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How FBI's Priorities Have Shifted Beyond Protocol For OA After The Explosive Season 5 Premiere, According To Zeeko Zaki

FBI's OA and Nina in Season 5 premiere
(Image credit: Bennett Raglin/CBS)

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for the Season 5 premiere of FBI on CBS, called “Hero’s Journey.”

FBI has officially returned to CBS for its fifth season, and the premiere didn’t hold back in raising the stakes immediately. The hour started with OA undercover with a criminal who supposedly had a massive bomb to sell, but the case went sideways when they weren’t able to retrieve the explosive. All hands were on deck (with the exception of Maggie as she continues recovering from her sarin gas exposure), forcing Jubal to miss an important milestone for his son. According to actor Zeeko Zaki, “Hero’s Journey” marked a shifting of priorities for his character.

The title of the episode definitely applies to OA, after he risked everything to save a hotel full of civilians. After the team finally figured out where the bomber planted his device, they called in the experts, but were told that there was no way to be sure that they wouldn’t trigger it by moving it. According to the bomb squad, they had to leave it where it was and just clear the hotel of as many people as possible before the explosion. There would have been a lot of casualties, so OA made a fateful decision, picked up the bomb, and raced out of the building.

Zeeko Zaki as OA in FBI's Season 5 premiere with bomb

(Image credit: Bennett Raglin/CBS)

Luckily, OA was a veritable action hero in this episode, and he managed to run out of the hotel, hop in his SUV, speed away, and then abandon the moving car in time to save all of the civilians and escape with his own life. It was a risky move that would have killed him if he’d been just a few seconds later, but it paid off. 

And the explosion guaranteed that FBI got Season 5 off to an epic start. OA has been through a lot after some dark memories were triggered by the sarin gas in Season 4. He then lost Maggie (albeit temporarily) and has assumed more of a leadership position in the aftermath. Zeeko Zaki shared his reaction to the explosion scene, and the shift in his priorities: 

I think the reaction to that scene kind of comes down to how many things people have on their plate and how that affects judgment in moments, and how, at the end of the day, there has to be somebody that right or wrong, in this specific moment without distractions, at least will attempt to do the right thing. I think for OA, this coming off of the last season, his priorities have kind of shifted. I think moving forward, virtue is going to be very important and really just giving the space to hold these decisions in these moments with proper kind of judgment.

Everybody was telling OA not to do what he ultimately did, with Isobel trying until almost the very last moment to get him to bail on the bomb. Tiff did want to come with him, but considering how close of a call it was with him jumping out of the moving car, it’s probably for the best that he insisted she stay behind.

FBI's Nina and Tiff running from explosion in Season 5 premiere

(Image credit: Bennett Raglin/CBS)

So, why did OA take this huge risk when it was entirely possible that the bomb could have exploded as soon as he picked it up, and there was still time left in the countdown? Zeeko Zaki continued, sharing his character’s reasoning: 

He does it because I don't think he could live with himself. He couldn't live with himself if innocent people die, and I think there's just these moments when other people are up the command [chain] and protocol and all these things have to get put aside, per OA's judgment. I think that's the gray area where all the money is, right outside of the protocol.

The FBI characters have no choice but to operate in gray areas sometimes, ranging from OA making a massive judgment call that could affect hundreds of people to Jubal brushing off his ex-wife’s concerns about their son because he had to focus on work. (Actor Jeremy Sisto previously opened up about the storyline with Jubal’s son that would have happened in the Season 4 finale that never aired.)

Zeeko Zaki as OA running with a bomb in FBI Season 5 premiere

(Image credit: Bennett Raglin/CBS)

The explosion was epic on a scale that was almost more cinematic that what viewers might expect of a TV show. When asked how much of the filming of the stunt was practical vs. special effects, Zaki – who had not yet seen the episode when we spoke – shared:

I'll tell you what... diving out of the car was real. The car was not moving, but diving onto the ground. I really, really am a big fan of trying to get the stunts as tight as possible, and to look as real as possible. My stunt double is just incredible. Dave Pope, absolute legend, and our stunt coordinator, Victor Paguia. I think we really nailed this one. It was funny – the first day I get to set for Season 5, and they showed me a clip of Tom Cruise diving out of a car at 100 miles an hour, said 'We want to do this.' And I was like, 'Welcome back. Let's go.' And it's a real deal.

Talk about an exciting way to get back to work after months of hiatus! The actor did speak about his hit show over the break, including opening up about the “honor” of Dick Wolf rewriting the character for him. OA still has some episodes to go with Agent Nina Chase filling in for Maggie, but the premiere proved that the team hasn’t lost their step.

Even if every episode isn’t going to be as explosive as the Season 5 premiere, you can find plenty of crime-fighting action with new installments of FBI (opens in new tab) on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, ahead of FBI: International at 9 p.m. and FBI: Most Wanted at 10 p.m. You can revisit any episodes that you might have missed streaming with a Paramount+ subscription, and check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule for some more viewing options.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.