Rewatching 21 Jump Street! In episode eight, “Blindsided,” the show starts finding its voice big time, just as the characters find themselves in an moral grey area.
What’s goin’ down: Hanson and Penhall are undercover in a tough school, so they’ve donned the personas of the McQuaid brothers, the meanest, hard-fightingest kids in class. It’s on them to bust a school drug ring. Meanwhile, they discover a shy girl with a troubling secret.
Here’s Hanson: When the shy girl, Diane, asks Tommy McQuaid (a.k.a. Hanson) to murder her cop father, he doesn’t know what to do. He turns to Penhall for advice, off the record. This continues their growing friendship.
Penhall’s prerogatives: As Hanson struggles with an ethical conundrum, it’s up to the normally rough n’ tumble Penhall to be the “by the book” cop and keep his buddy on the straight and narrow.
Undercover blues: The McQuaid brothers would become fan favorite “characters,” and are pretty much a symbol of the series. It’s here that Penhall and Hanson, despite being good cops, develop their bad boy images.
Goin’ to the chapel: The teaser is an odd comedy bit in which we meet the Jump Street chapel’s maintenance man, called the “Human Blowfish” because he does that gag where he puffs up his mouth against a window.
Torn from today’s headlines: Turns out Diane is in an abusive relationship with her father. Hanson could get her out of there by arresting her, but will sending a nice girl to juvenile hall make her life even worse?
Trivia time: Diane is played by Sherilyn Fenn, just before she exploded into huge fame for starring on Twin Peaks. Don Davis, also of Twin Peaks, plays the principal. The Blowfish is played by Sal Jenco (not to be confused with Captain Jenko from earlier this season), a lifelong friend of Johnny Depp’s.
Jumpin’ or not? For as much fun as it is to joke around about the cheesy nature of this show, I have to set that aside and say this is a really great hour of television. The McQuaid characters are great fun, Hanson’s emotional connection to the case feels genuine, and his confrontation with Captain Fuller in Fuller’s dark, shadowy office is some real film noir-type goodness. Jumpin’!
Next week: Baby love!
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