know everyone here! We all seem to have one important thing in common: We love television. However, I am, personally, not the biggest fan of procedurals. There seem to be too many of them on network television — which is why my love of Blue Bloods is surprising even to me.

Blue Bloods finished its eighth season last night and has been renewed for a ninth. On the surface, it seems like an old-fashioned show with conservative values, and that analysis is not completely inaccurate. But this show is more than it seems.

It is not just a procedural; it is a family drama. The Reagans are a family of public servants: two police commissioners, one detective, one assistant district attorney, and one patrol officer. But they are not only these things. They are siblings; they are parents, and they are aunts and uncles. They fight, tease, and encourage each other; then, at the end of every week, they all meet up for a family dinner. They love their family more than anything else, and they stick together through every danger they face. They are genuinely likeable people who care about their city and the people within it. They will make you love them even if you don’t want to (but why wouldn’t you want to? They are precious!).

Blue Bloods is a show about cops, but it is not show that pretends every cop is a good cop. The series explores issues of excessive force and profiling. It constantly discusses the fine line that must be walked to protect the public without victimizing them. It regularly addresses issues of race and the complexities of what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s in between. The topics and narratives it explores are handled with class and sensitivity. The objectivity that this show about cops and lawyers maintains is nothing short of miraculous. This fact shines, even in this glorious season finale (more on why it’s truly glorious later).

I picked a doozy of an episode to review first, my friends. This is a season finale, and I expected it to overwhelm me with feelings. I expected correctly — I just expected the wrong feelings. But as it was a season finale, I feel it is necessary to recap just where our characters’ journeys have taken us this season.

Danny Reagan. Danny began this season by recovering from a tragedy: the unexpected death of his wife Linda, which happened off-screen over hiatus.

This was not really a choice the writers wanted to make. The actress did not wish to return for season eight; and, as she was an integral part of the show, the writers weren’t sure how to deal with an absent Linda Reagan. The solution they came up with caused a lot of conflict earlier this year, but I can see where the writers were coming from. With the actress not even wishing to recur, this left the options at divorce or death. I would not have wanted a divorce storyline without Linda there to define her half of the story. Plus, Danny and Linda had a real relationship and a deep love. They were partners, even when they fought and seemed distant. A divorce would have done a disservice to the well-constructed relationship we watched unfold on Blue Bloods for seven seasons.

As a result of Linda’s death — a helicopter crash while riding in a medevac with a patient — Danny was ready to turn in his papers and quit. He had two boys to take care of and no partner to help him anymore. He was questioning everything that he was and everything he thought he wanted to be. He was floundering without Linda, and it was heartbreaking to watch. He also blamed himself for the ending of the previous season, where a drug cartel burned down his family’s home in retaliation. In the season 8 opener, Danny decided to work one last case and — as we all expected — that one case reminded him why he chose to be a detective.

Danny spent the rest of the season learning to navigate life without Linda and being the sole parent to his two teenage boys. He struggled and made mistakes. He’s stubborn and has a hard time asking for help, but the Reagans stepped up — as they always do — and he gets through it. Donnie Wahlberg breaks your heart at every turn. If you thought you loved this impulsive quick-tempered man before, then you must love him even more by the time we reach 8×22.

Jamie Reagan. Jamie has Eddie back. That’s how he started season eight. The previous season saw Jamie and Eddie with separate partners. It was as frustrating for the viewers as it was for them. But season eight started with them back together and enjoying it. Jamie’s journey this season was entwined with Eddie’s; and honestly, it was a relief. Eddie and Jamie belong together. They are partners on the job and in life. They spent the season figuring out exactly what that meant and struggling with things left unsaid. Will Estes and Vanessa Ray sizzled all season long. Their chemistry is some of the best on television these days. They have entire conversations with just their eyes. It is wild, and the show knows how to use it to their advantage.

Jamie also struggled with his career. He struggled with the question of whether he’s genuinely happy or becoming complacent, as well as the question of whether or not he will let his family name determine his ambition. Jamie is a compassionate man who loves people with all his heart. He loves his job as a cop on the streets. His heart for people and his passion for patrol make him the perfect person to represent the NYPD to the public. He believes his talents are best served representing what a police officer should be.

And Jamie may be right, but as a viewer who adores him, I know he is too good at his job to be a cop who walks the beat forever. He already steps over the line from patrol cop to detective enough that the detectives in his precinct find him annoying. He is a good cop, but he would be an even better detective. His family knows it, Eddie knows it, and he knows it. He’s just being stubborn — as all Reagans are.

Erin Reagan. Erin’s story this season was about Nicky and Jack, her daughter and her ex-husband. She learned to let Nicky make her own decisions and live life on her own terms. Nicky will be graduating college soon, and Erin is learning she can’t protect her forever. She can be there for Nicky when she asks, but she is going to have to take a step back and wait for her daughter to come to her. That is not easy for Erin, who has largely raised Nicky on her own.

Meanwhile, Jack came back into the picture. Oh, Jack Boyle, the on-again-off-again love of Erin’s life, whose moral compass doesn’t always seem to point north. He is a defense attorney who often works cases against Erin and usually for those everyone knows is guilty. In the first episode of the season, she and Jack began to reconnect after he was stabbed. Slowly, they started to rekindle their relationship. Jack had ground to regain; and I think by the time we reach 8×22, he has sufficiently done just that.

Frank Reagan. Frank started the season in a similar position to Danny. He was ready to retire; he was tired and needed a break. He argued with his staff about the decision and seemed set on it. He had a new mayor, who didn’t seem to respect him or his officers and who was going to make his job even more difficult than it already was. He and his previous mayor had just reached an understanding, and now he was going to have to do it all over again. He wasn’t sure he had it in him. But don’t break out your Hamilton soundtrack just yet: Frank learned he’s not ready to teach anyone how to say goodbye or retire to the mansions of rest.

This old dog can still learn a few new tricks. Tom Selleck has mastered being stern, empathetic, and guilt ridden all at once. In anyone else’s hands Frank Reagan would never seem this heartfelt.

Now that you’re basically caught up, let’s dig in! I’m warning you now: This is going to be long, but it’s my own fault. I should have been reviewing this season all along. Now, I basically need to review a whole season from one finale. Although, this was an exceptional finale.

It seems Blue Bloods only gets better with age.

“My Aim Is True” was a bright spot among finales. It had heightened risks, suspense, danger, and gave me moments of very real anxiety, but none of our Reagans died. No one was tortured, kidnapped, or beaten. This finale was about our Reagans coming together. It had happy endings all around and ended on a hopeful family that was more united than ever. In this day and age of television, where anything can be cancelled at any moment and ratings mean life or death, a happy and hopeful ending is not only rare — it’s glorious!

Lately, even the best writers feel like they must have a cliffhanger and lives in the balance in order to keep viewers coming back from season to season. They know we care about what happens to these fictional people, and they know we will tune in to make sure they survive. Blue Bloods has never done a season cliffhanger, partially because of their format but mostly because of the nature of the show.

At the end of every episode, we know we will see this family sitting around that dinner table dealing with whatever trauma they experienced that week. The finale tension for this show has always relied on their two worlds colliding. The job and the family usually become entangled in a way that puts one or all of the Reagans in serious danger. We fear it, but we know we won’t be left hanging at the end of our forty-three minute ride. Because after the danger is over, the family will still have Sunday dinner.

This fact makes Blue Bloods a glorious (there’s that word again) unicorn in the world of network television. It is one of the facts that makes this series such a joy to watch. We know what this show is about, and we know that our Reagans will be sitting around that dinner table at least five minutes before the episode ends. It’s like Danny says at the beginning of this episode:

“My family – they always got my back. They’re Reagans. It’s how we’re raised.”

They have each other’s backs, and the writers have ours. They know what we want.

And man did they ever deliver!

Rich with Partners. Danny’s season-long emotional journey is wrapped up pretty quickly in the Blue Bloods finale; and it happened in the very first scene. This scene left us all wanting to hold Danny in our arms and keep him there for a while. Donnie Wahlberg has been phenomenal this season, illustrating the realities of loss. Anyone who has lost someone important knows that it’s a daily struggle. It doesn’t mean you spend all your time in mourning because life has to go on. People rely on you, and you have responsibilities. But it’s a sadness that ebbs and flows. Some days are better than others. The writers and Donnie have come together to portray this brilliantly.

Danny talking to Linda’s headstone in the opening of the episode is an effective and simple way to show us how much he has grown since 8×01. He is being open about how he misses his wife, and never once does he indicate that he plans to give up. In 8×01, he refused to talk, and he nearly shut down completely. He has also learned to accept help when it’s offered. He has realized that he needs his family to help him take care of not just Sean and Jack but himself, too. (I also love the appreciation this man shows Baez in this scene. Yes, Danny, Baez is a godsend. She is a patient angel when it comes to you and your bullheaded ways.) While he’s grown, this scene also lets us know that Danny’s struggle with loss will never truly be complete.

“Keep trying to remind myself I’m rich with partners, but you’re the only one that really matters.”

Break my heart, Danny Reagan. Break it into a million little pieces. Linda has been gone for nearly a year, yet this man still knows that she was his truest partner. He is trying as hard as he can to be the man he knows his sons need, the detective Baez needs, the brother Jamie and Erin need, and the son his father needs. He has found a way to do that, and while we may not always agree with how he handles it, it works for him. It keeps him motivated and grounded. His journey was about finding a way to carry on without Linda, and he has done that. This completes his story for Blue Bloods season 8.

Completing that emotional path now frees Danny up to be there for everyone else — a task we see him struggle with in true Danny Reagan fashion. It is important that we see that Danny is still learning how to be a partner himself. This is never more clear than later in the episode when Erin is devastated by witnessing her boss’ murder and Danny presses her for an account of the shooting. He is being Detective Danny Reagan in this moment, and he wants Erin to search her memories for information on the shooter.

But what he misses in this moment is that Erin doesn’t need Detective Danny Reagan. She needs Danny Reagan, her brother. Danny is so blind to this that his sister and his niece have to scold him. (Side note: I was so proud of Nicky Reagan in this scene. She is an adult now, and she will challenge the authority figures in her life when she knows they are wrong. Her stern expression and “maybe in the morning” insistence was a wonderful small way to illustrate how much she’s grown.)

“Okay, I’m sorry, all right? It’s my job. I can’t help it.”

Danny’s job and his boys get him through the day. It is understandable that he would slip into this role when the stress is high. This is why he needs his family, and we are reminded of that when Jamie speaks up. Danny has another role that he needs to fill in this situation.

Maybe do your other job, Danny?”

Danny immediately corrects his behavior and begins to comfort Erin after that because he can admit when he’s wrong and loves his family. He needs them to point out when he fails so that he can be the best version of himself.

Prospect Park Six. Frank’s struggle in this episode is one that makes him the Police Commissioner the NYPD deserves. He admits his failings and carries them with him every day. This is what leaders are supposed to do! They admit when they are wrong. They try to make amends. This is also the socially relevant portion of this episode. I told you earlier that Blue Bloods never shies away from the very real fear of the cops, and this is where we see it. This group of young men was wrongfully convicted of a crime they did not commit. Frank was commissioner at the time; and in his eyes, the buck stops with him. He allowed the justice system to fail those young men, and he knows it.

“No, I have not reached out personally to those men because, honestly, I can’t imagine what I could say that would mean anything and I still don’t.”

Tom Selleck plays a tortured leader so well. Frank has strict beliefs and values, but he is able to grow and change. This makes him an honorable man. Can you imagine? A leader that admits his mistakes and also acknowledges other people’s points of view as valid? This is what all leaders should aspire to (side eying a certain POTUS — you all know the one I mean).

The Prospect Park Six are going to be his struggle for this episode, but in true finale stakes fashion, this struggle is destined to overflow onto the rest of the Reagan family.

How does it overflow? Well, we’re about to find out.

The next scene shows Baez and Danny talking to two adorable and hilarious little old ladies. Were it not for the tragedy they just witnessed, they would be a great comedy duo. Their friend Ida had just been murdered on the street in broad daylight.

“Who puts a hit out on an old lady named Ida?” Good question, Baez.

This is the first indication that something big is brewing. This is not your average murder.

We then see Jamie and Eddie helping a teen with the disastrous results of a joy ride. “That’s way too much car for a fifteen year old, but I guess you know that now.” Oh Jamie, my sassy boy scout, I do love you. As he is put in the back of Jamie and Eddie’s patrol car, this teenager exhibits an attitude and a fear of cops that tells us there is more to his story. This is our second clue.

From there, we see Erin walking to work and talking with her boss, Monica. Much like Erin, Monica is on the verge of reconciling with her ex-husband. If you think this is going to be a cute scene where Erin finally tells someone she and Jack Boyle are seeing each other again, then I hate to tell you, but you’re wrong. Before the news about Jack can leave Erin’s lips, Monica is shot through the chest. In broad daylight. Right in front of Erin.

By now, you should be hearing loud, blaring warning bells. This is the second murder in broad daylight to happen in one day. It happens quickly and without warning, just like Danny’s case from a few minutes before. Our honed TV viewer senses tell us that these three things must be connected. Somehow, some way, they’re connected.

The next scene brings it all back around to Frank’s struggle in this episode. Eddie and Jamie are releasing the teenager to his family when the connective thread becomes clear. The Prospect Park Six. The teen Jamie and Eddie arrested, Luis, is the younger brother of Manuel Escobar. Manuel was just released from nine years of wrongful imprisonment as a part of the Prospect Park Six.

After more murders, Frank begins to suspect it may be retaliation committed by a member of the Six. But without more evidence, his staff convinces him he is trying to assign reason to a senseless mistake. Which, if it were anyone else, would be a valid argument, but when it’s Frank Reagan…he’s probably on to something. Each murder has a link to the six young men who were wronged for nine years. The pieces begin to fall into place, and it becomes clear that someone out there is marking names off of a list.

It doesn’t take long for Frank, his staff, and the family to realize what this means. A Reagan is on the list. This is where my anxiety turned up, my friends. Because it could be any Reagan. Frank was upset (and I was upset). This was handled with such a haunting subtlety that I really liked. It added to the tension in a way that didn’t feel heavy-handed.

But the fear was still very real. Which Reagan would it be? What was Sunday dinner going to look like? The Reagans just lost Linda; they cannot lose anyone else!

The Escobars. I want to take a moment here to discuss the Escobars. This family has been through hell. You are meant to feel for them on every level. Mrs. Escobar’s anger is understandable, and her fear is very real for many people. Manuel Escobar’s fear is also justified. Their panic adds just the right emotional punch to the following exchange:

“One thing I learned the hard way? You’re in a police station, you sure as hell need a lawyer.”

“And cops’ promises don’t mean nothing.”

This is our weekly reminder that not all cops are upstanding, not all cases are closed properly, and things that may seem open and shut sometimes aren’t. We are faced, once again, with the point of view of the downtrodden and the people who have been collateral damage in a system that is sometimes broken. They are not portrayed to be unreasonable or evil. They are portrayed as real and empathetic. Jamie and Eddie understand their outrage. This conflict is one of the reasons Blue Bloods works so well.

The series makes it clear that any good cop or detective has their work cut out for them because they are fighting a negative reputation and a history of corruption. Our main characters want to be the change, and to be that change they sometimes have to apologize for other people’s mistakes. No problem is black and white. There are various shades of gray, and Blue Bloods is familiar with them all. This is not a show that throws blind support behind all cops or romanticizes “dirty cops” or cops that “bend the rules.” On this series, our heroes do things by the book or, at the very least, strive to. This makes Blue Bloods the best kind of procedural. What’s the best kind of procedural? One that addresses the realities of the world with idealistic characters who can pick up the slack and make you believe again.

This is what Blue Bloods does best.

Our faith in our Reagans is proved in the next scene, where Jamie goes to Anthony to ask for a favor. He tells Anthony about Luis Escobar’s joyride and then says, “That family’s got a break coming.” And Jamie, pure soul that he is, is having none of Anthony’s response about a five million dollar settlement being a “break” and replies, “I mean, a break from the cops and the justice system. I think they’re owed it.”

Jamie Reagan is a prince. He is the least toxic male on television. Fight me on that, and I will win. I have the receipts. He is a patrol cop, and he is admitting out loud that the Escobars have gotten a raw deal. He believes the law should be followed, but he believes it should be fair. Good people deserve a break, and Jamie will fight for that as often as he possibly can. Jamie Reagan is my hero.

It is his attitude toward the Escobars that, in the end, wins the day for The Reagans. It earns them the key piece of intelligence they need. The fact that this show lets Jamie’s inherent goodness win the day is another reason to be in love with it.

The Jamko of It All. The conclusion of this episode lies completely with Jamie and Eddie. They have been their normal adorable selves all episode. They’ve had each other’s backs through every interaction and had whole conversations with no words at all. They’ve been having an episode-long debate of what they would do with five million dollars, which provided us with insights into how selfless our OTP really is (“Those beagles they do make up experiments on — I’m saving all of them.” Janko, you precious, multifaceted woman. Thank you for being both soft and tough all at once). And upon Jamie’s insistence, as usual, they’ve gotten overly involved in the Escobar family’s lives. Just your typical Jamie and Eddie.

They are still debating what they would do with this hypothetical five million dollars on the day that it happens — the day the hitman we’ve been chasing all episode comes for a Reagan.

The playful banter almost makes you forget there’s a creepy black sedan following their patrol car. (It is seriously the cutest that Eddie tries to veto Jamie’s five million dollar fantasy when she finds out he wants a motorcycle. Eddie is not here for Jamie driving a motorcycle in a real “concerned wife” moment.) But then they stop for coffee, and Jamie stays in the car.

I am an experienced TV viewer, and this situation had me tense. The minute he was left alone in the car, I was expecting the worst. I was expecting Jamie to be killed or, at the very least, shot before he could admit to Eddie how he felt. The last four episodes heavily featured Jamie coming to terms with his feelings and even showed his big sister, Erin, encouraging him to say something. I was nervous that he would be hurt or killed, and she would never know, that Eddie would sacrifice her own safety for Jamie’s and he would never be able to tell her. I was convinced a terrible tragedy was going to befall them because that’s how modern TV works — especially with a slow burn — and these two have been slowly burning for five years.

But at the last second, Eddie senses danger. There’s no real explanation for how she knows. She turns, sees the black sedan pull away from the curb, and takes off to find Jamie. She just knows. The hitman misses his shot, Jamie ducks down in the car, and Janko takes the assassin out with a well-aimed shot through the rear car window. It happens fast, and I was holding my breath the whole time — even after Janko shot our perpetrator. You never know what could happen in a season finale, and I’ve come to always, always, always expect a horrible twist.

But a horrible twist never came.

Jamie survived. He and Eddie have a beautiful moment after it’s all over, where she tells him it was like she heard a voice and she knew he was in danger before he actually was. There’s an emotional embrace, and then we finally get a resolution on their debate about that hypothetical five million.

“I’d spend the five million on you,” Jamie says as he holds Eddie tightly.

It is fan fiction come to life; and it is — once again — GLORIOUS.

I thought that was the end. I was satisfied with that because that one line is progress for this particular slow burn. They are partners, and they’ve discussed their feelings once or twice before, both deciding that if dating means they can’t be partners, then they would rather not date. Their partnership is the most important thing to them, so that tearful moment where Janko saved Jamie’s life seemed huge, all things considered.

But I should have known Blue Bloods wouldn’t send us off into hiatus without something huge to leave us all buzzing, shouldn’t I?

You know those Sundays dinners with the whole Reagan clan we love so much? Well, what’s coming is the absolute best family dinner of them all and something I was not prepared for. I have to hand it to this team of writers: They know how to craft a surprise. They know people have been waiting five years for Jamie and Eddie to get it together, and the moment they reveal it has to be spectacular. They did not fail us.

The moment Jamie asks for another place setting at the table, I assume it means he’s bringing Eddie. But in what capacity? Friend? Girlfriend? Then, he holds his hand out; she’s there with him, holding his hand with both of hers, and I know they’re together. That’s fine. I’m fine. I’m excited but not a joyful, teary mess. I’m all good. But then this happens, when Frank greets Eddie:

“Officer Janko.”

“Just Eddie today, Dad.”

“Actually, not just Eddie today.”

“Well, since this morning, the future Mrs. Jameson Reagan.”

Tears. Lots of tears. Everywhere. Tears of joy and disbelief. Just tears streaming down my face. No, I am not emotionally invested in this couple at all. What made you think that?

But wow.

Blue Bloods really did that!

This slow burn ship went from zero to engagement ring in the time it takes to show one establishing exterior shot! No, no dating for Jamko. No on again, off again. They jumped headfirst into serious commitment! It is so Jamko (and so Jamie) to know that the partnership they have in and out of the squad house is the only partnership for them.

Why pretend there’s a chance it won’t work out when they already know this is what they want? They’ve been through five years of supporting each other, arguing over decisions, sacrificing their happiness for the other, and sometimes painful awkward distance. Every time they have been separated, they have come out on the other side of it stronger than they were before. They’ve already invested so much time in their relationship and grown together. Dating would be largely ceremonial, so why not jump right in? (Listen, fanfic authors, I’m expecting a lot of stories to fill in what happened between Eddie saving Jamie’s life and the two of them announcing their engagement to the family, okay? I’m requesting it now.)

This is the kind of twist I can really get behind! Give me more of these happy, surprising twists! Maybe then my eye won’t start twitching every time I hear the words “season finale.”

But they’re still not done giving us beautiful Jamko moments because these two dorks in love proceed to say vows at the Reagan family dinner table. These vows, man, these vows:

“I’ll always have your back. If you fall behind, I’ll wait up. I’ll earn your respect and pay you respect every day we have. I’ll be your scout, your night watchman, your cavalry. Your medic, your chaplain in our army of two. No retreat, no surrender. You can count on me.”

If you are not crying after reading those words, then you are dead inside. Blue Bloods made Jamko happen and ran full speed ahead at their happily-ever-after. This is a mature and confident couple who knows exactly what they are getting into, and you can see it on everyone’s faces as they sit around the dinner table. This couple belongs together. This couple will not fall apart. They are meant to be.

So, how can anyone deny their request to remain partners on the job while married? You can’t. You literally cannot. There is no one better at watching each other’s backs than Jamie and Eddie. This is the dream, my pals. Fan fiction come true. Congratulations, Jamko shippers! You’ve reached the light at the end of your shipper tunnel! You. Are. Endgame. It’s happiness that is well earned on both sides: for Jamie and Eddie and for the loyal viewers that have adored them for five years.

If you’re like me, you were still crying during the final two lines of the episode.

“Welcome to our family, Eddie.”

“Thank you…Dad.”

That is my show, that is my ship, and that is my precious family of public servants ending their season on a high note of love and contentment. I could not have asked for more.

Best. Finale. Ever.

Bonus:

Sid, Garrett, and Baker sweep the banter awards this episode. This trio is a well oiled machine, and I adore them. See exhibit A:

“Two of us have held the rank of detective.”

“And Garrett can take notes.”

And exhibit B:

“We’ve all been there.”

“Cops, that is.”

“I get it.” 

Blue Bloods returns next fall on Fridays at 10/9C on CBS.

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One thought on “Blue Bloods: Season 8 In Review

  1. To Logan Angell…your review of Blue Bloods Season 8 finale was GLOURIOUS just like the finale itself. My husband & I are newcomers to Blue Bloods having only seen Season 8 shows 12 thru 22. Even with that short time saw a quality show…from the writers to the actors including the supporting cast, The chemistry btw Will Estes/Vanessa Ray is magic. Can’t wait to see the story line & your review of our favorite public servants continue on in Season 9.

    Like

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