Before you Andy-and-Sam fans get up in arms about her ex’s arrival, rest assured that Luke is a changed man who’s got a lot more on the brain than romance. After all, Gail Peck has been kidnapped, which leads to “the biggest episode that the show has done,” says Johnson.
“[It's] a major turning point for everyone at [Precinct] 15,” he adds. “Luke is coming in and, hopefully, is a bit of a stabilizing factor for the division.”
Below, the actor previews Luke’s mind set, how he feels about working with lovebirds Andy and Sam and whether any romance — with Gail? — is in store for his detective.
TVLINE | What brings Luke back into the picture?
Luke is coming back to the precinct under extreme circumstances. Gail has gone missing, and they believe she’s been abducted by a potential serial killer. So Luke is bringing all of his knowledge and know-how back to [the precinct] to try and save Gail’s life, essentially. Everything that happened in the past doesn’t matter when he comes back. Everybody has one thing on their mind, and that’s getting Gail back safe and sound.
TVLINE | Did he pick up any skills while he was away in the gang unit?
You should see how well he grows a beard now. That’s a major skill – not shaving. It’s pretty rad. It’s a good beard.
TVLINE | Did his time away change him at all – aside from the facial hair?
Besides the beard? [Laughs] Absolutely. In Season 2, there were a few moments where Luke’s emotions got the best of him… You really saw him crack. That sort of easygoing Luke is gone. He’s far more fierce and determined. He’s not as willing to let things get to him. It’s not just the beard that makes him a little more bristly. [Laughs] He’s definitely very work-focused and more determined and more ambitious than ever before.
TVLINE | I think it’s safe to say the Andy-and-Sam fans are a little apprehensive about Luke’s return. Can you reassure them that he’s not there to stir up relationship drama?
[Laughs] The last thing on Luke’s mind when he comes back is any sort of relationship. I think you’ll find that Luke’s presence back at 15 may surprise you in terms of how it plays into that dynamic.
TVLINE | What is that first moment with Andy like? There’s a lot of history there.
Thankfully, there’s an officer missing and the potential hazards of a serial killer, so they don’t have to talk about it right away. [Laughs] That super-awkward moment is made a little less awkward by the fact that they have a very important and serious job to do.
TVLINE | When I talked to executive producer Tassie Cameron, she said, “[Luke] causes some conflict between Andy and Sam, but perhaps not in the way you’d expect.” Can you elaborate on that?
That’s the best way of putting it, really. Luke has always admired Andy’s passion and heart, even when it’s put him at odds with other people in the force in terms of believing in her ability to do things that other people didn’t think she was ready for. You’ll see a little bit of that. In everything that they’ve done, Luke and Andy — first and foremost — really respect each other as officers. People might not always agree with how [Luke and Andy] feel about each other in that situation. Also, being able to call Andy on her B.S. is something we’re going to see… He’s able to look [at the whole] division objectively and call them on their crap.
TVLINE | Rumor is that there’s a death coming.
There’s definitely changes coming to 15. [This episode is] tense.
TVLINE | Is there something that compels him to stay this time?
There’s a lot of drama that happens. So he’s coming in to do what he can to help everybody through a challenging time. He’s here for a short time is how it really starts. He’s coming in here, and all the reasons to stay keep getting piled up on each other. Luke has definitely moved on in his life from 15th Division. It’s like every time you leave, they keep sucking you back in. It was really interesting to play. You’re going to see some conflicted Luke in there.
TVLINE | Any chance he’ll get a new love interest?
I think Luke has probably learned his lesson for a while, anyways. [Laughs] When he first comes back, relationships are the last thing on everybody’s mind. We’ll have to wait and see if anything develops.
TVLINE | Gail and Luke definitely had some chemistry last season.
There were a lot of people who picked up on that one little look! It was one little look, sitting in my office, and everybody got all excited on Twitter. I get asked about that probably every week on Twitter. “What’s the deal? What’s the deal with Luke and Gail?” She’s definitely got her hands full with Nick Collins, so we’ll see.
TVLINE | Will we see more of them, not necessarily in a romantic sense, but working together?
You’re going to see Luke and Traci [teaming up], and a new dynamic with that. That’s a big thing for Luke.