The S.W.A.T. pilot sets up the racial tension between the cops and the community in L.A. made worse when a white S.W.A.T member accidentally shoots a black kid. To add to the tension, a black officer and former marine, Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore), is promoted. Now the question is: Will he be able to fix things and do his job?

S.W.A.T. keeps things very current and touches on some important social issues that feel all too familiar right now. While there is plenty of action, by bringing up race relations and police brutality, the show is really going beyond the shooting and starting a conversation. It’ll be interesting to see how the conversation about police brutality and race play out as the season goes on.

A Bust Gone Wrong

The S.W.A.T. pilot begins with a couple of LAPD cops arriving on the scene. They realize they’ve stumbled onto an arms deal and get caught in a fight and one cop gets shot, so the S.W.A.T. team is called out. The criminals make a run for it through the neighborhood with the S.W.A.T. team in pursuit. It gets intense fast. The criminals almost hijack a car and one of the team members gets into a fight with a guy, but the S.W.A.T team takes care of it all. It looks like they’re going to nail these guys, but at one point, a white team member shoots a guy he thought was one of the criminals running in the middle of the street. But it wasn’t one of them. It was an innocent black kid named Raymont.

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Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson tries to keep Raymont calm by going to him and talking about how he grew up in the neighborhood and telling him that he’ll be OK. But the ambulance went to the wrong place, so they rush Raymont to the hospital in their truck.

Hondo’s New Job

The S.W.A.T. member who shot Raymont, Buck, hands over his gun and the kid is taken into surgery. And unfortunately, the team is told that things could go either way for Raymont. The shooting was an accident, but it doesn’t matter because there’s so much bad blood between the neighborhood and the police.

So, Hondo shows up to work the next day to a huge press conference where the team’s boss, Hick, reveals that Buck was fired in order to prove to the neighborhood that the cops’ actions have consequences. Now Hondo is in charge because he showed such bravery the night before.

But Hondo thinks this is just a publicity stunt and that they’re just promoting a black man to look good. Plus, Hondo thinks the promotion should go to Deacon because he was next in line. Jessica, Hondo’s immediate superior, thinks that Hondo could make a real change in his leadership role though. She also tells him they’re giving him a new guy: Jim Street.

Hondo also wants to hunt down the guys from the night before, but a rival team led by Jeff Mumford gets that case and Hondo and his team are being sent to a protest rally instead. He thinks it’s easy work and another publicity stunt, but she thinks he can bridge the gap between the cops and the people. The other S.W.A.T. members aren’t exactly happy about Hondo’s promotion either and are rallying behind Deacon.

The New Guy on the Team

Jim Street shows up for his first day of work and he isn’t exactly an exemplary team member. He’s late, he’s arrogant, and he speeds on his motorcycle with other cops on his tail. He even hits on Christina, but she’s not having it. Other members try to question him abot his past, but he won’t open up.

The Protest Rally

So, Hondo and the team show up to the rally and though he really does know the community, they are still suspicious of him. He promises one guy that he wants to try to change things and the guy says they’ll all be watching him. Another guy isn’t so friendly and says he has to choose between black and blue.

Hondo also tries to reach out to Deacon and asks to get drinks to talk about the team, but he’s still pissed.

Finally, the rally starts. Raymont’s cousin talks about Raymont and how many police shootings there have been in the neighborhood, when someone suddenly opens fire at the rally! The team is immediately in pursuit. Street gets to the roof the sniper was on first, but he’s gone. Deacon and Hondo immediately go off on Street for running off by himself.

The shooting ends with a dead white cop and white civilian. So the team goes into work mode. They know that the shooter is black and there were unusual bullet casings. Hick thinks the neighborhood declared a “black on white” war and they need to come down hard on the community members. Jessica adds that Mumford, whose team is taking lead on the case, couldn’t respond to a bank robbery because of the shooting

Later, Hondo goes to talk to Buck while he clears out his locker. Hondo says he’s going to get him back on the team and complains that the higher ups only want him to do publicity stuff. But Buck says he should leave because he did shoot Raymont even if it was an accident. He also tells Hondo that his wife left him a while ago, he asked Street to be on the team, and that Hondo should be himself and lead the team.

So Hondo goes back to work and says to ignore the orders they were given. Instead of coming down hard on the community, they’re going to treat them like family. So, he and the team go down to a local salon to talk to the owner Brianne. Nothing happens in the neighborhood that the women in that salon don’t know about. She sends him to a woman named Jamel, who says her friend Penny may know something. Penny leads them to a guy who claimed he saw the shooter. The guy finally admits to the team he heard some shots and saw a tow truck with a logo speed past.

The team makes its way to a towing company, and the owner definitely seems sketchy. He says his uncle bought the company and refuses to say his name. He gets pretty aggressive quickly, but admits his partner took the tow truck out that day.

Suddenly, the team gets a call and they show up on the scene to find Mumford and his team trying to arrest a group of black boys. And they’re being super aggressive. There’s a whole group of community members filming them and they’re outraged over they boys’ treatment. But Hondo gives his word the guys will be treated with respect.

The team goes back to the precinct and Jessica’s pissed that Hondo disobeyed the orders to crack down on the community and that she had to cover for him. Hondo also says he wants to visit Raymont now that he’s out of surgery, but Jessica says he can’t because there’s sure to be a lawsuit coming.


Street’s Backstory

Later, Street finds Hondo working out some steam. Hondo tells Street that Buck had recommended him and asks how far they go back. Street reveals that Buck put his mom in prison, and he’s pissed about it. Hondo tells Street that Buck once told him not to let his anger rule him. He has to put his anger somewhere else or he might get someone else killed. He gives Street that same advice.

Hondo Checks In with Raymont

Despite the objections from both Jessica and Raymont’s family, Hondo goes to talk to Raymont. Hondo tells him he’s sorry and that nobody on the force wanted this to happen. He admits the cops hurt him too when he was younger. He hated the cops because of that, but his dad said if he wanted to change the police, he should join them. So he did and he promised himself he’d always try to protect kids like Raymont.

Everything’s Connected

Later, the team sees on the news that someone wrote a note saying they were going to shoot two black kids at a school in retaliation for the white people who were shot at the rally. So all the cops show up at the school.

Raymont’s cousin also shows up at the school and talks to Hondo. He doesn’t want to be a snitch, but he says he had a friend who went into the Army and came back and said he wanted to tear down the system and change things. He was talking like he would never see him again. He also happened to be a sniper in the Army, which is what the park shooter was. So after learning his address, the team busts into his house. They don’t find the suspect, but they do find two people and a bunch of photos connecting this suspect to the original guys from the arms deal. They realize from a picture that the suspect is black. Hondo says to Jessica on the phone that it doesn’t make sense for a black guy to want to shoot black kids in retaliation for white kids’ deaths. Jessica realizes that they don’t actually care about race relations. This is a political stunt and the suspect is trying to turn the city against itself.

They ultimately find the suspect on a roof. They realize he couldn’t shoot the school kids from there, but they find a note saying that officers are dying and he’s going to destroy their “corrupt system” at a bank. They realize that they weren’t supposed to find the note yet and that officers will die at a bank robbery. Just then, Mumford and his team speed down the street responding to a bank robbery. They realize there was another bank robbery earlier. It’s all connected! They threatened the school so the cops would be distracted and they could rob the bank. So this is an ambush! Just then, the cars going down the street explode!

As the cops try to get out of their turned over car, a bunch of ex-military guys (who turned out to be the guys from the arms deal) march down the street shooting, but Hondo and some others, get them while the rest of the team deals with the bank robbery. One of the robbers almost takes out Street, but Hondo shows up just in time and saves him.

Will Hondo and Jessica Make Their Relationship Official?

Hondo’s been hooking up with Jessica. At first, with their relationship getting serious, Jessica wants to declare their relationship officially, but Hondo doesn’t want to. As a woman and immigrant, Jessica doesn’t want to risk her career over it. Ultimately, Hondo agrees to sign the paper declaring their relationship.

However, when Hondo’s promoted, Jessica says she’s his superior now. They can’t stay together without one of them giving up their jobs and their jobs are too important to both of them.

After a job well down taking down the robbers, the team unwinds with some arm wrestling. Hondo leaves, though, because it’s weird to hang out with him now that he’s the boss. Of course, he winds up at Jessica’s. She’s pissed he went to visit Raymont, but they make up. They almost kiss, but Hondo and the team are called out on another job.


S.W.A.T. airs on Thursday nights at 10/9c on CBS. Like our S.W.A.T. Facebook page!

(Image courtesy of CBS)