‘Blue Bloods’ Should Have Ended Years Ago

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With the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike, major film and TV projects have now resumed production, including long-running hit shows such as Blue Bloods. However, the landmark fourteenth season of the hit police procedural series will be the show’s last, ending the show’s run after 293 episodes. Some shows struggle to make it past just one season, yet Blue Bloods managed to make it to a staggering fourteen, making it among the ten longest-running scripted shows in CBS history. In terms of its longevity, Blue Bloods has had a run that many shows probably envy, and it reached a fairly decent level of popularity. This is especially apparent considering how TV viewership has become segmented in recent years with the advent of streaming media. That said, Blue Bloods never reached a significant level of prestige or critical acclaim achieved by some of its contemporaries such as Justified, Boardwalk Empire, or The Walking Dead. Season 14 seems as good a time as any to end the show, since many of the characters’ main arcs have already reached their emotional conclusions.

‘Blue Bloods’ First Season Remains Its Best

Of all the seasons of Blue Bloods in its 13-year history, the first season remains the best because it centers on a recurring mystery surrounding a shadowy, fraternal police organization called the Blue Templar, and the mysterious death of one of the Reagan siblings, Joseph Reagan. Initially, Jamie Reagan (Will Estes), fresh out of the police academy and in his rookie year as an officer, investigates the Blue Templar conspiracy. The mystery added a great deal of suspense during the first season, while the show was still fresh, finding its footing, and letting the audience get to know its characters.

At the time, it was not hard to believe that Jamie’s older brother, Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg), might’ve been part of a secret organization of corrupt police officers, considering Danny often has a penchant for bending, if not outright breaking, the rules. Additionally, it was not yet clear whether Jamie’s training officer, Sergeant Anthony Renzulli (Nicholas Turturro), who previously partnered with Jamie’s murdered older brother Joseph, was dirty or not. The mystery of the Blue Templar and Jamie’s investigation added a nice hook for the viewers to follow throughout Season 1.

After turning down an offer to work with the FBI to get to the bottom of the Blue Templar’s corrupt activities and Joseph’s death, Jamie conducts the investigation on his own, still not completely sure of whom he can trust. Eventually, Jamie does enlist his family for help, including his father, Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), and eldest brother Danny. After they come together, along with some other trusted straight arrow officers, the team seeks to root out and expose the Blue Templar, along with Joseph’s killer. This culminates in the first season’s explosive finale when the Reagans conduct a joint operation to trap and expose the Blue Templar, and the group’s leader, veteran police detective Sonny Malevsky (Michael T. Weiss of The Pretender fame). A pre-Luke CageMike Colter even makes a featured appearance in the finale, portraying a military surveillance expert who assists the Reagans with their sting operation.

While other seasons and recurring subplots throughout the show’s run have been good, none have measured up to the drama of the Blue Templar mystery. At the beginning of the show, the Reagans mourn Joseph’s recent death. Plus, Jamie’s recently switching career paths from lawyer to police officer raised the stakes. As an inexperienced rookie officer, Jamie finds himself in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy that leads to his brother’s death, so nobody wants to see Jamie end up like Joseph — and considering the villains were corrupt police officers, viewers could never be completely certain which supporting characters from the first season were in on the conspiracy.

The resolution of the Blue Templar mystery brought closure to Joseph’s murder, and it galvanized the Reagan family, bringing them closer together. But the real kicker was in the Season 1 finale, “The Blue Templar,” when Frank Reagan enters the Blue Templar’s bar hideout as they are all seeking to get their money and skip town before Frank’s team executes their sting operation to apprehend the corrupt cops. At this point in the show, Selleck’s Frank Reagan always proved to be cool, calm, and collected, never losing his temper or raising his voice. It was a powerful moment to finally see Frank let his normally calm demeanor slip and show some righteous anger against Malevsky and the Blue Templar members. Selleck delivers one of the best performances of his career in the episode. After a rare display of unrestrained anger from Frank, the police commissioner chokes out the words, “I’ll ask again, who shot my boy?” Seeing Frank confront his son’s killer was a chilling moment. While it’s good the Blue Templar mystery didn’t drag on for multiple seasons and become tiresome, the series’ main storylines never again reached that level of quality.

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‘Blue Bloods’ Changed After Sami Gayle’s Exit From the Show

Another major recurring subplot throughout the run of Blue Bloods concerned Erin Reagan’s (Bridget Moynahan) daughter, Nicky Reagan (Sami Gayle). Early on, Nicky declared that she wanted to become the first woman in the family to become a police officer, and that remained Nicky’s career path for a time before the character pivoted. Nicky essentially grew up on the show, going from her teen years to becoming a young woman. In real life, Sami Gayle started attending Columbia University, the same as her character in the series. This resulted in Gayle getting written off the show, when she accepted a job with a startup company in San Francisco, essentially leaving New York, and the series, during Season 11.

It’s understandable that Sami Gayle needed to focus on her real-life education and other career prospects, but a more fitting conclusion for Sami Gayle would have depicted her graduating from college and entering the police academy. Had the series ended earlier, a proper ending for the show could have depicted Nicky graduating from the academy and becoming a police officer around Season 10, when Gayle’s appearances were winding down. That would have bookended the series with Jamie’s graduation from the academy in the pilot, followed by Nicky’s own graduation in a proper series finale. Now, in defense of Blue Bloods, there is still potential for this to happen in Season 14.

How Should ‘Blue Bloods’ End?

Given Season 14 is currently underway, the proper ending to the show would likely be Frank Reagan’s exit from his position as chief of police. Frank has mentioned in the past that his goal was to walk out of the office proudly, leaving the department in a better place than where it was when he arrived, and making sure it was not in a pile of rubble. Now that Jamie has finally found and married Edit “Eddie” Janko (Vanessa Ray), his one true love and fellow officer, it seems he is destined for higher office. Of the Reagan kids, Jamie seems to possess the most level-headed demeanor and intelligence to eventually become the next police commissioner and follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.

Unquestionably, Erin Reagan should be promoted to a higher public office, whether it’s the mayoral office or District Attorney. Pulling back on her District Attorney run last season was a lame-duck decision that was counterintuitive to the character, and it needs to be corrected for the final season. With Sami Gayle making a welcome return in the Season 13 finale with a brief guest appearance as Nicky, hopefully, that signals that she could make additional appearances in the final season. If Sami Gayle does return for more appearances, it could be a way to have Nicky move back to New York to finally bring home the subplot of her becoming the first female police officer in the family. That would bring a fitting emotional conclusion to her story arc, and the series overall, about a law enforcement family, with Nicky carrying on the Reagan legacy.

Blue Bloods Season 14 premiered February 16 on CBS. Part Two will debut later in Fall 2024. The first 13 seasons of the series, with all 275 episodes, are available to stream now on Paramount+.

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