This Tuesday at 9/8c on CBS, the return of the former agent/spy known as The Chameleon sets the stage for NCIS: Los Angeles‘ Season 3 finale, and the masterful mayhem he has planned calls for not one but two hours’ worth of season-ending intensity. Here, series boss Shane Brennan reveals why it will be impossible for viewers to change that dial, touts at least two Emmy-caliber performances and teases just how many cliffhanger-quality jaw-droppers fans can expect.
TVLINE | Why a two-hour finale this year?
Oh I’ve been rubbing my hands together about this since around October of last year. It’s not often you get to do a double. And they gave me plenty of notice, which I appreciate so much because it enabled us to plan what is really like a movie. There’s no way that people will turn [the channel] at 10 o clock; they just won’t be able to. We do something at the end of the first hour that just launches the back half into a rocket ride. What we do at the end of the first hour is so unexpected and so brazen, you have to come back to see, “Why? How? What the hell is going to happen now?” And the performances across both hours are the best that this cast has delivered. In fact, I’m putting Linda Hunt in for an Emmy based on this episode.
TVLINE | What challenge did this “double” present you?
I’ve been writing for 30 years, and this was the hardest thing I’ve had to write in terms of figuring out the story. And I had to figure out the story for the opening episode of next season in order to write this finale. So from a writing point, it was incredibly challenging. From a production point, probably the biggest television show I’ve ever produced.
TVLINE | So let’s talk about the plot. The Chameleon (from Episode 15) resurfaces?
Yes, and if anyone had any doubts about Christopher Lambert (Highlander) as an actor, I’m actually putting him up for an Emmy too, as a guest [star]. He is astonishing in this, just astonishing. He turns himself into evil personified, and it’s just an extraordinary performance. We pit him against our team and he has them absolutely on the run at every moment.
TVLINE | He had warned he’d be back for revenge — the time is now?
The time is now. The title of the two hours is “Sans Voir,” which is a chess term that means “playing blindfolded.” It means you’re playing a game in one room, and someone else is playing the same game in another room, and you can’t see the board. It’s played out in your head. And that’s exactly what this is. And there are usually three parts to a chess game: the opening gambit, the middle game and the end game.
TVLINE | And since he had been on before, this is the middle and the end?
Uh, the beginning and the middle. We always have our cliffhangers!
TVLINE | The past two finales have had some tie to Callen’s past. Is this an exception?
There’s a great little moment, actually, where the Chameleon suggests that he might know something about Callen — and it certainly catches Callen’s attention [Laughs] — but no, it doesn’t focus on Callen’s past. This is Callen and the team trying to stop this guy from doing what he’s proven he’s serious about doing. What he does at the end of that first hour, the audience will go, “How could they possibly? Where’s the second half of this movie going to go?”
TVLINE | It sounds like for any other show it would suffice as a season-ending cliffhanger.
That’s a really good way to put it. The first hour could be the season finale, could be the cliffhanger. The second hour could be the [premiere] of next season. But they’re not. There are one, two… three.… There are about five different moments in this that could be a season finale.