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David Boreanaz Talks Return to ‘SEAL Team’ for Season 4 Amid COVID-19 Pandemic (Exclusive)
CBS' Navy SEAL drama's two-hour season 4 premiere ended with Bravo One himself, Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz), leaving his post as team leader, forcing Bravo Team to have to fill some very big shoes. Jason's decision to take a backseat in field operations came after an intense conversation with Mandy Ellis (Jessica Pare), who, fed up with the never-ending cycle of chaos that comes with their high-stakes jobs, chose to get out after a particularly trying mission. For a minute, it didn't seem like Jason was ready to follow suit. But after rallying the team together at the bar, Jason announced he was ready to figure out what a life without gunfire and explosions meant for him.
And that wasn't the only significant change for Bravo Team to endure in the aftermath. After Clay (Max Thieriot) covered for Ray (Neil Brown Jr.), who wrote the incendiary letter that put a target on the team's backs, Jason's right-hand man came clean to his closest friend and the two agreed to keep the career-ending secret under wraps. With Clay out of STA-21 program and Ray venturing off on a new mission, there may be some serious reshuffling within Bravo's ranks. Then, there's Mandy's presumed exit out of Jason and Bravo Team's lives.
With several looming questions following the premiere, ET spoke with Boreanaz about the consequences of Jason's decision to quit as Bravo Team leader, whether this is the end of the road for Pare and why there may be more heartbreak ahead for Jason.
ET: At the end of the premiere, Jason decides to step back and to leave his post as Bravo One. What prompted that decision? Is it a decision that will stick?
David Boreanaz: I don't know if it'll stick. I do think that his conversation with Mandy after coming back was pretty poignant at the one restaurant he likes to go. How she was like, "No. This is still a carousel. It's not going to stop spinning. And we're not really effective in a lot of ways." I think that was a jumping point for Hayes to make that decision. Was it hastily [made]? Was it done correctly? We'll find that out. And how does he deal with it? How does he manage not being all in all the time with the team, but also all in all the time with a wife? He doesn't know what that looks like. I think it's scary, and it's going to be terrifying. I don't know if he makes it.
In his speech to the crew, he specifically says he's going to "find a life for Jason Hayes." What does that mean for him? What do you think those initial days are like for him trying to figure that out?
He's putting so much together. I mean, he's coming home to really nothing. His kids are gone: one's in school, one's at university. A relationship that he's trying to kind of mend and put back together is with Natalie. I don't know if it's going to work in a lot of ways. And that's the reality with these guys. Does he get pulled back in for one mission because one of his team members may die? That may happen. I'll tease that a little bit. But I will say at the end, his last dance is his last dance, and how he decides to deal with that, it's going to be pretty sad. I think it may upset some viewers, and they may ultimately see his departure from this show.
There seemed to be some finality to Mandy's last scene when she decided to leave, but also things were left open-ended. Is that the last we'll see of the character?
It is open. We love Jess and she will definitely be back. She's directing an episode this season. We're really excited about that.
Was there any serious conversations about exploring a Jason and Mandy romance before COVID-19 hit?
No. The thing about our show is we're not doing any kind of COVID environment. We're not going into that world. We're staying in our stories and our characters and the effects outside of the battlefield, how society is not so kind to them and how they're accepted back, which I think is really character-driven and smart. I don't know about you, but I think people need to escape from the COVID thing a little bit, and we're not going to bang them over the heads with COVID and wearing masks and stuff like that in our show. Everyone else has their own decisions to make and I applaud them, but for us, it's just different. We're not a political show, never have been since the pilot. It's a workforce show and characters come and go.
I will say that there are crosshairs on all of our backs because that's the authenticity of the show. And again, it's the show that will upset fans because of how real it is. That's just the way it is. We're doing a service to the men and women who sacrifice and don't make it back, and those families that suffer day in and day out because they lost a loved one. To have them come up to us and say, "Thank you for your show, and the character that you do," gives them life and also lends a voice to those people that they have lost. So we're proud of that.
Ray comes clean about having written the letter, which was a bit surprising. With an internal investigation underway, are the seeds being planted for that to have dire consequences down the line?
Yeah. I will say that that problem and issue will be cleaned up internally with Bravo Team, because something may happen to Ray that could be life or death and that may be a reason for Jason to go on one last mission to get his friend back. But we'll see how that unfolds. But that will be cleaned up internally. A lot of members of Bravo Team won't be so happy with Ray in the beginning before he ships off, and that guilt will be taken over to a life-and-death situation that has to be resolved. As far as Jason Hayes is concerned, his last dance may be that last dance that submerges him back to the sea in a way that I think people will be very shocked.
With Jason stepping back as the team leader here, who's the next probable candidate to take over?
Probably Thirty Mike. Yeah, maybe Mike.
What are you proudest of that you're anticipating fans getting to really experience this season?
With this character, it always has been the mental anguish and the friends that he has lost, how he accepts and how he deals with all those situations in his head mentally. I'm so proud of this first episode because of the physicality, endurance and the achievement that we came over those adversities to shoot this type of show. And we let it all out on the screen. But for me personally, the character dives more into the darker aspects of his brain and how it affects choices that he makes, I think is very rewarding as an actor to play. For my character, it's a testament to the SEAL who has been out there and has done it, is injured, has come back and how he deals. I hold that very close.
It also sounds like his mortality might be in question?
I think it's always a question with every single character. You got to look at this as the type of job they do. They step on that C-17 and they haul out, or they go into a situation they could easily be crushed. And we're going to look at that. We're going to talk about it. We're going to tell those stories. People will come and go and that's the way it is. I think with our show, I would say, don't get attached too heavily to characters because they will come and go, and it's almost like next man up or next woman up in certain situations. That's the way the show is. That's the way the life is. For Jason Hayes, the same. Regardless of if he steps down off operating and how society ends up ultimately doing him in, we'll examine that.
SEAL Teamairs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. For more on the series, watch the video below.