‘SEAL Team’s AJ Buckley on Sonny Returning to Bravo & His Relationship With Davis

AJ Buckley SEAL Team Season 3 Sonny Returns to Bravo
Erik Voake/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 18 of SEAL Team, “Edge of Nowhere.”]

While Bravo is deployed in Afghanistan — and no longer just there to facilitate peace negotiations, but now looking for a terrorist leader — Sonny’s (AJ Buckley) home in Texas (serving a disciplinary training action) and reconnecting with friends and family.

Specifically, he’s working on his relationship with his father, Emmet (John Savage); he’s even decided to crash in his old room and go back and forth to base by the end of “Edge of Nowhere.” He’s also opening up to childhood friend Hannah (Rachel Boston) about why he didn’t tell her about his plans to enlist — he didn’t want her to talk him out of it — and that’s just one of a lot of things he should have told her, he admits.

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Meanwhile, Bravo’s going after the group responsible for recent attacks in Afghanistan. But just as they think they’ve identified the head of the snake, they get some bad news: the man, one of several rounded up during a meeting they infiltrated, was let go because he sold himself as a clueless recruit.

Here, Buckley takes us inside Sonny’s mind and previews what’s to come when he rejoins Bravo.

Sonny decides to spend more time at home while he’s in Texas. The logline for the next episode teases, “Sonny considers planting roots in his hometown.” How is that going to play out?

AJ Buckley: It’s good. In order to grow further, you gotta plant those seeds somewhere you have a home. What Sonny’s realizing too is you can be a hard charger, but you also have to be able to turn off and tap out. He’s never been able to do that. He’s trying to understand the difference of taking time and resetting and not always just being kicking doors down and in a battle. He realizes it’s good to take a break and reconnect and fall in love and do things that normal people do and feel feelings that he normally would shut himself off from.

SEAL Team Season 3 Episode 20 Sonny Bravo Mission

(Erik Voake/CBS)

Will that have a positive effect on his relationship with his father?

There’s some really cool stuff up ahead with [them]. He understands that what his dad did by shutting people out is what he did and he sees himself in the future — those actions, whether they’re right or wrong, by his father — he could potentially end up as this lonely old man, whether he’s on a ranch or he’s in a bar, drinking whiskey by himself. I think that scares him, in a good way, where he wants to make choices within himself to be a better person and not hold so much anger inside.

With that in mind, will we see a different Sonny when he rejoins the team in Afghanistan in the May 6 episode?

You will, but Sonny, when he gets back there, goes right back to his ways. It’s going to take a beat for him to adjust. What’s been great is it opens the door, and Sonny now has to go back to the battle and his own battle may have new perspective, but he still has to figure out how this Rubik’s cube, how to make it all work and get all the colors aligned. Once that happens — which I’m not saying it does or doesn’t — it’ll be a great place to go from for Season 4.

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Sonny and Clay got into it before this deployment, but since then, both will have had experiences away from Bravo — Sonny in Texas, Clay at COP Redding. It obviously won’t affect them during an op, but on base…

Yeah, there’s been a lot of tension after Sonny accused him of throwing him under the bus. But Sonny’s actions have been selfish and trying to learn what somebody else was wanting to go after … Sonny has good perspective as far as the way of how he should handle certain situations and where he was wrong. Whether Clay wants to forgive him or not, it might take some time, but at the end of the day, those two guys are brothers and you gotta work through it and figure it out.

So now Sonny’s spent time with Hannah in Texas, but there’s also Sonny and Davis. It hasn’t been an easy season for them. What’s coming up for those two?

What’s cool is Davis has had a relationship starting with Reiss, and myself with Hannah, so I feel like we’ve been away from each other and gone our own way — and I didn’t leave it on great terms with her when I left — so there’ll be an interesting dynamic [there with] Davis and with Hannah. There’ll be a little drama.

Toni Trucks AJ Buckley SEAL Team Season 3 Episode 20 Davis Sonny

(Erik Voake/CBS)

Should we worry about the team losing anyone?

Yeah, I would. Every character right now is asking what way should I go? So depending on what decisions the characters make, that will make for some really good episodes in the final stretch.

Speaking of that final stretch, how is production shutting down early affecting the end of the season? Will there be a cliffhanger?

We did stop a little shy of the episodes. We’re going to finish really strong, and I’m really excited for the season ending, and I’m excited to get back to work.

Your costars have directed episodes. Is that something you might do in the future?

100 percent. I directed before. I got to direct when I was doing Supernatural, and we did the Ghostfacers stuff. I got to write and direct some episodes there. That was awesome.

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That’s definitely something I would love the opportunity to get to do. David’s done some phenomenal episodes. I was incredibly proud of Max for his episode that he did. He’s the youngest guy on the team but he’s just been at this for so long, he’s such a pro at everything he does. It was just cool.

I love it when your fellow cast mates get to direct. Everyone puts even more work into showing up for that person because there’s a lot of pressure and you’re also changing hats amongst your peers, and we all really want whoever’s directing to succeed and have it be a great thing. So it’s such a collaborative — it’s a really fun environment on set, not that it’s never not — but it’s an extra, it’s a change, and it’s great.

For both Max and for David, I was really proud of the episodes they made, and I hope Max directs another episode next year, and I’m pretty sure David would direct another episode. It’s a good change, and it’s always fun to creatively chat with your peers about the character.

SEAL Team, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS