There is confusion at the outset in this week’s February 20 16th episode of Season 5 for “Blue Bloods,” with conflicting titles given for the episode, some going with “Only in New York,” and others with “In the Box.” Call it viewer’s choice, but whatever the name, the story provokes thoughtful meditation on what it is to be a parent, and the best and most lasting ways to show love.
The day is going predictably at the precinct, with Danny and Maria (Donnie Wahlberg and Marisa Ramirez) bringing in a frat boy offender who’s had an accident in their squad car. Maria takes an issue with a known dad, Drake (Dominic Fumusa) who has complicated issues with his ex-wife, and dilemmas seeing his young daughter, Penelope. Things escalate from tense to terrifying when weapons are drawn, particularly because Baez’ weapon is down on the ground. Jamie and Eddie (Will Estes and Vanessa Ray) console the new widow of a beloved husband shot in the street. She has no idea of the expense for the burial, far beyond her means. She cannot bear the thought of the man she shared 50 years with lying in a “Potter’s Field.” Eddie goes on a fund-raising campaign to offer the proper respects. Garrett (Gregory Jbara) has troubles of his own with a very troubled son, addicted to OxyContin. He appeals to Frank (Tom Selleck) for a favor of having his current charges dropped, so he can repeat rehab rather than further dig into his habit in prison. Frank digs into his the truth on record with his trusty aide, Baker (Abigail Hawk), and finds many instances where Garrett has played the preferred police card instead of letting his boy face his own music. Still, his friend’s emotion, and understanding what it is to be a father, and knowing that everyone knows his own kids, Frank is torn, but decides to let law follow through. Danny drives negotiation with Drake, putting Penelope front and center, and still determined that no harm will come to his partner. Garrett visits his son in the cell, to a reception of “screw you.” Garrett does his best to be tough, but knows his son’s desperate need to become drug-free, and leaves with a knuckle bump. Danny works a plan to bring Penelope to the precinct with ex-wife, Heather. Eddie literally does the tin-cup tactic, going door-to-door to gather funds, without much success. When the car arrives for Heather and Penelope, mom bolts and runs, unraveling the plan.
Phone contact fails because mom has left her phone at home, but Danny has the idea to ping the daughter’s cell phone, which he knows about from dad. One of the wonderful things about this episode is the returning, powerful screen presence of James McDaniel, of “NYPD Blue” on duty as the SWAT chief. The chief wants to go for a “kill shot,” very confident in his team, but Danny worries about shot maneuvers in a real-life situation, not on the training range. Eddie and Jamie go to feel dine there where Mrs. Jackson and her husband ate every day, but the compassion to give is pitifully weak, and Jamie sees one dining guest dart out very quickly. When he goes after the young man, knowing there’s reason behind the getaway, he gets no info, because the streets and the gangs will make anyone who cooperates “next to get got.” Danny carefully positions himself to allow Maria to see him holding up a bottle of scotch, hoping it will be a means to lower Drake’s defenses. Maria plays it perfectly, saying her nerves are getting to her, and prompting her captor to request the bottle. After careful examination, Danny brings in the booze, and Drake takes a good long whiff, but doesn’t fall for the tactic, saying he’s not going to let them “get me drunk,” and pouring out the contents. He demands his daughter in one hour.
Danny calls Erin (Bridget Moynahan) to intersect the police checkpoint set up to bring Heather and Penelope in, and she appeals to the this mom as a mother herself, and for the sake of a daughter who still needs a living father, even one who needs treatment. Some of the most compelling conversation ever happens between Garrett and Frank, Garrett confessing his “blind spot” when it comes to his son and his problems, and admitting that his way of help has never been successful, but that no version of parenting ever materializes as “right for everyone.” Frank privately consults with Gormley (Robert Clohessy), who is now on first name basis. Gormley offers these memorable words to the boss:
“Anybody who knows any of your kids, how they turned out, they’d wish they could have talked to you when they were raising their own.”
Frank reconsiders the situation, and expresses that he is sorry about the situation to Garrett, just before bonding his son out.
Maria is praying confession, part real, part playing a part to get Drake’s guard down. She coerces him to come to the table and hold hands while they pray. Danny makes his move, gets in position ahead of all the SWAT team, and looks for the nod from his partner. He goes in, Maria runs out, and he and Drake are “mano y mano” except for the fact that Drake has a gun. In the instant that Drake is about the fire, Erin announces that Penelope is here. Those words save two lives, and a family. When his daughter asks why he did what he did, Drake responds, “Daddy needs help,” and that he wanted to see her. When she asks “Will I ever see you again?” Mom, interjects, “of course you will. He’s your father.” Maria makes it clear that she has survived her ordeal, bouncing back to the same old Maria when Danny says everything will be “whatever I say” from now on. When Jamie and Eddie deliver $2500 to Mrs. Jackson for the burial, the community at the diner is both humbled and amazed by the gesture, and moved to contribute themselves. The fearful gang member hands Jamie a donation with his phone number attached, along with words “call me, I’ll give you what you needed.”
Frank presides over the family dinner table, insisting that every soul there has reason for gratitude, and in lieu of just one Reagan speaking the prayer, asks that every speak his or her own blessing, ending in the sign of the cross, in humble family communion.