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S.W.A.T - Fences - Review

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This week’s previously on focuses on Hondo, Jessica, and Michael Plank – and I find myself filled with growing anxiety before the episode even begins. Hondo and Jessica are my favorite TV couple right now. Nothing good can come from a recap like that.

“Oh, this isn’t good,”
Jessica says, her eyes on her phone’s screen. Did she just youtube the previously on?
Actually, someone has leaked the accountability proposal to the press. Someone? My money is on Plank.
And the leak is bad because Jessica wasn’t ready for it to go public.
She’s going to have to be ready now.

Street might have to suddenly be ready too. He’s filmed by a group of bystanders, tackling a runner to the ground and then handing the man’s ID over to ICE, who suspect he’s an undocumented alien and haul him off.
SWAT’s working with ICE to track down Ochoa. “I thought we were supposed to be going after gang members. He look like one to you?” Street asks Hondo, and suddenly I don’t expect this episode will be much fun for any of these characters.

Mumford walks and talks with Hondo, mentioning Jess is, “Too busy making things hard for us.” He’s seen her leaked accountability proposal. Hondo keeps his cool despite Mumford’s frustrations, and suggests they hear Jess and Plank out. Hondo has a knack for making his super supportive boyfriend side seem nothing but professional, but it is professional too. He has faith in her, he trusts her, respects her, in the bedroom and at work.

Can someone get Luca? I think I’m going to need one of his hugs before the end of this episode…

Footage of Street handing Carlos’ ID over to ICE hits the news, and Street can only stand and watch as he learns Carlos is being deported.
There’s a lot at stake here. There’s a lot of trust currently being lost. And with the Feds now off the case, SWAT’s taking the heat.

In retaliation for Jess’ proposal, her car is trashed, and it’s looking likely it was a cop.
Hondo: “I wanna get you some protection.”
Jess: “I can protect myself.”
Hondo:“I know you can.”
He pulls her into a hug on a city street, just as Plank pulls up, and there’s no calling this anything other than what it is: the embrace of two people in a romantic relationship.

I’m just going to say it: I hope #CuteBadCop really did trend on twitter during this episode.
The team give Street a bit of a ribbing as they exit SWAT headquarters, but they’re also supporting him. Luca (and his awesome hugs, which Street doesn’t quite receive here but maybe next time) remains one of my favorite characters.
Street: “This city needs to see we’re there for them.”
Luca:“So let’s show ‘em.”

Outside, people are protesting Carlos’ deportation. Street walks over to Carlos’ sister, Ariana, but Chris is close behind him, keeping him from saying something he might regret. He listens, both to Ariana, when she briefly speaks, and to Chris when she says one word: “Car.” It’s an order, and I love Street’s character growth here, and the growth of the relationship between these characters, because the Street we met back in the pilot mightn’t have been so willing to keep his mouth closed and walk away.
SWAT isn’t scared to discuss difficult subjects, and the writing team tackle it from both the POV of the police and the protestors with sensitivity and grace.

Plank and Jessica speak in her office about Hondo. He knows about their relationship. He saw. He gives her the opportunity to truthfully answer his questions, but she effortlessly evades.
“I saw you being intimate with one of your subordinates,” Plank finally tells her.
And then he hits her with the worst kind of ultimatum: “You can’t have both. It’s the proposals or him. You decide what you want to do.”
That sound? That was my heart breaking – because I know not only what her decision will be, but Hondo’s too.

The team heads to where Ochoa is. He’s not there, but two other men are, who claim Ochoa just left. The twist: they’re part of a group called Promise Guards and were there to arrest him too.
In an interrogation room, we learn more about Scott and Andy Clark, who got a lead on Ochoa and attempted to make a citizen’s arrest. They use vacation time to hunt undocumented aliens.
Deacon slips in some education for the brothers when one tries to argue US citizens pay more to go to college, and the argument is so flimsy the man quits before he’s completely schooled by Deacon.

It’s here, at the midway point of the episode, that Jess informs Hondo that Plank knows about them. Hondo won’t let her go that easy though, and, with his usual cool, calm, Hondo determination, he tells her, “There’s gotta be an answer here. I just need to figure out what.” I’m rooting for these two. Come on, Hondo. There’s gotta be a third option here. There has to be.

Jess meets with Ariana. She can connect better than most she works with, having moved to the US when she was fifteen and becoming a citizen at twenty-two.
“Which side are you on?” a protestor asks.
“Yours. Hers. The city’s,” Jess replies.
The protestor calls it a bunch of political B.S, but it’s not. It’s 100% Jess. She means it.

Inside, the team clashes over immigration. Chris keeps the full force of her emotions in check as she challenges the team to voice their opinions, but she can’t suppress it completely.
Hondo diffuses the situation growing between the team, agreeing it’s a difficult subject, and one they can discuss later over beers (or slap some gloves on and take it out on one another in the ring).

I was hoping for a parallel, where a fired-up Chris is calmed by one word from Street. It doesn’t happen though, because Street is meeting with Ariana in Jess’ office.

In her office, Jess has some words of advice for Street and Ariana. “Just, listen to each other,” she tells them. Both sides need to be heard.
And Street listens, as Ariana tells him of everything her brother sacrificed to make sure she had a safe future. She’s studying to be a pediatrician, because of Carlos, and he isn’t a criminal. He just wanted them to have a better life.
Hondo arrives with bad news for Ariana: he has photos of Carlos and Ochoa together.
But Carlos has his reasons. Ariana is DACA. She’s a DREAMer. And she now faces the threat of deportation. Carlos needed a safe place to hide her if anyone ever came for her – and Ochoa overheard this, needing a safe place himself.
Knowing Ochoa could be hiding out with Ariana’s contact, Gregory McGahan, Chris is sent in. While speaking to McGahan she spots Ochoa in the house. With Chris’ intel, the team breach the house. Ochoa runs outside, armed with a knife, but Hondo, after a little hand-to-hand, disarms him.
And he’s arrested.

Heads-up, guys: the writers are getting ready to pounce on you in your weakened emotional state.

"I’m just trying to figure out why you’re spying on Captain Cortez and me in front of her apartment. What’s your deal?” Hondo confronts Plank.
“I’m jealous,” Plank admits. “The two of you are very lucky.”
Hondo has the same suspicion I did right from the start: Plank leaked the proposals. Plank proceeds to remind Hondo, and us, of the double standard society holds for men and women. The story will end up being her and Hondo’s relationship, and not what she’s trying to do for the city.
And that look in Hondo’s eyes? That’s what the beginning of the end of a relationship looks like.

With the promise guards looking to make an example of Ariana, SWAT moves in to protect her. The team makes quick work of Andy and his followers and get the protest back under control.
Street has a nice moment where he helps Ariana to her feet and she’s grateful for his support.

As with real life, not everything is tied up in a neat bow. They’re yet to hear if they can stop Carlos’ deportation, and having liked Ariana as a character I hope this means we get to see her again in a future episode.

Meanwhile, a relationship is ending.
“There’s still a long way to go to improve relations between the cops and the community. And you have an opportunity to change things,” Hondo tells Jessica.
My heart’s already breaking, and then Hondo delivers the emotional line that destroys me:
“You need the space to do the great things that I know you’re gonna do.”
I’d really hoped maybe there could have been a way, that maybe Hondo could have found an answer other than ending this relationship.
“I never said it before, but I love you,” Jessica tells him.
“I love you too,” Hondo replies.
I’m fine. No, really. I’m completely fine. It’s normal to wash down a gallon of ice cream with a bottle of wine. See. Fine.

Because SWAT doesn’t let up, the writers throw one more heart-breaking scene at us. Carlos’ deportation is imminent, and Street’s struggling. “I’m sorry,” he tells Ariana. “I’m sorry for my part in this. I hope you get him back, and I want to try and help you.”

These characters are written with more heart than I anticipated when I dove into the pilot episode, and I fell in love with them quicker than I was expecting to. It breaks my heart when I watch them struggling, because they’re all trying so hard to just do good.

Luca, buddy, about that hug…?

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