In this Wednesday’s episode (NBC, 10/9c), the future father finally starts to express his joy about the upcoming baby — but with it also comes a lot of “frustration” about how Burgess is handling the pregnancy. At least Ruzek can rejoice in the fact that he’s actually the baby daddy, because he’s almost wasn’t (!), Flueger reveals in the following Q&A.
TVLINE | What was your reaction when you first found out about the pregnancy storyline?
I was a little surprised, just because they hadn’t really done anything like that… If I’m being honest, that whole storyline was meant to start at a different episode, it was meant to be with a different character, and just based on the way that the season went, it ended up going in this direction. And quite frankly, I’m really glad that it did, because it’s fun. It’s an interesting storyline to play. It’s fun content, but it was a little surprising, just because [Ruzek and Burgess] hadn’t really been interacting on the show that much, and us having any sort of romance had not been alluded to. So it seemed a little out of nowhere, but the writers did a good job of fudging it so you could understand [that], no, they were just hanging out one night, had a couple beers, and one thing led to another, and two people that love each other and had been in bed together before fell into bed again.
TVLINE | Now I’m really curious who the storyline was meant for originally. Is that something you can talk about?
I can’t remember the character’s name. The incredibly handsome black man that she dated at the end of last season.
TVLINE | Oh, Charles Michael Davis.
Yeah. With like the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen! That guy, he’d walk in, [and] I’m like, “Get out! Too much handsome in him! You’re sucking the handsome out of the room!” But yeah, it was meant for him, and then based on just some things that happened at the beginning of the season, they had about three episodes written that they had to jumble and move around, and things did not go according to plan. We did [Episode] 1, 2, 6, 3, 8, 4, 5, 7. Like, that’s how we shot. We’ve been shooting completely out of order. I don’t know if that’s the exact order, but it’s been that kind of jumbled. And so this storyline was supposed to happen much sooner in the season, and it was meant to have been his child, a carryover from last season, but because of the timing, because we were so deep into the season, and they wanted to bring up that storyline, it clearly had to be somebody else, and that somebody else fell to me.
TVLINE | Making it Burgess and Ruzek, it adds an interesting layer because they have so much history.
It was a blessing in disguise that it worked out that way because I think it makes more sense. There’s more depth there. I’m sure it would’ve been a really interesting storyline had they done it the way they were planning, but I’m excited because now I get to be included. And I’m sure I would’ve been included on some level if it had gone the other direction, but now I’m hyper included.
TVLINE | We haven’t really seen Ruzek’s true feelings about the pregnancy. I feel like he’s always holding back a little bit. When will we get to see how he really feels? And what will that look like?
Next episode, for sure. Look, they have such a history. He doesn’t want to push too hard, he doesn’t want to sit on his back feet too hard. He’s trying to walk this fine line of, “I want to be supportive of you. I don’t want to influence your decision too much. I don’t want to pressure you in one way or the other and make you feel like you’re pressured one way or the other.” … My manager, her husband Anthony, who I love very much, likes the show a lot and was very upset that [Ruzek] didn’t smile at her when she told [him] that she was going to keep the baby. I don’t think, in that moment, he knows for sure that he’s happy. It’s like, it takes your breath away. Even if you were planning to have a baby, [and] you find out you’re going to have a baby, it takes your breath away. So I think he goes home, he sleeps on it and wakes up the next day feeling happy as hell and blessed. You’ll start to see that in the next episode. Now, her ideas of moving forward and his ideas of moving forward are two very, very different things. So we’ll see how that goes. But in the next episode, you’re definitely going to see his joy over the situation start coming to the forefront.
TVLINE | How is the pregnancy going to impact their dynamic within the workplace and how they go about doing their jobs?
As I’m sure you could imagine, he would like for her to take a step back because it’s such a dangerous job.
TVLINE | He was freaking out a lot in the last episode when she was behind the wall.
Exactly. I think he’s always afraid for all of his friends, but I think, probably, maybe a little more specifically for her, because she does have this heart of gold. I mean, her first shoot and kill was this season, in seven years. That’s the Burgess character. She’s the person that wants to, like, set her gun on the ground and tell everybody to put your guns down — not that she’s not tough as nails [and] not great at her job. Marina [Squerciati] might not like that I’m saying this, but it seems to me, outside looking in, that she, inherently, has a goodness in her that says that people can get by without the shooting and the fighting and the killing… Also, because he was so madly in love with her, [he] always is a little more worried about her than the rest of the team. And then you put a baby on top of that, and suddenly, you have panic situations. So that friction will come in in the next episode, too. Just his opinion of her staying on the job and how long she’s staying on the job, and how she’s playing this and his opinion of it, definitely comes into play a lot more.
TVLINE | With him being so overprotective of her, especially in the last episode, do other members of the team start to catch on that there’s more going on here than he’s just looking out for his coworker?
Yeah, I think that they’ve actually released a clip where we’re walking away from a crime scene, and she and Atwater are walking away together, and he says, “Why were you and Adam together?” because [Ruzek’s] gone to see the sonogram, and she’s like, “Well, I’m pregnant.” He’s her very close friend, and so she just kind of lets it slip by accident because it’s her life right now, and then the news kind of spreads that way. But her telling his best friend and partner without him… These are moments that he’d like to be there for, and she continues to do these things by herself, which is a big source of frustration for him.
TVLINE | Marina and I talked about that, too, how they’re not seeing each other’s perspective about things. With all the strife, are they even thinking about, “Well, we have a baby coming. Maybe we should consider what the future of our relationship is”? Or are they just butting heads too much to even think about that?
It’s always been my belief that he’s always loved Burgess, and he did want to marry her, even though he was nervous, and she misunderstood those nerves. And then when she walked away, he was both too insulted and too proud and angry to crawl after her on bended knee and beg her to reconsider. But in his heart of hearts, he always wanted to be with her. So I think that that’s there. I can’t speak for the Burgess character. But right now, it’s just about, for Ruzek anyway, just getting her to let him in.
TVLINE | When we first met Ruzek, he had a bit of what people call Peter Pan syndrome. How do you think being a father is going to change him? And has he evolved enough from Season 1 where you think he’s ready for this?
I think he had a little bit of that right up until the moment that Olinsky was killed. Well, probably a little bit before that, when Denny Woods [threatened Ruzek’s sister]… That this guy has come from the police department to try and play him to take down Voight, who’s done so much for the city, in his mind, [and] is kind of a father figure, somebody he looks up to unendingly, was kind of a turn. That the world could work that way was a learning moment, I think, for him, [and] was kind of devastating on some level. Then [for Ruzek] to play both sides and try and like work it out… [Ruzek] would never throw [his] team under the bus, but [he] was trying to protect both families. Then the last thing that Al ever said to him, really, was, “You’ve always been like a son to me,” and then he wouldn’t really talk to him anymore because he couldn’t forgive him for the betrayal. And so I think that unresolved tension between him and this man who was another father figure to him, this man who he loved and looked up to and learned from, the fact that he was killed and he never got to do anything to heal the relationship, I think he was different after that. My intention, at least, has been to play him different, darker and a little more angry and less Peter Pan-y. Those are negative things that I’m describing, but I think that those negative things inform the positive things, too. And so I think he’s a much more worldly, kind of wise cop and man now, having all of these things happen to him.
And him trying to protect Antonio, but then maybe he ultimately drove Antonio back to drugs… These situations where you think you’re doing the right thing, and maybe you’re doing the wrong thing, and where you sometimes have to do the wrong thing to do the right thing, that changes a person. If you live in that gray area all of the time like that, if your world never gets to be black and white, man, that makes you hard, and I think that he’s hardened a lot. But that’s not a bad place to be for a dad. So yeah, I think he’s ready. I think he’d be a good dad.