The season two finale of “Blue Bloods,” like the 12th episode of the season, ”The Job,” features direct echoes of 9/11. See http://popculturemeetshistory.blogspot.com/2012/02/0-0-1-248-1418-university-of.html . In the finale, entitled “Mother’s Day,” New York City police commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) must deal with the possibility of a major terrorist attack on the Big Apple.
The Secretary of Homeland Security tells Reagan that the government has credible evidence of a direct attack that will occur in the city in the next 24 hours (Call Jack Bauer!) Reminiscent of season three of “24,” Reagan surmises it will be a biological attack. Intelligence suggests a terrorist cell has obtained a deadly strain of the flu, a threat that also appeared in the short-lived “The Event.”
As regular readers are aware, I have written extensively about 9/11 and its impact on popular culture. Recently, I have focused on the move away from fears of another terrorist attack toward the long-term impact of 9/11 on the people left behind, such as Kiefer Sutherland’s Martin Bohm on “Touch” (who is a single father because his wife died in the World Trade Center) and Jim Caviziel’s Mr. Reese on “Person of Interest” (he has psychological damage from fighting the war on terror for amoral government agencies). Programs are now focusing on fears of conventional crimes such as robberies and murders rather than concerns about spectacular terrorist attacks.
The “Blue Bloods” finale doesn’t fit neatly into any of these categories. On the one hand, the episode features genuine apprehension about another attack, though as a viewer I did not feel the same set of urgency as I did watching the early seasons of “24.” In fact, the threat almost seems more of a device to develop certain aspects of the character’s personalities as much as anything else. Part of this comes from the difference between “Blue Bloods” and “24,” as the former is more about the Reagan family than it is about the ongoing police investigations in the show. I believe it is also because the nation has gone over a decade without another attack as I didn’t experience the same sense of foreboding as I did watching season two of “24,” which aired in 2002-03 and centered on terrorists trying to detonate a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. I realize this is a little naïve given that real-life law enforcement just foiled a potential attack last week.
Regardless, “Blue Bloods” continues to be an excellent drama even though it airs on Friday nights on CBS, a time slot clearly aimed at the show’s (and network’s) largely 50-and-over audience. I wonder what that says about me?