The pervading theme of this episode carried over from the last episode which was corruption and deception. The title of this Blue Bloods episode is "School Of Hard Knocks," and that would be appropriate since most of the action takes place in and around a high school.

The school that dishes out the hard knocks

The Reagan family, once again, find themselves in some unusual predicaments as they try their best to keep the people of New York City safe. The episode starts with Detectives Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) and Maria Baez (Marissa Ramirez) arriving at the site of an incident that involved high school students.

The catch here is it didn't just involve students. A student, Hector Alou, was shot after an argument, and the prime suspect turned out to be fellow student Jo Jo Reese. These two students happen to be associated with rival gangs in the Warrior Kings and the Ace Double Tres. When asked who he saw pull the trigger, Hector refused to say who it was. "I ain't got nothing to say!" was Hector's response after being repeatedly asked.

The detectives then approached the man who was responsible for running the high school, Principal Darryl Ward (Ernie Hudson), who sounded disgusted with what has been going on with his school. Ward had requested that new security cameras be installed inside the high school as far back as 14 months ago, but he still had not received a response from city officials.

Jo Jo Reese was soon taken into questioning by the detectives, but he also refused to cooperate because of the "street gang code" he follows. Baez pointed out that there were a playground full of witnesses who could testify that they saw Jo Jo running from the scene of the incident.

Remaining defiant throughout the questioning, Jo Jo rested his case by saying "Charge me or get me outta here!"

A meddling governor and an entangled lawyer

Not a day goes by Commissioner Frank Reagan's (Tom Selleck) office when something unusual doesn't happen. Sitting down with Garrett Moore (Gregory Jbara) and Lt. Sidney Gormley (Robert Clohessy), Frank was informed that the New York Governor Mendez (David Zayas) had threatened to take action if nothing was done to punish one of Frank's police officers.

A top legislative aid of Mendez's, Lawrence Cobb, was accidentally shot in a pub by a female police officer. Governor Mendez soon talked with Frank face-to-face in his office and plainly stated: "I want the cop who shot my aid fired and locked up!" The governor hinted at the possibility of pulling as many strings as he could to make an example out of Frank and the New York Police Department. Frank defended the NYPD by saying the actions of his officers saved lives during the pub incident.

However, Governor Mendez was ready to have a second round of discussion with Frank, and at this point, he was steaming mad. Mendez wasn't at all happy with the verdict that was submitted by a grand jury, one where they would not indict the female police officer.

After being urged to fire his officer, Frank stood his ground once more and told Mendez that he wouldn't fire any officer just to satisfy the governor's agenda. The governor fired back by requesting to hold public hearings concerning the pub incident, to which Frank replied by asking if Mendez purposely wanted to bring the circus to the city.

It was a difficult stretch of time in the office of attorney Erin Reagan (Bridget Moynahan) as well considering the case she was working on involved a former colleague of hers. With the help of her assistant Anthony, Erin interviewed Mickey Redansky and asked him about what led to James Morrow, a co-founder of the Cocoran-Morrow law firm, being shot dead.

While his tone of voice sounded innocent, Mickey's true actions soon came to the surface, and none of it looked good for him. Reviewing the money transferring history of the firm, Erin and Anthony find out that there was a money laundering scheme at work, and Mickey served as the go-between when handling the money, even though according to Mickey himself he never dropped a bet on anything concerning the firm. Max Money Down was the name of this huge gambling ring, an organization consisting of corrupt lawyers placing major sports bets in secret.

Reviewing the books for these bets, it was discovered that bets as large as $30 Million were placed. Erin warned Mickey that if he didn't testify against Max Money Down in court, he would be facing multiple felony charges.

The only way out of legal trouble would be to testify and nothing else.

After taking some time to think things through, Erin pitched the suggestion to her superior Monica that Mickey didn't need to testify in order to nail Max Money Down. Monica denied Erin's request and remained firm in wanting Mickey to testify. Monica would start losing her cool with Erin after she realized that Mickey had left the attorney's office and returned to the city streets. Monica went as far as to claim that Erin intentionally let Mickey go.

The sad ending to this unfortunate adventure revealed itself in a closed alley where Mickey himself was found shot dead by what appeared to be a supporter of Max Money Down.

Seeing this result, Erin began to feel sorry for herself, regretting that she had let Mickey go in the first place.

Going back to school, Danny and Baez addressed a classroom of high school students and asked them for their help in telling who was responsible for shooting Hector Alou. Danny laid it out for the kids saying "You knuckleheads like to act tough!" and stating that if they wanted to make things better for their school, they better have the guts to step forward and start telling the truth.

The teacher of the class, Miss Chavez, told Danny and Baez after addressing the class that there has been a lack of trust between the school's kids and the police. After being asked if she would be willing to help the cause of the detectives, Chavez replied by saying "I'll see what I can do." Of course, it wouldn't be long until after Chavez urged her class to step forward and do the right thing when more chaos erupted out of nowhere.

One of her students in Theresa proceeded to assault her in response, which prompted the detectives to come right back to the school.

Theresa would eventually admit to the detectives after being let out of her jail cell that she had no other choice but to assault Miss Chavez, that it was a part of her gang initiation phase. The tone of Theresa's voice when explaining this sounded like she truly regretted her actions.

Principal Darryl Ward continued to feel sorry for himself because he felt like he let his school down. He kept reiterating to the detectives that it was his job to keep the kids at school safe. Danny told Darryl that there was nothing he could do concerning the incident between Miss Chavez and Theresa.

The principal remained convinced that the violence occurring in his school was his fault, taking it to heart. Ward replied with the question "Then why am I here?"

Fed up with what was happening in his school, the principal unexpectedly took matters into his own hands by holding an entire classroom of kids hostage, carrying a handgun. Other police officers were committed to taking down Ward by force with the help of a trained sniper, but Danny convinced his fellow officers to give him a chance to talk Ward out of this mess. Danny was given only 5 minutes to make things right, and he did just that as he convinced Ward to give up his gun and let the classroom go.

Finally, Frank's department managed to get more info on the legislative aide who was accidentally shot.

Frank informed Governor Mendez that Lawrence Cobb had been drinking alcohol with a married woman in the pub at the time of the shooting, basically suggesting that they sweep this issue under the rug while they still could so that neither of them would have to "clean up after the elephants in the circus." Mendez finally gave in and wished Frank a good night.

Another exciting way to end an episode of Blue Bloods with 3 cases that all head heart-racing situations are developing. The show promises to return with a bang on March 2 with all new cases, some of which will be centered around the Reagan family. If this episode is the one that takes us to a month-long break, then chances are the stakes are only going to be raised even more when we rejoin the Reagan family in New York City. There are still no indications that Season 8 will be the show's final season, so the health of Blue Bloods looks to be headed in the right direction.