I’m guessing you guys heard. If you haven’t, you might want to sit down (why you would be standing while reading a review of TRAINING DAY, I’m not sure–in line at Subway and reading on your phone or something? Ah, well). Bill Paxton, star of CBS’s Training Day and SO MANY OTHER GREAT THINGS, has passed away. I was just saying last week that he is THE reason to watch this show, and the only reason I was truly warming up to it. Luckily, Paxton wrapped the entire 13 episode first season, so assuming CBS doesn’t pull it from their schedule, we have plenty more of Paxton and his charming d-bag Frank Rourke. I dedicate this review to him!
The episode begins of course with a Frank voice over talking about how he never shot a man who didn’t have a gun. Beneath his V.O. we see Frank, eleven years ago, shooting a man who has just reached for a gun in his belt. We then cut to present day Pelican Bay State Prison, where we meet Pike, head of the Aryan Brotherhood, being visited by a fellow prisoner named Kullen. Kullen needs to get out, and wants Pike’s help. Is there anything he needs done? Pike tells him he has something in mind.
Kullen then is interviewed by none other than Deputy Chief Lockhart, who we know has it out for Frank. Kullen tells her that he wants to confess to the murder of Julia Keefer–eleven years ago, Frank killed the wrong man. He’s lying, but only because being involved in an ongoing internal investigation will get Kullen transferred from State Prison to the much easier to break out of county jail. As we know, Lockhart will seize any opportunity to ruin Frank, though, and she knows good and well an official inquiry can ruin a career. We still don’t quite understand her personal vendetta against him, but I’m hoping that is explored in upcoming episodes.
Of course Frank isn’t worried. He says the man he shot, Ryan Deacon, deserved to die, and WAS guilty in the stabbing murder of Julia Keefer. Frank is so confident he shows up to the review with no attorney and declines counsel. Frank tells them exactly what went down. He met Deacon outside a bar in K-Town, Deacon resisted, end of story. The board will make a decision in 48 hours. Frank knows he’s being framed. But by who?
Meanwhile, Kullen, now transferred to county, is looking to bust out. He saves a helpless kid in on DUI charges named Brad from getting his ass handed to him in the prison yard, then asks for a favor in return–his wristband that when scanned will allow him to be released that day. After he takes the wristband he goes up to a big white power-y looking fellow and delivers a possibly lethal punch square to his face. This was who Pike sent him to kill, who we later find out was about to turn state evidence against the Aryan Nation. Very soon afterwards, we see Kullen’s wristband being scanned, and him walking out of prison a free man.
Frank and his team point out that when Kullen was claiming he actually killed Julia Keefer he knew all the details of the case. Seeing that Kullen never had any visitors, they deduce that somebody INSIDE Pelican Bay was feeding him his info in order to get to Frank. They head to Pelican Bay to investigate and of course they run into Pike himself, who turns out to be the brother of Deacon and is looking to kill Frank. Pike has a lot of power in the prison apparently, and two of his lackeys are able to get to the control room and open up all the cells in the block, half of which contain prisoners that Frank personally put there. They of course come for him and he locks himself in Pike’s master suite cell to stay safe.
When the riot is quelled (this happens during a commercial break and isn’t explain at all, but, oh well!) Frank interviews an elderly prisoner about Kullen, who claims he noticed a change in Kullen after he saw a raging wildfire on the news. Kullen told him he needed to get out of there, and that’s when he went to Pike. Frank figures Kullen was afraid of losing something or someone in that fire.
He turns out to be right, as he literally always has been on this show so far. Kullen robbed a million dollars from Quaqua Indian Casino and Chief Jimmy Wade, who is looking for revenge (and his money back). He saw his wife and daughter were displaced by the wildfire, as did Wade and his men. Having heard that Kullen broke out and knowing he will go to find his family, Wade’s men go to find them first.
The rest of the episode plays out with few surprises. Kullen decides he needs to get to Wade and kill him before Wade kills him. Wade captures Kullen’s wife and daughter and uses it as leverage for Kullen to go bring him his million dollars back. He leaves to do so, but by now Frank and company have caught on to everything that was really going down, and stop Kullen literally as he’s on his way out of the casino. Frank, knowing Wade will kill Kullen’s innocent wife and daughter, walks back into Wade’s office with a gun to Kullen’s head saying to let the girls go or he’ll blow Kullen’s brains out and thus any chance of Wade recovering his money. Saying it was “only a million bucks” Wade decides to have a shoot out in his casino (bad business move) which results in Frank killing him by throwing a tomahawk in his back (worse business move). This was awesome.
Kullen appreciates Frank’s help so much he admits to giving a false admission of the murder, and Frank is off the hook. The episode ends with Frank and Lockhart sharing a drink at Frank’s place. Lockhart tells him she was wrong today, but she’s not wrong about him. Frank raises his drink to her: “We used to have a lot in common. Here’s to what’s left of it.” They drink and credits roll.
Notice I never even wrote the second principal character Kyle’s name in this entire review until now. It’s because he’s completely worthless on the show, following Frank and taking his lead on anything and everything. The backstory with the mystery of his father’s death is inching along at a snails pace (this week we’re waiting for the manufacturers of a key to recover a serial number on a key to see what it unlocks–seriously?). It is the Frank Rourke show, and thus, the Bill Paxton show. R.I.P., Bill. You will be missed.
Season 1, Episode 5 (S01E05)
Training Day airs Thursday at 10PM on CBS
Read all of our reviews of Training Day here.
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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