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Training Day - Reviews - Blurred Lines - “Our Father’s Sons”

For an episode entitled “Blurred Lines”, the lines were clearly and beautifully drawn in the latest offering from Training Day in a story about the legacies fathers leave for their sons. And in a wonderful, yet sad irony the story was enacted touchingly by a father and son, creating one of the best episodes in the short run of the series.

Fathers often expect their sons to follow in their footsteps in the family business and in this case, the family business was armed robbery.

Called in to investigate a jewelry store robbery in which a retired police officer was killed, Frank (Bill Paxton) is struck by a sense of déjà vu when he discovers the dead man’s backup weapon, a pearl-handled revolver.

He flashes back to his youth in Texas, when a Texas Ranger, Sam O’Keefe (Michael McGrady) also carrying a pearl-handled pistol, delivers a friendly warning to his father, Emmet Rourke (Sam Trammel) about maybe it was time a series of armed robberies in their small Texas town should end.

Frank’s father doesn’t heed the warning, saying they’ll pull one more job before moving on to do more father/son things like fishing.

After finding out the present-day robberies were conducted by a father/son team, Henry and Bobby Hollister (Louis Herthum and James Paxton, series star Bill Paxton’s son) Frank’s interest in the case is haunting to him as he sees parallels between the Hollisters and his own life with his father.

Everyone takes note of the special interest Frank makes in the boy of their fugitive team, calling him out on several occasions. Kyle (Justin Cornwell), Tommy (Drew Van Acker), Rebecca (Katrina Law) and even Holly (Julie Benz) who is temporarily living with Frank in his newly acquired former drug house home all see there is something different about him on this case.

Time and again, during their investigation, Frank points out instances where the father is protecting the son, like not letting him take the kill shot at the jewelry store. Frank eventually tells Kyle he believes the boy can be helped. As the Hollister’s story unfolds, it’s clear he doesn’t want it to end like his story, which is told in wonderfully crafted flashbacks. Kudos to Trammel as Frank’s father and to young actor Connor Kalpolis playing a young Frank Rourke. He doesn’t want young Bobby Hollister’s story to end up like his, having to watch his father die when that last big job goes wrong.

Unfortunately, history repeats itself as the ending to the two stories is intercut together. Just as Frank and Kyle have apprehended Bobby and convinced Henry to turn himself in, Henry is killed by the knife-wielding gang-boss whose high-stakes poker game he had just robbed. The way the two stories are woven together is some very nice editing which helps elevate this episode.

And just as the Texas Ranger had reached out to him all those years ago, (and as you learn had adopted and raised Frank) Frank reaches out to help young Bobby Hollister.

This episode belonged to Bill Paxton from beginning to end and reminded us what a talented and nuanced actor he was. He showed us so many layers of one man in one episode, and never before had he shown Frank’s vulnerability as much as he did here. The haunted man, forced to relive his past as he watched another young man on a road he once traveled. The trickster, posing as a shady public defender, working in tandem with Kyle and his team to slyly get Henry Hollister’s former accomplice to reveal where the next job would happen. The tender man, in some very nicely played scenes with Benz, opening himself up to her about his past and a father he knew wasn’t perfect but did what he did to help his son survive out of love. And finally, the mentor, reaching out to Bobby Hollister with an offer to help him survive prison.

It was in that final role, the mentor, that gave this episode perhaps its most ironic and poignant moments. Frank Rourke talking to Bobby Hollister about them being their father’s sons, but they didn’t have to let what their fathers did define them, they needed to be their own man. What made this scene special is that it perhaps this is where the show’s episode got its title, because the line between fantasy and reality became blurred. You could easily see the father/actor Bill Paxton imparting wisdom to his son/actor James Paxton. It’s a scene young Paxton will certainly treasure as his father died a short time after it was filmed.

Training Day made positive strides in another area, in my opinion, finally giving Detective Valeria Chavez (Christina Vidal) a more active role in this case. Hopefully, they will continue this in the remaining episodes.

They also managed to tie in Kyle’s story about his obsession with his father’s death in a brief but effective scene with his mother, (Lela Rochon Fuqua) that ultimately led him to discover more layers to his puzzling partner, Frank Rourke.

What were your impressions of “Blurred Lines”? What were your favorite scenes? Discuss in the comments below.