The following contains spoilers from the Season 3 finale of ABC’s The Rookie.
ABC’s The Rookie this Sunday night aimed to end Season 3 with a somewhat impromptu wedding, but as with all good finales, the ceremony did not go off without a hitch. Far from it, seeing as pregnant bride-to-be Angela went missing, not long after arch enemy Sandra De La Cruz aka La Fiera’s prison transport was intercepted, its vengeful occupant set free.
Leading up to Angela and Wes’ almost-big day, La Fiera had been nabbed by an undercover Chen, whose cover was on the verge of being blown after meth cook “Nova” was introduced to — and seemed familiar to — the ascendant lady crime boss.
Days before The Rookie officially copped its Season 4 pickup, TVLine spoke with showrunner Alexi Hawley about the tragically crashed wedding, Tim and Lucy’s “saved” dance, this season’s stealthy casting coups and more.
TVLINE | That was a pretty bold move, disappearing Lopez (played by Alyssa Diaz) when you haven’t been formally handed a Season 4 renewal yet….
You know, sometimes you’ve got to dream big. It felt like a way to bring people back ultimately, plus we gave everybody a wedding — well, the beginning of a wedding — to be happy about, so there you go. We’ve been setting up the La Fiera story all season, so it just felt like we should go for it.
TVLINE | Is that still one school of thought on crafting a finale without being renewed yet, to give the network something to renew? Don’t some showrunners believe that if you don’t end on a cliffhanger, it gives a network one less reason?
Honestly, I think they make the decisions they make regardless, ultimately. I mean, I don’t want to get back into the end of Castle, but there were two endings that we came up with. Terrence [Winter] and I basically made a decision that we needed to shoot the one that aired, which was the one with the happy ending, just in case. Nobody told us to, but you can imagine if we’d ended with [Rick and Kate] bleeding out on the floor of the loft — “See you later, America!” That would have been bad.
We felt super positive about this season. It was a very difficult season to make, for many reasons, but a lot of it went really well. I think it’s both the hardest and the best thing I’ve ever done.
TVLINE | Should we be worried for Jackson (Titus Makin) as well as for Lopez?
You caught that, did you? That was a little bit on purpose, yeah. You definitely want to plant in the audience’s mind, “Wait a second, where’s Jackson?” We’ll have to see.
TVLINE | Well, offer a little something to ease fans’ mind coming out of this. Does La Fiera (Camille Gauty) have any possible need for Lopez other than to simply kill her?
She does. I don’t want to give it away, but she definitely does. This is not the end of Lopez, but an escalation in this dynamic that they’ve had for basically the whole season. There’s this friendship, a kinship. They’ve bonded over [La Fiera’s] son and [Angela’s] child-to-be, and also being Latinas who are two sides of the same coin.
TVLINE | I have to think that in the inevitable commotion of Lopez being kidnapped, Tim’s not going to get that dance with Lucy….
They’re going to have to complete the wedding at some point, but yes, coming into Season 4 we’re probably not going to have a dance.
TVLINE | How much should we read into the fact that Tim even put that out there?
At the end of the day, I don’t know whether what I say about how much people are going to read into it makes a difference. I mean, I do think that with her taking a step beyond being a rookie, they’re not equals yet — because obviously he still outranks her, and he’s been there a long time — but it removes one barrier that could possibly be there.
TVLINE | I need to ask, since I have you here: What is your strategy on casting news? Because you’ve had some really fun gets, but they were kept a bit quiet. I’ve been watching like, “Hey, it’s Molly Quinn!… Hey, it’s Jenna Dewan!… Wait, is that Emily freakin’ Deschanel?!”
I’m working as fast as I can to make a show in the middle of the pandemic, so I haven’t really been paying too much attention, but… those decisions are not me. In Season 4, maybe we will look into how to proceed with that, because in this day and age, anything you can do to turn up eyeballs is a plus. Obviously, I did think that having Castle and Bones together was a coup for us….
TVLINE | It was like the 1927 Yankees or something. How did that come about?
When we came up with the story that we were going to bring Nolan’s ex-wife back, that felt momentous to us, so we started to see who was available and who was in town. And the second I saw Emily’s name, I’m like, “Can we get her?” Like, that would be great. And she was so wonderful.
TVLINE | And she and Nathan Fillion were very good together.
They had such good chemistry together, yeah. That was really great.
TVLINE | Speaking of Nolan’s love interests, could Bailey (played by Jenna Dewan) be a keeper?
Absolutely. I think Jen is another coup for us, so yeah, that’s my plan. We couldn’t really do a ton of love interest stuff during the middle of the pandemic, but at the end of the day it felt like, “Let’s find him somebody to potentially take us into next season. And Jen is really special, and I love the character.
TVLINE | I was saying to our staff that you gave her a spinoff-worthy character right off the bat. She’s a reserve in the Army! She’s a firefighter! She’s a Capoeira instructor!
I actually love the idea, though I don’t know if we can pull it off, that he keeps turning up places and she’s there and it’s just one more thing that she does. [Laughs] Like, she’s the most accomplished person you’ve ever seen. They also have phenomenal chemistry together. Nolan has had some girlfriends along the way, but it’s been a minute and I feel like we really want to explore what that’s like with him.
TVLINE | As a P2 in Season 4, what sort of things will we see Nolan doing?
Basically a version of what we see him do now, because as a patrol officer he drives around. P2s can drive in solo cars, which we’ve never really done. He could also ride with Lucy, or with Jackson…. It’s exciting to me, going into Season 4 with things that we haven’t done before, with dynamics we haven’t put together. Also, what’s inherent in not being a rookie or a student or a trainee is that he’ll have bit more strength, because he’s going to be the one making the calls. He’s going to be driving his stuff a bit more without having to, like, check in with a TO or you know pass a test every episode.
TVLINE | I was a bit disappointed that Chen’s undercover assignment was so over quickly, but what does that experience do for the character moving forward? Is it something for her to dip her toe into once a season or so?
Ultimately, that is something that is still going to be on her radar as what she wants to do. Obviously she got thrown in the deep end, without all the training that goes into when you really are an undercover cop. I liked Grey’s line about “there’s no failure in finding yourself unprepared for a job you haven’t prepared for.” A lot of shows just throw people undercover and they’re really good at it even when they’ve had no training, but we try to do the “inside baseball” as much as we can. This was a special circumstance, but I think she’s going to be a little more deliberate about learning that stuff before she goes in for a long-term assignment.
TVLINE | Talk about Toks Olagundoye’s character and how you decided to implement Professor Ryan in addressing several of the policing issues that are out there.
As we sat down to really plan out the season, we felt a responsibility to honor the serious conversations that were going on about systemic injustice and policing, stuff like that. As a patrol show, we can do so many different things — we’re not relegated to “a very special episode of The Rookie” — so it felt like we had an opportunity to really explore all these different facets. Obviously we went very heavy with the Doug Stanton story, but I had planned to send Nolan back to school since the end of Season 2. I happened to be having a conversation with a cop about how fast you can become a TO, and they said, “If you have a college degree, you can do it two years quicker,” and I’m like, “Oh, I must have planned that when I created the show and Nolan didn’t finish college!” [Laughs] It ended up being one of those moments where something that we’d set up actually worked out really well, because it allowed us to put him in a classroom situation. The classroom, and Toks specifically, were a great way to get into a lot of different things.
TVLINE | Even smaller things like “wobblers,” which I had never heard of.
It was super important us that we honored these conversations even in the finale. And by the way, we’re going to be talking about it in Season 4 as well, because at this point this is a part of the show. It feels like we have a responsibility to really lean into real policing and still be aspirational. But Toks, we loved her obviously from the Castle days, and she just came in and managed to put a real, human face on some very serious issues.