“Rookie Blue” has certainly done its fair share of heavy storylines — but none so relevant as tonight’s episode, in which Officer Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith) shoots and kills a black teenager during a convenience store robbery. Though Dov believes that the teenager was armed, no weapon is found at the scene, and Dov’s judgment is immediately called into question — not only by the police force, but by Dov himself.
Given the current climate after the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, by a night watchman, the story carried particular weight. Smith tells us that though the episode was written and filmed before Trayvon Martin’s death, it addresses an issue that is always at the forefront for police officers.
“We shot this over a year ago, so it wasn’t as prescient as it is now. Now, I think you feel a lot more responsibility with everything that’s been in the news lately,” Smith explains. “At the same time, it’s just make believe, and we’re just actors who put on a costume to tell a story. In this case, the story we wanted to tell was about the worst possible thing that could happen to a police officer.”
Dov has had his share of screw-ups over the years — just last week he lost a squad car — but this is by far the most grave situation we’ve seen him in, so much so that the script nearly overwhelmed Smith.
“It was sent to me a couple weeks before we started production on the first episode we filmed in Season 3, but there was no cover letter and no warning,” he laughs. “I thought maybe it got sent to me by accident or something. It started getting more and more serious, and I realized that Dov’s future was in question. I actually had to take a break because I wasn’t sure if this was their way of telling me that I was off the show. I took a break and had a cocktail before coming back to it.”
Because Dov’s generally been a character who can take things in stride and laugh in the face of crises, this particular incident affects him deeply and will have major repercussions throughout the rest of the season. “A lot of his stuff is lighter — he loves his job so much, particularly the action, the physical part of it,” Smith says. “It really sets up this storyline nicely because he has so far to fall.”
And fall he will.
“Chris, who is Dov’s best friend, is at the scene outside, and he doesn’t see what happens. They’re both quarantined, interrogated, and almost treated like criminals. There’s the guilt, there’s the isolation, there’s the doubt. It takes a severe toll beyond this episode. You just don’t get back to normal after something like this.”
The reason that the incident is so profound is that it not only puts Dov in a position where the people he counts on don’t trust his judgment, but he begins to doubt his own choices, as well. There’s a dead teenager and no sign that he was armed, and Dov starts to wonder if he made a horrible mistake.
“After the internal affairs investigation starts, Dov’s really questioning himself. The viewer, as well, will be wondering if he followed protocol and if it was justified or not. That really sends Dov into a really dark place,” Smith teases.
Tune in Thursday, June 7 at 10 p.m. EST on ABC to see the fall-out. In the meantime, watch the clip below to see how Dov finds himself in this position.