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Hudson and Rex – Flare of the Dog - Review: The start of a beautiful friendship

Sarah: I never heard the story.
Charlie: What story?
Sarah: How Rex went from K-9 to being your partner in Major Crimes?
Charlie: I was called to a crime scene where a K-9 officer had been killed in the line of duty. Rex was there, refusing to let anyone near her body. For whatever reason I was able to calm him down, get him to come with me. I decided I’d take him home with me for a few days. (1x01)

If you haven’t discovered the charming Hudson & Rex yet, allow me to give you a brief summary: Police procedural. One partner is adorable, smart as a whip and a hit with the ladies. And the other is Charlie Hudson, the human. Charlie is all those things too, of course; he’s especially a hit with one woman in particular. We’ll get to that.
Airing on Tuesday nights on Citytv, Hudson & Rex (based on the long-running Austrian show Kommissar Rex) is a family-friendly police procedural that partners Hudson up with a German Shepherd named Rex. They work in the Major Crimes division of the SJPD, in the picturesque Canadian city of St John’s, and every week is another case that highlights how perfectly partnered up Hudson and Rex are, and how well the ensemble has gelled over two seasons.

“Our greatest weapon is Rex, and Rex runs on snacks.” – Charlie (2x16)

Meet Charlie Hudson (John Reardon) - and Rex (Diesel vom Burgimwald). Charlie, a detective with the SJPD, has for roughly the past year or so been partnered up with Rex (in episode 1x03 we learn they have been a team for six months). Rex is an ex-K-9 dog, whose previous partner was gunned down in front of him. Rex stayed with her until paramedics arrived, and only Charlie was able to coax him away from her body. Since then, they’ve been working together to solve crimes. In the beginning, Charlie still had some work to do, learning how to control a K-9 police dog. But there’s mutual respect, and a lot of love, between the two, and they now work seamlessly together.
Rex has his tragic backstory, and Charlie too has things in his past he’s working through. Sometime during the year prior to us meeting these characters, Charlie went through a divorce. It is suggested in episode 2x06 that Julia wasn’t the most faithful of wives. This coincides with him acquiring Rex.
Charlie’s bonds with his human colleagues grow through season one and into season two as the pain of his divorce subsides, allowing him to open himself up to closer relationships. It’s a subtle, but really quite lovely, transition.

Trained to sniff out drugs, Rex’s nose is the reason Charlie has such a high close rate on cases. And he knows when to use those big puppy dog eyes to his advantage. Both Rex and Charlie, I mean.

“I just want you to know I love working with you and Rex.” – Sarah (2x14)

Sarah Truong (Mayko Nguyen) is the resident coroner; she’s a Jill of all trades with a big heart and a kind soul. Through season one, and at least part way into season two, Sarah’s been in a long-distance relationship with a paramedic named Thomas. In 2x12 the viewers, and Charlie, learn the relationship has ended. Charlie isn’t exactly sad about this.

In her teen years, Sarah skated on the junior circuit, giving up figure skating for med school, and she later waitressed a bit through university.
Although working for the SJPD might not be exactly where she pictured herself ending up, she’s found a family with her coworkers.
Through season one we watch her friendship with Charlie deepen. In season two, a few close calls with death bring the two even closer. There’s a nice chemistry between them, the kind of easy chemistry of friends, becoming best friends, becoming more. As of 2x12, they both seem to be on the same page regarding the next step for their relationship, but as with all good slow burns that step may not be taken any time soon. Watch this space.

“Everybody needs a Rex.” – Charlie (1x02)

Supt. Joseph Donovan (Kevin Hanchard) has a softer edge to him than most TV captains and is the reason Charlie’s been allowed to use a K-9 dog as a partner in Major Crimes. He was the one who saw the potential in Rex’s contribution to the team and made it official. We’re still learning about Joe, but what we know is he has a daughter named Camilla, and while not her biological father he is her legal guardian and has been in her life since she was four-years-old. At times he can be a little over-protective of Camilla, but being a cop tends to send his mind to worst-case scenarios whenever she isn’t quite acting like herself. His ex, and Camilla’s mother, Wendy had been sober for ten months by the end of season one. Once an informant with an addiction, Wendy is getting her life together. We may still see Wendy again, as this show is particularly good at bringing minor characters back for a second episode.

Jesse Mills (Justin Kelly) is the tech extraordinaire. He’s delightfully socially awkward, often offering up too much information. The pilot episode saw him learn a hard lesson in the realities of police work outside the precinct, but he took it in stride and helps his colleagues out in the field often. Locked phones, SD cards corrupted by stomach acid, electromagnetic fields, there are few puzzles or challenges that Jesse can’t handle.
Except most social situations, that is.

The four are often seen strengthening their bond at the end of episodes. By the end of season one they’ve become a family, who not only support the victims and their families by attending social gatherings or funerals, but who also hang out outside of work, with either a movie or a beer at Charlie’s.
There’s a lot of heart in the stories each week. Character-driven, the ending is typically uplifting, making it the kind of show that leaves the viewer feeling lighter after the murder is solved.

2x16 – Flare of the Dog

Episode sixteen changes the dynamics a little. In the cold open, Charlie responds to a call regarding a break in at a restaurant. He arrives to see a masked man entering with a flaming bottle in his hand. Rex stays back, but Charlie follows the intruder, only to be thrown back by the force of an explosion. He hits the water, face down, unconscious, and we cut to credits.
Charlie is okay, of course. Pulled from the water by Rex, he’s now recovering in hospital with just a fractured ankle. This is when the dynamics shift a bit. With Charlie confined to a bed, Rex buddies up with Sarah and Jesse to help them solve the case, while Charlie does what he can from the hospital.

The case itself is related to the Green Bottle Bomber, and this explosion makes it hit number four for the arsonist.
Via a call, Charlie is able to offer more information about what he remembers. Joe sends Sarah to speak to the fire department with the new info from Charlie, and she’s more than happy to do so.
“Yeah, yeah I can talk to firefighters,” she says, hiding her pleased smile behind her pen.
Sarah introduces herself to firefighter Asher Browning, and the two hit it off. There’s something a little off about Asher, but it could just be the rocky relationship the Fire Department has with the SJPD. The deputy fire commissioner steps in and ends the conversation, unwilling to involve Sarah in the investigation until she’s on the list of cleared names. But there’s obviously more to the commissioner’s stern demeanor.

From his hospital bed, Charlie meets with the widow of a firefighter who lost his life in the Green Bottle Bomber’s second attack. Rex is a great comfort to victims, and here he curls up with the widow and allows her to pet him while she speaks of her loss. It’s a nice moment, and another example of how this show has a heart the size of a German Shepherd.

We get to see another of Rex’s skills in this episode: stealing extra brownies for Charlie off the orderly’s cart. Good boy.

Sarah brings Asher to meet with Charlie, and Rex continues to be a good boy by showing no interest in Asher and walking away when he tries to pet him. Maybe Rex is the biggest Charlie/Sarah shipper (Charah? Sarlie? TruLie?? The show had an entire scene on shipper names once and they couldn’t have been meta and created their own for those two?), or maybe Asher’s just shady?
Charlie notices there’s a bit of a spark between Sarah and Asher, and this is the first time we’ve really seen jealousy from Charlie. Previously we’d seen a little from Sarah in 2x03, in an adorably awkward hand-shake scene with Charlie’s temporary work mistress. This displeasure in Asher's interest in Sarah fits in well with continuity as Sarah and Charlie had just recently had a conversation about a possible shift in their relationship (2x12). Sarah told Charlie he was ready to date, and as he agreed he looked at her with the most inquisitive, adorable, hearteyes that put Rex’s puppy dog eyes to shame. Now that Charlie’s over the pain of his divorce, the interest in Sarah as more than a friend is obviously there. It’s just going to take these two a little longer to take that next step. So, in the meantime, viewers get the huddling for warmth in a freezer trope, the jealousy trope, and the “I love… working with you” trope. This show doesn’t need a ship, as it's cute and fuzzy enough as it is, but it’s nice watching Charlie grow closer to his best friend as he heals from his divorce.
Charlie, Sarah, and Asher determine butane was the main ingredient, due to the blue color of the explosion that forced Charlie into the water. Jesse uses CCTV footage to track down a large purchase of butane, and the main suspect seems to be a man named Malcolm Wild. He’s young, with curly hair, and fits the description Charlie gave. Jesse tracks Malcolm’s cellphone, and Joe, Jesse, Sarah and the SJPD head to the address. They find all the equipment for making the bombs, and a journal, full of poems, drawings, names, and numbers, but no Malcolm.

“Maybe it’s a puzzle? See, this is the kind of thing that Charlie’s good at.” - Sarah (2x16)
They take the journal to Charlie, and it’s clear while he looks over it that Rex is getting bored in the hospital.
The team discovers that Malcolm’s father died in an explosion at a bottling plant that makes green bottles.
Charlie: “Jesse, get everything you can find on this.”
Sarah: “Well, luckily we have an in at the fire department.”
Charlie’s face at that reminder:

And Jesse’s face at Charlie’s reaction.
These dorks are the cutest.
Charlie and Joe figure out the names and numbers in the journal are codes for buildings, leading them to Malcolm’s next target.

Unfortunately, they’re too slow with the discovery, as the building is already engulfed in flames.

Asher brings Charlie a box of treats, and at first the contents appear to be for Rex, but upon opening the box Charlie discovers Asher has actually brought him the files on Malcolm’s father’s death.

Sarah takes Rex with her to the scene of a fire, and he’s able to sniff out some charred human remains. With it already looking like the fire department may have removed the body and are now covering up the fact someone died, it’s about to get even more suspicious when the SJPD is officially removed from the case.
But even off the case our team continues to investigate. Charlie realizes it was Malcolm’s charred body that Rex found, which Sarah’s lab work confirms, suggesting someone else is the Green Bottle Bomber.
The iffy vibes Asher (I’m really trying not to write a whole paragraph on a firefighter named ASHer) was giving off are more than just because of tension between the departments. Charlie sees a tattoo on the arm of the bomber in the CCTV footage and recalls seeing the same tattoo on Asher’s arm. Sarah’s admirer, the oh so helpful fireman, is actually the bomber. Asher enters Charlie’s hospital room in his bomber wig and jabs Charlie with a syringe. Sedated, Charlie tells Asher he knows he’s working for the mafia. Asher calmly squirts flammable liquid on the hospital room floor, preparing to tie up loose ends.
“Don’t worry,” Asher says, lighter in hand. “I’ll take care of Rex for ya.”
Just as he tosses the lighter into the air, Rex bounds into the room, catching the lighter in his mouth before the liquid can ignite.
“You mean he’ll take care of you,” Charlie replies.

With Asher behind bars, and the fire department now aware the police weren’t in collusion with the bomber as feared, the rivalry between the two departments is put on pause, and in a sweet scene Rex is sworn in as an honorary member of the metro fire department.
“This might be the start of a beautiful friendship.” – Charlie (2x16)

Catch Hudson & Rex on Citytv, Tuesdays at 8pm ET.


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