Blue Bloods Season 8 Episode 14 Review: School of Hard Knocks

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I'm normally not a fan of Danny Reagan.

I know he's the lead, and since Linda's death he's been a bit softer, but he's a hothead who applies rules selectively and always loses his temper with suspects.

So I was surprised that his storyline on  Blue Bloods Season 8 Episode 14 was so engaging.

High School Courtyard - Blue Bloods

One of the things that Blue Bloods does particularly well is to show multiple sides of issues while allowing the Reagans to have a definite point of view.

This was no exception.

Danny: Weren’t we called to this school a couple months back?
Baez: A kid shot another kid in the cafeteria.
Danny: That’ll make you lose your appetite.

Danny thought the shooting at Carnegie Hill was straightforward and all they had to do was get some kids to talk and they could arrest the bad guy.

Except, of course, it wasn't that simple.

Danny: I don’t envy you, dealing with that crew every day.
Teacher: They grow on you.
Danny: Yeah, like a tumor. You think any of them are gonna come forward?
Teacher: I’d be very surprised. They don’t trust cops.
Danny: We got that.
Teacher: To be fair, the only time you guys show up is when someone gets shot or someone gets stabbed.
Danny: Not for nothing, but that’s kind of the job description.
Teacher: It’s not an accusation, Detective. It’s reality.

Ms. Chavez must have thoroughly confused Danny. She seemed to enjoy teaching all her students and hoped to get through to all of them even though she knew that only one or two were even reachable. 

And she didn't see Theresa, the girl who beat her up, as a bad kid at all. Unlike Danny, she understood that a good kid and good student could get in over her head and do something awful. 

It bothered me that all the kids who were susceptible to gang influence were in a special education classroom. It was never explained exactly why that was the case.

Was it because these kids were all behind academically, because they had behavioral problems, or because it was easier to put them all in one place and try to keep them segregated from the main student body?

It was convenient for the story for them to all be in one classroom, but it seemed like labeling them as deficient and keeping them in a segregated class might be contributing to the problems.

The special ed label, particularly if the kids were labeled behaviorally or emotionally disabled, might have made them feel like they might as well engage in bad behavior because they weren't capable of anything better anyway.

Principal: This is my fault.
Danny: It’s not your fault.
Principal: It is my responsibility to keep my staff safe.
Danny: There was nothing you could have done!
Principal: Then why am I here?

I liked Principal Ward, and I was disappointed that he decided to take the class hostage.

Up until that point, he was a very sympathetic character, and it didn't make a lot of sense that he interpreted Danny's advice as permission to connect with them by acting like a gang member himself.

I know he was frustrated, but that just permanently tarnished his legacy for no good reason. I guess it was supposed to show that even the best-intentioned person will snap when working in what amounts to a war zone.

Or maybe it just showed that Danny should have kept his mouth shut instead of encouraging Ward to continue working when he was obviously burned out.

Chavez: Prison is the only thing that can save Jo-Jo. But Theresa, she’s a good kid.
Danny: She’s a good kid who could have got you killed. Don’t you think she should pay for that?
Chavez: I’m a teacher, Detective. Retribution is your department, not mine.

Either way, Danny talking Ward down was powerful, but this particular plot point didn't seem like it needed to happen.

Danny's story was paired with the least appealing Erin storyline I've ever seen.

Maybe it was because I found Danny's story so fascinating, but my mind was wandering during Erin's scenes. I didn't care about the illegal gambling syndicate or the fact that Mickey was involved or that Erin considered Mickey a friend.

When Mickey disappeared and Erin was accused of helping him escape, this storyline became interesting for all of 30 seconds. Then Mickey was found dead, Erin blamed herself, and the story was just over.

It was an underwhelming end to an underwhelming story, and I would have much rather have seen Jamie have a storyline that was seen through to completion instead of evaporating in the middle.

Jamie was absent except for an obligatory appearance at the family dinner, complete with a story about how he'd considered becoming a teacher and him being the receiving end of Danny's wisecracks.

Jamie's stories are the best part of the family dinners, but it's beyond time for the writers to find something real for him to do. He either just appears in the dinner scenes, or he gets an interesting beginning to a story that peters out without any proper resolution.

We all want to protect our people, Frank. But in the natural order of things, mine come first. Remember that.


I enjoyed Frank butting heads with the governor, though. 

Frank is always at war with some government official or other, and it can get tiring. But when some government bureaucrat is wrong, he always puts him in his place, and I enjoy his strength in these kinds of scenes.

The governor was out of line in his insistence that a cop should get fired without knowing or accepting the facts. He apparently was taking his cues from Days of Our Lives' Abe Carver, who did the same thing for a few months.

Anyway, Frank put him in his place, and I didn't mind that he resorted to blackmail to do it because the governor was so overbearing and annoying.

What did you think of "School of Hard Knocks"?

Is it possible that Danny learned something?

What do you think Jamie was busy doing that we didn't get to see?

Did anyone find Erin's story at all interesting?

Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Blue Bloods online if you missed anything.

School of Hard Knocks Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (18 Votes)

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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Blue Bloods Season 8 Episode 14 Quotes

I requested metal detectors and updated security cameras 14 months ago. It would be nice if we got them before someone gets killed.


Danny: Weren’t we called to this school a couple months back?
Baez: A kid shot another kid in the cafeteria.
Danny: That’ll make you lose your appetite.