Scene Breakdown: Chenford Discuss Undercover Work in The Rookie’s “S.T.R.”

Chenford talk about undercover in The Rookie's "S.T.R."

The Rookie’s Chenford (Tim Bradford and Lucy Chen) are well on their way to exchanging three crucial words that will define their relationship. But before that happens and before they continue to find more strength as a couple, they need to address the elephant in the room — undercover. It’s how the two essentially realize they have feelings for one another, but at the same time, it’s a sore spot for Tim because it’s how he lost Isabel to an addiction. Still, in The Rookie’s “S.T.R.,” Isabel not only returns doing better than before, but the series never once pits the women against each other. Instead, it reaffirms that when Lucy does go undercover, things will be different.

Part of what’s so appealing about Chenford and the dynamic they continue to fortify is that they are both determined to be honest with each other. After The Rookie’s “A Hole in the World,” I said, “In each other, they have the safe space to make the ordinary great and the difficult moments bearable. They’re already showing us that the future they’re carving includes the other in everything they do, noting to help as much as possible with exams and taking care of each other in little moments.” There’s no further proof necessary when a rather mostly pleasant day with Isabel leads Lucy to sincerely tell Tim that she wants the job, but she’s nervous about how he’ll handle it.

Tim Bradford looking at Lucy Chen in The Rookie Season 5, Episode 20 "S.T.R."

To begin, saying, “Can I share something vulnerable with you” beautifully tells us that the two of them are in a great place where they continue to honor the other’s agency. Lucy needs to know if Tim’s in a good space to hear all this, and simultaneously, she needs to prepare him for what she will say. She needs him to consent to the idea that he’s going to be okay with whatever she chooses to share, noting his mood and everything else that can follow. Tim’s “of course” reaffirms that all emotions are welcome when it comes to Lucy. This is where Chenford shines best at showcasing why they work so well together because the honesty in every area is the magnetic lodestone they both orbit around. 

Lucy tells Tim she likes working undercover, but she’s concerned about how he’ll handle it if she ever goes as deep as Isabel did. He tells her he’ll be fine, idly smoothing his hand over hers that’s resting on his shoulder. But the expression Tim Bradford wears toward the end while holding his girl in his arms tells us that he is concerned. He will be fine because that’s who Tim Bradford is at the end of the day, but concurrently, of course, he’s going to worry when he cares about Lucy as profoundly as he does. And much of this boils down to the detail that The Rookie’s “S.T.R.” is continuing to solidify Chenford’s endgame by noting that through everything, they’re going to make it to the end. 

Chenford cuddling on the couch in The Rookie 5x20

Tim knows that Lucy and Isabel are two completely different people. Perhaps, he even understands Lucy better than he ever did with Isabel because before they were a couple, they were friends, looking out for each other even in their SO/Rookie days. This scene isn’t about Tim not trusting Lucy or even deflecting from the truth, but rather it’s Tim Bradford showing us how ardently he cares about the woman in his arms, showcasing with his fears that he’d do anything and everything to keep her safe. This moment is about confirming that he’d never stand in her way while simultaneously revealing the natural fears that are clawing at him.

Every sign, from their ceaseless decisions to step forward when the other needs something to their genuine concerns over safety, cement the deep love that Chenford shares. The three little words are coming. Tim might even have to voice that even if he’ll be fine because he trusts Lucy without hesitation, it would destroy him if anything happened to her. And it all comes down to finding ways to express that the comfort and ease they’ve found with each other is the best thing they’ve ever known — the one thing they could never bear to lose.

The Rookie’s S.T.R. is now streaming on Hulu.


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