There comes a point in every series where you wonder, "has it reached the best it possibly can?"
I guess you could call it the "shark jumping moment", but I tend to think of "shark jumping moments" as a moment where you just know the show is irreparably damaged and there truly is no way back.
Basically, the point where your show goes from simply being bad relative to the standard of quality the show set for itself, to bad television, period.
SWAT, simply put, isn't there yet- the show is still very watchable, but it hasn't been as good as it could be.
Episodes like this, they're just "bad SWAT" as opposed to being "bad TV".
I could really dig into the nuts and bolts about what went wrong with the episode- chiefly, the pacing was way off- but I'm just going to focus on one thing, which makes or breaks every TV show: the characters.
Simply put, the characters felt very flat tonight to the point where you hardly cared about their struggles.
First, the case- the pieces were there for an interesting episode, this being SWAT's take on Malala Yousafzai, mixed in with other Muslim activists (such as Arabian-Canadian Raif Badawi)...but the show was so bent on having all these twists and turns that they hardly developed Amina and her story at all.
This should have been either a straight-up kidnapping or a staged kidnapping...shoehorning both in there made both stories feel rushed and ultimately meaningless.
I also found it pretty laughable that the episode went to great pains to never mention the name of her country...c'mon guys, at least make one up. Or just not worry about the backlash at all- this show wasn't afraid to throw Italians, Koreans, Latinos, Israelis, Turks, Jamaicans, etc. under the bus, and I don't think it's a secret that places like Iran and Saudi Arabia commit many civil rights abuses.
Besides, I highly doubt this show is even airing in many places in the Middle East...at least not in Iran.
So, as they say in Spanish, have some cojones, show.
Then there's Hondo and his issues. They're really, really, really trying to redeem Hondo Sr. and sell this story about how he regrets his past and send the message that his kids should bury the hatchet because he's daddy and he's dying...but, I just can't get into it. The show went from clearly establishing that the younger Harrelsons hate their father and don't want to see him to having them all do a 180 where they all suddenly care that he's dying.
...and why? Because Hondo Junior can say some magic words and that's enough?
This should have been at least a slow burn, playing out for the whole season, where Hondo Junior really has to work to get his family back on Senior's side. Plus, they really need to do more to show Senior's remorse rather than have him mouth a few platitudes and words of regret.
As the elder Harrelson sister said, he's inflicted 30 years of pain. You don't get rid of that with an "I'm sorry".
I get that perhaps they want to play the "Daddy's going to die" card for February sweeps or something, but I think that could have been a better dropped bombshell at the end of the season.
Or, start the season with Daddy being terminal, giving his remorse and the kids' guilt that much more urgency. Making it uncertain that he's dying takes the weight out of much of the urgency on the part of the kids' side of things and the story's drama in general.
The two bright spots were Luca being really excited about his food truck (the lengths he went, getting a priest to do an exorcism...wow) and Street having a nice moment with Molly. We'll see how it goes when Hicks gets back from his sabbatical.