Rookie Blue

Season 1 Episode 10

Big Nickel

Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Aug 26, 2010 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
91 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

During a routine prison transport, Andy and Sam's frustrations over their strained personal relationship come to a head when the inmate escapes. Dov and Gail search for clues to an amnesiac John Doe. Meanwhile, Detective Barber has Traci and Chris help him recontruct some missing court case notes.moreless

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  • A well crafted episode with the theme of "facing your past" to tie it all together... "No McNally, [the handcuffs] fell off a friggen beaver - call a 'hambulance.'" -Sam Swarekmoreless

    This week's episode was true to the form of "Rookie Blue" in the sense that it was about the characters and not the crime. If you have seen another episode, you can not help but fall in love with the characters, and you would have enjoyed this episode much more. For newcomers to the series, I could see how this episode may have been a bit dry as there was not a lot of action.

    However, despite the fact that there was not much danger up until the climax, the structured writing makes "Big Nickel" able to stand on its own.

    My favourite plot this week was what it should have been, the 'A Plot' of Andy and Sam. The writers crafted storyline very well with reversals (to build their relationship), raised stakes (to create tension/suspense) and finally with the episode's theme (facing your past) to connect it to the other storylines. The episode started with the rookies training at the shooting range doing a drill called "shoot/don't shoot." This provided a good call back to a previous episode "Hot and Bothered" when the drill was put into real life and Andy passed by knowing to shoot the bad guy - which saved her life and others. That previous episode was the reason why Andy was the only rookie to pass the drill first try and it made sense for the writers to make this decision.

    The scenes with Andy and Sam stuck in the car together were entertaining, cute and awkward, but what made these scenes effective were the reversals that were later attached to each scene:

    (1)In the beginning Sam made it clear that he would be the only one driving, but after some bonding time in the "When Harry Met Sally" diner, Sam actually allowed Andy to take the wheel.

    (2)The change of dynamic between Sam and Andy when the prisoner came into play. It went back to professional with Andy taking Sam's orders (well, mostly).

    (3)Sam's demeanour about finding the prisoner changed when Andy asked him what happens if they don't find the prisoner. Off Sam's look it was clear that Andy's job was on the line. It was the moment when Sam realized he doesn't want to loose Andy as a partner (or friend) and the stakes are raised for him on why he HAS TO find this guy.

    (4)In the beginning of the episode, Andy said she hates 'plea deals' but in the end she tried to use one herself, even though she doesn't think they are right. (5)Sam telling Andy "are you allergic to silence" then telling her that her best weapon is her ability to talk.

    I'm sure there are more reversals if you look for them. But there was another good call back to the start of the episode with the "Shoot/don't shoot" drill when Andy accidentally pointed her gun on Sam. Fortunately, she knew better than to shoot.

    The stakes continued to rise for Andy and Sam but at a much more rapid pace. This was fantastic work by the writers and it worked great to build suspense as well. Here are the beats:

    prisoner escapes and is on the run prisoner gets out of handcuffs prisoner is actually the murderer Sam and Andy don't know he is a murderer Sam and Andy are alone in the woods trying to catch a murderer Andy is alone in the woods trying to catch a murderer Andy looses her gun Andy looses her ability to talk (her best weapon) Andy almost loses her life.

    This raising of the stakes and the rollercoaster ride that the characters are put through is what made the climax of this episode so effective. The Sam and Andy storyline wrapped up sweetly with learning the reason why Sam became a cop. Andy saying "as long as you drive" to Sam was a subtle reminder to how far their friendship had come in the course of a day.

    However, I am still trying to wrap my head around why Sam went to talk to Luke and basically tell him to take Andy back… I guess he was accepting the fact that he and Andy can only be friends. Then part of me thinks that all the talk about his sister brought back his protective instincts – this time towards Andy. Sam wasn't lying when he said Luke was a good guy, and he knows that he will take care of her. Which means, for the time being (or next few episodes anyway) I have a feeling it is going to be Sam trying to move past his feelings for Andy. All you "Sandy" lovers out there – don't panic!! Really, you know that Sam and Andy CAN NOT get together right away. (Whew, aren't you relieved I added "right away"). The fun with these characters is in the tension, the awkwardness, and those fleeting moments of connection that make our heart race as much as the characters. It would be a shame to rush through all these moments. Remember that TV has been taught to drag these relationships on (i.e. Ross and Rachel, Jim and Pam, Meredith and Derek, Chuck and Blair/Serena and Dan, Carrie & Big, etc.) because it is so effective with the audience.

    While the Andy and Sam storyline was nearly flawless in structure, there were just a few, minor loopholes in the other plot lines that kept me from giving the episode an even higher score:

    (1) Dov's girlfriend Edie being a stripper. What? Really - that sweet girl in the hospital? Alright…

    (2) Gail and Chis' whole story line! This has been going on for a few episodes. One of my biggest problems was Chris' breakup with his girlfriend of 7 years. "Fragile" Chris should have been DEVESTATED. Fine, maybe he didn't want to get married, but even so, he should at least show some emotion on the subject. Seven years is a long time!

    (3) This one I can let slide because it was a good gag, Tracy and Chris acting out Luke and Jerry. I have no idea how that could have been remotely helpful, but like I said, it was funny so let it go.

    The theme of "facing your past" really worked terrific to tie the episode in together. It was obviously present in the B plot (Dov, Gail and the man with amnesia) with some quotes that blatantly stated the theme: "it might be a blessing not being whoever I was," "it might be nice to have a different past so no one could hold it against you." In addition to the man with amnesia who couldn't remember his past, Gail's character also stated the theme (her desire to escape her family ties to the division that make her friends see her as "a white-shirt waiting to happen").

    In the case of Tracy and Jerry, it was Jerry who had to relive the past to recreate his notes; which brought up the old wounds from his divorce and left Tracy to wonder what she is to him. Then of course there is Sam and Andy who tried to pretend that their romantic past never happened, only to have it blow up in their face. Sam relieving his own past to Andy (with his sister) was a big step for Sam's character and it was obvious he had not talked about it much. Finally, Luke also had to confront the past and make a decision about his relationship with Andy.

    Wow, that would have been a perfect episode for Chris to reflect on the past with his girlfriend. Missed opportunity!

    All in all, "Big Nickel," although filled with less action and more talking, was a terrific episode because of the educated structure and solid theme behind it. An original idea is important, but a strong foundation is always needed to hold the show up.

    I'm excited for next week!moreless
Ian Tracey

Ian Tracey

Ray Donald Swann

Guest Star

Natalie Krill

Natalie Krill

Edith "Edie" Larson

Guest Star

Warren Belle

Warren Belle

Sudbury Guard

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Andy McNally: I gotta say, I did not expect hambulance from someone like you.
      Sam Swarek: Someone like me?
      Andy McNally: Yeah. You're just so serious all the time.
      Sam Swarek: See, I hate that.
      Andy McNally: What?
      Sam Swarek: (changing his voice) "Why is Sam always so serious?" I've been getting that my whole life. When I was in third grade I went out and bought the biggest joke book on earth.
      Andy McNally: Yeah, obviously memorized it.
      Sam Swarek: All one hundred and one jokes. (Andy is laughing) Couldn't even make my own sister laugh.
      Andy McNally: You got a sister?
      Sam Swarek: Yeah, Sarah. She lives in St. Catherines.
      Andy McNally: Oh. Well, it was a long time ago. So, maybe you just need a new joke book.

    • Sam Swarek: (Sam talks about his sister) When she was 13 Sarah got attacked by this group of guys. She got pretty messed up by it, I was only nine at the time and I didn't really get it. I tried everything to cheer her up.
      Andy McNally: Hence the joke book.
      Sam Swarek: Not that it really worked.
      Andy McNally: You were nine years old. I'm sure you did everything you could.
      Sam Swarek: She didn't need cheering up. She just needed someone to protect her.
      Andy McNally: So you became a cop.

    • Andy McNally: Come on, what kind of music do you like listening to?
      Sam Swarek: Rush, I'm a big Rush fan.
      Andy McNally: Who?
      Sam Swarek: Yeah, I like The Who. Classic rock, you know. Okay, scan around, find me some Free.
      Andy McNally: Free?

    • Andy McNally: Hey, what kind of music do you like listening to when you drive?
      Sam Swarek: Nothing. I like to be alone with my thoughts.
      Andy McNally: Hm, what thoughts?
      Sam Swarek: My own private thoughts.
      Andy McNally: Okay, like, what's one of them?
      Sam Swarek: Are you allergic to silence?
      Andy McNally: What are you talking about? I'm silent all the time.

    • Andy McNally: (talking about plea deals) What about Anton Hill? All that work that you put in undercover. You know, you'd be pissed if he got flipped for a lighter sentence.
      Sam Swarek: I never actually got Hill, remember? So, not really relevant.
      Andy McNally: Yeah, but, you know-
      Sam Swarek: Try not to overhink it.
      Andy McNally: (scoffs) You compartmentalize a lot, don't you?
      Sam Swarek: We're friends, so I'm gonna let that slide.
      Andy McNally: (trying to compose herself) So, this prisoner, Swan, is he dangerous?
      Sam Swarek: If he was do you think they'd be sending you with me?
      Andy McNally: (ready to explode) You know what?
      Sam Swarek: What?
      Andy McNally: I'm gonna let that slide.

    • Andy McNally: (about to leave for their prisoner transport) I think we really need to lay some ground rules.
      Sam Swarek: I drive, you shut up. Sound good?
      Andy McNally: Look, I know the manual doesn't really cover whatever our situation is but I do think that if we just act polite, okay? Not fake polite, real polite, and we act as friends and, and share the driving then this will go just fine.
      Sam Swarek: What are you saying? You wanna be my friend?
      Andy McNally: Okay. I'll pretend you're Traci, you'll pretend I'm Oliver.
      Sam Swarek: Okay, get in. I'm driving. Friend.

    • Sam Swarek: (pleadingly) Noelle, 15's finest.
      Noelle Williams: No!
      Sam Swarek: Take McNally up to Sudbury for me.
      Noelle Williams: Hell, no!
      Sam Swarek: Please. I'll do your paperwork. Please. (Sam flashes her a smile)
      Noelle Williams: (laughing) You are working the dimples? Wow, you must really want this.
      Sam Swarek: I do.
      Noelle Williams: I hate prisoner transfers. Uh-uh, no. You're stuck in a car all day with a jailbird and then you gotta buy him a hotdog just to shut him up.
      Sam Swarek: Williams, please, just do me this solid. Please.
      Noelle Williams: I don't know what's going on with you and this rookie but, whatever it is, work it out.

    • Traci Nash: You can't do it, you can't go on a holiday with Swarek, not after what happened.
      Andy McNally: I have to. Traci, he's my T.O., okay? Look, it's not a holiday, it's an assignment.
      Traci Nash: Well, just get Frank to reassign you.
      Andy McNally: (ironically) Oh, yeah, I'm just gonna talk to my Staff Sergeant about my man problems.
      Traci Nash: Yeah, okay, you're right.
      Andy McNally: I'm just gonna ignore him.
      Traci Nash: (ironically) That's gonna work. Listen, listen. Why don't you just pretend that it never happened? Pretend to be his friend.
      Andy McNally: Friend? Yah, I can't be friends with Sam Swarek right now!

  • NOTES (3)

    • International Episode Titles:
      Czech Republic - Uprchlík (Fugitive)

    • Featured Music:
      "Never Turn Around" by Gobotron
      "My Oldest Friend" by Andrew Belle
      "Hell" by Tegan and Sara

    • Original International Air Dates:
      United States - August 26, 2010 on ABC
      Czech Republic - October 29, 2010 on Universal Channel
      Norway - January 10, 2011 on TVNorge
      United Kingdom - May 1, 2011 on Universal Channel/Universal Channel HD


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    What Would You Do?
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    Dateline NBC