While in pursuit of an international fugitive, he ends up fatally shooting a tourist who we later learn is connected to the suspect. Though the forensic examiner insists he was shot at before he himself opened fire, the evidence doesn't exactly support his claim. As Pride (Scott Bakula) and the rest of the NCIS team work tirelessly to uncover the truth behind the shooting and prove his innocence, Sebastian must come to terms with taking a life for the first time.
TV Guide caught up with Rob Kerkovich to weigh in on how the shooting will affect the newly-minted field operative moving forward and what it feels like to be a wanted man.
Sebastian is exonerated but he doesn't feel like celebrating with the others. Why is that and how does this experience affect him moving forward?
Rob Kerkovich: He definitely is feeling the aftershock of his first kill. You wanna have that relief at the end of an episode that the character can move forward but at the same time, I don't think it should all be high fives and clicking of heels. It still weighs on him. He did take somebody's life even if it ended up being justified.
At the beginning of the episode, LaSalle (Lucas Black) warns not to engage unless provoked. Do you think he followed that order or was he a bit overzealous in trying to apprehend Madison?
Kerkovich: I think he was probably a little overzealous. He was reacting to the situation where he gets spotted by Madison and it's either lose him now in this moment and have to face up to everybody or start running after him. But I think he follows his instincts. I don't know what would have happened if he had been a little more patient. He put himself in a tricky situation.
What's going through his mind the moment he realizes he killed a tourist and not Madison?
Kerkovich: We're working with different levels on this episode. We've got the general theme that Sebastian has taken a tourist's life and that's huge. Also, that it was a wrongful death. At least, it seems like that at first. And so now you've got, "I didn't just take a life, I took the wrong life." I think there was a lot of different layers in terms of what was going on in Sebastian's head and what he had to deal with.
What was it like for Sebastian knowing that he's right about the shooting but doesn't have the evidence to immediately support his claim?
Kerkovich: There definitely is a moment where he starts to wonder maybe [he] totally got this wrong. If nobody in the FBI or any other forensic person was able to find conclusive evidence then maybe this career is over and this badge [he] fought so hard to get is gonna be gone...and maybe even worse, going to jail. I think it spins him out and that's why, at the end of the episode, you don't see him knocking back beers with the guys at the bar. He does take a second to reset.
Will this experience make him more cautious in the field or will he be more confident knowing that he was right in the end?
Kerkovich: It's more of a cautious thing. I don't think you easily forget something like that. I don't think there's necessarily a cockiness to him. It's not like, "Hey, I guess I was right this one time. I guess I'll just shoot anybody!" I think it's gonna be like a reserved thing. I'm curious to see if and when [Sebastian] takes another life.
What do you think this episode says about law enforcement and the use of excessive force?
Kerkovich: It's tough when you've got heroes who are cops in the show but you also don't wanna ignore the fact that this is a very real problem that's been happening. It was a tightrope to walk because at the end of the episode, you wanna be able to reset and say that Sebastian was exonerated. He ended up taking a life but it was justified. But you also don't wanna say anytime that this happens, the cop is always in the right. Hopefully, we ended up laying it out where in this case, it ended up being fine but that's not to say that it always is.
He's been through a lot with the shooting but will there be room for romance in his future?
Kerkovich: I think that would be another fun thing to explore. I went on a date with some girl [back in Season 1] but you don't even see it. He's a little tense. He just needs an outlet [with] somebody that can deal with him in a non-work situation and [can] just deal with his neurosis.
NCIS: New Orleans airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS.)