Bill Paxton’s Frank Rourke took a case that hit close to home on this week’s TRAINING DAY, and the episode benefited from the emotional undertones. We opened with Frank’s usual voice over monologue, but this time he took us back to his childhood, where we are introduced to his father Emmet Rourke (played by Sam Trammel). He and his father had a close relationship, it being just the two of them, and we get the impression that some tragedy is looming over Frank’s childhood (not exactly a shocker).
In present day we meet another father/son duo, the Hollisters, this one about to heist a high profile jewelry store in Los Angeles. They’ve been on a tear hitting small liquor stores and convenience stores, never hitting more than one place per city, and now they find themselves in Los Angeles. Henry, the father, asks his teenage son Bobby (played by Bill Paxton’s real life son James) if he’s ready. Bobby says the one his dad should be worried about is in the back seat; this is Leon Sliger, who we immediately see there is just something off with. During the robbery, Sliger becomes infatuated with a pretty Asian woman, and a security guard draws his gun on him. However just at that moment, Henry comes out from the back room and guns down the security guard. Henry, Bobby, and Sliger escape.
Frank invites Kyle over to his home to “work on a case” which in reality is a case of beer. It’s their day off, and Frank wants Kyle to help him patch up his roof. (There’s a hole in it due to a shootout from when it was a heroin den just before Frank bought it). Kyle is about to leave when he gets a call from Detective Chavez–they’re both being called in to work. Turns out the owner of the jewelry store, Mike Reo, is buddy-buddy with some city higher-ups, and wants the men responsible for heisting his store and killing his guard found and caught ASAP. Frank is particularly affected by the death of the security guard, who it is revealed to have been a retired cop who was doing the security gig just to help protect and serve, he didn’t even need the money.
From there we start to see a little more about Frank’s childhood. In a flashback a Sheriff Sam O’Keefe visits Frank and his dad at their trailer home, where O’Keefe pretty much accuses Sam of being responsible for a string of local business hold-ups. Emmet denies it, but he and Frank both know the truth. And so does O’Keefe. He tells Emmet the greater tragedy would be separating a good boy from his father and putting him in foster care. Emmet says he has a feeling those robberies are going to stop soon. That’s good enough for O’Keefe, so he leaves. But Emmet quickly admits to Little Frank that he was lying, he has every intention of continuing the robberies.
Sliger and the Hollisters won’t be continuing their robberies together, though, as Sliger takes all the loot from them at gunpoint and escapes, with Henry telling him he is going to kill him by tomorrow. A slip up by Sliger puts the cops on his tail. He took a glove off at the scene of the crime to touch the Asian woman and his black widow hand tattoo was spotted. They run it in their system, and there is only one career criminal with this description. They also know his alias and find out that he checked into a motel in Burbank the night before using it. They head there, but Henry arrives at the same time. They apprehend Sliger and chase down Henry, but he escapes in a getaway car driven by Bobby.
The most amusing part of the episode comes when Frank and Kyle play dueling lawyers. Frank comes into the interrogation room in an uncharacteristic suit, tie, and glasses, claiming to be Sliger’s court appointed attorney and that he will get him off the hook. But moments later, Kyle enters in a similar look. Frank tells Sliger this is Ronnie Cochran, cousin of Johnny, and he’s the DA prosecutor with a perfect record. They convince Sliger to turn witness against the Hollisters for immunity, and he does, but they still send him to prison afterwards. I think this is incredibly illegal, and I was surprised Kyle went along with it, but it was also very entertaining so I can’t complain.
Sliger tells them that they are on their way to another job, this one a really big one. When they find that amongst the stolen jewelry are some diamond encrusted poker chips used by a local bad guy names Jacques the Ripper, they figure that the Hollisters are on their way to jack Jacques’ game. They just need to find out where it is. They go to Tiny Tim, a fat gay Asian man on rollerskates who thinks he’s a better singer than he is, who launders money for Jacques, and tells them that the game is happening somewhere in MacArthur Park.
They arrive too late to stop the heist of Jacques’ game. Henry takes care of it, getting away with an incredible score. However they do chase him down into a nearby abandoned warehouse, where Frank appeals to Henry’s love for his son to get him to agree to lay down his weapon and come with him instead of putting a bullet in his face. Frank says he’s a man of his word and will make sure Bobby gets off in ten years and can still build a good life for himself. Henry surrenders, but that’s when Jacques comes for revenge, putting a knife in Henry’s back. Frank guns him down and tells Kyle to let the boy go to his father.
In a flashback, we see how Frank’s own father Emmet was gunned down right in from of him on his last robbery. He’s gunned down by none other than Sheriff O’Keefe. Young Frank tells the Sheriff that one day he’s going to kill him. O’Keefe tells him he’ll do no such thing. After all is said and done, Kyle goes over to help Frank fix his roof, and up there we learn that the Sheriff actually took Frank in and raised him as his own. I like how this kind of accounts for both the light and dark side of Frank Rourke. He had two dads on either side of the law.
Overall, the episode was clever, funny, and emotional, especially seeing the late Paxton on screen with his young son. It’s a must watch if you’re a Paxton fan, and especially if you’re a fan of the show.
Season 1, Episode 8 (S01E08)
Training Day airs Thursday at 10PM on CBS
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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