‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Series Finale: EPs Talk Sasha’s Fate, Importance Of Ending On A “Joyful” Note & The Upcoming ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’

SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains details from the series finale of NCIS: New Orleans.

On Monday, NCIS: New Orleans came to the end of its seventh and final season, going out on a celebratory note.

The series finale, titled “Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler,” picks up with Pride (Scott Bakula) on the eve of his wedding to Rita (his real-life wife Chelsea Field), as he continues to dig into an attack on his half brother Jimmy (Jason Alan Carvell) and Connor (Drew Scheid), the son he’s only recently come to know.

Initially, it seems like the attack came from one of his mother Sasha’s (Callie Thorne) many enemies. It ultimately comes out, though, that Sasha had the attack staged, so that she could take Connor into Witness Protection, without Pride intervening. While it looks for a moment like Connor is going to skip town with his mother, the episode ends with Sasha in the wind, meaning that Pride will get the chance to watch his son grow up. The cliffhanger in all of this is that Sasha is being tailed, as she leaves town, which suggests that things won’t end well for her.

Another major storyline in the finale centers on the romance between Quentin Carter (Charles Michael Davis) and Hannah Khoury (Necar Zadegan). While their relationship seems in jeopardy, after Carter gets an offer to join CNIC Operations’ Far East Field Office in Japan, he chooses in the end to stay in New Orleans, to further explore what they have together.

Later, Pride’s daughter Laurel (Shanley Caswell) reveals that she has set a wedding date, and his mother Mena (Joanna Cassidy) gets to meet her grandson for the first time. The episode ends following the wedding, with Pride and Rita, and their friends and family walking down the streets of The Big Easy, as the Treme Brass Band plays.

The third NCIS series, created by the late Gary Glasberg, also starred Daryl Mitchell, Rob Kerkovich, Vanessa Ferlito, and CCH Pounder—and certainly, the atmosphere on set was not always as joyous as that of the finale. Executive producer and showrunner Brad Kern was fired In 2018 amid reports of hostile work environment, with Christopher Silber stepping in as new showrunner. Less than four months later, EP Adam Targum was also fired.

Below, Silber and executive producer/co-showrunner Jan Nash, who joined the show in 2019, speak to the highlights of their NCIS: New Orleans experience, the way Covid impacted the show’s final two seasons, and the importance of having a “joyful” finale. Additionally, they touched on Sasha’s fate, ideas they would have explored, if the show had continued, and their CBS offshoot, NCIS: Hawai’i, which is close to starting production. In is headlined by the first female lead in the franchise, played by Vanessa Lachey.

DEADLINE: Tell us a bit about your thinking, in crafting your ending the NCIS: New Orleans finale. Did you devise it with confidence that Season 7 would be your last?

CHRISTOPHER SILBER: Well,  listen. Every season, although we always anticipated another season, we’d try to come up with something that would be satisfying, just in case that is the ending. Season 6 was when we came up with the version of the storyline that we ended up doing for the series finale, not necessarily thinking Season 6 would be the last—not knowing, per se. But all of those plans became derailed when Covid hit and they had to end the season early. So, we put that on ice. Then, when Season 7 happened and we were planning to do it again—the story that we never got to do—it just so happened to coincide with becoming an excellent way to wrap the series.

JAN NASH: When we [came up with the finale] last year, we did it in the context of, this seemed like a really fun storyline, in the event—that we thought was a very likely event, and last season it was—that it would give us really good stories in a Season 7. When we ended up cutting down the season, essentially the last four episodes got pushed to this year, and we then looked at them somewhat the same way—though I think that the longer a show goes on, the more possible it not returning seems.

DEADLINE: Did you consider any alternate endings? Were there any storylines you considered taking in a different direction?

SILBER: I think ‘No’ is the short answer. What we had in our minds was, “Okay, let’s say we get the Season 8 we’re hoping for. How do we pick up? Where do we pick up?” So, I guess if we hadn’t known a couple of months ahead of time that this was in fact the series finale, we might have ended it in a way that allowed it to be a little open-ended, so that we knew, “Okay, this is the thread we’re going to pick up in Season 8, and this is how we’re going to push forward.” But once we knew, we knew our job was to make it super satisfying. But also, it was our desire not to make it feel like this is the end for our characters. It was Jan’s idea, in fact, that we’d give this sense that even though the series is ending, your favorite characters on NCIS: New Orleans are going to continue to do what they do, and what they do so well, even if we don’t get to see them doing it.

NASH: It was especially important to us, when we got to the place where we realized this was the series finale, that it be joyful. We had planned on this wedding, and then there were some other things that had been a part of what had been the original end of the season. Then, it became clear that the right way to end the show was with the wedding, and to lean into the joyful spirit of these characters and New Orleans, and really to just make this something that is sad, in so many respects, for the people who’ve made the show, and for the audience of the show, but to try to make it as happy an experience as it could possibly be.

DEADLINE: How much further had you mapped out story for the series? What were you planning for Season 8 and beyond, if you’d gotten the greenlight to continue?

NASH: Well, again, the truth is that if we had continued, if we’d known we were coming back, or even if we had believed there was the opportunity for us to come back, I think we probably would have ended this season on some sort of cliffhanger. There is in the finale the sense that somebody is following Sasha, and if we had in fact gone on to something that had a little bit more of a thriller or whatever aspect to it, then we probably would have started Season 8, if something had happened to Sasha, with what did happen, and who did it, and how do we get justice for this new son of Pride’s?

Where we would have gone from then? Again, we would’ve continued to do what this show does. We would have solved a navy crime every week, and we would have continued to explore the lives of these characters. In the context of this show, that would have probably been some exploration of Pride and Rita, and Khoury and Carter, and Gregorio moving on. So, we would have leaned into those stories as being the thing that we would have pushed forward with—and then every week, we would have solved a navy crime.

SILBER: Also, for Pride, our lead who was constantly through the entire series evolving—certainly as a Special Agent, but [also] as a man—we would’ve gotten into his new relationship with an almost fully grown son and explored that, I think quite deeply.

DEADLINE: Did you have a specific idea in mind of who was tailing Sasha?

SILBER: Well, there were various iterations. There was the Season 6 version of it, versus the Season 7 of it. What we established was that she had made so many enemies, and certainly, if we’d had a Season 8, we would’ve gotten very specific about who actually went after her. But for us, the Sasha character who started in Season 1, it was a question of all the bad choices that she had made. She had pretty much painted herself into a corner; there was nowhere she could turn. She would never be safe, so it could have been any number of people she had double-crossed over the years, and it was almost a metaphor for the bad choices that she’d made.

DEADLINE: Was Connor always going to end up staying with Pride?

NASH: Yeah. When we did this story, that was always a part of it because we did think that there was something interesting in this person who is a caretaker—a caretaker of this team, a caretaker of this city, a caretaker of his family members—to have this somewhat fully formed person that he didn’t get to take care of, to sort of revisit the relationship he’d had with his father, that paternal relationship with his son, and to explore those issues. We thought that was going to be really interesting for Scott Bakula, the actor, and really interesting for us as writers to work through.

DEADLINE: What informed where you ended up landing with Quentin and Hannah?

SILBER: Those two actors had a natural chemistry as their characters, and so we enjoyed leaning into that and starting that relationship. Certainly, I would say that if there had been a Season 8, there would have been ups and downs, ins and outs. It wouldn’t have been so simple and straightforward, but we knew we only had a limited amount of time, and we knew we wanted to end the show with our series regulars in a better place. So, that’s why we liked the idea of having them come to an understanding that this was something that they were interested in doing, and that for all intents and purposes, it’s something that could work beautifully for them.

DEADLINE: What were the highlights of your time making this series?

SILBER: Gosh. You know, I started on this show back in Season 1. I came in midseason from the mothership, and one thing I will definitely hold on to was to be able to watch the show grow and change, and evolve into something special, to see it through from almost the beginning till the very end—and the deep relationship that I personally had with our cast, our crew, our writers, but also the city of New Orleans. To be able to get to know the city beyond what we all know it as—as a postcard, as a tourist destination—and more than that, reflect how unique and special and diverse that city is in our show, both in where we shot and the stories we told about New Orleans, that’s something that is close to my heart.

NASH: I was on the show only for the last two years. Obviously, those two years were fraught, in so many ways, but what I will take away from that experience is how deeply this group of people cared for each other, and cared about each other, as they went through the experience of trying to figure out what we consider to be really good television, in a safe way, in a successful way, and in a loving way. Not to make it too emotional and baroque, but there almost aren’t words to describe what this group of people, from PA to number one on the call sheet, did to make this television show, and to really show their best. And they did. It was really an incredible experience for me.

DEADLINE: I imagine you’re both already in the thick of the action once again, with NCIS: Hawai’i having recently been picked up to series…

SILBER: Yes, we certainly are. We’re full steam ahead. We’ve got a writer’s room. We have a time slot, which is very exciting, and we’re deep in it, as we prep to start shooting.

NASH: All day, every day. [Laughs]

DEADLINE: What are you most excited about, with regard to that show?

SILBER: One part of it—similar to what I took away and learned from working with Jan the last couple of years, in New Orleans—is really getting to know the place that you’re shooting and making it a character in the show. There’s a similarity in that these are tourist destinations where people go, spend a couple of weeks and leave, and not really get to know, and that’s something that we want to do with this show, to really get to show Hawaii—what it is culturally, what the people are like. Certainly, of course, solving navy crime while we do it, and presenting a new chapter in the franchise with a lead female, which was super important to us, and with characters we can go home with and get to know beyond just their crime-solving abilities.

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