Harold Perrineau Isn't Sure Happy Endings Are Possible in 'Claws' Final Season

Jim Halterman
Claws Harold Perrineau
Q&A TNT

The wait between a show's finale cliffhanger and its new season is usually a tough time for TV fans, but with the pandemic keeping productions from getting safely back to work, that wait is going to be even longer.

When TNT's Claws ended its third season in August 2019, nobody thought we'd be waiting a year (or more) for new episodes. But, from what star Harold Perrineau tells us, the wait for the fourth and final season of the dramedy will be worth it.

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Hopefully in these new episodes, Perrineau's character Dean Simms — autistic brother of Desna Simms (Niecy Nash) and boyfriend to Desna's colleague Virginia (Karrueche Tran) — will have an easier ride after everything he went through last season. From his addiction to mahjong (and getting mixed up with casino criminals Mac and Melba) to almost losing love of his life Virginia, Dean's life was a scary rollercoaster.

Perrineau chatted with TV Insider about Dean's journey in the third season as well as what he thinks the final season could hold — including a chance for a happy ending.

How would you sum up this past season for Dean?  He definitely had some highs and lows but what do you make of everything he's gone through?

Harold Perrineau: I thought the storyline was really, really great. While we're always trying to entertain, it's always interesting to really dig in to the really real issues that people have, especially like people who are autistic. Dean is trying to live on his own and be his own man and stand up for himself and not be so dependent on Desna so he tries it and he makes some serious mistakes. Not life-threatening but he got addicted to mahjong and lost his girl and got burst out of a giant vagina. [Laughs] Some things worked, some didn't.

Do you think that there was a genuine affection with Mac (Michael Horse) or was it a total con for him and Mabel (Rebecca Creskoff) to manipulate Dean and take his mahjong winnings? 

I think for both Mac and Dean there was a genuine connection. I don't really know why Mac was so interested in him but maybe he was just interested in the way his brain worked and then he could use it. But I felt more like with Mac, it was really genuine. Melba, to me, was a little bit more sadistic and always sucking on that air tank. I think her brain is a little off. Rebecca Creskoff is just brilliant and I felt like Melba certainly was way more just trying to get the money. But I think Mac and Dean actually had a real connection. I think all that him being his father stuff really came out of a real place. I think Dean's sensory perception is already heightened. I think he sensed a real genuine care for him. So when he finds out that maybe it wasn't true, it becomes devastating.  least that's how I played it.

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In the season finale, Virginia told Dean she doesn't want to get married and you could see he was really devastated. But can they come back from something like that? 

I don't think they can come back from it. I don't think it's malice in how some relationships end really bad. They've always had a really 'no-matter-what-I-love-you' kind of relationship so I'm imagining that will continue on. And that's the thing that was really beautiful about the relationship but I don't think they could come back. I know everybody was pulling for them. I am pulling for them but I really don't know. With the crazy times we're living in and the great writers that we have, I imagine that the stories that we're about to tell are going to be really infused with a lot of the wild things that are actually happening in our country, as well as the wild things that are happening in our particular world in Claws. There's nothing easy about anything that happens in this show.

You've been playing Dean for several seasons now. Are all his mannerisms second nature for you now?

There are a lot of things that really are second nature, like his speech pattern is second nature. But when things come up that don't feel right coming out of his mouth, it's really easy to identify quickly so that we can still be authentic about it. Some of the movement is really second nature but because they keep sort of throwing new things at him it's always still really interesting to try to navigate that. That first season I was paranoid and so I fully method-acted the whole season just because I was scared. Everybody thought I was weird, but I was just scared.

I feel like as the show has gone on, Dean's wardrobe has gotten much more colorful. What are those days like for him when you put on those clothes? Is it actually helping you get into character?

The clothes are actually something that's a little new. Dolores Ybarra, our costume designer, has such a great eye, a really left-of-center eye and a really interesting aesthetic. So a lot of it was really tricky to get into. But once I could pull the idea that Dean sees things more conceptually than directly sometimes... The only time it felt really weird is suddenly when he was dressing like Mac, like the sweater over the shoulder. And it feels like daring and bold, and like he's trying his own thing.

It also fits with the show because you look at like how sometimes Carrie Preston or Niecy dress as their characters and it's just 'wow!'

The wild colors and the outlandish behavior are all grounded in something really real and truthful from all of these characters. These ladies are just killing the game. Like all of them. Niecy and Jenn [Lyon] and Carrie are just killing the game. And so while all those colors really work, it also puts people off. I remember my dad looking at it going like, "Why are you on that show?" I'm like, "You got to watch it, man. You just got to watch it." It just didn't look like it was a show for him and then he got into it.

I also loved seeing you on The Rookie this season. Do you think you'll be back?

I know The Rookie is coming back but I'm in a holding pattern because I have no idea. But that was a really good thing to be able to play somebody so neurotypical, even though he wound up being a bad guy.  And then also going back to play Dean who isn't so neurotypical again. It was a fun bunch of plane rides!

I know that we're in a holding pattern for the fourth and final season of Claws but, in your opinion, do you think this is a show where happy endings can happen? What's your hope for that final season?

I've got to be honest, while I would hope, because I love all the characters... you reap what you sow. I really hope for them to have happy endings. I'm not 100 percent positive that it will. But I certainly have hope for them because I, Harold Perrineau, genuinely love those characters. I really do.

Claws, Seasons 1-3, Streaming, TNT app and On Demand