Wednesday night’s penultimate episode of Rookie Blue saw several members of 15 Division making life changing decisions. Gail (Charlotte Sullivan), Nick (Peter Mooney), Sam (Ben Bass) and Andy (Missy Peregrym) all faced a crossroads in their personal lives and the after effects of their decisions will surely reverberate through their lives forever as they move forward towards next week’s Season 6 finale.
The TV Junkies talked exclusively with Rookie Blue writer Noelle Carbone, who penned this week’s episode “Breaking Up the Band,” about these major character decisions, and where our officers go from here. How will Gail move forward after going against her family and stepping aside in her quest for Sophie? Will Nick finally be happy with Juliet? Can McSwarek truly be happy despite having Marlo and the baby in their lives now forever?
Carbone also addressed the controversy surrounding Season 6 of the cop drama and fans’ concerns (and in some cases downright outrage) over the decision to have Marlo pregnant with Sam’s baby. In addition to writing and producing on Rookie Blue, Carbone is also an executive producer and writer on Saving Hope. Read on below for her answers and be sure to tune into the Season 6 finale of Rookie Blue next Wednesday, July 29 on Global at 10 p.m.
The TV Junkies: You were responsible for not only one but two major arcs for Gail in this episode. Why was it so important to bring in her father into the Steve Peck arc and where does she go from here as far as her family is concerned?
Noelle Carbone: From the very first episode Gail has been defined by her Peck-ness. Steve helped her get out of her cuffs in the first sequence of the pilot and by “Fite Nite” we were meeting her Inspector father and learning that her godfather was Chief of Police. The Pecks are a tight-knit, politically savvy bunch so it seemed only natural that her father would insert himself into the aftermath of Steve’s corruption scandal.
It seemed to me that the corruption story was a great way to show the audience who Gail has become over the past 6 seasons. If this had happened in earlier seasons, Gail would’ve protected her brother and her own self interest (i.e. adopting Sophie) at all costs. So we really felt that this was the perfect story, and Sophie was the perfect sacrifice, to show how much Gail has grown and what an extraordinary woman and police officer she’s become, as heartbreaking as the outcome was for her–and us. And Charlotte did an exceptional job showing us what an excruciating decision it was for Gail.
TTVJ: It’s been very rewarding as viewers to watch Gail’s quest to adopt Sophie and very difficult to watch her end up stepping aside. Was it always the intention for her to do that or is that something that came about later on as you guys explored this story? Where does her character go from here and do you think she’d explore adopting again?
NC: We spent a lot of time discussing Gail’s adoption of Sophie and we made a point of saying that Steve was Gail’s main support for that process. So once we figured out that Steve was going to be Santana’s co-conspirator, it felt like one of the main consequences had to be Gail losing Sophie. That meant either Sophie would be taken away from Gail, or Gail would choose to let Sophie go. It felt right to have Gail make that difficult choice herself–to choose Sophie’s well-being, giving the girl a stable home, over Gail’s own deep desire to be her mother.
In terms of the future, I’m not sure what the future holds for Gail or her status within the Peck family, but what I do know is that no matter what happens, Gail will be OK. She’s proven again and again how tough she is, and she has her rookie family behind her.
TTVJ: Gail’s love life had been put on hold but seems to be at the forefront again thanks to the introduction of Frankie Anderson (Katharine Isabelle). What are your feelings about Gail’s love life and are you amongst those who would like to see Holly (Aliyah O’Brien) return should there be a Season 7?
NC: I feel like Gail really turned a corner with Holly. She became a better, softer, more open version of herself through falling in love with Holly. That being said, we didn’t want to suggest that all of Gail’s flaws were cured by her dating a woman. Being in a same-sex relationship doesn’t change the fact that Gail is hardwired to self-destruct when she’s feeling wronged. So Holly or no Holly, Gail still has some growing up to do before she can be in a happy, healthy, sustainable relationship with anyone.
As for Gail and Holly, I’d write a whole spin off series for them if I could–and I’m only half joking.
TTVJ: This episode saw Andy finally taking issue with her new family situation. The baby and Marlo have been the subject of a some fans’ displeasure this season. How did the writers’ room react to the idea that Marlo was going to be pregnant with Sam’s baby? Did you guys have any concerns about this direction and the timeline that many fans have complained about?
NC: We knew Marlo having Sam’s baby was going to be controversial, that a lot of our fans would be terribly upset with that storyline, and believe me, we didn’t go down this road without many, many hours of discussion and debate. To be honest, the room was divided on the storyline for a long time. Ultimately what we all agreed on was that, in order to believe that Andy and Sam could live happily ever after–even long after the series was over–their love would need to be tested in a big, messy, grown up kind of way.
I have no doubt that Andy loves Sam deeply. I know that Sam loves Andy deeply. But in their fraught 5+ year romantic history the main issue that kept them apart was Sam’s inability to open up and Andy’s inclination to run when she felt Sam shutting her out. That kind of friction is fairly minor–I mean in terms of the substantial life-changing issues most couples will face over a lifetime together. So we knew we had to throw something big at them as a litmus test. We spent a lot of time talking with Missy and Ben about it too, asking them how they thought Andy and Sam would react. In the end we distilled all the ideas down to the ones that seemed the most honest, for better or worse, and wrote those.
Regarding the timeline, we had two people in the room whose job it was to make sure the pregnancy timed out properly and to keep the rest of us following that timeline. Did we push it to the limits? Of course. If Marlo had been sporting even a tiny baby bump the first time we saw her last season we knew our eagle-eyed viewers would’ve been all over it. It wouldn’t have been much of a surprise that she was pregnant. I certainly have known women who didn’t start popping until later in their pregnancies. I mean Charlotte was pregnant while we were shooting Season 5 and was barely showing.
TTVJ: As mentioned, there has been a good deal of negative feedback surrounding McSwarek and Marlo this season. How do you guys respond to fans who are upset about this complication and why you guys chose this path for Andy and Sam’s story?
NC: When Derek chose Addison instead of Meredith [on Grey’s Anatomy] I was absolutely heartbroken. When Tara died from a stray bullet right in front of Willow [on Buffy the Vampire Slayer], I was fucking pissed. It feels horrible when you love a show and it goes in a direction you dislike. And whether the characters or the storyline you’re mourning are fictional or not, those feelings are real. I understand that and I respect that. Because I have been that fan, yelling at the TV and cursing the writers of my favourite shows.
But there’s a line, for me, and in my opinion some people have crossed it. Granted, my opinion is based on the fact that I was raised by the Judeo-Christian ethic of “Thou Shalt Not Be A Giant D-Bag Toward Another Human Being Who’s Just Trying To Do Their Job.” But again, just my opinion.
TTVJ: Is Nick off to Vancouver for good then with Juliet? Is she finally the nice girl that he’s been looking for?
NC: I don’t know what’s going to happen in Vancouver. What I do know is that Nick deserves to be happy and that he seems genuinely happy with Juliet. They challenge each other in a big way but ultimately share the same values. Those two character traits butting up against each other have a nice way of creating heat–especially when the actors playing those parts have as much natural chemistry as Peter [Mooney] and Erin [Karpluk] do.
TTVJ: You write for two shows with large ensemble casts. How hard is it to make sure you’re giving every character their due and do you have any regrets or stories you wish you could’ve done differently due to those restrictions?
NC: I love having ensemble casts because you get to channel different aspects of your personality while writing each character. It can be difficult to make sure every character gets their due and I think we all have regrets about stories we didn’t have time to tell properly. But I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to have a diverse room–to have writers who relate to different characters and have an affinity for different aspects of the show.
People think I’m anti-McSwarek because I rarely write McSwarek episodes. The truth is the rookie stories speak to me on a deeper level than they do to other writers in our room–probably because for a long time, I was the rookie in our story room. For me it’s generally more fun to write rookie shenanigans and rookie bonding stories because that’s the aspect of the series that I respond to the strongest.
That being said, by Season 5/6 I knew it was time for me to write a big McSwarek story and I had a wonderful time doing it, especially collaborating with Ben and Missy.
TTVJ: Tassie has said if there is a Season 7 she’d be passing the torch off to Sherry White. Would you return for a Season 7?
NC: There are no better hands to leave Rookie Blue in than Sherry’s hands. If Season 7 happens, I’d be thrilled to help her in any way I could.
TTVJ: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
NC: ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, say it on Twitter’ is not how that saying goes. Oh, and thank you for watching.
What are your thoughts heading into the Rookie Blue Season 6 finale? Are you happy with the season thus far? Sound off in the comments below!
Rookie Blue airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Global in Canada and Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC in the US.