Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for the latest episode of FBI: Most Wanted.
The FBI: Most Wanted team just suffered its biggest loss yet.
As Julian McMahon exits the series, showrunner David Hudgins has been discussing what went into Jess LaCroix’s final episode and how his loss will affect the team and show going forward in Season 3.
How did Jess exit FBI: Most Wanted?
In this week’s episode, Shattered, the team hunted a crazed abusive man stalking his former girlfriend. It led to a showdown at a local hospital where the abuser was trying to get to his sick daughter.
As Jess tended to the woman in the parking lot, the fugitive opened fire, shooting him in the throat before he himself was gunned down by the rest of the team. While the paramedics did their best, they were unable to save Jess.
Hana and Barnes had to break the news to his girlfriend Sarah. The episode ended with Sarah and Jess’s father, Byron (Terry O’Quinn), arriving at a Montreal school to break the news to Jess’s daughter, Tali.
Speaking to Deadline, showrunner David Hudgins addressed the shocking end and how it will fall out for the team going forward.
“As producers, we knew a while ago that Julian wanted to pursue other creative pursuits. So I got in the room with a writer early on, and we started talking about how Jess would leave the show. We spent a lot of time on it, honestly, exploring every option. Everything was on the table. Ultimately, in the writers room, we kept coming back to this notion that the premise of this show is Most Wanted — we’re chasing the worst of the worst, the most dangerous of the dangerous.
Inherently in that line of work, is the constant risk that you can either get injured or killed in the line of duty. And we just decided that true to the premise of the show, this was what was going to happen to Jess— he gets killed in the line of duty. But we also wanted to do it in a way where it was heroic, which is why he dies while trying to save [Lucy]. It’s shocking, it’s tragic. It’s emotional. It’s dramatic. And it was the best story we could do for the exit of this character.”
Hudgins added that McMahon did not have any say in the decision.
“Julian did not weigh in. He’s such a pro and such a good guy. He basically told us, ‘I trust you will do what’s best for the show.'”
While the loss of Jess is shocking, the key question is how the show will go forward without him.
What’s next for FBI: Most Wanted without Jess?
Hudgins emphasized that the episode did not end with Jess being shot as they wished to explore its effects on the team. He told TV Insider it was important that Barnes and Hana, the ones who knew Jess the longest, were the ones to break it to Sarah.
“There was a whole dynamic with Barnes on the show; we would refer to it in the writers’ rooms as they were almost work spouses. And so we felt like for somebody to deliver the news, it should be the two who knew him the best and knew him the longest.”
Hudgins continued to tell Deadline that the following episodes will explore the team trying to move on without their leader even as they focus on new cases.
“We designed Jess’ exit so, in the next two episodes, we could explore the team’s grief. Isobel (Alana de la Garza) is in the next episode, helping them deal with that grief. The reality is, as FBI agents and professionals, they have a job to do, but they’re also human. They grieve and they have emotions. So we decided to take all of that and throw it into the mix. So over the course of the next two episodes, we see the team dealing with the case of the week, but also each other and their grief and their loss and everybody’s processing it differently. And it just makes for a good story.”
Hudgins is mum on who will be the team leader with Jess gone, but the spot won’t be open for long.
Meet the new boss on FBI: Most Wanted
Hudgins previewed how Dylan McDermott will join the show in Episode 17, which is set to air on April 12. While he keeps mum on details (including the character’s name), he is eager to see how McDermott shakes things up.
“We’re looking at it as an opportunity, as this sort of closing of one chapter and starting a new one with Dylan now in charge. I think it’s going to be really exciting and really fun for the fans. It will always be about the manhunt and getting justice — that’s the core of the show. But seeing this new iteration of the team do it this way with Dylan on board, it’s all very exciting. We’ve got, essentially, a six-episode arc that we’re circling for his character to get us to the finale for this year.”
Hudgins admitted McDermott’s character will face a challenge of the team wary of a new boss, especially after losing Jess.
“Yes, there is some friction. It’s just natural when you’re grieving the loss of somebody. In the absence of Jess, you’re looking at where he used to make his tea and put his little honey bear in it or whatever. It’s emotional. There is going to be some friction and this pending question of, how are we going to do this, and how can we do this? And ultimately, I think it’s going to bring the team closer together.”
While fans will be mourning the loss of Jess, the showrunners assure them that FBI: Most Wanted will go on in a new direction.
FBI: Most Wanted Season 3 returns with new episodes Tuesday, March 22 at 10/9c.