‘SEAL Team’s AJ Buckley on Sonny’s Return to Texas & His Bravo Replacement

AJ Buckley SEAL Team Season 3 Sonny Texas Preview
Erik Voake/CBS

Bravo Team may be in Afghanistan right now, but they’re a man down with Sonny in Texas serving his disciplinary training action.

“It’s been really a fun change for me, just to get to peel back the layers and understand more of who Sonny is and what made him be the man that he is today,” SEAL Team‘s AJ Buckley told TV Insider.

Sonny’s trip home has allowed him to reconnect with his father, Emmet (John Savage), and childhood friend Hannah (Rachel Boston), and just take a step back. (Things did get a bit heavy and volatile for the team prior to the current deployment.)

Here, Buckley discusses exploring this new side to his character and teases what to expect between Sonny and his replacement when he rejoins the team.

Sonny’s time in Texas has reunited him with his father. How’s their relationship going?

AJ Buckley: It’s been awesome to work with John Savage. I was a massive fan of Deer Hunter and so thrilled that he got to be my dad and to get to work with him in the scenes.

It’s been cool to go back to Texas, and for Sonny, the biggest thing is the team itself, everything, is going through change, as we do as humans in any relationship, whether it’s our family or a relationship or your work. [With] the evolution of oneself, there’s always change. Some people are good with it, and some people are terrible with change. I don’t think Sonny is very good with change. So much happened with him, the team, within the military, with their leadership, and that sent him off on a path going back to Texas, and then realizing, too, while he’s in Texas, that he’s so stuck in his ways.

SEAL Team Season 3 Episode 18 Sonny Father Emmet

(Erik Voake/CBS)

The core reason he has these deep-rooted issues that he has to face when he goes to see his dad is because the way he left and the way that he never really talked to his dad since he’s been there. And then [we’re] finding out who Sonny is by understanding the whys of the decisions that his dad had to make during his life when Sonny was younger.

Sonny’s reconnected with Hannah while in Texas. What does that relationship mean to him?

Rachel Boston is such a delight to work with, and it was a really cool, honest relationship the two of them had. She plays a really good strong Texas woman.

For Sonny, Hannah was probably his first love, the first real person he ever felt any feelings. So, when he sees her for the first time, everything comes rushing back. They’re two people that drifted apart because of decisions Sonny made, and the second they see each other, it rekindles this love that they’ve always had. It’s been really fun.

How is Sonny doing being away from the team, especially when they’re deployed in Afghanistan?

At first, it’s the hardest thing you could do to Sonny, because the team is all that he’s got and it’s probably the only real family he’s ever had. So to take that away from someone that has already got a bit of a volatile side, very much a character that needs the surroundings of positive people, otherwise he can go off the deep end… Then once he starts realizing that home is where the heart is and that his dad is who he is and he’s got this great girl there, he starts to relax a little bit and get back to his Texas roots.

And Sonny’s thoughts on his replacement, Thirty Mike?

He doesn’t know yet Thirty Mike, but I definitely feel like there’ll be some tension there because that’s his spot. Sonny is a hard charger and he believes that [he] is absolutely irreplaceable. Once he gets back to the team, myself and Thirty, we definitely have some fun stuff up ahead.

SEAL Team Season 3 Sonny Hannah Texas

(Erik Voake/CBS)

We’re seeing a lot of the team thinking about their future, perhaps away from Bravo, for some of them, this season. Jason and staying on, Ray and his family, Clay and STA-21. Will we see that in Sonny now that he’s spending time home?

100 percent, and I think that’s been one of the cool parts of this season — probably my favorite season so far — because it’s a real ensemble piece. There’s such great storylines going on for each team member.

One of the cool parts about this show is that as they make this change, you realize there’s so much more story to tell because it’s a rebirth in the sense of the characters. They’re just beginning to find out who they are. They’re all at that stage in their life of, “What I do now in these moments will really define the next 10 years of my life.” It’s very clear they have to [decide], “Do I go straight ahead? Do I go right? Do I go left?” They’re at that crossroads, and every one of them will have to make decisions within themselves of what direction they want to head, which is a cool story point for any show.

SEAL Team, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS