[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of NCIS, "Predators." Read at your own risk!]
NCIS: New Orleans didn't get a chance to present the season finale it had planned, due to having production cut short in early March. But the episode that ended up closing out the season as we know it ("Predators") did a solid job of bringing some storylines full circle -- especially big arcs for Pride (Scott Bakula) and for Hannah Khoury (Necar Zadegan).
While Sebastian (Rob Kerkovich) and Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) were off dealing with a death supposedly caused by a mythical, man-eating creature called a Rougarou (which is a thing in New Orleans!), Pride got a visit from his own ghost of sorts: his ex-wife Linda (Paige Turco). This season doubled down on the inner workings of Pride's mind and personal life, and this episode took it a step further by having Linda surface to discuss their daughter's wedding. Things started out civil enough, but it wasn't long before old wounds got reopened -- mainly, with Linda accusing Pride of being a great dad but a lousy husband.
Defensive initially, Pride eventually was able to drop his ego enough to acknowledge Linda's hurt over how their relationship played out, admitting that he put police work and helping people over his marriage. In a conversation with TV Guide, showrunner Chris Silber said that story was really about answering some unexplored questions for the selfless leader of the NCIS team. "We tried to answer the question, 'Why does he make the choices that he does even when it's a risk to himself?'"
Pride, he said, is somebody who has an almost uncontrollable need to help and be of assistance and -- as we saw earlier this season with "The Man in the Red Suit" -- he's on a deepening journey of understanding himself. Seeing Linda, and understanding that even his good intentions had undesirable negative consequences put a button on his intense introspection. "In Seasons 5 and 6 we took [Pride] in a steep direction of going outside his comfort level," Silber said. "We always want to dig deeper with Pride and get to know him in a way we haven't yet."
Though there was some overlap in Pride and Hannah's storylines, she had a significant full-circle moment of her own. Season 6 started with Hannah experiencing pressure and suspected gender discrimination from Van Cleef (Richard Thomas). And after digging into data that supported her hunch in "Predators," Hannah finally had enough information to do something about her theory -- now supported with evidence. The first barrier to action, however, was herself. The NCIS: New Orleans team felt it was important to show Hannah's internal struggle over what to do and how ultimately she had to step up not just for herself but other women, including her daughter. "We were able to come around with the Hannah story in a poetic way, to put a punctuation point on the season," Silber explained.
Executive producer Jan Nash said the team mulled a lot over how to characterize Van Cleef's actions -- whether what he was doing was unconscious bias or intentional discrimination. Ultimately, that distinction became of only small importance: it was more significant to see how he acted when confronted with the black-and-white truth. "Van Cleef lied in the face of a mountain of evidence," Nash said.
By contrast, Pride owned up to what he'd done. In total, the episode ended up being a statement on how powerful people -- both men, not insignificantly -- either accept or deflect liability for their actions. "We were aware of the thematic resonance," Nash said, since the story about men misusing power could not be more timely. It was also important for them to have Pride back Hannah up, without swooping in to solve the Van Cleef problem for her, but empowering her to take him on herself. "We wanted to tell a story about a man being able to accept responsibility."
NCIS: New Orleans concluded Season 6 Sunday; all episodes are streaming on CBS All Access.