Talk about intense!
Blue Bloods fans have been hoping for Joe Hill to pop up again after his sudden disappearance from the Reagan family dinner table.
The story started in familiar territory, then quickly became something else altogether.
Danny was his usual sardonic self as he and Baez met up at a murder scene, unaware that in a few minutes, they'd come face-to-face with his missing nephew.
As soon as they found Joe at the scene of an illegal gun buy, though, it set something more out of the ordinary in motion, to say the least.
Blue Bloods occasionally does these family-in-danger storylines, but there's rarely been one as intense as this.
The story's power came not only from the danger Joe found himself in and the resentment Danny was holding onto over having not been informed of what his nephew was doing but from the entire family's fear that history would repeat itself and Joe would suffer a similar fate to his late father.
Henry: So how's that weight on your shoulders?
Frank: To be honest, it's getting heavier.
Henry: I remember. It weighs on you until you make the decision to come out from under it. You made the right decision, Francis. He's a good cop.
Frank: Like his father.
Henry: The rest of the family, they'll come around. They're just scared for him. That's all.
Frank: They're not the only ones.
Joe Senior's death cast a shadow over everyone.
They all struggled in their own ways with it, from Frank's superstition about causing Joe Hill's death by trying to take his mind off what was going on to Danny's fear that he could have accidentally killed Joe because of his lack of information about this operation.
My favorite reaction was Henry's, which drove the action throughout the second half of the two-hour finale.
I can't take another funeral. I can't bury another one of us. Whatever it takes, I want all of you to bring him back.Henry
It was a classic Reagan response, made all the more poignant by the fact that Joe's father died in the line of duty, and the family hasn't known Joe for all that long.
An honorable mention goes to Jamie for his insistence that he needed to make amends for not having been a cop when Joe's father died and to Danny for the guilt and fear underneath his anger at not having been clued into Joe's activities.
The rift between Danny and the rest of the family also allowed Blue Bloods to explore some painful dynamics between Danny and Jamie.
Jamie: I didn't volunteer for this.
Danny: You didn't have to. You're the chosen one so you were chosen.
Danny's feelings that Jamie was the "chosen one" obviously went well beyond this one incident.
He has worked hard to curb his hotheaded tendencies this year, but they have often caused him to get passed over for assignments and promotions that easily come to the more level-headed Jamie.
And the way he handled his anger about being left out didn't help convince anyone that they should have made a different choice.
But in the end, Danny and Jamie ended up putting it all aside to chase after Joe and try to bring him home safe.
Joe didn't plan it that way -- he just wanted to finish out the case on his own terms -- but he ended up helping to heal the rift between the brothers and define his own place within the family.
Erin's role in this one was particularly interesting.
Erin has inherited Frank's rigid adherence to moral standards, and she's usually extremely careful to stay within the confines of the law.
(As an aside, what happened to Crawford? She wasn't hanging around micromanaging and getting in Erin's way.)
So for her to agree to arrest Max without probable cause and go along with Anthony's scheme to steal necessary evidence was a departure from her usual character and demonstrated how determined she was to fulfill the promise to bring Joe home in one piece.
The scene where Anthony instructed her on what to do while he broke into the house was hilarious because Erin was so naive, nervous, and unsure of how to proceed with breaking the law. Its comedic value was second only to Anthony and Danny's conversation while digging through the trash at Max's apartment.
As for Joe, it seemed like every time he was in a scene, I was holding my breath and praying he came out of it alive.
I didn't think Blue Bloods would kill him off after going to all the trouble of adding him to the cast, but there were so many close calls that I wasn't entirely sure.
That final shootout was especially intense, but it was far from the only risky moment. The emphasis in this story was definitely on the action-adventure more than on police procedure.
Soap alum Daniel Cosgrove, who played a good guy gone bad on Days of Our Lives in 2015, was perfectly cast as the fake ATF agent who turned out to be working for the enemy.
But the most compelling guest character was Dixon. Blue Bloods did something that it doesn't often do: it made one of the supposed villains likable.
Dixon was such a relatable character. I couldn't help but root for him to get out of the black market gun business and open his crepe restaurant, and I kept hoping that somehow Joe could bring down the operation without Dixon having to go to jail.
His death was heartbreaking and not just for Joe. I might have shed a few tears too.
Finally, Gloria Reubens -- another powerhouse actress who was a big deal for Blue Bloods to get for a guest spot -- helped normalize things by being the person of the week who butted heads with Frank.
Frank always gets into it with someone during the course of the hour, and the power struggle between him and Weber over who Joe was working for was no exception.
Unlike many of Frank's adversaries, though, Weber redeemed herself by deputizing Jamie and Danny so that they could help with the final showdown. Overall, she was probably one of the most enjoyable of Frank's foils, and I wouldn't mind if she came back again sometime.
Henry: We're wondering if you're the new black sheep.
Joe: Black sheep?
Danny: You know. The one who gets into trouble, makes us worry.
Frank: The fact is, that's all of us.
Henry: Except me. I'm a silver fox.
Frank: But seriously, Joe here is something special. He is his father's son.
Joe: And that's a good thing?
Frank: There's nothing better.
When all was said and done, this was a near-perfect season finale. Joe took his place at the Reagan family dinner, and Frank got as close as a man like him will ever get to saying he loved him by calling him his father's son.
It left me eager for Blue Bloods Season 12 and grateful that the series has been renewed yet again.
How about you, Blue Bloods fanatics?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know how you felt about the Blue Bloods Season 11 finale. And if you want to satisfy your Blue Bloods fix during the long summer hiatus, watch Blue Bloods online right here on TV Fanatic.
Blue Bloods airs on CBS on Fridays at 10 PM EST/PST. The Blue Bloods Season 12 premiere will air sometime in the fall of 2021.