Scott Bakula Talks Apollyon & Pride’s Family Going Into the ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Finale

Crab Mentality
Skip Bolen/CBS

Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula) has been through a lot in NCIS: New Orleans Season 5 — and it’s not going to get any easier in the last two episodes.

The hunt for the underground spy network Apollyon and its leader, Avery Walker (Tim Griffin), takes Pride to war-torn South Ossetia in the May 7 episode, “The River Styx, Part 1,” and puts him in a dangerous position in the May 14 finale, “The River Styx, Part 2.”

TV Insider spoke with Scott Bakula about those two episodes, what his character’s been through this season, and Pride’s family.

Apollyon has to be the most personal enemy yet for Pride. So far, he hasn’t been blinded by rage or need for revenge, but will that change? How far is he willing to go to get Avery Walker?

Scott Bakula: The revenge factor was mostly directed at Amelia Parsons because she was the one who killed his father. And he responded out of pure rage at that moment in time.

(Sam Lothridge/CBS)

I think he was trying to back away from that and let cooler heads prevail. That’s why he let Isler go after Walker and Apollyon, and we find out in [Episode] 23 that Walker knows that Isler’s coming and has trapped him and basically ambushed the entire team that goes after him, so that forces Pride to go back out.

I don’t think it’s as much about revenge as about he feels that he’s the one responsible for Isler’s, the team’s supposed deaths and that he needs to put an end to Walker, if he can. And if he can’t, he’ll go down, but he won’t take anybody else with him.

Pride turned down working on the task force to go after Apollyon. Is that an ongoing struggle for him, or does he feel secure in the decision until he learns what happens to Isler?

I think he’s worried from the beginning because he understands how difficult Apollyon is to take down and how far-reaching their power is and their abilities are. So, I think that he feels compelled to make the decision, but I think it was a struggle to make the decision, and I think he’s worried the entire time.

(Sam Lothridge/CBS)

That’s why when they get the tip where they can find Walker, he’s reticent to encourage Isler to go after him and he’s nervous about including Hannah’s family again and her husband Ryan and her daughter Naomi, but he risks that to put an end to Apollyon.

There’s definitely a struggle going on, but he’s trying to also, for once in his life, really kind of step back and stay inside his own world of influence and let somebody else do his job. In the end, it doesn’t work out well.

What can you preview about the international mission to track Apollyon in these last two episodes of the season? Is there anything you can tease about the finale, perhaps in terms of Pride’s state of mind?

I think that there’s a kind of determination and certainly what happens to Pride in the finale is almost beyond his control, but going after Isler is kind of vintage Pride, that he would risk everything to save someone that he’s close to.

But once that effort goes south in some aspects, once he gets derailed from that effort to save Isler, then everything else, in a funny way, is almost out of his control, and he needs help from a lot of different voices in his head.

Speaking of things out of his control, we saw Pride get a new job this season. We’ve seen him continue to work cases with his team. Is that the path he wants to continue on? How does he feel about the new position now versus when he first took it?

He didn’t know what it was going to be like at the beginning of the season, much like we didn’t know as the show what it was going to be like. I think the original intention was for me to be SAC for about eight or nine episodes at the most.

What we found was having this other place for Pride to move into gave us access to other stories. It gave us access to a different location where people could come and speak to Pride that was separate from having to go to the squad room and everybody seeing who’s coming and out of the door. So that’s opened up some storylines for us.

(Sam Lothridge/CBS)

It also has given us access to moments where we can have a joint task force of several different departments meeting in a conference room and not taking over the squad room as we’ve done in the past and high-teching it from there as opposed to — it’s not low-tech, but — our kind of down-to-earth squad room, bare-bones world that we’re accustomed to.

How is it for Pride to watch the team? He’s not really an outsider, but he’s on the outside in some ways now.

It’s been interesting, making room for somebody else. I think there’s a maturity that comes with that. It’s like, OK, Pride doesn’t have to have his thumb on every decision, weigh in on every call, and ask every second of every day after the team. He doesn’t have to do everything all the time.

His struggle with being more present for his daughter, in his relationship with Rita, he’s leaning into them a little bit more than he has in the past.

Obviously, when we started the show five years ago, his marriage was falling apart, and one of the reasons in hindsight, in retrospect, is that he gave too much to his job. He’s looking for balance. Not sure that he’s going to find it. And I’m not sure in the end that’s what he really wants to do, but he’s giving it a try, anyway.

(Sam Lothridge/CBS)

It’s been quite the season for Pride in terms of facing his own mortality. He started the season off fighting for his life. Then he lost his father. How much more of a struggle is it for him than in the past?

When you’re in a job when you’re seeing people — obviously they don’t die as much as they die on our show, in the Navy and the Marine Corps, but we dramatize it — and so you’re faced with that on a weekly, daily, monthly basis, you’re seeing people going through their losses, their family’s loss. But it hasn’t necessarily been his loss, so I think it’s been eye-opening for him.

It’s made him vulnerable. It’s affected his decisions at time. And I think that, in the end, hopefully, it makes him a more conscientious person.

I think he’s recognized his own mortality. He’s trying to come to grips with that. He’s not a young man certainly. I always say that Pride’s philosophy is he’s going to go through the door first because he’s the oldest guy in the group and he’s lived a good life.

I think having a daughter who’s a young woman now and [with the] potential to be in relationships and have children, I think that may give him more pause in terms of his own mortality.

Losing his dad was an interesting challenge for him because losing someone that he wasn’t particularly close with, particularly fond of, but still is his own flesh and blood, really struck him in a surprising way, and so I’m not sure that he’s dealt with that yet, as often times these things get pushed down, and there may be some of that ahead of him also.

(Patti Perret/CBS)

Speaking of his family, I’ve really liked Pride’s scenes with Jimmy and seeing him get to know his brother. What have you enjoyed most about those two?

First of all, Jason [Alan Carvell] is just a great actor and a really good guy to have around. I’ve loved that storyline from the moment it was pitched and we got the right actor.

It just opened Pride’s heart up in a different way, obviously in a way that he never, ever expected. I’m not an only child, but I know only children, and it just changes your world if you have a sibling around. I’ve really enjoyed his character and the position he’s taken in the show and how it’s affected Pride and also the team. He’s been welcomed.

It opens your heart up to Pride and the situation in a way that it was always about Pride and his dad and their struggle. We couldn’t find mom, we didn’t know where she was. We haven’t talked about her. It’s just been kind of a lonely deal for Pride. Now he’s got somebody else in the world. We deal with that in the last couple of episodes in some really nice ways.

On the topic of Pride’s mother, I saw that Joanna Cassidy has been cast to play her in the finale. I know you probably can’t say much, but what can you tease and can you talk about what she means to Pride, especially with everything he’s been through this year?

First of all, I have to say, casting Joanna Cassidy, obviously in real life she’s not old enough to play my mother, so that is part of the story that I’ll tease with that.

She’s kind of the missing link for Pride in terms of his heart and his heartbreak, and we’re going to use her in a very unusual way. But hopefully there’ll be more after this season with her and again, the road to finding his mother really opened up when he lost his dad.

All these things kind of snowball and affect each other. I think it’s been good storytelling, and I think the audience is going to be really surprised and delighted by her, for sure.

The series is coming back for Season 6. Is there anything on your bucket list for Pride you’d like to see sooner rather than later, given where he is right now in his life?

I’d like to do a little bit more music. We didn’t do a lot of music this year. I miss that.

(Sam Lothridge/CBS)

I think that the show’s going to be different in Season 6. I think it’s going to be a little bit less of the Apollyon kind of stories and more about getting back to the more local, more personal stories, and I think along with that, I’m hoping Pride will relax a little bit more in his life. That’s his bucket list.

On the music note, is there anyone you’d like to see in the bar? I really enjoyed when they had Pride open the bar and bring in the music into New Orleans.

The list is endless. We’ve had so many wonderful local people down here. … We’re constantly looking for wonderful avenues for more people. I know a lot of people that want to do the show, so I’m excited.

The music is just too important in the show, and we want to keep pushing that and supporting the local music scene, which is the greatest on the planet. I’m happy that we can encourage that and recognize that and bring it to our audience.

NCIS: New Orleans, Tuesdays, 10/9c, CBS