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Why The Judge In The Rookie Season 5 Episode 14 Looks So Familiar

Believe it or not, ABC's procedural hit "The Rookie" is already well into its fifth season on the air. From the looks of things, the Nathan Fillion-fronted drama is setting the table to run for several more seasons before all is said and done. For the time being, however, the titular officer and his merry band of allies continue to fight the good fight on the mean streets of the greater Los Angeles area.

Naturally, that fight sometimes spills over into the hallowed halls of a courtroom, which is precisely what happens in the most recent episode of "The Rookie." Titled "Death Sentence," the episode finds Deputy DA Wesley Evers (Shawn Ashmore) taking on what he believes to be a judge open to bending the rule of law one way or another if the right sort of bribe comes his way. There's a lot more to that story, of course, as Wesley has found himself compromised at several turns throughout the show as well.

In any case, his scenes with Judge Rivas are arguably the highlight of the episode, if only because the actor who played the judge was so convincing in the role. It's safe to assume his face was well-known to quite a few viewers as well. Here's why the judge from the Season 5 episode of "The Rookie" looks so familiar. 

Benito Martinez played a little hardball on The Shield

The actor who played Judge Rivas on "The Rookie" is Benito Martinez. And if he looked familiar to you, it's because he's become a regular presence on the prestige television circuit over the course of the past few decades. He did so after initially making a name for himself as a standout supporting player throughout the 1990s and early aughts.

In 2002, however, Martinez got a seriously big break after he booked a co-leading role on the gritty FX crime drama "The Shield." That series followed the many ups and downs of dirty LAPD detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and the rogue unit of equally shady cops under his command. For the first few seasons of "The Shield," that crew answered to Captain David Aceveda, who was portrayed in 87 of the show's 89 episodes by Martinez.

Over that span, Acevedo was typically more concerned with his political standing than his moral compass, and that remained true even after Martinez left "the barn" for a gig as City Councilman. Every step of the way, Martinez delivered the towering work in true scene-stealer fashion. If you've ever looked at a call sheet on The Shield," you know that's no small feat. And as Martinez told Collider in 2008, he was beyond happy with Acevedo's journey on the show.   

Sons of Anarchy found Martinez doing back alley deals with a SAMCRO boss

After masterfully portraying such a duplicitous role on "The Shield," Benito Martinez has clearly sought out such complex parts in the years since. As noted, he's continued to do so on some of the best shows to grace the airwaves, even scoring a major recurring role on another hit FX drama in "Sons of Anarchy."

That role began during a Season 4 narrative that found the SAMCRO brotherhood getting tangled up with the Galindo Drug Cartel. Martinez enters the action as supposed Cartel heavy Luis Torres. As Torres' backstory comes into focus, we learn that he's not only a former member of a Mexican Special Forces unit but a CIA asset working to bring the Galindo Cartel down from the inside. And part of his handling includes keeping Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) from souring things with the True IRA crew by offing big, bad Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman).

All together, Torres' time on "SOA" lasted a full two seasons, with the undercover tough becoming one of few characters to walk away from their SAMCRO dealings with his life. And watching Martinez walk that tightrope from one episode to the next was nothing short of transfixing. 

Martinez played a very problematic president on The Blacklist

Speaking of duplicitous roles, Benito Martinez booked one of his juiciest to date when earned a recurring gig on NBC's long-running crime drama "The Blacklist." While his run on the show lasted only eight episodes, Martinez's character Robert Diaz proved to be a bit of a lightning rod for drama over that span.

Diaz entered the orbit of Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) during the show's third season as an ambitious U.S. Senator with eyes on becoming the President of the United States. He, of course, achieved that goal, but in doing so made some very shady deals that all came back to haunt him — as did an unfortunate drunk driving incident that left one person dead when Diaz got behind the wheel after celebrating a major primary victory. Once in the Oval Office, things were hardly business as usual for Diaz, with his wife pushing him to come clean about the accident and Red's FBI crew setting their targets on him for other reasons.

As is typically the case on "The Blacklist," Red found a clever way to take Diaz down, with the career politician soon enough forced to trade the Oval Office for a prison cell. As thrilling as the Diaz narrative was, it was still sort of a shame to see him exit the series as Martinez was at his scene-chewing best throughout.

Martinez played a good cop on 13 Reasons Why

Throughout his career, Benito Martinez has played his fair share of lawmen, lawbreakers, and politicians, and every one of them has come with their own particular set of baggage. And that was undoubtedly true of his character on Netflix's hit drama "13 Reasons Why."

Martinez turned up on the series during its third season as Evergreen County's Sheriff Diaz. And throughout the season, his investigation into the apparent murder of the series' bad boy Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) regularly put him at odds with Clay Jensen (Dylan Minette) and his crew. As fans of the series know, that case was tricky, to say the least. Fans also know Sheriff Diaz was not always above board in his dealings, even if he was usually working on the right side of things. That was just as true in Season 4 of "13 Reasons Why," despite the fact that Diaz was on far friendlier terms with Clay by that point.

There was, of course, a lot more — arguably way too much — to unpack in the decidedly divisive third and fourth seasons of "13 Reasons Why." But Martinez remained a highlight of both, blending a resonant, grounded humanity into a role many other actors might've tempted to play all hubris and no heart.

Martinez has had several one-off tv appearances

As it is, even a brief glance at Benito Martinez's IMDb page is enough to prove we've barely scratched the surface of the man's career even with the meaty roles featured here. And if Martinez continues to book work on current primetime hits like "9-1-1: Lone Star," "Big Sky," and, of course, "The Rookie," his resume is only going to get more impressive forging ahead. 

Given that fact, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out some of the greatest hits from Martinez's supporting player past. They include notable roles in hit films like "Outbreak," "Saw," "Million Dollar Baby," "Beyond the Lights," and "American Made." On the small screen, well, one might easily assume the list of hit shows Martinez hasn't appeared in is far smaller than those he has. The list of one-off gigs the actor has landed in TV-land includes stints on "The X-Files," "Firefly," "Bones," "24," "Supernatural," "Castle," "Criminal Minds," "The Leftovers," "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit," and "Hawaii Five-O," among dozens of others. 

Per TV Over Mind, he's also done a fair amount of voice work in the video game arena. But of all his short-term gigs, a standout remains his turn as the conniving Senator Hector Mendoza on Netflix's smash hit political thriller "House of Cards." Mendoza made seven appearances on the show during its Season 2 and 3 heyday. And though Mendoza was ultimately out-played by his devious counterparts on the show, the actor brought some serious heat to the proceedings while he was around.