I like when procedural shows like this go back and connect past episodes to what’s going on in the present. It helps build the world and make things feel like they are consistent and at least have a baseline in reality. It’s not just shoo ’em up, lock ’em up, and forget about ’em by the time next week’s episode rolls around. Past events have consequences, even if only in the minds of the characters who experience them. You wouldn’t think that on a show like TRAINING DAY you would get to see these characters deal with the crazy things they’ve done, especially not so early in the series, but this episode, entitled “Faultlines” brought us there, and it was another solid entertaining hour of television that made my mourning of Bill Paxton start anew.
The episode starts with a look back at the very first episode. Frank is reminding his team that the very first bad guys we saw them get in a gun battle with in the pilot episode had a certain type of gun that can only be acquired illegally. And he reminds us, and Kyle, that those people with those guns shot and killed his former partner. Frank and company will now go after whoever it is that is supplying those guns to bad guys around town. You could say they are “gunning” for them… Okay, I’m sorry.
And so our guys are off monitoring a deal for illegal guns. The gang members from Black 23 are there, exchanging guns for $300,000 dollars in cash. Once they have the money, to our heroes’ shock, they gun down their buyers. They are trying to collect twice on the same set of guns; they do the deal, kill the buyers, and they still have a set of shiny toys to sell. Doubling up. Our guys move in to save the day and make the arrests. Tommy, the surfer bro cop on Frank’s team who has had very little up to this point, sees somebody he seems to recognize and goes after him. Once Frank, Rebecca, and Kyle have it handled, they look to the beach beside where the deal went down to see Tommy tustling in the sand with one of the Black 23 guys. Odd. They bring him in, too.
We soon find out that Agent Lynch from the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) is there to collect the prisoner. Turns out that the prisoner, named Evan, was an informant for the ATF and they need to transfer him back to prison. Kyle points out that there are Black 23’s in every prison across the country, and even Evan being here will set off red flags. Frank points out it’s only a matter of time before somebody serves him a “shank sandwich.” Frank and Lynch do not get along, and the audience is immediately meant to not like this guy. I don’t know if it was supposed to be this obvious, but the second I saw Lynch I knew he was in on the gun deals with the Black 23’s. Even so, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the episode, so I suppose it’s all good.
So what’s the deal with Tommy and Evan? Turns out they grew up together. And “things went bad,” as Tommy puts it. It’s ancient history. But seeing as how they were literally at each others’ throats on the beach it is apparent, at least to Rebecca, that things are not settled and cooler heads have not prevailed. Evan is being transferred to Arizona State prison with an armed guard. Rebecca and Tommy want to get to him before he is put back in jail and killed, when he could be valuable to building a case against the illegal arms dealers.
Of course, Evan is almost killed before they even make it half way to the prison. The guards driving him stop at a high way rest stop to use the restroom, and leave Evan sitting in the back of the van, handcuffed, a sitting duck. Two Black 23’s roll up on motorcycles. They open the van doors and point guns at Evan, saying “Clancy wants a message sent.” That’s when Tommy and Rebecca roll up. They disarm the Black 23’s and the prison transport guards quickly and free Evan. They are now kidnapping a federal fugitive, which is prettttyyy up there on the lines these characters have been willing to cross. Rebecca shoots the tire of the prison van and she, Tommy, and Evan are off, now with the ATF and the Black 23’s coming after them.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Lockhart has been pressing Kyle for more information on Frank, which Frank is completely aware of. Since she assigned Kyle to go undercover to build evidence against Frank, he has given her nothing, but if he continues to not provide anything, she’ll know that he’s working with Frank, move him somewhere else, and that puts an end to Frank and Kyle’s investigation into Kyle’s father’s death. Kyle needs something to give Lockhart. Frank writes one word down and sets him off: “Waterstreet.”
Turns out that Waterstreet didn’t have much to do with Frank. It was Billy, Kyle’s father’s case against a man called Teflon, a freelance hitter who never had any charges stick; thus, Teflon. Frank reveals to Kyle that his dad planted evidence on Teflon to put him away. “I ask you for dirt on you and you give me dirt on my dad,” Kyle says, angrily. But I think there’s more to this story than Frank lets on. But in the mean time they have to go and help keep Tommy and Rebecca alive.
Tommy, Rebecca, and Evan need to get off the grid. As it turns out, Evan and the 23’s were indeed working for Agent Lynch of the ATF, helping him sell guns that he confiscated on the job. Lynch is not going to stop looking for Evan and will stop at nothing to keep this from getting out. While the three are traveling, Evan begins air drumming in the back seat. The writers/director/actor do a good job of making Evan endearing in the short time that we know him. Rebecca notices that Tommy is drumming along on the steering wheel as he drives. For a moment the two look like high school friends driving around aimlessly on a weekend looking for something to do. We flash back to their junior year in Venice Beach. Tommy and Evan had a third best friend: Luke. “It was the best summer we ever had,” Tommy says. Until, that is, after they stole some merchandise from a local shop, Luke was gunned down in the street. Evan ran, leaving Luke to die alone on the Venice Beach ground, which I can assure is not the most ideal ground to die on. This is the grudge Tommy holds against Evan, who seems genuinely remorseful. He begins to cry. Their relationship is healing.
The whole thing leads to a tense show down with Frank and his team confronting Lynch and the 23’s once and for all. Shocker, the good guys win, but not without Evan being gunned down. Tommy doesn’t let him die like he let Luke die alone. It’s actually quite affecting and I was really impressed by the actor who played Evan. Kyle gets a good moment when he punches Lynch in the face. “That’s for Jennifer Mitchell,” his partner who was killed due to the guns Lynch sold. “That’s my trainee,” Frank says proudly.
Overall, it was a solid episode that brought elements from the past back to effect the characters and we got some good character building with somebody I thought would never have the spotlight: Tommy. I’m growing to like the cast more and more (though I am still unimpressed with Kyle himself). God, I’ll miss Paxton. Luckily we have a handful of episodes left with him.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Training Day airs Thursday at 10PM 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.
Paul Gulyas | Contributor