‘S.W.A.T.’: A New Foe Set to Complicate Community & Police Relationships

Shemar Moore SWAT Season 4 Premiere Hondo
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Bill Inoshita / CBS

When it comes to 2020’s earth-shattering real-world events, “We’re going there,” says S.W.A.T. executive producer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas of Season 4, which will dive into protests and police/community relations. Team leader Hondo (Shemar Moore) is “grappling with his unique burdens and responsibilities as an officer and a Black man. He sees things differently than his team. We want [our show] to help improve the conversation.”

One reason for Hondo’s viewpoint is made clear in the fiery opener, which flashes back to the 1992 unrest in Los Angeles, when he was a high schooler (Donald Dash). “Hondo’s neighborhood was one of the ground zeroes, so to speak, for everything that was going on,” Thomas explains. With riots ravaging their world, he and his dad, Daniel Harrelson Sr. (Rico Anderson), can’t seem to find common ground.

The premiere also concludes the present-day storyline of drug kingpin El Diablo, who, before he died in May’s season finale, let slip to Hondo that he was in town to “stop” something. 

Expect more generational conflict as the season continues. Regarding today’s street demonstrations, Hondo’s take differs from that of his surrogate son, Darryl (Deshae Frost), and the return of the teen’s dad, Leroy (Michael Beach), adds a new wrinkle. “You will see questions from some of Hondo’s family members as to why he decided, and why he continues, to be a police officer,” Thomas reveals.

Loved ones are top of mind too for team veteran Deacon Kay (Jay Harrington), fearful of bringing COVID-19 home to his four kids and wife Annie (Bre Blair). Former vice cop Victor Tan (David Lim) deals with a different aspect of the pandemic: xenophobia over the virus’ Chinese origins. 

Both guys help gutsy Chris Alonso (Lina Esco), who tussled with the mayor’s office last season only to now be challenged emotionally by “one of the biggest crises in the show by far,” Thomas says. She leans on teammates such as unpredictable Jim Street (Alex Russell) and third-generation cop Luca (Kenny Johnson), who questions his level of ambition when leadership opportunities arise.  

Casting a shadow over everything is a new enemy introduced early in the season. “When we’re talking about improving things between community and police, there’s a considerably dangerous foe who will complicate that tremendously,” says Thomas. Whoever this is, the S.W.A.T. family may fracture as they strategize about how to come out on top. —Kate Hahn

Alex Russell Lina Esco SWAT Jim Street Chris


Why It’s Worth Another Look

With so many TV dramas trying to be extended 10-hour movies, it’s been refreshing to watch this reboot of the ’70s classic instead aim to deliver closed-ended, mini-action flicks every week. Even cooler: Between the standoffs and shoot-outs, the show tackles social issues, PTSD and community tensions with a bravery that will serve it well going forward. —Damian Holbrook

S.W.A.T., Season 4 Premiere, Wednesday, November 11, 10/9c CBS