Family and life on the police force don’t always exist harmoniously for the Reagan family, especially when loyalties are equally divided. “Custody Battle” is the 20th episode for Season 4, probing the delicate balance between fathers and daughters, even when dad is gone, and loyalty to partner and professional ethics. The Commissioner (Tom Selleck) comes to an admission he doesn’t expect, his daughter (Bridget Moynahan) has to leave a case to the jury’s decision, and Eddie (Vanessa Ray) makes her own brave move to forgiveness.
The call every cop on the beat dreads comes to Jamie (Will Estes) and Eddie, as a domestic issue is made public on the streets. A father, Christopher Collins (Brent Werzner), is pleading for his daughter, as the mother (Angela Sarafyan) is torn between still loving feelings and protection for their child (Karlin Biederman). While mom protests that “damn cops” only make things worse, the father’s resistance makes it necessary to take him into custody. When he asks to go to the bathroom, the officer overseeing (Charlie Semine) is forced to take action when Collins resists being handcuffed after relieving himself. Collins is dies following the incident, despite efforts to save him. What comes into question is whether the officer’s response is acceptable policy or not. As fate would have it, Erin Reagan catches this case to take to the grand jury. Frank learns the news from the ever hounding press corps, and promises fair and expedient handling of the judicial process. The distraught mom who’s already had hard life and a harder relationship with Collins walks out of questioning with Erin, admitting his high emotion, but declaring he shouldn’t have died for it. She is certain the big blue wall of police defense will prevent justice. Erin is equally committed to seeking true justice. She gets reports that Officer Cutter is suffering from the experience, but still is committed to the process. Frank declines their dinner out, instead calling his daughter to his office for dinner, avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest. He tries to explain the delicacy involving a “death in custody” case, and Erin takes offense, storming out of his office, saying she would not be suitable dinner company. The medical examiner’s report comes back, confirming that Collins was choked. With no witnesses to the act, Erin has to prod whether any inappropriate actions were seen. No admissions and no witnesses come forth.
Eddie confides to Jamie about the doubt and gaping hole in her self-esteem prompted by her father’s absence in her life. He suggests that she consider entering the letters that he writes to her. Family dinner puts partner loyalty as akin to family secrets, up against appropriate practice, with the police officers in the family defending his partner relationship as closer than family. Anger spills over when Jamie and Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) meet for drinks, and find themselves defending their sister. Their dad, meanwhile, is seen to be having both the “weight of the world” and “wish I never had kids” expressions of late. Frank begins to inquire why Cutter waited six years to transfer when he was set to make detective at his old assignment. Some prompting reveals that there was an assault allegation against some teens that “went away.” Frank confronts the longtime chief about why he allow him to hire “a ticking time bomb.” He walks a beat with Officer Walsh, finally helping her realize that whether her partner went too far should be left to the jury. When she defends loyalty as being the ultimate test of officer, Frank counters with truth that “any officer who breaks the law doesn’t deserve to wear the shield.” Eddie decides to visit her dad, asking Jamie to be moral support. She may not be ready to forgive, but she’s ready to offer a chance at relationship.
Just before court, Carol Walsh tells Erin about witnessing Cutter with Collins in a choke hold. Even with that information, the jury declines to indict, but Frank decides to administer his own decision, meeting with Cutter to give him the news that is not indicted, but he is also no longer employed with NYPD. No words of justification have any effect on Frank’s decision. Instead, Frank offers apology to his daughter, Erin, for any wounding his handling of the case caused, and takes her out for drinks.
Blue Bloods is running up to a climactic finale with only two episodes left for the season. Keep Friday nights free!