'Rookie Blue' Season 4 premiere recap: 'Surprises,' indeed

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The rookie cops of Division 15 may have more experience now, but they still can land in a heapin' helpin' of trouble.

Thursday's (May 23) Season 4 opener of ABC's "Rookie Blue," titled "Surprises," demonstrated that amply. For starters, there was the expected front-and-center story of Officers Andy McNally and Nick Collins ( Missy Peregym, Peter Mooney).

Right off the bat, they were seen immersed six months later in the undercover operation they left everything and everyone behind for -- including their respective, fellow badge-wearing loves Sam Swarek and Gail Peck ( Ben Bass, Charlotte Sullivan) -- at the end of Season 3.

That case would be closed in the first hour of Season 4, but not before a new bond between Andy and Nick made itself known ("It hasn't all been bad," he said as their job was winding down, met by her warm smile). And not before each of them took some blows, quite literally.

Not only was Nick smacked in the head with a rifle butt in what turned out to be a ruse to fool the bad guys, he later was mistakenly kicked in the face by Andy upon her release from the back of a truck, where she'd been left bound and gagged after one of the felons knocked her unconscious.

And Nick wasn't done suffering yet: Gail gave him a solid punch in the face upon his return, having been none too happy that he disappeared, but she quickly made up for it with a passionate embrace.

At least he was spared one punch, which Andy was more than ready to give him after he pulled a gun's trigger on her, forced to do so by the villains. Explaining to her later that he could tell it wasn't loaded, she still replied, "I hate you so much right now!"

Then, as any "Rookie Blue" devotee would expect, there's Andy and Sam ... "McSwarek," as they're often referred to. He wasted no time coming to her aid when she called for help as she and Nick evaded the pursuing villains during a warehouse chase.

The much-anticipated Sam-and-Andy reunion was a marvelously simple "Hi" when they finally faced each other again. But for anyone who thinks it would stay that smooth: Please. This is "Rookie Blue."

If Andy thought she and Sam would pick up where they left off, nope. It took little time for her to discover that in her absence, he had taken up romantically with training officer Marlo Cruz ( Rachael Ancheril, one of this season's new regulars, along with Priscilla Faia as Officer Chloe Price). "Hello, broken heart? It's me, Andy. Again."

There was no sign in Episode 1 of Detective Luke Callaghan ( Eric Johnson), Andy's ex-love who agreed to let her go on her dangerous mission. But it's early, and Luke proved in Season 3 that he has a way of popping back in when least expected.

However, veteran officer Oliver Shaw ( Matt Gordon) was his reliably supportive self, and it was nice to see guest star  Louis Ferreira -- formerly known as Justin Louis while on such shows as "Missing" and "Stargate Universe"  -- as the leader of the undercover mission. And not a particularly thorough one, with Sgt. Frank Best ( Lyriq Best) registering his extreme displeasure over Andy and Nick being lost in the sting, temporary though that turned out to be. (Ferreira has a shot at being a better cop in his role on ABC's just-started "Motive.")

As for the other familiar rookies: Chris Diaz ( Travis Milne) seemed tentatively ready to transfer to Timmins, Ontario, with his new family; and Traci Nash ( Enuka Okuma) appeared to be coping well, months after the on-duty murder of her detective fiance, Jerry Barber.

And Dov Epstein ( Gregory Smith) was back to his easy humor after killing a perp last season. He's waiting for another turn in the spotlight ... which he'll surely get, since Smith tells us the first half of the two-part Season 4 finale (which he also directed) features Dov prominently.

There's much to come for and from these rookies, then, as they start another summer on the TV beat. And that's just the way we like it.
Photo/Video credit: ABC