How Flashpoint redefined the contemporary cop drama…
Flashpoint was a critically-acclaimed Canadian police drama about a fictional tactical unit called the Strategic Response Unit. Each member of the SRU is equipped with advanced weaponry and technology as a last resort…their primary goal is diffusing hostile situations through profiling and negotiation. Episodes usually feature emotionally-charged situations where a split-second decision – or flashpoint – makes all the difference in the world.
What makes these episodes hit so close to home is how human they are, featuring real people making foolish decisions that place them at odds with the law. It’s a premise that defines the series as a whole for having great writing and even better acting. Most episodes focus on themes of redemption and the cost of heroism – emotional stories that truly distinguish this series from other cop dramas with episodes like these.
“First in Line”
Season 1, Episode 2
First in Line examined the ambiguity of morality and ethics by showing how far a devastated father would go to save his daughter. After having his hopes of a transplant dashed by a filing error, the father seizes a weapon and holds the hospital hostage. Greg, leader of SRU Team One, is able to talk him down and diffuses the situation, but the real payoff comes when the dying man in line for the transplant makes the sacrifice. Even after the father threatened his life, the ailing man gives up his claim to the transplant in favor of the daughter.
“The Perfect Family”
Season 2, Episode 5
A young woman gives her baby up for adoption just as the ex-boyfriend re-enters her life. Distraught, the two resolve to kidnap their baby, leading to a chase that ends at an amusement park. Greg and his team arrive, where they learn that the boyfriend is suffering from the trauma of witnessing his own father’s suicide. Greg is able to get the boyfriend to safely hand over the baby, however, he fails to prevent the suspect from following in his father’s footsteps.
Season 3, Episode 13
Team One is in the midst of an inquisition during a routine psych evaluation when their conduct is called into question. Meanwhile, the team’s tactical leader in the field, Ed, is dealing with the threat of an impending divorce when he gets the call that his wife is going into labor. In a rush to beat the traffic, Ed unwittingly escalates a criminal driving in front of him, which leads to a devastating confrontation that lands Ed in the hospital. It was a disastrous cliffhanger that was immediately resolved in season 4 when we learn Ed survived his injuries.
“The War Within”
Season 4, Episode 9
Ryan, a high school student is “outed” by his peers leading to a desperate journey for revenge in hopes of winning his parents’ acceptance. When all hope seems lost, Ryan tries to end it all when Greg and his team finally show up. Able to reach the boy and his parents, Greg is able to help bridge the gap and create the potential for acceptance and healing. The experience also inspires greater courage within the team and their lives outside of the job.
“Keep the Peace”
Season 5, Episodes 12 + 13
The final two episodes of the series involved a massive terror attack on Toronto being orchestrated by a single individual. Emotional tensions were ratcheted up to the breaking point as Ed’s son was nearly lost to a collapsed structure and Greg faced an intense showdown with the bomber. While Greg and his team were able to stop the terrorist and save the city, the episode marked the retirement of Greg as leader of the team and conclusion of series as we know it.
A fresh spin on a classic genre…
The cop drama as it is often seen today is pretty formulaic. You get the good guys who face the bad guys and we get a taste for what it’s like to stand against evil. Few shows, however, really make you feel the kinds of hardships and the costs required to be a hero like Flashpoint. The series, itself, is filled with real and emotional characters fully aware of the humanity of those they are tasked with apprehending. It’s less of a show about the divisive nature of lawful and unlawful and more of an examination of how these individuals are handled and what can be done to truly keep the peace.