‘The Rookie’ Creator Explains Why Those #Chenford Finale Scenes Are an ‘Important Step for the Future’

The fan-favorite duo’s tender elevator moment shows Tim “understands that he’s the one who has to do the work,” Alexi Hawley told TheWrap

Melissa O'Neil and Eric Winter wear police uniforms in "The Rookie" Season 6
Melissa O'Neil and Eric Winter in "The Rookie" Season 6 Finale, "Escape Plan" (ABC)

Note: The following story contains spoilers for “The Rookie” Season 6 finale, “Escape Plan.”

The Rookie‘s” strike-shortened Season 6 came to a close Tuesday night with the action-packed tenth episode, “Escape Plan.” Plus, it might have nudged the door open for a step forward in the fan-favorite relationship between Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil) and Tim Bradford (Eric Winter).

Though the duo didn’t re-spark their romance in the finale, which focused on the takedown of Monica (Bridget Regan) and Dr. Blair London (Danielle Campbell), there were still some major moments for #Chenford, as the fandom has lovingly dubbed the pair. Those moments included a heroic sequence for Lucy in the heat of action, as well as a quieter, more emotional elevator scene later in the episode, which series creator Alexi Hawley called “the most important step for the future.”

Before he looked toward what’s next, Hawley contended with the past. After all, it was a long journey to finally bring the couple together, so fans were ultimately even more shocked when their romance fell apart. So why break them up after such a long wait?

“Look, I think Lucy and Tim have always been complicated,” Hawley told TheWrap. “He was her training officer for several seasons on the show, when that is sort of a sacrosanct thing. In the very first or second episode, we were talking about the different ways that female officers are treated to male officers and you don’t want to get in a relationship with another cop because of your good reputation. And she had a relationship with Nolan from the pilot, a very brief relationship with Nolan. As a show, we have sort of been mindful of the double standards. So it felt like we had to earn it.”

“And over the years, I feel like we really have,” he continued. “But it also felt like they’re still complicated people. I felt like there was an organic obstacle because drama is all about putting obstacles in everybody’s way. It just felt like Tim having to come face to face with something from his past that he’s kind of forced into a closet and shut the door on, that then caused him to hurt the people he loves, because he was trying to hurt himself, just felt like a really interesting story to tell.”

Tim may have self-destructed, but he took accountability for it and finally started going to therapy to deal with some of those repressed traumas. Unfortunately, his therapist was none other than Dr. London, corrupt as could be and in cahoots with Monica. That also meant his most personal thoughts were turned over as evidence, as he and Lucy joked about in the finale.

But not to worry, it doesn’t sound like Tim was too burned by the experience. Hawley hinted that they’ll continue to explore that journey “in a different way” in Season 7, which ABC ordered in April mid-Season 6.

“I think it’s fair to say that now that Tim has gone through the door toward therapy, he understands the value of it,” Hawley said. “I think as a show, we’ve been championing that idea since the first season in terms of, people need help and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually, you should get help if you need it. So, I think we’ll definitely be exploring that, maybe in a different way, in Season 7 for him.”

Just don’t expect that journey to “round the edges off” of the notoriously hard-nosed officer. “He’ll still be a hardcore training officer,” the showrunner added. “I think he’s always had some secret depth to him. Some unexpected empathy, which, of course, he might try and hide … he’s unexpected, as a character.”

As for Lucy, she got a moment to show her true colors and play the hero in “Escape Plan” when she leaps between moving vehicles and saves Tim’s life during a takedown. It’s not the first time, either: “She saved his life in the pilot,” Hawley reminded.

“What was the most important thing to me in this whole journey this season was to not make her a victim, to make sure that she had agency in her own story,” the EP noted. “That she wasn’t just a victim of Tim breaking up with her. That she was furious about it and that was good. She should be. As I said before, he sort of blew them up to punish himself to a large extent. And that wasn’t OK. So I thought it was very important for her to still feel that and be able to express it.”

Which is exactly why the more tender moment they shared in the elevator at the end of the episode was “so important,” Hawley said, “because he understood what she did for him.”

“She, even with a broken heart, [treated] him with kindness when she knew that he was struggling, and the fact that he saw that and understands that he’s the one who has to do the work,” he explained. “But he can’t, you know, just force that. It’s at her pace, because she’s the one who was wronged. I think that was a really important step. Probably the most important step for the future.”

You’ll have to wait a little longer than usual to find out what that future holds, as “The Rookie” will return mid-season for Season 7.

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