SEAL Team interview: EP teases cliffhanger aftermath, Clay’s arc

SEAL TeamCome Sunday night on Paramount+ you are going to have a chance to see the SEAL Team season 6 premiere, and what an event that is going to be!

If you recall, the last time we saw Bravo Team they were off in Mali, facing a life-or-death situation following an attack in the field. It’s about as epic a cliffhanger as you could ask for, and it serves as a jumping-off point to the rest of the season. Be prepared to have your tissues at the ready and your jaws on the floor; the show is holding nothing back!

We know there are a lot of questions out there — why do this cliffhanger? Does Max Thieriot’s new show mean we’ll be seeing less of Clay? To best answers these, we turn to a man who knows the world of Bravo inside and out in showrunner Spencer Hudnut. Below is the first part of an interview we did leading into the season; we’ll be back with part two of our interview following the first episode.

Matt & Jess TV – As you approached this season, what did you and the writers set out to do?

Spencer Hudnut – First and foremost, when you get this deep into a series you want to keep it fresh, keep the audience engaged, and not repeat yourself. With a show like ours, we really want to tell authentic stories. In leaving season 5 the way we did, we put our [Bravo] guys in such a bad position. This is not a show about war so much as the consequences of war. It felt like by leaving them the way we did, there really needed to be a fallout from that situation.

This is a season where everyone is going to feel the impact of that ambush in Mali and it’s going to hang over the entire season. I wanted to dig into how the men and women in uniform, plus their families, deal with the fallout of this.

This season 5 cliffhanger was so explosive — often you do have endings that leave characters in peril, but rarely is it so much of the cast. Why go this route?

The truth is that we made this move to Paramount+ last season and nobody knew if it would work. I did approach last season from the point of view of ‘if this is it for the show, how do we leave these guys?’. Given that it was the 20th anniversary of the War on Terror, this sort of Forever War, having these guys go out on the battlefield was a way to be true to the stories we’ve been telling. We like to say that war tends to have the last word.

The ending was in part fueled by that, but also fueled by some question marks moving into season 6 as to who would be with us or not be with us. It felt like a creative way to answer that if, God forbid, we lost people. It would be a way to explain where people went. I really wanted to leave on a note where people wanted to come back and see what happened. We’ve obviously done that and we’re going to pick up with them in as stressful of a situation as we’ve ever found them in before.

There’s obviously been a lot made about Max Thieriot getting a new show in Fire Country, but he remains a series regular on SEAL Team. Was there a big challenge in trying to balance his schedule?

It was a challenge. I wouldn’t recommend breaking a season of television where you don’t know if your #2 is going to be going off making a new show (laughs). We’d probably written the first five scripts before we knew Fire Country was officially moving forward.

Because we were only doing ten episodes, it certainly made the nuts and bolts of working out his schedule a lot easier than if we were doing a full 22. It would’ve been harder to integrate him in the way that we do have him this season. We were fortunate that both shows are made by the same studio and under the some umbrella.

I gotta give Max a lot of credit. He made it clear to everyone that he loves playing Clay Spenser, and even though he’s shooting one show in Los Angeles and the other in Vancouver, he made it work in a way where had Max not made it a priority, it wouldn’t have worked.

With this being a ten-episode season, are we going to see one continuous arc play out?

This year, because we’re on streaming and we wanted to tell more propulsive stories, the first episode is really a continuation of last season’s finale. Obviously the home-front stories have always been serialized on our show but this season, the missions are serialized in a way that we haven’t done before. Where we start in episode 2 effectively works its way through episode 10. That’s a big change that excited me, and I think it excited the writers and the actors, as well. We’re breaking the formula more than we have in the past.

I know that late in the season, everyone was out to Jordan to do some on-location work. How important was it to capture footage that felt authentic to that part of the world? I know the locations department does a great job, but it can be hard to replicate everything in Los Angeles.

I was out in Jordan for the whole run, and we had a fantastic trip. It does go back to the move to Paramount+. We are so appreciative, not just to Paramount+ but to our fans who came with us. I think going and shooting in Jordan was about raising the bar and trying to enhance our production value. Our team does a great job in Los Angeles, but going out there to shoot allowed us to heighten the scale and scope of the show — it’s on another level.

We’re very aware that people now have to pay to see our show, so we want them to see that their money is being well-spent by us (laughs) and they’re getting as much bang for their buck as we can give them.

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