For three seasons, Major Crimes has been haunted by the threat of serial rapist Philip Stroh. But not anymore.
Even though Stroh (Billy Burke) escaped custody at the end of Season 3, executive producer James Duff tells TVGuide.com that Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin), the material witness against Stroh, and his adoptive mother Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) have chosen not to live in constant fear that Stroh will find a way to silence Rusty once and for all.
"He becomes a more existential threat," Duff says. "The threat is out there whether we bring it back or not. So, we move Philip Stroh in to the background where he belongs because the guy's escaped and he killed a judge. Rusty is no longer his biggest problem."
Check out all this week's Mega Buzz!
That's not to say that Stroh won't be on Rusty or Sharon's mind. "The question becomes: Do you want to live your life in fear of death or do you want to face the fear of death and live your life in hope?" Duff says. "That goes to the theme this season, which is courage. It's important that Rusty steps out of the protected environment of the condo and the police department and into college. His choice is to live his life as if that threat does not exist, and it's a challenge to his mother to accept that paradigm that he's built for himself."
Fortunately for Sharon, she will have something else to occupy her mind: a budding relationship! "She puts the [Stroh file] in the credenza, and turns to face the future -- and in walks Andy Flynn [Tony Denison]," Duff says. "It's brave for Sharon and Andy to maybe move closer together when they work together in a high-stakes environment. And starting an intimate relationship like that after you're 50, that takes all the bravery a person can muster."
Major Crimes premieres Monday at 9/8c on TNT.