While millions of sports fans across the country were in disbelief or outraged about the suspension of 13 Major League Baseball players, including New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez, for violating anti-doping protocols, Necessary Roughness creators and showrunners Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro had a slightly different reaction.
"Um, yay?" Kruger tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. That's because just two days after the suspensions — the largest single-day drug bust in the history of sports — the USA drama tackled the exact same issue when star wide receiver TK (Mehcad Brooks) was offered a strikingly similar treatment at a experimental clinic.
"We were definitely happy. We try to find issues that are in the zeitgeist but that one just happened to hit in a most extraordinary way," Shapiro says. "We're always picking up the small blurbs in the paper and following those trails," Kruger says. "The little bread crumbs in The New York Times usually turn out to be a loaf of bread later."
After rejecting the experimental treatment and helping rat out the V3 clinic to the feds, Wednesday's season finale (10/9c, USA) will be a big test for TK. The star wide receiver will have to deal with his shoulder injury just as his new team, the New Jersey Bobcats play his old team and now-rivals, the New York Hawks. "Many athletes will play through pain even though it is against their better interests and TK desperately wants to go up against his nemesis — Coach Wiz," Kruger says. "He's willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field."
TK doesn't only stand to damage himself physically in the big game, but also emotionally, as he goes up against his BFF, Rex. "A lot of the times coaches base their strategy on whether a certain player is going to play or not. Wizinski is probing Rex: 'What do you know about TK's injury? How bad is it really? Where is he injured,'" Kruger says. "What happens when you're suddenly playing against one of your close friends? That's an interesting dynamic that you don't really think about for these football players because it's a very violent game."
Win or lose, there's still a lot of loose ends to tie up in Season 3's final episode — most notably the threads related to V3's charismatic and enigmatic leader Connor (John Stamos). "There are big fires that are set off in this episode and then the question is can they be put out before the lights go out," Kruger says.
Although it originally appeared as if Connor's (ex) right-hand man Troy Cutler (David Anders) was the one cooking the books and trying to blackmail Dr. Dani (Callie Thorne), the end of last week's episode seemed to imply Connor knew more than he let on. "Dani is going to put the gun to Connor's head," Kruger says. "Metaphorically," Shapiro interjects.
"She's going to force him to discuss what, if anything, he knows about what's been going on," Kruger says. "All will be revealed in this last episode: What did Connor know? And when did he know it?"
Watch an exclusive sneak peek at the finale:
The showrunners also promise that many of this season's biggest burning questions, such as the whereabouts of Dani's first client, star pitcher Hutch (Jonathan Keltz) and the future of both TK and Dani's romantic relationships with Sheera (Kate Miner) and Nico (Scott Cohen), respectively, will be resolved. "We're not trying to destroy people and leave them hanging at the end of the season. We feel like this season was its own free-standing novel," Kruger says. "We're going to close out and give answers to what happened in this particular season, but leave a few things hanging."
Those few things stand to be left unresolved for good if Necessary Roughness is not renewed for a fourth season. "We're still in limbo and, yes, that affects how you leave things," Kruger says. "We felt we wanted to leave some things wrapped up and some things with big question marks because we thought it was certainly more interesting to explore those in the next season."
Both executive producers are hopeful that the show will be back. "We had other endings in mind than what's in the show now, but they all felt too wrap-upy, almost more like the end of a movie or the very end of a TV show," Shapiro says. "We ended up not doing those because those were just too much like, 'Oh, that feels like the end of the show,' and that's not where we want to be."
On the contrary, Kruger and Shapiro seem to feel revitalized after rebooting the show this past season. "I think [the network] said, 'Here's a nuclear bomb. Here's the detonator. Blow it up and then rebuild your city.' And we said, 'Holy crap,'" Kruger says with a laugh. "But then we detonated and we rebuilt the city and it turned out actually to be more beautiful than they imagined. They loved the sets, they loved the cast, they loved the mysteries. If they were grading our paper, they seemed to have given us an A."
Necessary Roughness' season finale airs Wednesday at 10/9c on USA.