The following contains major spoilers from the November 6 episode of SEAL Teamnow streaming on Paramount +.
In the eighth chapter of SEAL Team Season 6, life outside the wire is starting to look really good for Clay Spenser (played by Max Thieriot), as he suggests to his wife Stella (Alona Tal) that they blow up their family’s three foot world, putting Vah Beach in the rear view mirror and start anew themselves a life far from it not functioning, Team Gwyrdd et al.
But not since Clay told Jason before the Mali campaign that he intended to stop operating has a red flag been waved so loudly. Clay’s sweet friendship with Stella is interrupted by a call from Ben, the depressed man he met at Ray and Naima’s vet center the week before. Clay went out into the night and found Ben about to vandalize the Armed Forces recruitment centre. And when Clay talked Ben out of trashing the place, Ben pulled out a pistol to aim at himself.
Clay deftly managed to talk Ben out of ending his life, and took the gun from his hand. But then a security guard’s flashlight suddenly illuminated the men, revealing the gun in one hand Clay, and a scared looking Ben in the other. The guard quickly pumped two bullets into Clay, who fell to the ground and died instantly, as Ben slipped into the night.
Following the screening of this week’s episode, TVLine jumped on the phone with showrunner Spencer Hudnut, to talk about how the new series vet Thieriot is doing. Country of Fire the role influenced Clay’s fate, and how Bravo will process these explosives as they head into a highly dangerous lost spanning two-part season finale (streaming November 13 and 20).
TVLINE | Spencer, my feelings about you right now as a showrunner are right complex.
Yes, I can imagine. That’s how I feel at times about myself, so….
TVLINE | CBS ordered the pilot for Max’s Country of Fire in early February, it was ordered to series in mid-May. At what point in the development process for that show did he do this SEAL Team “off ramp” starting to take shape?
It started in earnest towards the end of Season 5; there were some questions about whether Max would be back for Season 6, hence the Season 5 cliffhanger [in Mali] was somewhat determined by that. And like Country of Fire Continuing to pass each development mark, it became clearer and clearer that there was a very real possibility that we would lose Max at some point. So for the story we came up with for Clay this season, we knew we had to keep him separate from the team to maximize how much we could get out of Max before he left.
As for the decision [to kill off Clay]…. I was really kicking the can down the road as far as possible, hoping that Max wouldn’t leave the show, and that we would keep him. It wasn’t until maybe even a month later Country of Fire be raised [to series] it became clear that Max was leaving. Everyone had talked about how he could do both shows, but it was very clear that was not the case.
TVLINE | As ambitious as Max aspired to be, it was simply not feasible.
It was not. He’s shooting [Fire Country] up in Vancouver, he’s the star of that show, we were in second place…. Our seasons don’t line up, and we are now doing short orders…. Right now I’m sitting here breaking Season 7, so how could I incorporate Clay without knowing if/when/how we might get him back? There really wasn’t any time left Country of Fire got the green light for series we had to face this reality, and at that time we had already cut most of the season and written half of it. We were a bit boxed in.
TVLINE | So… there was a scenario where CBS’ Country of Fire is DOA on the premiere and Max winds up two jobs.
That was a possibility, but honestly I’ve got a ton of faith in it Country of Fire ever since Max first talked to me about it. It’s a great show. If I had thought he had a chance of tanking, I might have made a different decision about Clay’s fate, but I have every confidence that that show is going to air for years on CBS. I’m really proud of Max and excited for him, but at the end of the day I have to do what’s best for SEAL Team, and it felt like he was going to leave, it was my responsibility to have his departure have the biggest impact on the show and on the team. But [killing off Clay] was by far the hardest decision I had to make on this series.