The latest episode of CBS’s TRAINING DAY required a little more suspension of disbelief than usual, and in a show that takes place in an already heightened reality of the criminal world in Los Angeles, that’s saying a lot. On the other hand, once you bought into the story it wasn’t bad and it allowed Justin Cornwell’s Kyle, the second lead typically very very overshadowed by the larger than life and fun to watch Frank (Bill Paxton), to flex some acting chops he hasn’t necessarily been able to thus far.
The episode opens to Dirty Dancing‘s “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” over shots of some gunned down Homeland Security agents in the desert somewhere. We soon see that this music is actually being played in a dance rehearsal hall where old familiar gang banger and favorite Frank informant Moreno is practicing the dance from the movie with his niece. He’s prepping for the father/daughter dance for her Quinceañera as her dad is doing time in Chino and has to miss it. It was odd to see this one-note comic relief character get some backstory and some emotion to him, which is typically a red flag meaning the character might get killed off that episode. We’ll get there, don’t worry.
Frank and Kyle show up because Moreno called them about a tip. There are some people in Echo Park moving some new top notch heroin into Los Angeles. Seeing as how this competes directly with Moreno’s bottom line, he’s glad to tip them off as to where his new competitors are set up and doing business. Frank and Kyle waste no time and head to make the bust, just as the deal is going down. The guy buying the heroin surrenders with his hands up, but the kid selling it takes out a gun, kills the buyer and then shoots himself in the head, killing himself. Yuh-oh.
Presumably the kid did this to avoid giving information about something larger. Soon FBI Agent Noah Boudreau and Homeland Security Agent Jack Ivers show up to start asking questions about what went down. You will remember that there is no love between Agent Boudreau and Frank–the FBI agent was responsible for getting one of his oldest informants killed. But Ivers is new and seems to be cut from similar cloth to Frank’s. They believe the heroin sales were just a means to raise money to fund a greater terrorist plot. It turns out that a terrorist group has been carrying out acts of terrorism around the world in similar ways. They show a picture of the man from Afghanistan they believe to be heading up the operation: a man named Sadiq.
Instantly we are in a war flashback of Kyle’s time in the Marines. Apparently in a raid on an Afghani village he gunned down a family by accident, having assumed civilians had been evacuated as that was what he was told. The only survivor was a fifteen year old boy. Kyle recognizes that boy as Sadiq, and now suspects that Sadiq is not in the United States to carry out terrorism plots but to exact revenge on him for killing his family. Kyle expresses this to Marine buddy Sherman who was in the village that day and lost his legs. Sherman tells him it’s a bit of a stretch, but that is exactly what I was thinking as a viewer. First of all he had to recognize the kid all these years later. And what are the odds that all the killing Sadiq is doing is over a personal vendetta against Kyle?
At any rate, it turns out to be true. We soon see Sadiq meeting Kyle’s wife Alyse in line for food in the hospital cafeteria where she works. We then see Sadiq meeting up with some friends of his and fellow terrorists–two hipster-y looking kids in Echo Park. When Moreno goes to meet with them to do a deal, the girl hipster guns him down and takes the cash. When Frank and Kyle arrive on the scene, Moreno touches Frank’s face as he lay dying, making him promise to take care of his niece.
But then the paramedic tells him Moreno was shot through the love handle and he’s going to be fine. It was actually a pretty good gag. And the more important part: he got a pic of the hipster’s license plate. They trace it to them and figure that they are plotting an attack at a tech show at the Staples Center that is showing off drones. The terrorists are going to make a statement about the use of drones in Afghanistan by blowing them up! Frank, Kyle, and the team get there at the last minute and in a shoot out take out both the hipsters. But where is Sadiq? Kyle confronts a man who appears to be him in a van in a parking garage, and the guy in the driver’s seat self-destructs the van, knowing he is caught. Mission accomplished?
Around the same time, we see FBI Agent Noah and Homeland Security Agent Ivers going for a little private walk where Noah accuses Ivers of not really working for Homeland Security. He says he thinks Ivers is working for the CIA in the continental United States and threatens to expose him. That’s when Ivers takes a knife to Noah’s gut and pushes him down the stairs. He tells everyone he was attacked by one of the terrorists.
And when Kyle gets home, he finds Sadiq there. He’s strapped a bomb to Alyse’s chest and tied her to a chair and is about to press the button. He wants Kyle to know that he’s doing it not for Allah, or Christ, or any religion or nation. He’s doing it because Kyle killed his family. Just like how Kyle is looking for revenge for whoever killed his dad. It was an interesting parallel. In the end just before he presses the button, Sadiq is shot by sharp shooter friend Sherman who just happened to be keeping an eye on the Craig home for some reason. But glad he was!
Frank and Ivers have an interesting exchange at the close of the episode. Frank apparently also knows that Ivers is bullshitting and is not part of Homeland Security (how he knows beyond him being Frank and just knowing everything is not explained). Ivers gives him a little warning: back off Kyle’s father’s murder case or it will turn out very badly for everyone involved. Of course this just makes Frank want to push ahead.
And with only two episodes left of the season (and of Paxton’s terrific run as Frank Rourke, R.I.P.) I hope we finally get more answers for the murder of Billy Craig!
Season 1, Episode 11 (S01E11)
Training Day airs Saturday at 9PM on CBS
In Los Angeles, a city where streets are overrun by drug dealers, those who have sworn to uphold the law are breaking them to clean up the streets. Paul is a veteran TV reviewer whose methods of writing TV reviews are questionable, if not corrupt.
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Paul Gulyas | Contributor