‘SEAL Team’ Boss on Clay’s Future With Bravo & Impact on Entire Team
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the SEAL Team Season 6 premiere “Low-Impact.”]
Bravo is dealt a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching (we hope you weren’t eating during the opening!) blow in the SEAL Team Season 6 premiere.
While everyone does survive the ambush that left off Season 5, Clay’s (Max Thieriot) leg is, to put it mildly, a mess. With the leg infected, the doctors — the team is transported once again to Germany, and Sonny (AJ Buckley) stays after Clay insists everyone else go home — have no choice but to amputate to save his life.
Showrunner Spencer Hudnut discusses Clay’s future as well as how much we’ll see Thieriot this season, how it affects Bravo, and more.
That opening was insane and so hard to watch with Clay’s leg.
Spencer Hudnut: I think it’s the most intense footage we’ve ever shot, and yeah, the stuff with his leg is just so painful, so hard to keep your eyes on. But it’s not something we could have done on network television. That’s really us taking full advantage of our new home on Paramount+.
It also seemed like Clay losing his leg was the only way things could go at that point. Was that a result of Max on Fire Country? Or had it been something you were thinking about doing before, even if not necessarily with Clay?
For a few years now, I’ve always wanted to tell that story of an operator having that level of injury. The timing never quite felt right. So coming into Season 6, I will say [with] Max’s situation, it felt like the best way forward. Max and I talked about it, even starting last season before any of this Fire Country stuff really came about. So he was on board with it for a long time. It just felt like his character got to a place, with a wife and a young child, that the stakes are so high. He tells Jason [David Boreanaz] at the end of Season 5, he’s gonna walk away and go to Green Team. Well, now that choice is forced on him. How he deals with that is really the struggle, the loss of identity is something that we’ve always wanted to examine. It felt like the best way to move forward with [Max] and put him in a situation that’s a little bit removed from the team.
How much will we see him this season? Every episode?
Yeah, I think we did a really good job and Max played a huge part in making it clear to everyone that he wanted to be as involved in this season as he could be, so he is heavily involved. It’s clear at the end of this episode that he’s not gonna be with Bravo team moving forward, but his journey dealing with this injury is a huge part of the season.
You mentioned the loss of identity. What else can you say about how he’s handling it, physically and mentally?
Obviously, it’s a traumatic event for him, but Clay is never lacking in self-confidence. Clay has overcome every obstacle ever put in front of him. Clay was the leader in Green Team. He’s one of the best operators in command despite being one of the youngest. At first, like any problem, he’s confident that he can overcome it. But as time progresses and he really starts to understand how much he’s been impacted by the injury, it starts to seep into every part of his life and that struggle for him is really part of his journey this season.
What can you say about seeing him working with Bravo in the future?
One of the things that made this storyline appealing is that there have been SEALs who have had a similar injury to what happened to Clay that have made it back to operating. We didn’t want to do anything that took that off the table down the road. We didn’t want to do anything that’s completely unbelievable, but the fact that there are operators who made it back from an injury like this gave us hope that we’ll see if Clay and his Bravo teammates can reunite somewhere at another time.
How will this affect his and Stella’s relationship? Alona [Tal] was so good in this premiere.
Yeah, Alona is amazing. She and Max are so great together, even though they’re really not together in this episode. Everything we’ve put them through over the last five-plus seasons, we’re so invested in that relationship. For anyone who’s the spouse of one of our men and women in uniform who deals with a traumatic injury, we really get into that as well. How do you support someone? A tier one operator who was able to do anything he wanted in the world and now all of a sudden he has a hard time doing basic things around the house. It’s a really difficult balancing act for any spouse who’s put in that situation and obviously those are gonna be challenges for Stella.
How will the rest of Bravo handle what’s happened? They have to learn to operate without him while worrying about him, right?
Absolutely. The brotherhood is so tight. They take care of each other. They rallied around him, got him off the battlefield, but as they continue forward without him, they’re not able to have that control in really making sure that he’s on the right path. Some of the teammates are gonna have their own guilt issues. Jason in the premiere talks about how he, on some level, put Clay in the path of this RPG that cost him to lose his leg. Sonny feels a lot of guilt going back to Season 5 about the way he treated Clay. There’s a little bit of survivor’s guilt that we’re definitely gonna explore. It’s gonna hang over these guys the entire season.
Jason also has that TBI. How’s he handling everything?
We really took Jason on such a journey last season. Before the ambush, he was committed to working on his head and working on this TBI and trying to establish a relationship with Mandy [Jessica Paré]. But every time something traumatic happened in his life in the past, Jason walled himself off from people. That’s the big challenge for him this season: Is he able to accept the support of others around him? Is he able to keep working on himself, physically and mentally and emotionally? From where he started Season 1 to where he is now, all the work he did, there’s a threat of regression because of what happened in the premiere.
How’s Jason and Mandy’s relationship?
We really, in the premiere, see what Mandy can do for Jason. She has the point of view of someone who’s run into the fire the way Jason does. She has her own share of collateral damage. She’s dealt with her own trauma. She’s lost people. That perspective that she offers is so valuable to Jason. She understands how he ticks and in a way is able to keep him from being his worst self, which I don’t think we’ve seen in a relationship with Jason before. That skillset she has and that understanding of what Jason’s been through is really valuable and gives them a shot of surviving as a as a couple this season.
After how devastated Sonny was for Clay, I imagine he’s going to be one of the ones having the most trouble.
Sonny wears his heart on his sleeve. Clay really is his best friend. He doesn’t let a lot of people in. Davis [Toni Trucks] and Clay are two that he’s so tight with. But losing Clay as a teammate is gonna be devastating to him. Seeing what Clay’s lost is gonna weigh on him. It really puts Sonny at a crossroads. Much like Jason, he’s evolved over the seasons. He really had to step up now that he’s a father. This presents an opportunity — in the past, Sonny has run away from challenges. He’s chosen to ignore and override issues in the past, but is Clay gonna be out of sight, out of mind or is he really gonna embrace the challenge and be there for his brother?
Sonny and Davis’ relationship is always complicated. What’s next?
They’re stuck with this problem of command. They’re working in command together and they really can’t be together. It’s very clear even in the finale of Season 5 that there’s always gonna be that attraction and connection. There’s always a little glimmer of hope for the two of them that something could happen down the road, but with what happens to Clay, with Bravo potentially being decommissioned, Davis undergoes some career changes as well, the hurdles continue to get stacked in front of Sonny and Davis, in terms of a romantic relationship.
Ray said he has his PTS under control, but Naima [Parisa Fakhri] was worried. Should she be?
PTS can flare up at any time and the ambush, what Clay went through, she was just reminding Ray that you need to continually work the problem and he needs to be able to take care of himself if he’s gonna help others. These guys have been through so much, they’ve seen so much loss, even though Clay survives, his ordeal is gonna weigh heavy on them. There should be some questions about Ray’s ability to continue forward.
The trailer teases one team will be decommissioned. I imagine tensions will be running high as a result…
Oh, definitely. Coming off the trauma of Clay to then be greeted with the reality that there’s a little bit of downsizing going on within command, which is a real thing, the hits just keep coming for Bravo. Even going back to Season 5 when the building collapsed on them, they’ve just endured a lot. It hasn’t been victory after victory, the challenges seem to mount up. Given the fact that Bravo team is a little older than probably the other teams, they’ve been blown up in two or three of their last five ops, the guys are really worried and can see the writing on the wall that they might be the team to go.
SEAL Team, Sundays, Paramount+