‘The Rookie’ Creator Breaks Down Season 6 Ending, Teases Season 7

Note: This article has spoilers for “The Rookie” through Season 6, Episode 10 — “Escape Plan”

As is so often the case, “The Rookie” Season 6 ended with a cliffhanger on Tuesday night, wrapping up the 10-episode season with some big busts — and even an international one for Nolan (Nathan Fillion).

The Season 6 finale also saw the downfall of Monica. Played by series regular Bridget Regan, the fiery attorney leveled up from sharp-tongued representation for some questionable clients to an all-out big bad by the season’s end. She was also the “villain behind the villain” when it comes to the sketchy LAPD psychologist introduced this season, Dr. Blair London (Danielle Campbell), who worked with both Tim (Eric Winter) and Aaron (Tru Valentino).

What’s more, long-running loveable-but-dangerous criminal Oscar (Matthew Glave) is now on the loose after escaping from prison along with Bailey’s abusive ex-husband Jason (Steve Kazee), who promises to bring more mayhem to Bailey and Nolan just as they’re trying to adopt.

Series creator Alexi Hawley spoke with TheWrap about wrapping up the strike-shortened season and getting ready for Season 7.

Now that Season 6 is out there, can you talk a little bit about how much the story had to change around the strike? Was this a tightened version of what you wanted to do? Did you crack open a new story for a shorter season?

ALEXI HAWLEY: Well, I guess it depends on when you start that conversation. I didn’t go out of Season 5 with necessarily a plan other than how I was going to resolve the cliffhanger. Then obviously, as we went through the strike we started to hear rumors about what the episode count was. By the time we started this season, we understood that 10 episodes was not a lot for a season, and ultimately ended up telling a more serialized version of the show than we normally do. Which I actually really liked.

I’ve said it before, but I feel like every season our show feels slightly different. And part of that is circumstances, whether it’s the pandemic, or a strike or a hard conversation about policing that’s necessary after George Floyd was killed. Each season has been defined in some certain ways. So we’re kind of used to having to adjust our storytelling. So yes, coming into Season 6, it was a bit of, “OK, with 10 episodes, what’s the best version of the show?” And it just felt like ultimately, let’s lean into the serialized a little bit more.

Had you had your eyes on Monica as a potential villain for a while?

Bridget is just such a joy to watch. And we’ve done really well with villains on our show, dating back to Harold Perrineau in Season 2, which was heartbreaking because he was also a great friend to Nolan and a good guy until he wasn’t. Matthew, who plays Oscar, has always been a joy, but also dangerous. Obviously, he stabbed Wesley and almost killed him in a previous season. When you have great actors, you just want to write for them. So yes, as we came into the season, it felt like finding a story for Bridget, a bigger story, and then ultimately, when Blair was created, Dr. London was created, it felt like it was a great way that we can hide the villain behind the villain and that ended up being a pairing of those two.

Over these last few episodes, we’ve sort of seen these far-reaching tendrils and connections Monica has, but last we see her at the end of this season, she’s on the run. How dangerous is she now?

That’s TBD. I do think her whole world got blown up. There’s warrants for her all over the place. So there’s no universe in which she’s sort of returning to life as it was. She might need to go hide somewhere and lick her wounds for a little while, and then we’ll see. But we’re early in the planning of Season 7, so I don’t necessarily have a specific answer for you there. But I do think that it’ll be a minute before we see her again, probably.

We’ve got obviously some pretty high stakes introduced in the finale for Nolan and Bailey with the return of her ex-husband Jason — just as they are trying to potentially introduce a child into their home. Was it just that you always want to throw the worst obstacle at the worst time? Why was it the right time to bring back the horror husband?

Not exclusively that, but I do think that as we were sort of breaking our story toward the end of the season, we did start to think of who — because we have had such great villains over the years. And, in theory and in reality, the prison system is a finite thing and people would end up with other people. So that became a sort of lightbulb. Monica goes to Oscar, who can he get to help? Then Jason just seemed like the most delicious idea, to bring him back out into the world.

And also, yes, the worst possible moment for Bailey — no one should have that sort of danger looming over them when they’re trying to basically convince people that they shouldn’t be allowed to bring a child home.

On that note, why do you love a cliffhanger so much? What do you like about a cliffhanger?

I like the drama of it. You know, it’s interesting. It depends, season to season, how deep we get. I mean, I do think Oscar and Jason are a cliffhanger, but it’s not to the same extent like last season was: “We’ve been duped and there’s a bigger big bad out there and what are they gonna go do?” So I do think it depends. I like building to a place where you do something that hopefully the audience doesn’t necessarily see coming. Being unexpected is the hardest thing to do on television. It’s super important in the writers’ room for us as we’re breaking the story, going, “What’s an act out? What’s a direction that we can take this episode?”

We can do that in a way that a lot of procedurals can’t, because as a patrol show, anytime they get out of their car, anything can happen. Because of that, we’re not blocked by dropping a body in Act 1 and we’re going to catch the killer in Act 6. When you’re watching those shows, you know they’re going to catch the killer at the end of Act 6. But we have sort of launched what the episode’s about as late as the end of Act 2, like half an hour into the show. You’re like, “Oh s–t, I didn’t know they were going to go there.” That’s important to us and cliffhangers are a good example of that.

Of course, I could not speak to you without addressing this season’s Chenford. I’m curious, whether it’s the characters or maybe the broader story, why the writers’ room thought that relationship needed air. What inspired the breakup rather than leaning all in on that element?

Look, I think Lucy and Tim have always been complicated, right? He was her training officer for several seasons on the show, when that is sort of a sacrosanct thing. In the very first or second episode, we were talking about the different ways that female officers are treated to male officers and you don’t want to get in a relationship with another cop because of your good reputation. And she had a relationship with Nolan from the pilot, a very brief relationship with Nolan. As a show, we have sort of been mindful of the double standards. So it felt like we had to earn it.

Over the years, I feel like we really have. But it also felt like they’re still complicated people. I felt like there was an organic obstacle because drama is all about putting obstacles in everybody’s way. It just felt like Tim having to come face to face with something from his past that he’s kind of forced into a closet and shut the door on, that then caused him to hurt the people he loves, because he was trying to hurt himself, just felt like a really interesting story to tell.

It’s addressed a bit in the finale, but of course, he does start to take accountability and go to therapy, but it turns out his therapist was not so great. Now that he’s opened that door, might we get to see him explore that side of himself a little more with someone who’s not embroiled in conspiracy theory?

I think it’s fair to say that now that Tim has gone through the door toward therapy, he understands the value of it. I think, as a show, we’ve been championing that idea since the first season in terms of, people need help and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually, you should get help if you need it. So, I think we’ll definitely be exploring that, maybe in a different way, in Season 7 for him.

But it won’t round the edges off of Tim, he’ll still be a hardcore training officer and he’ll still have his opinions and stuff like that. I think he’s always had some secret depth to him. Some unexpected empathy, which of course, he might try and hide. So yeah, I just liked that. He’s unexpected, as a character.

You guys also gave Lucy her big rescue moment in this episode. I really liked the way that scene was composed to kind of keep the focus on her and her amazing feat of coming through for him like that. Can you talk about giving her that moment to shine?

She saved his life in the pilot and I always feel like what was the most important thing to me in this whole journey this season was to not make her a victim, to make sure that she had agency in her own story. She wasn’t just a victim of Tim breaking up with her, she was furious about it and that was good. She should be. As I said before, he sort of blew them up to punish himself to a large extent. And that wasn’t OK. So I thought it was very important for her to still feel that and be able to express it.

Which is why that moment in the finale in the elevator at the end was so important, because he understood what she did for him. We live in a world where every other song on the radio is some version of ABCDE about a former relationship, so the fact that she, even with a broken heart, [was able] to treat him with kindness when she knew that he was struggling, and the fact that he saw that and understands that he’s the one who has to do the work — he can’t just force that. It’s at her pace, because she’s the one who’s wronged. I think that that was a really important step. Probably the most important step for the future.

Speaking of the future, you have a later start next season. So where are you in terms of breaking Season 7? Have you gone in properly to the writers’ room at this point or does that start a little later?

We have, I started on the earlier side before I knew what our air days were, but I did it for several reasons. I do like to be ahead, if I can be. I don’t think that it will affect our storytelling, the fact that we’re a little delayed in when we air. But I do like the idea that, once we’re on, we’re kind of going to be on every week. At least that’s my impression at this point, is every week there will be a new “Rookie” for a while. So that’s great. But yeah, there has been going a couple of weeks at this point.

Momentum certainly seems powerful for this show, when you look at the trajectory of your audience over the years. Do you have a particular theory on why it blew up this year and took off on Hulu the way that it has? Obviously, it was a hit before, you’re six seasons in, but something has happened.

Definitely. I would say it actually started going into Season 5, because I remember us premiering Season 5 and kind of taking everybody by surprise with the ratings there. And the fact that we then premiered Season 6 and did even better than Season 5 is just something that obviously doesn’t happen much. So I am very heartened by it.

I will say that I think that people have definitely found the show on the other platforms, like Hulu. I really do feel that people find comfort in network shows. I think it’s the reason why — “Suits” is not a network show. But it is kind of even though it was on cable, it has that sort of many episodes over time, its characters are comforting that you spend time with. But like I know, my kids, some of whom are older, that’s what they watch. They watch “The Office” or “Parks and Rec” or “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Criminal Minds.” Part of it is because there’s so many episodes that they can just watch a lot of them. They’re along for the ride and it’s fun. It’s a relationship with characters that you can’t have on an eight-episode order or a 13-episode order, you just can’t.

I can’t tell you how many people came up to me on the strike line and said, “My 13-year-old loves your show” or “My 15-year-old,” and also with the other end of the age spectrum. So I do think that we’ve managed to somehow find an audience that’s super broad in terms of age range and interests and stuff.

When I spoke with Eric [Winter] a few episodes ago, he said people come up to him and tell him it’s their generation’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” I mean, talk about a roadmap for longevity.

I’d take that in a heartbeat. That’d be great. And we’ll have stories to tell because we have such great cast and such great actors.

It’s interesting that you brought up “Suits.” When I watched “The Recruit,” I remember telling everyone it felt like a Blue Sky show to me, and you never see those anymore. You do have that comforting sensibility that’s missing in a lot of TV these days.

That’s what I like. I try and tell stories that I feel like people will look forward to watching, which doesn’t mean they don’t have stakes. Obviously on “Rookie,” several series regulars have been killed along the way, which is heartbreaking for us and for fans. It definitely makes them nervous. I mean, still on social media, we’ll see people go, “They better not kill Lucy.” That the audience is even thinking that that’s possible is good for drama, right? Most shows, you never think that somebody’s going to die. But on our show, short of Nathan, I’m not going to rule anything out over time.

But that’s important, that the audience actually is invested in the show. But again, we do stuff every week that’s fun to watch. And it’s funny. I think it’s also why it’s lended itself to TikTok clips and YouTube Short clips and all that kind of stuff, we have all these great little comedic moments as well, which really can be boiled down to one-minute clip or a 30-second clip.

Since you’re in the room now, what are you most excited about in having a longer season again? What’s got your creative wheels turning?

We’re looking forward to going back to a bit more standalone storytelling. We’ve always had serialized stories from episode to episode, but we don’t necessarily need to touch them every week. So I do like the idea that we can go back to a more “What are we doing this week?” vibe, which I think audiences like, because we definitely have different ways of telling stories. We do big stunt-y episodes like the finale, but we also do things that are more comedic or more rom-com, or maybe a big guest star. I just like the idea that every week, you watch the show, you don’t necessarily know what you’re gonna get, which is hard to find on TV.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The post ‘The Rookie’ Creator Breaks Down Season 6 Ending, Teases Season 7 appeared first on TheWrap.