And thus concludes the first and only season of CBS’s TRAINING DAY. Saturday night’s season one finale followed the news just days earlier that CBS would not be renewing the show for a sophomore season. It hardly came as a surprise; its star Bill Paxton sadly and suddenly passed away this past February and without his immense talent this show just does not have any legs to stand on. What was more surprising to me was that I did feel slightly disappointed at the end of the final episode. If you had told me at the start of the season I would be wanting more once the credits rolled on its finale, I would have thought you were crazy. But it speaks volumes of Paxton’s capabilities and the creative team behind this show’s sensibilities that I am going to miss it.
It was just a fun ride. It took place in a heightened reality where cops and criminals DO zing each other with witty one-liners, and people can get shot and fully recover by the next episode, and the good guys regularly leave a trail of blazing wreckage across the city in the name of the law without any real repercussions. Once I bought into that and was able to sit back, Training Day was a treat.
The finale was a great reminder of that ride, as it brought back a ton of familiar faces we were introduced to over the course of its thirteen episode run, including insanely sexy assassins Artemis and Lina Farzan, cartel boss Menjivar, evil CIA operative Ivers, and of course the old faithful informant Moreno. The episode picks up where we left off last week with Frank having stolen the crucial safe deposit key off Kyle’s neck. When Kyle goes to confront him, Frank shoots Kyle with bean bags, incapacitating him and cuffing him, saying he is not going to bury another Craig on his watch. We soon learn that Frank has used the serial number on the key to track the location of the safe deposit box–a bank owned and operated by the cartel in Sinaloa, Mexico.
Frank recruits Artemis, Lina, and Moreno to help him since his usual team of fellow police are either pissed at him or chained to a metal pole by his doing. They bust into the bank, guns blazing, and Frank gets to the box. Only thing is the local cartel boss “El Jaguar” has a bone to pick with Frank, who slept with his wife. And he seems to have some sort of past history with our very own Detective Valeria Chavez; she looks at a picture of her son and decides to call El Jaguar to give him the heads up Frank is coming. Ultimately Frank is captured by El Jaguar and his men before he can look in the box.
The next thing he knows, he’s tied to a chair in a sacrifice room of an ancient Aztec pyramid, which El Jaguar had his mansion built into. Agent Ivers comes in and says he needs to ask Frank two questions. How much does he know about “Leviathan” and who else has he told? Frank doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so Ivers injects him with a “serum” that will get him to tell the truth. All it ultimately does is make Frank hallucinate his girlfriend Holly getting killed. Because he’s telling the truth: he doesn’t know what Leviathan is. In a moment of brilliance (and a drug induced trip) Frank starts talking about how he knows Ivers is there to overthrow the cartel and install new American approved leadership in Sinaloa. El Jaguar falls for it and Ivers is taken away to be dealt with.
Meanwhile, Kyle is able to discover Frank’s whereabouts by hitting up his old friend Menjivar. We met him in the pilot episode, and he remarks how much Kyle has changed since they last encountered one another. Frank has clearly worn off on him. Menjivar tells him he heard that El Jaguar picked Frank up in his bank heist and agrees to help Kyle, Rebecca, and Tommy get in to one of El Jaguar’s parties. They do, using a dimwit wannabe rapper nephew of El Jaguar’s, and ultimately free Frank in an intense gun battle. But not before Ivers can open the safe deposit box and torch the files inside marked “Leviathan.”
However, in the charred remains of those files, they find a photograph. In that photograph we see Kyle’s dad Billy talking to Tim Wallace, a retired officer Kyle spoke with last episode who told him he didn’t want to start poking around into Billy’s death. When they go to confront Wallace, he admits that he was the one who killed Kyle’s dad. Shot him because he took the key to the safe deposit box wanting to find out with Wallace was up to. Wallace had compiled documents on something called “Leviathan” that is supposedly huge, and as a safety measure kept them in that safety deposit box in Mexico. We still don’t know what Leviathan is, but we get the answer to who killed Billy. And now it’s retribution time, right?
Wrong. Frank, ever the hero, shoots Wallace in the gut killing him before Kyle can. Because Billy wouldn’t want his son shooting an unarmed man to death. He wouldn’t want Kyle to have to live with that. So Frank did it for him. It was a touching gesture and fitting for his character. The season ends with both getting commended by Deputy Chief Lockhart. And Frank tells her that Kyle is no longer his trainee. He’s his partner.
I’d love to know what the writers had planned for a season two and I’ll forever wonder what Leviathan could have possibly been. Most likely some international criminal/cop joint conspiracy, but to what end I’m not sure. I do know I will miss this show for what it was, and I will forever miss Bill Paxton. If you are ever missing him and you’ve seen all his movies a million times, you could do a lot worse than to check out Training Day. I’m glad I did.
Season 1, Episode 13 (S01E13)
Training Day airs Saturday at 9PM 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