S.W.A.T. Boss Talks [Spoiler]’s Return, Wild Finale Stunt — Plus, What Un-Cancellation Means for Luca/Street (2024)

The following contains spoilers from the Season 7 finale of CBS S.W.A.T.

As what was almost S.W.A.T.‘s series finale drew to a close on Friday night, it was clear that 20-Squad would stay liquid.

Hondo’s team of course sustained some setbacks over the course of Season 7, with Street leaving to lead the Long Beach SWAT team, Luca retiring after suffering a career-ending injury, and Deacon also planning to retire, as part of agreement he made with wife Annie.

Deacon, though, returned to 20-Squad in the finale, when all hands were needed on deck to keep Los Angeles from being ripped open “like a zipper” by the threatened detonation of a gas pipeline spanning the city. Once said crisis was averted — thanks to more than a bit of derring-do by Hondo — Annie gave her hubs the OK to tear up his retirement paperwork, now that they have her sister to watch the kids.

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TVLine spoke with S.W.A.T. showrunner Andrew Dettman about crafting a season finale that, had CBS not un-cancelled the crime drama in April, could have also served as a series ender. Plus, now that there will be a Season 8, might any character exits be undone?

TVLINE | Talk about some of the decisions you had to make as you hedged your bets writing this finale.
We were told it was our final 13 to say goodbye, our farewell, right? I sat with Shemar [Moore] in his backyard and he was just talking about wanting SWAT to always be there. We didn’t want to see the destruction of the team at the end. The idea was to try to break them down and really put all the stresses we could on the team all season long, with a notion of a “Phoenix rising from the ashes” at the end, to have the team reenergized — knowing that if it was the last time we ever saw S.W.A.T. on TV, the viewers would know there’ll always be a 20-squad to take on crime.

TVLINE | Given the timing of the actual renewal news (on April 11, before filming wrapped), were you able to tweak anything at the last second? Or it was what it was?
No, this was the direction we had pushed anyway, because we thought if we end the last episode with that nice upswing of, like, “Damn it, this is the best team!,” it ends in a way that’s ready to go forward. That was the plan most of the way through. It was great to get the news when we did about Season 8, but it really didn’t do a lot to affect the last episode.

S.W.A.T. Boss Talks [Spoiler]’s Return, Wild Finale Stunt — Plus, What Un-Cancellation Means for Luca/Street (3)

TVLINE | So, Deacon was always coming back?
Yeah, he was always going to be there. We knew Jay [Harrington] would be around. That was the one thing where I questioned myself a bit, the storyline of him retiring and coming back. I was a little worried after losing Street and Luca, that even faking that we were losing Deacon would turn people off. I’m hoping it didn’t, and I don’t think it did. So, yeah, Deacon’s back and is part of the team going forward.

TVLINE | Because luckily the sister-in-law has relationship problems!
That’s right. [Laughs] Exactly. That was a writers room quandary — if he has to leave for the family to take care of the kids, etcetera, how do we fix this? I don’t remember who, but somebody in the room suggested that Annie’s sister Nicole had boyfriend problems, so she’s going to move in.

TVLINE | How did you land on that closing stunt with the tanker truck? Because obviously you had to create a situation that would paint Hondo as a savior for, yes, all of Los Angeles, but namely his neighborhood that had soured on him.
That was just the combined hive mind of the writers room, all the time we spent thinking, first of all, “What’s the threat to the city? How can we make this bigger than just another crew?”

TVLINE | Something more than a bomb in a building.
Right. Somehow we came up with this idea of the pipeline and this notion that if they plant one bomb anywhere along there, “it will open up L.A. like a zipper.” That became one of our lines on the board, which Vasquez ultimately says.

And then the stunt at the end, that was one of those moments when you’re trying to figure out, “How do we get out of this, and how do we make it spectacular?” We wanted an explosion, and we knew we could bring in some helicopters because we saved a little money all season long to afford that kind of stuff—

TVLINE | I was looking to see, “Is this helicopter really in the scene? Or is it CGI?”
No, it was real-real — and not only that, we had two of them because we also had a camera helicopter. We were up in Lancaster [in northern Los Angeles County], to get out to where we could really control a two-mile piece of road with no interruption, and then we just went back and forth up and down that road with Shemar up on top of that tanker doing his thing. Yeah, I’m really happy with the way it came out.

S.W.A.T. Boss Talks [Spoiler]’s Return, Wild Finale Stunt — Plus, What Un-Cancellation Means for Luca/Street (4)

TVLINE | I don’t know if it’s still “early days yet,” but are there any options available to you as far as bringing back Luca, bringing back Street? Is one of those exits harder to unwind than the other?
We sent Street down to Long Beach to be part of their S.W.A.T. team in his goodbye, so there’s no reason why he can’t show his face again. And with Luca, he was injured in a way that took him out, but where we left him, he was going to go find a life, so who knows? There’s no reason why either one can’t come back.

At the time we decided to say goodbye [to them], it was because we thought Season 7 was going to be our final group of episodes and we knew we’d be saying goodbye to everybody, so it was a question of, “How do we give them a special goodbye?” Street got his big episode, and Luca got his two-parter where he was shot. We’ve set up that Luca couldn’t be reincorporated as part of the active team, but there’s no reason why we can’t see each of them again.

TVLINE | I had the thought that Luca could just man the smart table at HQ, but I think there was a line about how he’s all about Black Betty.
Yeah, Hicks sort of offered that, and he said no, he wants to be out there [in the field]. But who knows how he’ll feel six months down the road?

TVLINE | But to be clear — since fans have asked — it’s not like you can simply bring Alex and Kenny back as series regulars. It wasn’t, “Here’s an unexpected renewal… and here’s a suitcase full of cash!”
No. No. That, and I think we still want to be true to the stories we’ve told. I don’t see them coming back [as series regulars], at least not in the near future.

TVLINE | Is Alfaro (played by Niko Pepaj) a keeper?
I think Alfaro is a keeper. Powell is a keeper. Everybody’s keepers right now.

TVLINE | I was doing the math regarding Hicks’ last line to Hondo, about his team of “six.” That’s Hondo, Powell, Deacon, Alfaro, Tan and… question mark?
And question mark. That’s what Hicks tells him, “I’ll give you carte blanche to fill the sixth seat.” So, we’ll have to see what Hondo decides for Season 8.

Want scoop on S.W.A.T., or for any other TV show? Email InsideLine@tvline.com, and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line!

S.W.A.T. Boss Talks [Spoiler]’s Return, Wild Finale Stunt — Plus, What Un-Cancellation Means for Luca/Street (2024)
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