“S.W.A.T” focuses on Hondo’s dedication to his community in season finale

Executive producer Andrew Dettmann talks Hondo’s devotion to his community, Deacon re-thinking retirement plans and a returning Vasquez living out her dream in the season finale.

Warning: This article contains spoilers from S.W.A.T. season 7 finale.

Twenty Squad lives on! Same is true for CBS drama S.W.A.T. since tonight’s season finale was made to be its series finale before the show was surprisingly renewed for season 8.

Hondo (Shemar Moore) was stressed about how his community was reacting to a highly publicized shooting of a Black man who kidnapped two students. The stress caused him to clash with his father and wonder if he should move on from being a SWAT team leader, which was compounded by the fact that he hadn’t solidified his team’s roster.

There wasn’t much time to worry about that because members of The Green Rebellion (eco-terrorists from last week’s episode) had laid a trap from a LAPD SWAT team and planned a devastating attack on Los Angeles. Averting catastrophe meant calling Deacon (Jay Harrington) in and getting an assist from FBI special agent Jackie Vasquez (Jessica Camacho).

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<p>Bill Inoshita/Sony Pictures Television/CBS</p> Shemar Moore, Jay Harrington, Jessica Camacho, and Patrick St. Esprit on 'S.W.A.T.'

Bill Inoshita/Sony Pictures Television/CBS

Shemar Moore, Jay Harrington, Jessica Camacho, and Patrick St. Esprit on 'S.W.A.T.'

In the end, the team saved the day and Hondo was able to lock in most of his team’s roster. Hondo was able to see that his father was always proud of him despite how he feels about police and reception of his big save mends some difficult feelings from within the Black community. Deacon decided to not retire and Alfaro (Niko Pepaj) decided to join the team after ending his clash with Tan (David Lim). That just leaves one open spot on the team.

Entertainment Weekly talked to executive producer Andrew Dettmann about how this episode bookends the journey Hondo started in the pilot, Deacon’s retirement, and what’s ahead now that S.W.A.T. will be returning.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Deacon retires then decides to return to Twenty Squad. What was this arc about in what was supposed to be the final season?

ANDREW DETTMANN: The goal during our final season was to put as many stressors on Hondo to really feel like it was breaking down. Losing Street, losing Luca, Tan and Alfaro being at odds. Deacon retiring was another way to put stress on Hondo and make him question what is going on. I’ve always loved that Deacon has been this character who was happily married. Even when he and Annie fight you never feel like this is leading to a divorce. They love each other, so Deacon was willing to give something up for his family. [Annie] dropped out of law school when she got pregnant after they got married, so she had given up everything and Deacon realized the whole family’s priority had been SWAT for too long. He has a new appreciation for how much SWAT means to him and now he can come back and be devoted to what he’s doing knowing that everything at home is whole.

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Given this was intended as a series finale, how does the season finale bookend how SWAT began when Hondo took over the squad after the shooting that got Buck fired?

Episode 12 ended with the graffiti on his sidewalk and the cold shoulder from his neighbor. It came down to the devotion inside Hondo to his community even though the community at the moment is not acknowledging all he's done. The idea of [the season finale] was to put the community in danger in a way that [makes] Hondo realize this isn't about accolades. He’s committed to his community and wants to save it, so we had LA looking at the biggest threat they’ve ever faced. Certainly the biggest threat that S.W.AT. has seen. [It] let Hondo draw on that deep, deep connection to his community in order to risk his own life to save them.

It’s very human when you’re given, as he tells his father in the episode, 25 years trying to mend his community and it feels like everything’s going in the other direction. His change is a re-energizing, realizing that he is doing the right thing and he’s doing it for the right reasons. It sort of run parallel with Deacon. The two of them because they’re Twenty Squad is so much Deacon and Hondo together. The two of them are more focused on what they’re doing knowing they're on the right path.

<p>Bill Inoshita/Sony Pictures Television/CBS</p> Shemar Moore on 'S.W.A.T.'

Bill Inoshita/Sony Pictures Television/CBS

Shemar Moore on 'S.W.A.T.'

Alfaro ends the season on better terms with Tan and Twenty Squad. How does he add to or shift the team's dynamic?

With Alfaro, he’s been a day player for Twenty Squad. Whenever they’re short a man, they call Alfaro. He’s proven himself. There’s still a maturation process that he needs to go through. Season eight will have some challenges in a different way than what we did with Street in the beginning. He still is the youngster, gets a little too goofy now. [Next season] he will become a fully realized adult SWAT member. Maybe take some of the adolescent out of him.

There is a sixth that needs to be filled on the team.

From a behind the scenes perspective, we’re looking for somebody who is distinct from the other characters. Somebody who brings new stories for the writers and a new energy to the team. You don’t want to repeat. We don’t who yet and that’s exciting for me and all the writers.

We did see Vasquez suit up and she fit right in. Why bring her in versus someone viewers know like Rocker?

When she first came in there was a whole history that she was at odds with Hicks. Before Chris Alonso became a woman on SWAT, Jackie tried and Hicks bounced her because at the time there were no other women. He has progressed to where he is now. Planning that it may have been our [series] finale to bring that around to make her a full fledged member of the team and realize that dream she had way back when felt right. That’s why rather than have her throw on a FBI jacket, she wears an LAPD jacket. She got to be LAPD SWAT for real in the end.

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This season saw the exits of Street and Luca. Is there a path for them to return in some capacity?

I would love that. The heartbreaking bittersweet was when we thought we were saying goodbye, it made sense to give the Street his own goodbye and we thought we did a nice job with him and Luca to give him his own goodbye. We parted ways on good terms, Alex Russell directs for us as well. We’ve already been texting him about coming back in season 8 to direct. There’s no reason why we cannot get him in front of the camera. The fans would enjoy to see Street and Chris together. We teased at the end of episode 5 that they were engaged or they were about to become engaged. For our S.W.A.T. family, I would love to find a way to work all of that into season 8.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

S.W.A.T. will return for season 8 on CBS.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.