‘The Rookie’ Boss Talks [Spoiler]’s Escape, Chenford in Season 7 & More

Tru Valentino, Melissa O'Neil, and Eric Winter in 'The Rookie' Season 6 Finale
Spoiler Alert
Disney / Raymond Liu

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Rookie Season 6 finale “Escape Plan.”]

The good news: The officers of The Rookie all survived the finale (and given the position Eric Winter‘s Tim is in at one point, a definite plus). The bad news: There’s a whole lot of trouble coming their way.

Some of The Rookie: Feds agents tag along to help Nolan (Nathan Fillion) and Harper (Mekia Cox) rescue Blair (Danielle Campbell), whom Monica (Bridget Regan) had kidnapped after using her, and the therapist tells them everything they need to know. Meanwhile, Monica follows through with her end of the deal after Oscar (Matthew Glave) gets her in the information she needs on the man who wanted her dead, and he’s free at the end—but he enlists Jason (Steve Kazee), Bailey’s (Jenna Dewan) ex-husband, for help and gets him out, too.

Below, executive producer Alexi Hawley breaks down the finale and shares some early teases for Season 7.

How early on did you know that you wanted to end the season with not only Monica and Oscar working together, but the plan including him breaking out of prison and enlisting Jason to help and them bringing him along?

Alexi Hawley: I knew about the Monica and Oscar of it all. I think that Jason was sort of a later discovery of, oh, that would be good. You go down different roads and maybe they’re not working. And then you’re like, oh, what would be good? You know who else is in prison? At this point now six seasons in, we do have a history of villains, some of them who’ve been great. Elijah is still out there. He’s in prison, too. Then you start to go, well, those people might be in the same prison, and if they are, it’s not a stretch to think that they could interact. That was an exciting idea.

At what point did you know you wanted Tim and Lucy (Melissa O’Neil) to break up and have it be in such a way that it would lead to him going to therapy?

I think I knew coming into the season that we needed to keep the drama in their relationship. It’s easy to fall in love with your characters this deep into a show and sort of round the edges off of them, off of their relationships and even on a professional level in terms of, there’s still a hierarchy. If you forget about that, you just lose the stakes and you lose the drama. It really felt like, how do we organically put obstacles in everybody’s way?

Bridget Regan in 'The Rookie' Season 6 Finale "Escape Plan"

Disney / Raymond Liu

For Tim and Lucy, to bring something from Tim’s past back that basically turns his whole life upside down because of a realization that he’s sort of been hiding or running away from some of the mistakes that he made in his past and because of that is basically punishing himself and sadly punishing her at the same time, once it’s all over was a really heartbreaking thing. I always feel like we’re bad at our jobs if we don’t do the most dramatic thing we can do. So it felt like that and then obviously we’ve been, as a show, championing therapy, especially for police officers since Season 1, and I think it’s an incredibly important thing. Obviously we were also going down a road with Blair, where I knew going in that she was going to be compromised. It all felt like it was all just coming together in a good way.

What excites you about what you can do with Tim now that he has been going to therapy?

I do think that Tim is—as much as he plays the drill sergeant and he has a sense of honor and I do think that he means it, and he was brought up in that sort of culture, whether it was sports or the military or now the police—not unaware of his persona, but I do think that him going to therapy and actually having to confront some stuff was very valuable to him. I think that he’ll be conscious of that going forward, that he’s still got work to do.

What did you want to do with Lucy while they’re apart? Then you start bringing them back together a bit in these last two episodes, with moments in the elevator.

Yeah, we were very elevator-centric with them this season—and parking lot. What was the most important thing to me was not for Lucy to ever feel like the victim, not for her to ever feel like she didn’t have agency in the breakup or in the relationship or in the aftermath, that her anger at him was completely real and earned and not to be dismissed in the same way that—she can’t just say, okay, you’ve done a little work and we’re back together. I think he broke something that’s going to need a little longer to fix. And so I think we just need to keep challenging her and navigating her professional and personal life while he does what he’s got to do. And then also just, how do they find their way back to each other?

What can you say about your plans for them in Season 7, to offer fans some hope or at least not more heartbreak?

I can’t say a lot yet. The room’s only been going for a week and a half, but I do think that we need to find the adventure. To me, the joy of the show is that even when there are stakes, even when there are bad things that happen, the show is always a ride and always entertaining. I think we have to walk that line on, what does it look like if they’re finding their way back to whatever a relationship looks like with them in the short term and then also the long term, which are not necessarily the same thing? How do we keep the—look audiences want the will they, won’t they, we know that from the history of television. It’s the wanting that’s the most dramatic. How do we get back to a place where we can have that?

Jason is now out just as Nolan and Bailey are beginning a deep dive into adoption. What can you say about how who Bailey is now will be approaching this knowing that her ex-husband is out? 

The stakes are there. Obviously there’s a danger lurking. On the completely practical side, Jenna’s about to have a baby in real life, so we do have to navigate that at the beginning of the season. So I think we’ll have to slow roll slightly and that, but yeah, look, especially in the adoption story, they do live dangerous lives. She’s going to have an ex-husband slash stalker out there. How does that impact them on a personal level will be interesting to explore.

Richard T. Jones, Nathan Fillion, Felix Solis, and Mekia Cox in 'The Rookie' Season 6 Finale "Escape Plan"

Disney / Raymond Liu

Where did you want Nolan to be in his career before they started talking about kids?

The thing with Nolan always is that he doesn’t have time. He started this in his late 40s, and if he wants to have a career that goes beyond just patrol work… Originally, he wanted to be a detective and then obviously in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and our conversations about policing and him having to face consequences for sort of going rogue, ultimately as a character, he came to a place where training the next generation of police officers was much more important than his own personal wanting to be a detective. All that being said, I think he still has aspirations and he doesn’t have a lot of time to get there, so that’s always part of the balance. And he explored that in Season 6 as well. He doesn’t want to be a dad who’s not there, which I think is also a noble thing for him to want, to be an active parent. If I’m going to be a father, I want to be a father. That is, I think, an important conversation.

Monica is still out there and we know she’s resourceful. Oscar and Jason are now free. How would you rank them as far as being threats as Season 7 begins?

Without spoiling too much, because I don’t know everything at this point, I think Jason’s probably the most immediate problem. I can’t necessarily comment on Oscar and Monica yet, but I think obviously Jason is the one with the most specific, the most harmful intent towards anybody on our show at the moment.

You brought in some of The Rookie: Feds people. What came first, realizing what you needed for the story or wanting to find a way to write them in?

I definitely wanted to bring them in. There was a conversation with ABC after the sad cancellation of Feds about whether I could keep them in our universe. They’re phenomenal and if those actors are available—and there’s going to come a time where they’re not, they’re so good—I want to keep them in our world. Obviously Niecy [Nash-Betts] falls into a different category. She’s already off doing a bunch of high profile stuff, and I don’t necessarily know that I’ll be able to get her back. But yeah, I just wanted to see them again, and they’re so good. Luckily, they were kind enough to come play, and they loved their characters and obviously were really sad about the cancellation. I definitely knew coming into the season I couldn’t do it early. I wanted to let that sort of breathe a bit, but then it’s about what’s a story worthy of seeing them again.

Is that how you’ll use them going forward? 

It’s amazing how much of showrunning is about juggling because you only own the series regulars, right? Anybody else, if Matthew Glave gets a show, if Bridget Regan gets another show, they don’t become available. So yes, there’s a lot of my job that’s about making phone calls, “Hey, I’m thinking about using them in [Episodes] 5 and 6, are they have available?” and then that could change or then dates shift. I definitely want to use them where it’s most impactful story-wise. I don’t want to waste their time and have them show up for one scene. But yeah, I’d love to use them for the rest of our life as Rookie.

It felt like Angela (Alyssa Diaz) and Wesley (Shawn Ashmore) kind of got a break this season. Was that just a matter of having a shortened season?

Yeah, it was. We have so many great characters on our show that it is definitely navigating through all the storylines and from episode to episode and sometimes again within a 10-episode span, which is all we had, the storylines that push to the front don’t allow you to necessarily spend as much time. But we’ll have a lot more time in Season 7, so we won’t leave them hanging. We have some good stuff for them already that we’ve been talking about in the room.

Anything you can say?

Nope. [Laughs]

How about plans for Grey (Richard T. Jones)?

We are still talking about that, on how we can keep that going. Obviously we landed Luna at the hospital because Angel [Parker] is such a great actress and I have her on The Recruit as well, playing a very different character, and I just think she’s a genius. So we wanted to find ways to get her in the show more and obviously the two of them are great together, but also just where is he in his career? Is there any advancement that’s good for us? But you’re always navigating, as a patrol show, how do you keep it active? How do you keep the characters involved in the street work and the day-to-day? If you end up in office work or in politics or in any of that, it starts to feel a little less immediate for us.

And I can’t imagine not having Grey there to lead everything.

He’s such the heartbeat of the show, yeah.

They would fall apart.

They definitely would.

Something I’ve enjoyed is Angela and Harper working together. What do you enjoy most about what pairing those two allows you to do?

I can do anything with them. That’s the joy with this cast and especially them is they have such a depth, they can play funny, they can play emotional, they can play stakes, they can kick a door. All that stuff is a possibility, but yet they’re very different people and they’re very different characters. I love that Harper’s background is all undercover stuff and how that comes in and that Lopez has always been the sniper. She was the best shot in the station. And yet they have such good chemistry together. Network [TV] has been trying to reinvent Cagney & Lacey forever and I’m like, I got ’em. That’s them. So yeah, they’re just a joy to write for.

Could we see more of Harper undercover going forward?

I’d like to. Mekia does such great work with that and obviously undercover’s a thing on our show, Lucy is into it. So yeah, we’re definitely going to go down that road in Season 7.

What else can you say about Season 7? 

Just that we know we have some big shoes to fill after season six. We took some big swings and I love that we keep challenging ourselves and, look, we do even better, but yet at the same time, how do we just lean more into how much everybody loves these characters? I feel super lucky that we get to have fun every week, even if we do some stuff that’s high stakes or tragic or whatever, that tonally, because we do everything, it allows us to really give you an episode every week that just really keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The Rookie, Season 7, Midseason, ABC