Case #5.23: "Second Chances"

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we made it. This recap is the final episode of 21 Jump Street. Thank you for everyone who's taken this TV nostalgia trip with me, whether you've read every single review or just once in a while.

A car fishtails out of an alley, a police car in hot pursuit. The driver pulls into a warehouse/garage bay and someone in a mechanic's jumpsuit close the door. The young driver, who looks like my buddy Dave, fumbles trying to get the front bumper off as the police approach. When they slide the door open, the car's bumper is missing and the suspects are nowhere to be found.

At a community group called Each One Reach One, a ponytailed young man details the lessons he learned after being sent to a ranch for juvenile delinquents. How to smuggle drugs into prison, how to make shanks, and that he never wanted to go back. He knows most of the kids in the room were given jobs by their mentors. His is a cop and knows he "ain't exactly police academy material."

Judy, watching from the rows of folding chairs, smiles. When the meeting ends, Judy and the kid, Nick, help themselves to the free snacks. She hopes he's taking the program seriously because he tends to turn everything into a joke. Nick swears he is. He's trying hard to get a job. Judy suggests he focus on bettering his grades for a while.

Nick wants money to go to the movies and take girls on dates; his mom hardly makes enough to pay rent. Judy tells him she has a friend who runs the Rocket Dawg restaurant downtown. He should call and see if there's an opening. Nick isn't interested in fast food work.

Cap'n Rufus fills Judy and Mac in about an auto theft ring specializing in expensive German imports. The uniforms who chased a stolen Audi saw a teenage boy driving. Mac will be going undercover at his school as a kid fresh out of juvie for auto theft. The captain will find another case for Judy. She's immediately suspicious.

Rufus tries to play it off, but breaks down. Mac is going undercover at Westin High, Nick's school. Nick is the only student with priors for grand theft auto. Mac is confused about who Nick is to Judy. Cap'n Rufus explains that Judy mentors him. Mac is surprised Judy is involved with something like that; she knows little cons grow up to be big ones. "Not Nick," Judy insists.

Rufus asks, "Can we get back to the case?" They have to start with Nick because he has the knowledge and skills to do this. "I know this kid and he didn't do it," Judy repeats. Once Nick knows he's being investigated, he'll stop trusting Judy as a mentor. Mac promises the kid will never know he's a cop. 

At Rocket Dawg, Nick nervously plays with a salt shaker shaped like a Dalmatian. I know a lot of firefighters who'd love to have one of those. The napkin holder looks like a dachshund. Judy introduces Nick to Randy the manager. Randy asks if Nick has ever cooked food or worked a cash register before. "No, but how hard can it be?" Nick asks.

Understandably, Randy is not impressed by this answer. He says he knows Randy has been to juvie before: "You gonna be responsible for any losses?" Nick gets angry. Randy insists he has nothing against ex-cons, but he has to protect his business. He doesn't want Nick taking money from the register. "If I was planning on stealing, I wouldn't need a job at a hot dog stand," says Nick. I'd say this job interview is pretty much over. 

In a completely unrealistic turn of events, Randy says Nick can start work the next night at 6:00. He'll make minimum wage. To Judy, he adds, "We're even, Detective." I wonder if we ever find out what that remark means.

Nick goes home and tells his mom the good news about his job. Nick's Mom pretty much says, "Oh, that's nice, dear. Now be a good boy and go buy me some cigarettes." She notices Judy and is all, "What's she doing here?" Nick explains that Judy helped him get the job. Nick's Mom thinks she could've gotten him a better one.

Judy promises the woman that she's not trying to take her place. Nick's Mom starts to close her bedroom door, but he pushes it open and notices a man in the bed. "What happened to Jimmy?" Nick wants to know. Mom says he took off. Nick shakes his head: "You sure work 'em fast, Ma." "Don't forget the cigarettes!" Mom calls as he leaves.

Mac is placed in Nick's auto shop class. Did they even still have those in 1991? Mac endears himself to the teenager by mouthing off to the teacher Mr. Blake. He claims that he went to a juvie ranch for stealing Porsches. Nick informs Mac that he's not interested in being friends if Mac is planning on getting himself back in trouble.

After school, Nick's friend introduces him to a shady looking guy in a tow truck. "My ma told me not to talk to strange old men," Nick sasses. Floyd tries to offer Nick a job making a lot more than he does at Rocket Dawg. Nick agrees to go for a ride to discuss the job with Floyd, even though his initial answer was no. Mac sees Nick get in the tow truck.

Judy visits Nick at work. He doesn't say much except that the job is going well. He keeps staring at his classmate Vicki who's eating there. Judy suggests he ask her out. Nick wouldn't know where to take her. Vicki turns and we see she's wearing a Bon Jovi tank top. A solid choice, girlfriend.

Judy points out her taste in music and asks, "Isn't Bon Jovi in town this week? And don't you get paid tomorrow?" Dumb move. She knows damn well Nick can't afford tickets. Nevertheless, Nick approaches Vicki. He tells her he's thinking about going to the Bon Jovi concert and asks if she'd go with him. Say yes! I saw them 3 years ago and they put on one hell of a show.

Vicki hesitates; she's heard rumors that Nick has done time. He tells her the truth. He got arrested for stripping parts off a stolen car. Nick asks about the concert again. Vicki isn't sure it's a good idea. Nick apologizes for bothering her, then goes back to the table. 

He tells Vicki that he's not dangerous and she shouldn't be scared of him. It's not like he killed or raped anyone. He knows what he did was stupid and he doesn't plan on doing it again. He walks away. Miraculously, Vicki calls after him, "I'd love to go to Bon Jovi with you." Nick goes back to his table, smiling widely at Judy.

At the Chapel, Mac lays Floyd's mugshot on Judy's desk. He says the guy's been talking to Nick. Floyd used to own a body shop in Oregon and got arrested for using stolen parts on the cars. He recently opened a new shop that's only 2 blocks from Nick's school.

Mac likes Judy's optimism, but he's scared it'll wind up hurting her in the long run. Judy asks if he really thinks there's no such thing as criminal rehabilitation. Mac's never seen it happen. "Maybe I should just let you go out and bust Nick. Put him behind bars and set the cycle in motion again," says Judy. Mac isn't saying that; she just needs to be prepared for the possibility that Nick is guilty. Judy coldly thanks him for the advice.

It's payday at Rocket Dawg, but Nick is disappointed. He worked 22 hours and still doesn't have enough for Bon Jovi tickets. Welcome to life on minimum wage. Nick thinks someone shorted his check. Randy the manager explains to him about the taxes that were taken out.

When Nick gets home, his mom is passed out on the couch, liquor bottles all over the kitchen counter. Nick checks her pulse, then calls Vicki. Too embarrassed to say he has no money, he tells her that he can't take her to see Bon Jovi because his mom is sick. That's sort of the truth anyway. Nick suggests making it up to Vicki by taking her out the next weekend.

At the high school auto shop, Nick again turns down Floyd's job offer. Floyd tells him opportunity only knocks once and hands him an envelope. Inside, there's a $100 bill and a note reading "8 PM for the other half." Mac is watching from inside the car they're both working on.

Judy brings a rose to Rocket Dawg for Nick to give Vicki. Judy thinks he's still going to the concert. She tells him to have fun and she wants a full report. When she's gone, Nick asks Randy if he can leave early. The manager agrees. Nick throws the rose in the trash.

A thief drops off a car in a garage. He only wants the front end and it has to be done in 15 minutes. Nick says he'll only need 10.

Mac and Judy bicker some more in the captain's office. Cap'n Rufus gets a phone call and hangs up with news: "Another BMW was stolen last night. A jogger found it minus the front end." Judy says it couldn't have been Nick; he was on a date at the Bon Jovi concert. Mac decides to ask the supposed date.

At school, Mac approaches Vicki. He asks if she went to a house party last night; he likes her and was hoping to see her there. Vicki didn't even know about the party and was home alone watching Arsenio Hall. 

Nick brings Mac along to the Second Chances meeting, where Mac has to pretend he doesn't know Judy. Judy can't believe Mac is there. Mac tells her about Vicki being home alone the night before. She's sure he broke the date for a reason. 

The next day, Mac skips auto shop to steal a planted Corvette from the school parking lot. Nick watches it through the window. Later, Vicki approaches him and asks how Nick's mom is. Nick lies and says she has the stomach flu. Vicki went to his house with a container of chicken soup for mom because she knows Nick works along. When she got there, Nick's mom was dressed up to go out.

Nick wants to explain. Vicki tells him not to bother. If he doesn't want to go out with her, he should've said so. She's upset because she was looking forward to getting to know Nick.

Mac goes to Rocket Dawg on Nick's lunch break. He acts like he went to the park when he skipped class. Nick says, "Most 'Vettes got a decent stock alarm, which I didn't hear go off." He knows what Mac was up to. If Mac didn't already ditch the car, Nick could help him strip it for parts. 

"Sometimes, I really hate this job," Mac sighs. Nick is confused. Mac flashes his badge, reads the Miranda Rights, and cuffs Nick right in front of everyone in the restaurant. Judy comes in, looking shocked and hurt.

At the police station, Judy plays the tape from Mac's wire and asks if Nick has anything to say. "It's entrapment," replies Nick. He lies that he was talking to Mac about getting him a job at a body shop. He can explain everything. Judy doesn't want an explanation; she wants the truth. "You can't handle the truth!" shouts Nick. Oh, he does not.

Judy confronts him about the Bon Jovi concert. "The truth is that I just make it on the outside," says Nick. Seriously, how long was his sentence in juvie? He thinks working at a hot dog stand sucks.

Judy points out he doesn't have to do that for the rest of his life. Nick could go to college. He asks if she knows how many college guys come into Rocket Dawg every week looking for an assistant manager job: "Don't run that American Dream hustle on me." Judy is disappointed in him. "It's not about you, it's about me," says Nick.

Mac tries to comfort Judy. Maybe she'll have better luck with the next kid she mentors. Judy started hating her job because all she did was arrest kids. She thought she could break the cycle by helping with Second Chances. 

Cap'n Rufus tells Judy that Nick wants to talk to her. "Tell him I went home," she says coldly. He's surprised; last week, she was defending the kid. Judy says Nick decided he doesn't want her help. His mom will have to. Rufus says Mom wouldn't take Nick's call.

Judy goes back to the interrogation room. Nick apologizes for losing his temper and letting her down. "You let yourself down," Judy corrects. She can't trust him anymore. Nick asks if Mac still has the Corvette; he knows some people who might want it.

Nick is outfitted with a wire and the Corvette. Judy and Mac tail him in an unmarked car. She finds out Nick wasn't offered a deal for helping catch the car thieves; he's doing it out of the goodness of his heart. 

Floyd offers Nick $1,500 total for the doors and interior. Nick knows he's being lowballed; a new Corvette costs $25,000. Floyd tells him to shut up and take the money. Judy and Mac burst in and chase the thieves through the garage. Floyd manages to get down the block before Mac catches up. "Damn, I gotta start running again," Mac pants.

Mac comes to a Second Chances meeting, now mentoring a kid named Darrell. "What was that you said about teen ex-cons growing up to be adult cons?" Judy asks. Mac thinks the chance to help just one kid is worth it. End of episode, end of series.

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