Blue Bloods: Season 9 Premiere “Playing with Fire” Review

Congratulations, Blue Bloods fans! We made it through the hiatus! Let’s jump right in, shall we?

The episode starts the day after the finale ended. Everyone is back to work. Danny and Baez are assigned a floater, Erin gets a promotion, Frank tells his staff about Jamie’s engagement, Jamie and Eddie save people from a burning building. A typical Monday, right? Maybe, but let’s take a closer look. For each event that seems “typical”, there is a circumstance that makes it anything but.

Danny and Baez

The floater is no ordinary victim. First of all, he’s headless. Second, he has a tattoo indicating he’s with the Mexican Mafia. This will be messy. Later on, the victim is identified and they question his girlfriend to find out more about the victim, Manny. The girlfriend reveals that Manny refused a job for the cartel and she believes they sent their hit man, La Pantera, after Manny. Obviously, Baez and Danny take this information very seriously. The last time they dealt with the Mexican cartels, Danny’s house was burnt to the ground.

Baez comes to Danny and reveals that she spoke to her DEA contact, and they think La Pantera, otherwise known as Delgado, is who set Danny’s house on fire. Donnie Wahlberg’s face says it all. Once they find Delgado, Danny will make sure he sees justice.

First, he pays a visit to Erin to ask for a warrant. As usual, he expects more than she can legally give. The struggle between these two will always be his reckless personality versus her logical mind. Danny is fire, as the kids say, when his family is involved. The conversation goes downhill quickly, but he’s beyond any rational thought at this point.

I spent the next few minutes disappointed in Danny because he’s better than this. Donnie Wahlberg plays it well. You empathize with Danny but know he’s making all the wrong decisions. Delgado taunts him by confessing to burning down his house when they’re alone, but he denies his confession once Baez is back in the room. It’s Danny’s word against his. Lou Diamond Phillips was excellently cast as Delgado. He’s a slippery snake and the perfect nemesis for Danny. He’s as intelligent as Danny and ten times more deadly.

Danny and Erin finally get it together and team up to bust Delgado on drugs since they can’t get him for murder. They succeed but Danny makes a decision that I suspect may come back to bite him. He sets Delgado up to look like a rat. He releases him and thanks him for his “cooperation”. Danny had me cursing out loud in shocked awe. The next day they’re called out to another headless floater. Baez and Danny assume it’s Delgado, but Danny’s next line seems to be foreshadowing: “Nothing is ever over.”

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Delgado.

Erin

Erin’s promotion comes on the heels of Monica’s murder. That makes Erin uncomfortable, understandably so. It becomes clear that, despite her promotion, her superiors have doubts. She is labeled as sympathetic to cops and told that she will have more eyes on her now. This means she’ll be butting heads more often with her family. We’re about to see a whole new level of conflict for her.

Usually, Erin only deals with one brother asking for a favor. In this episode she gets both. The Reagan brothers really don’t take it easy on her. I was angry with Jamie and the way he breezed in, made his request, and breezed out. He assumed she would do as he asked.

We get a moment with Anthony and Erin, the best lunch buddies around. Erin discusses her new position and, when Anthony expresses concern about handling her cases on his own, she cuts to the heart of the matter. He’s the only person she trusts to have her back when they’re on the job. Bridget Moynahan played this scene perfectly. Erin isn’t an overly emotional woman. This moment isn’t sappy — it’s matter of fact. The chemistry between Moynahan and Steve Schirripa is companionable and affectionate. The best decision the show ever made for Erin’s character was to give her Anthony. We’ve seen a whole new side to Erin since he came on board.

Frank

Underneath the good news Frank gives his staff, regarding Jamie’s engagement, is worry about their decision to keep riding together. The shift in gears after he announces that Jamie and Eddie will continue to be partners is comical. Baker’s stilted “Oh” and Sid’s “That’s a problem” wipe the congratulatory smiles off their faces. It’s Garrett that suggests they draw up an interim order to keep them from riding together. Frank leaves it to Sid to put together, but you can tell the issue isn’t closed by the look on Baker’s face. She isn’t amused.

Frank meets with Jamie at 1PP and it doesn’t go well. I can understand Frank’s concern and I don’t disagree with him, but he went for the gut shot in this conversation. “So, I look the other way, you get married. The two of you get taken out in the same action. What do you want me to do with your kids?”

It’s a reality Jamie needs to face and a fear that is real to Frank. You see both sides. To Jamie, there is no one who can watch Eddie’s back better than him. To Frank, it means heightened risk of loss. He’s lost one son and one daughter-in-law in their respective lines of duty. This scene gives us brilliant performances from both Selleck and Will Estes. I found myself frustrated in this scene because Jamie should admit there’s wisdom in Frank’s argument. Instead, Jamie walks out.

Now we get to Baker. This conversation has been coming the whole episode and I adore how she commands Frank’s time. “My detail ready?” “There’s a ten minute delay.” “For what?” “Me.” Yes! Get it, lady. If this were a text conversation I would insert a praise hands emoji here. Baker and Frank have an interesting relationship. She respects him but she has always been honest with him. Baker, portrayed by Abigail Hawk, deserves the spotlight. She makes the point that an interim order, coming from Frank, is a mistake. Just as him condoning it would indicate he is bending the “rules” for Jamie, Frank condemning it would be singling out his son.

Hawk is a force. She stands toe-to-toe with Selleck and that cannot be easy. It speaks greatly to her abilities. The exchange that follows is impressive. Frank says, “Maybe tell Sid to put a pin in that.” And her reply: “No maybe, and the moment I’m back at my desk.” She won’t allow Frank to make the wrong call. Thank you, Baker. What would Frank do without you?

The next conversation Frank has about Jamie is with Henry. He points out that part of the issue may stem from Frank’s initial reaction to the news. Instead of offering his blessing, he skipped to the drawbacks of the relationship. Len Cariou beautifully plays quiet admonishment mixed with an offering of wisdom. I have always appreciated the relationship between Frank and Henry and it’s scenes like this that remind me why. Frank values his father’s advice and considers it with solemn gratitude.

Cariou’s performance, combined with the words written for him, is exceptional. It is one of the best parts of the episode. The worry he wears as he says that they “now have another reason to stop our hearts when we hear ‘officer down’ go out over the radio” is palpable. It’s the epitome of a well written and performed moment. Television is at its best when the marriage of acting and writing is as tight as it can be. Blue Bloods is one of the best examples of this on any network.

Jamie and Eddie

“What’s wrong with this guy?”

“Maybe he just had dinner with his fiance’s family.”

“How many times we gotta do this?”

“I’ll let you know.”

What a way to pick back up with this couple! I was grinning like an idiot. It’s good to know the engagement hasn’t put a damper on the banter. Afterward, they literally run straight into a fire. Eddie almost doesn’t make it out and Jamie gets into a fight with a member of the fire department who tried to stop him from going after her. The kid who alerted them to the fire becomes a suspect given that he smells like gasoline and has a burn on his hand. They arrest him on the spot.

During questioning, the kid, Justin, lets slip that “he said no one was in there” which leads Jamie and Eddie to believe that someone put Justin up to it. They return to the scene and speak to a neighbor. She tells them the family in the building were the last holdouts in an otherwise vacant building. The owner wanted to sell and he wanted them out. They found motive. In the next scene, we see Anthony confirming this to Erin and we learn that Justin is the owner’s son. The father put him up to it.

At family dinner, the topic of Jamie and Eddie continuing to ride together comes up and it spirals into an argument. Vanessa Ray is charming as she interacts with Jack, Sean, and Nicky and tries to steer the topic back to the food every chance she gets. Mashed Potatoes have never been analyzed so thoroughly. What were those little green bits in the potatoes? I’m dying to know.

After dinner, Eddie has a discussion with Jamie about how the family feels about their partnership. She is realistic about it and suggests that they discuss not being partners. Jamie is visibly upset and he states he thought riding together is what they both wanted. Ray’s delivery of her reply “I just want you” is earnest and heart wrenching. It proves that she is underutilized. One line and Eddie has me in an emotional puddle and, by the look on Jamie’s face, she does the same to him.

The next day, Erin reveals to Jamie that she got a confession from Justin’s father. Like a true older sister, she brings it around to Jamie’s conflict with Frank. “In my experience, most dads, even criminals, would do anything to protect their kids.” It’s Erin that gets through to Jamie and I’m thrilled by that decision. The writers who thought to give Moynahan and Estes this scene should be given raises or baskets of mini-muffins, whichever is more feasible, because I loved it.

Jamie then goes to Frank. Their argument has peppered the entire episode. It’s resolved by Jamie revealing that he took the Sergeant’s exam, which was a pain point last season for Frank and Jamie, and he placed first. He says that he’ll be taking the promotion and no longer partnering with Eddie. Selleck is excellent in this scene. Frank isn’t boastful. He is humble and concerned. He checks to make sure Jamie is doing what he wants and, once Jamie assures him he is, he congratulates his son. It’s a fitting end to the episode.

Looking Ahead

This was a doozy of a premiere. There were close calls for the characters and emotional conflicts throughout. It touched on everything I love about this show and delivered on most of my expectations. The Reagan Family had each other’s backs. What more could I want?

Well, I can think of one thing. More Vanessa Ray. I know this is only episode one but I was disappointed that we didn’t see more of her. She is a phenomenal actor. My hope when Eddie and Jamie went from zero to engaged in one episode was to see her given more to do. I understand the format of the show focuses on Frank and the Reagan siblings, but here’s to hoping we have more Eddie coming down the line. Apart from that, it was an epic start to season nine.

Blue Bloods airs on Fridays at 10/9C on CBS.

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One thought on “Blue Bloods: Season 9 Premiere “Playing with Fire” Review

  1. I too wanted to see more Eddie/Jamie esp outside the job since they no longer are partners.
    Great review. Keep them coming. Your Season 8 review was fantastic.

    Like

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