This week on CBS’ S.W.A.T. (Wednesdays at 10/9c), while others on the team get embroiled in a Tokyo manhunt, Street is still reeling from the tragic murder of his foster brother — which happened despite the extreme lengths to which he went to extricate Nate from a dangerous life.
TVLine spoke with Aussie actor Alex Russell about Street’s new mindset, MIA Luca’s return, the unique challenge of this week’s Tokyo takedown and whether that kiss with Chris will ever be revisited.
TVLINE | Tell me about when they first pitched the Street/Nate/undercover storyline to you, and how you reacted.
Actually, the original version I pitched to them. My brother, who is also a writer, and I were throwing ideas around and he came up with a different version of this, but the key things that were similar was the idea that Street, having screwed up majorly once in Season 1, appears to screw up again in order to have good cover for an undercover operation. I pitched to Kent Rotherham, who was one of the writers in the room, I think at the start of Season 2, and he was like, “Oh, that’s a cool idea,” and so he took it to them. They then took it and perfected it and made it better. Originally, it was about, like, Long Beach PD stuff, but they made it a heroin ring and so forth, so when it came around again, I was like, “Man, this is awesome” what they’ve done with this. I liked the idea of having to pretend to be a screwup and having to endure all the hate. I like the idea of that being the ultimate selfless thing that Street could do after what he’s gone through.
TVLINE | What is Street’s mindset after Nate’s terribly tragic death? Because the synopsis for this week’s episode suggests he kind of isolates himself from the team.
He’s, like, present physically, but absent emotionally. He’s not partaking in the usual back and forth. Some crazy stuff went down [the past two episodes], and this is however many weeks later, but no one else on the team ever really saw the relationship that [Nate] and I had. They never really saw what it was that meant so much to me, which is the time we spent together back in the day. It’s easy for people not to realize how much a blow like that can knock someone out for a long time, so they slowly start to realize that this is really still weighing him down.
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TVLINE | You had that nice speech to Hondo, about how Street came to realize that now he’s got things to lose. How will that change him as a team member?
It changes how you are in the field. He was so good at it back in the day, as he says in that speech, because he had nothing to lose, and then coming onto this team and learning things he learns in Season 1, and then through building his way back in Season 2, he’s definitely already a much more sensible officer than he was at the beginning. But there was still a lack of edge to it for him, and I think now he realizes that if he ever dies, it’s not him dying. It’s him losing the people that he loves, and them losing him, and that changes things for him.
TVLINE | Do you think it’ll free him up to invest more in relationships, to go deeper with people?
Instead of it being a big change, it’s probably just a further continuation, because he started to do that with Molly. If you go back to halfway through Season 2, he was just all about the dating apps and one-night stands and stuff. Remember that episode with the married woman? [Laughs] Over time, he has been evolving, and this [loss] adds a very real layer of danger and potential for more loss that I think he didn’t realize before.
TVLINE | Meanwhile, a few of your castmates filmed scenes for this episode on location in Tokyo. What are they up to over there?
So, the episode starts with this really cool raid of a massage parlor in Little Tokyo here, where they take down this terrible criminal who is wanted in Japan. As an extra precaution, they assist in transferring this guy, but once they’ve dropped him off safely and they’re ready to enjoy a nice day in Tokyo before they have to fly back, hey get a call from the Tokyo police that the guy has escaped. They then have to go try and track this guy down, in a city with rules that they aren’t used to and you know, without having firearms because they had to surrender them at the airport, and not to mention the language barrier. It’s a fun episode. I love Japan, so it was a real trip watching it.
TVLINE | I believe Luca (played by Kenny Johnson) is back in this week’s episode. Where stands his recuperation?
He’s back on duty, but he’s not out in the field, so you kind of get to see him “work his magic” in terms of using his brain and putting stuff together and convincing people to help us when we need to figure out who’s behind what in this case. Luca’s like an eager puppy — he just wants to get out there and help people and do things — so he has to deal with the frustration of taking it slow and stuff, and that presents a whole new kind of interesting struggle for him.
TVLINE | Are you personally a fan of the food they serve from his Guatemalan food truck during the scenes? It sure looks good.
I would be, except while they do a great job, when you do take after take, the food gets cold. [Laughs] But overall, yes, it does taste good. It does taste good.
TVLINE | Lastly, Street and Chris had that impetuous kiss a while back — but nothing really ever came of it. Will the show ever revisit whatever these two might feel for each other?
I can honestly say that I have not asked the writers about this, so I don’t have a guaranteed answer. But if I was a betting man, I think that that was left unresolved for a reason. Whether it ends up being a romantic thing in the long run or not, you can’t deny the special connection that Street and Chris have, and I think that I would be surprised if something didn’t come up in a romantic sense again at some point.