The Rookie “Going Under” Review: A Thrilling and Vulnerable Season Penultimate

THE ROOKIE “Going Under” Officer Lucy Chen goes undercover to infiltrate an illegal firearm operatio
(ABC/Ser Baffo)

The Rookie “Going Under” Spoilers Ahead

The Rookie’s “Going Under” is effectively structured as a season penultimate with the type of thrilling angst that’s leading us to what’ll surely be an impactful finale. We can likely be certain there will be a heavy cliffhanger to hold us over during the summer, but what we get here solidifies that these characters will hopefully be alright. 

It’s tough to invest in procedurals when characters come and go. It’s also difficult to believe in endgames or survivals, but it feels safe to hope that we’re in a reliable, good place right now. The episode does a compelling job handling character arcs for nearly everyone, with Angela working through Aaron, Nolan nudging Celina toward maybe giving love a chance, and of course, everything we get with Chenford.

The Rookie “Going Under” | Chenford’s Transparency

Chenford hug in a laundry room during The Rookie's "Going Under"

It feels like every episode begins and ends with Chenford, which is incredibly pleasing to us specifically. If The Rookie wants to flip itself into a full-blown romance, who am I to complain? Still, its true strength lies in how The Rookie’s “Going Under” piggybacks off of last week’s “S.T.R.” The undercover storyline is still in its early stages, yet the conversations are making every bit of an impact, placing trust at the cardinal of their relationship. The quiet stolen moments and whispers are one thing, but how Lucy and Tim hug in this week’s episode nearly kills me. You could only make a damn laundry room so romantic when an embrace stands as the foundation of a thousand words filling the space in between. Unspoken words like — I’m so glad you’re okay. I can’t lose you. I need you. She might be alone on the operation, but he’s with her every step of the way, both as her backup and as her escape. He’s home, even for a brief moment, in a secluded laundry room. 

And so much of the reason such scenes carry the weight they do is entirely because of the performances. The words and directions are only commands without the emotions Melissa O’Neil and Eric Winter consistently actualize and cement. The way Tim catches his breath for the first time only after he sees Lucy is safe and the way she studies his every move when they’re finally back home—it’s all a candid display of how well they know each other and how deeply they care.

Lucy briefing the team in a hospital in The Rookie's Season 5 "Going Under"

These exact conversations differentiate Lucy Chen and, by extension, Chenford from Tim’s past. While last week’s episode acutely showcases that Lucy and Isabel aren’t the same people, this episode bolsters it further, doubling down on Tim’s fear and his inability to stay quiet because the thoughts of losing Lucy haunt him steadily. (It’s crazy that the three little words have yet to be exchanged, and I’m convinced they’re going to destroy us when they come.) Still, the transparency here continues to be their greatest strength because talking about these fears and bringing what’s tucked inside their heads out to the surface ensures their endgame.

Yes, this is all terrifying, and there might be some similarities in how the women unwind, but Lucy is aware enough to understand something Isabel didn’t—the weight of what can go wrong. The fact that it’s all out in the open and they’re continuing to talk about it is what’s so incredibly human because couples need reassurance. A fear doesn’t disappear once you vocalize it aloud. Sometimes, you repeat things over and over and over until it’s embedded into an impenetrable corner where it’s now locked forever. Tim isn’t there yet. He needs to keep hearing it. He needs to keep remembering it because Lucy is too important—too special. What Chenford share is too special.

Tim and Lucy Chenford talk in The Rookie about undercover concerns

Yet, everything we get in The Rookie’s “Going Under” proves that this relationship is built to last because they’re fortifying the foundation they’ll always orbit around. We’ve seen every moment of their journey from the start, and the detail that they keep showing us all these small steps is instrumental to differentiating them from failed relationships. And so, wherever the finale leads, these hugs, confessions, and longing gazes full of countless promises show us that they’re going to be alright.

New Beginnings

Nyla briefs Celina and Nolan on a case in The Rookie's "Going Under"

So much of Celina’s arc is centered around a heartbreaking grief that’s hard to step away from. Yet, she’s finally in the process of actually grieving and carrying her sister’s memory with her in a way that’ll change her own life. She’s lighter today—more open and a little less afraid. It brings some genuinely wholesome and surprising moments to our screens, showing that the pairing between her and Nolan is as impactful as Angela and Aaron’s.

We’re seeing them both step out from the shadows and head toward places where they can grow in their careers and personal lives. We see care and compassion placed on all characters in an episode that ultimately centers around protecting one of their own to show that they’re a group of people who sincerely care about each other. It’s a large part of why all the separate arcs come together as organically as they do because it’s reminding viewers that those on The Rookie are an actual family. It’s hard to say the same about many procedurals, but this is where the show steps up consistently. And so far, it does a great job of it in every way.

The Rookie’s “Going Under” might just be the strongest episode in Season 5 to show that the show’s strength lies in its ensemble cast and unique relationships, both platonic and romantic. It’s a reminder that when they’re all working toward something impactful, the entire narrative functions more cohesively and rivetingly. And ultimately, it’s just a damn good penultimate.  

Further Thoughts

  • Angela working from a closet. I love her, Your Honor.
  • “Do I miss you already? No, I’m fine.” Are you, Tim? Are you?
  • Tim’s jaw clenches when they talk about the perp getting handsy? This is why romance novels are written.
  • And then the way he breathes when he see her after the shooting!? Yeah, I’m fine. “Yeah, I about had a heart attack.” Tim are you okay!??
  • Aaron and the dance challenge?!?! Here for it.
  • I need Celina and this guy to make things work. It’s already cute.

Now streaming on Hulu: What are your thoughts on The Rookie’s “Going Under?” Let us know in the comments below.


Leave a Reply