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Reacher Boss Breaks Down Season Finale’s ’80s Action Movie-Inspired Climax, Other Book Changes

The following contains spoilers from the Reacher Season 2 finale, now streaming on Prime Video.

The Reacher Season 2 bad guys had been warned, and often: “You do not mess with the Special Investigators!”

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The Prime Video hit’s second season came to a close with a finale in which the titular man mountain (played by Alan Ritchson) came face-to-face with New Age security chief Langston (Robert Patrick), the architect of a plan to sell next-gen missile tech to a dubious buyer. After strategically surrendering himself to Langton’s goons at a New Age facility, Reacher took some licks — including from 60something Langston himself. He also learned that 110th colleague Swan was quite dead, and a finger and eyeball had been preserved for authorizations. But with help from Neagley (Maria Sten), whom Langston had been led to believe was dead, and some muscle deployed by Senator Lavoy, Reacher got free in time to “board” the chopper onto which a subdued Dixon and O’Donnell had been loaded.

In the air, Reacher bested a couple of Lansgton’s goons and then found himself saving Karla from a perilous plunge by single-handedly grabbing the gurney onto which she’d been strapped. Karla freed herself in time to clamber back into the ‘copter and stab Langston. Reacher then subjected Langston to the same grisly fate as Franz, whose death set this story in motion.

The team proceeded to lie in wait for A.M. at the remote house where the elusive fence was to meet the dirty New Age engineer, and riddled him with bullets from all four of their guns upon his arrival. Neagley then tested out a Little Wing missile by using it to down the chopper with which they’d let the engineer and Langston’s pilot “escape.” Senator Lavoy’s hired hands angled to eliminate Reacher & Co. as a loose thread, but Reacher had quietly summoned his late brother’s pals at DHS to race to the scene and apprehend the bad eggs.

In the epilogue, Reacher divvied up the $65 million A.M. had been carrying — to Neagley’s ailing dad (for ongoing care), Karla (to start up an LLC/be her own boss), O’Donnell (for his kids’ college funds, and then some), dearly departed Det. Russo’s family, and others impacted by Langston’s treachery.

And Reacher himself? The nomad bought a bus ticket good for a year of unlimited travel!

TVLine spoke with Reacher showrunner Nick Santora (whose previous credits include Breakout Kings and Scorpion) about choosing Lee Child’s 11th Reacher novel for the TV series’ second season, the changes he made, and more.

TVLINE | First, I wanted to talk about the decision to go with a book that was about Reacher and his team instead of simply doing a second season of Reacher “solo.”
NICK SANTORA | Look, it’s always a group decision what we’re going to do. You have the studio and the streamer and producers, and Alan [Ritchson] is a very smart person who has thoughts on this as well. A lot of it had to do with the fact that [Bad Luck and Trouble] was a very popular book, people enjoyed it. So if the book was popular, I guess the thinking goes, “Hopefully the season will be popular as well.”

TVLINE | Did you have a lot of fun casting the 110th?
Oh, yeah. What’s fun is Lee [Child] writes about these characters on the page and then you kind of make them “3-D.” You get to think about who would really slide into Lee Child’s imagination the right way. Obviously Maria [Sten, as Neagley] is part of the 110 because we had worked with her already in Season 1. Serinda Swan I have worked with…

TVLINE | Breakout Kings!
…my goodness, a dozen years ago on Breakout Kings, my favorite little show. And then Shaun [Sipos] and all of these actors are wonderful. That’s always a nice process of deciding who are we going to pull in and who’s going to be part of the family this season.

TVLINE | I made a point to read Bad Luck and Trouble ahead of Season 2, so I wanted to talk about a couple of changes that were made for the TV series. Moving the action from L.A. and Las Vegas to New York and Atlantic City, was that simply a practical thing, since you film in Canada?
It was absolutely just a practical thing. For a million reasons that are above my pay grade, we film in Toronto. I love Toronto, the crews there are amazing and the city is always very good to us, but when I’m told Toronto and it’s L.A. and Vegas, my mind went, “All right, New York and Atlantic City. That’s what it is.” Toronto can provide a lot of things but it cannot provide the Las Vegas desert.

TVLINE | I like how you made Swan’s possible complicity in the New Age scheme a mystery, a question that created friction within the team.
That was a writers room decision — I wish I could take all the credit, but I have wonderful writers. As we were discussing it in the room, it felt that it worked well to have a bit of intrigue as to who’s bad, who isn’t, and “Could it be one of us?” And it was fun was to drill down on Reacher thinking the whole time it couldn’t be one of us, because of that bond that they had. When everything was pointing towards Swan being a bad guy, he really stuck by his buddy, which is nice.

Reacher Domenick Lombardozzi
Reacher Domenick Lombardozzi

TVLINE | And I absolutely loved what you did with the Detective Mauney character from the book, giving Domenick Lombardozzi so much great material to work with as Russo. The way it built up to this tragic, heroic death, and that great scene with him and Maria Sten….
We wanted to surprise the audience a bit, that this big, rough-and-tumble guy actually was on the right side, but at the beginning you’re convinced he’s a bad guy. He’s following them, he’s writing their names down in the book, he’s checking them off…. You figure this has got to be another bad dude. But the truth is Domenick Lombardozzi is such a powerhouse actor. Preposterously good. Naturally good. Everyone knows how great he is and I still think he’s underrated. He’s the third Breakout King I’ve brought back onto Reacher, with Malcolm [Goodwin] in Season 1 and Serinda and Dom in Season 2. I appreciate the compliment that we wrote good stuff for him, but the truth is you could give him a shopping list and he’s going to make it amazing.

TVLINE | We gave him a Performer of the Week mention for Episode 6, because of his entire arc in that episode — calling out his superior, agreeing to watch Jane and then vigorously protecting her by dying in a hail of bullets….
He knew the only way that little girl could get away is if he walked right towards them and they had no option but to train all their attention on him, and he knew he was going to die. When I reached out to Dom I said, “Hey, I’m writing this for you. Would you want to do it? You’re going to get killed, but it’s going to be a real heroic death.” Domenick just said, “I’m in.”

TVLINE | You mentioned Malcolm Goodwin. Talk about surprising us with that great Finlay cameo.
Look, the rules are that Reacher doesn’t run with a crew. The 110 is his crew. That’s his family. Those are his colleagues from the military, but he wanders the world alone. So, we know we can’t have Reacher with a rag tag team of people that go with him from city to city. That’s not the book.

We needed to get out of New York for an episode and shake things up. Boston was close, and we had the thought in the room, “Who’s in Boston?” At the end of Season 1, we knew our old pal Finlay was going back to Boston. I reached out to Lee Child because he’s “the Godfather,” he created this world. I said, “If Reacher was in the same town as someone he had had an adventure with, someone like Finlay, and he needed help to stop bad people from doing bad things, would he reach out? Lee Child said, “Yeah, he would.” [Reacher] wasn’t going to say, “Come join me in my band of merry men,” he’d reach out for a brief moment.

At the end of Season 1, thinking about what book Season 2 was going to be, I remember calling Malcolm from my back yard. I said, “Would you come in for just one episode, maybe just a couple of scenes? Would it even be worth your time?” Malcolm was like, “Oh, I’m Reacher family. I’m in if you want me. Whatever you need.” Malcolm has been in like four or five things that I’ve written and produced, and he’s also one of the best actors in the world.

TVLINE | Lastly, the choreography of the climactic fight aboard the chopper was changed up quite a bit. In the book, Reacher sneaks aboard the helicopter and lies in wait for the bag guys loading in Dixon and O’Donnell, then pounces mid-flight. You had Reacher instead leap up onto the helicopter’s landing gear, and ultimately wind up holding a gurney — with Karla in it!– as it’s sliding out the rear cargo door. Were you just looking to make it more dynamic?
I’m a child of the ’80s, so for me it’s Raiders [of the Lost Ark] and Eddie Murphy hanging from the back of a cigarette truck in the beginning of Beverly Hills Cop, and maybe the most seminal movie of my life, Midnight Run with De Niro and Charles Grodin — having action sequences that make you go, “Oh my god,” where you lose your stomach a little bit. I’m not going to get to do this forever. Hollywood’s a fickle town, tomorrow my phone will stop ringing. So, if I have an opportunity to do that stuff — and the writers and I are sitting in the room throwing crazy ideas against the wall and they’re sticking — we’ll, we’re going to write it because we have the best production team in the world and we know they’re going to make it look awesome.

TVLINE | Plus, you can convince yourself that Alan Ritchson could single-handedly suspend a gurney holding Serinda Swan for 10 seconds.
Alan Ritchson can hold a gurney with three gorillas on it, he’s so strong.

Want scoop on Reacher Season 3, or for any other TV show ? Email InsideLine@tvline.com, and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line!

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