Show Runner James Duff Shares 12 Things You Need to Know for Season 5B of Major Crimes
February 22, 2017
Article taken from Parade
Major Crimes returns for the second half of Season 5 tonight and things get personal for Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) when Deputy Chief Winnie Davis (guest star Camryn Manheim), who considers Sharon as competition for the promotion to Assistant Chief of the LAPD, which is currently being filled on a temporary basis by Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney), decides to make her life miserable.
“Camryn Manheim walks on the stage and suddenly there’s a force of nature in front of the camera, and that’s what you want your hero to be facing,” show runner James Duff tells Parade.com in this exclusive interview. “You want your hero or your heroine to be dealing with a power that is beyond description in some ways, and Camryn has such charisma and such authority on screen, so she makes not just a perfect foil for Mary, but a credible threat to Major Crimes.”
Also in these eight winter episodes, Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) tries once again to become a father; Flynn (Tony Denison) and Sharon move further down the path to matrimony; Provenza (G.W. Bailey) considers retirement; Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin) interns for D.D.A. Hobbs (Kathe Mazur) as he looks toward attending law school when he graduates from UCLA, and Lt. Mike Tao (Michael Paul Chan) is instrumental in solving a case dealing with plastic explosives.
Want to know more of what’s coming up? Check out the rest of our interview with James Duff, who gives us spoilers from Season 5B.
When we return, Sharon is still in the running for the job of Assistant Chief. She seems to be really casual about it. Is she as casual as she seems?
Yes, I think she’s going through a lot of changes in her life and she has the job that she always thought she might want. Ascending to the higher ranks of the LAPD means leaving behind to a large extent the service aspect of her job and assuming a more political role, and I think that goes against her nature, so she’s of two minds about it. But she doesn’t like Winnie Davis and so she has not pulled away from being considered, because she feels like — and I think it’s clear from Winnie’s attitude — that if Winnie were to rise to Assistant Chief, Major Crimes might suffer.
Also Winnie makes a dig about Sharon and her boyfriend. What was that about because Sharon’s been above board about her relationship with Flynn?
Right. There are no rules at the LAPD about whom one can date. Officers can date other officers, lieutenants can date captains, captains can date deputy chiefs. But not everybody likes it and Winnie, who knows the premium that Sharon places on professional behavior since she used to be head of the Bureau of Professional Standards inside the LAPD’s Internal Affairs, just took a dig at what she thought was Sharon’s most vulnerable aspect, and she scored a little. She got a little under Sharon’s skin, and Sharon is trying very hard not to let Winnie get under her skin, but she’s going to have to learn how to do better.
Also in a way, I wanted Winnie to actually win that first confrontation because that makes her more credible as an opponent, and also shows how far she’s willing to go to destabilize someone she’s up against.
Buzz gets a letter from Bill Jones’ family, is he’s going to help the family in some way? I don’t think he’s going to let the guy out of jail, but is there something he’s going to do?
No, no, he can’t let the guy out of jail, but Buzz was hoping when he found his father’s killer that he would be a stock villain and the guy is not a stock villain. He had a family and he loved his family, and it was a family very much like Buzz’s own family. Buzz’s work ended up removing a father from this innocent family, the family itself was innocent, and I think he feels an obligation to try and make things better for the family.
This goes to just examining a little bit a part of the criminal justice landscape that we often just graze, which is the family of the murderer or the loved ones of the murderer. A murderer not only destroys the lives of innocent people, or the lives of his victim, or the lives of his victim’s family, he or she also often destroys the lives of their own families, and so many innocent people suffer as a result of these crimes.
We don’t always look everywhere at the suffering that is actually happening. So we thought it would be interesting to play this thread out a little bit longer and talk about the devastation that is left behind by the criminal justice system as it does its proper and just work.
So is Sykes over her encounter with Mark Hickman (Jason Gedrick), or is he going to be back this season?
Yes, Jason Gedrick is coming back as Mark Hickman. He’s going to be working for Jeri Ryan, who’s playing Linda Rothman who was Philip Stroh’s (Billy Burke) attorney when we first met her. She’s going to be defending an accused murderer, and he’s going to be an investigator for the defense. And as he prophesized, Amy (Kearran Giovanni) is going to be on the stand and she is going to look up and find him sitting at a table next to a defense attorney, and she is going to find herself suddenly discredited during a trial. Their relationship is back front and center as she tries to undo the damage, get to the truth and figure out Mark Hickman.
You mentioned Phillip Stroh, is he going to be back?
No, he’s not going to be back in these last eight episodes, but his story returns.
You were picked up for a sixth season so it is possible, right?
Yes. It is more than just possible, it is likely.
Rusty was going to be a journalist, and now when we come back, he’s interning for the District Attorney. That’s a big change.
In the web series that he did, he talked about wanting to be a lawyer instead of being a journalist, where he could actually do something for the people whose stories he was telling. It shows to me a sign that he’s not only growing up, but that he’s accepting bigger challenges than he would have even thought to take on when we first met him. There are moments in the back eight where I feel very proud of him, and he’s not whining as much.
It is a nice progression. He was so abused when we met him that it’s nice to see him growing up.
Yes, I’ve done volunteer work at Covenant House. I met a young woman, who got two doctorates from Harvard and she started on the street. I want to make sure that people understand that a lot of these people who are on the street are not there because they are stupid, or because they are not capable, or because they are drug users. The majority of them are victims of ignorance and neglect. So I’m continuing to pay off that story with Rusty, and I think you see Sharon’s influence on him all over the place.
So is Wes Nolan (Daniel DiTomasso) going to be a permanent part of the unit?
Wes is assigned there while he’s testifying against the white power gang in which he was an undercover officer for five years, and he’s going to be testifying for a very long time. There are going to be a lot of trials and he has to go somewhere, so we’ll see how he does. I expect to be working with him again next season, at least at the beginning of next season, and I love the actor. Daniel’s a terrific actor.
Does the fact that the pick up for the sixth season is only 13 episodes mean anything?
Well, every time we get a pick up, it’s for 13. Our initial pick up has never been for more than 13. I can’t answer that question. It could be that they just want to do 13 episodes next year. There are scheduling changes that are coming, and TNT is trying to rebrand itself and is trying to manage our audience, at the same time, they don’t want to alienate the people who are already watching the network, but they want to expand their brand. So I don’t know if we’ll only do 13, and I don’t know where they will come exactly in the schedule, but I do know that they will not be standalone episodes. Like we did with White Lies and Hindsight, we will be doing multi-episode arcs when we come back.
What is Dr. Morales (Jonathan Del Arco) up to this season?
There’s a really fun episode where we find a body up a tree and Dr. Morales appears with his father, a retired detective who’s visiting from South America, who pretends that he is much more connected to Major Crimes than he actually is, and hangs on through the whole episode. I think that’s a fun episode. If you like Dr. Morales, you’re going to enjoy it.