The Rookie Showrunner Talks Finale Twist And How It May Play Out In Season 3

nathan fillion john nolan the rookie
(Image credit: abc press)

Spoilers below for the Season 2 finale of The Rookie.

With its Season 2 finale, The Rookie pulled the rug out from under both audiences and Nathan Fillion's John Nolan with the reveal that Harold Perrineau's Detective Nick Armstrong has been a dirty cop working with Serj Derian's Armenian crime family this entire time, and he did indeed kill Erin Cole out of self-preservation. Though Armstrong's backbone and sense of morals aren't all that strong, his quick-thinking allowed him to stay a step ahead of John all the way through the stressful climax.

John's attempts to secure proof of Armstrong's duplicitousness – which included getting some key (if inevitably useless) info from Annie Wersching's serial killer Rosalind Dyer – were thwarted by Armstrong's foresight. What's more, Harold Perrineau's detective secretly planted his own damning dirty-cop evidence inside the walls of John's home. Frantically, John searched by bashing holes in his walls, but when he finally found the incriminating stash, a host of cop cars surrounded the house. Talk about stressful!

The Rookie showrunner Alexi Hawley, who put Nathan Fillion through a cliffhanger or two during their days together on Castle, spoke with EW about the decision to put John in such a harrowing situation to close out Season 2. In his words:

It's going to put everything to the test. As we were considering what our cliffhanger would be, I feel like the best version of it is you paint yourself into a corner where the audience is like, 'How the hell is he going to get out of that?' That's obviously what we're going to figure out when we come back. Not that I don't have ideas, but it's going to be a challenge, and the obstacle is enormous. Armstrong has a lot of credibility and respect inside the department, and Nolan's just a rookie. So it's going to be a big hill to climb for Nolan. But I think that's where the excitement is. That's where the fun of that story will be on the other side of the season.

Unless the creative team decides to do a lot of off-screen explanations before The Rookie's potential return for Season 3 in the fall, audiences can likely expect to see the story pick up soon after the events of the Season 2 finale, with John Nolan trying everything he can to defend himself and prove his innocence. (Wouldn't it be weird if it rejoined the story months after, with John having been in jail the whole time?) At the same time, Alexi Hawley says that John will be questioning his capacity for trusting others after such a huge betrayal, though it probably won't shake up his positive pragmatism too much.

John certainly looks guilty, what with Armstrong's goods being discovered inside his walls, as well as the gunfight that played out at Armstrong's home before John returned to his own. And it's doubtful that John's initial suspicions after Cole's death would be very convincing to all involved. However, John's future isn't necessarily doomed. (Of course it isn't, since this is network TV, but you know what I mean.)

Several weird inconsistencies concerning John's situation should definitely warrant further discussions and investigative avenues, assuming those in charge are truly looking for justice, and aren't just going to try and save Armstrong's ass. For instance, if John was the one who hid the money and other stuff, why wouldn't he remember exactly where it was before demolishing other walls in his house? Alexi Hawley addressed such points when speaking with TVLine, saying:

It will look bad for him, and that’s the obstacle we have to overcome: How is he going to get out of this? But he did spend time with Harper trying to get Armstrong, so there are going to be conflicting conversations. I do think that that is a valid point of, 'Why would I do that?' At the same time, if you have a criminal organization saying that you’re working with them, it’s going to be hard to overcome that. He’s definitely going to need to go above and beyond in our return episode to overcome the deck that’s stacked against him.

Indeed, if Makia Cox's Nyla Harper is successful enough at vouching for John and convincing others that his suspicions about Armstrong were legit, that would create a fighting chance. Of course, had Harper gone with John during his visit to the dirty cop's house, Armstrong probably would have done something incriminating enough to get him burned on the spot. Still, since Harper is one of the few people who can speak in John's favor, she might be in danger herself when Season 3 kicks off, assuming ABC orders it.

Teasing how the next season would kick off, in a perfect world, Alexi Hawley said:

Nolan left him handcuffed and shot in the shoulder, so yeah, he survived. In 301, we get into the 'he said/he said' debate, presenting two versions of what Armstrong went through in the finale, which is two men scrambling to end up on top of this to prove the other wrong. I think that’ll be very dynamic.

That's not a guarantee that Harold Perrineau will be around for a long time in Season 3, but fans can at least expect to see him in the premiere if it happens.

The Rookie has now completed its second season on ABC and is awaiting news about the chances for Season 3. Considering how well The Rookie has done in recent months, as well as in delayed viewing all season long, fans should be hopeful. Check out our TV finale rundown to see what else is ending soon, and for more shows that are on the way, head to our Summer 2020 TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.