Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for the March 8 episode of FBI: Most Wanted, called “Shattered,” that said goodbye to Julian McMahon. If you haven’t watched yet, beware!
FBI: Most Wanted said goodbye to longtime leading man Julian McMahon in the latest episode, with a devastating twist that will change the series forever. Just when it seemed like the future was bright for Jess as he planned a dream vacation with Sarah and continued building their new life with Tali happily at boarding school, he was killed in the line of duty while saving a woman. Showrunner David Hudgins opened up to CinemaBlend and broke down the decision to kill off Jess and explore the immediate aftermath in “Shattered.”
Although Julian McMahon had already announced that he was leaving, and it was already clear ahead of time that the March 8 episode would be Jess’ farewell, few fans likely imagined him actually dying quite this way in “Shattered,” even knowing that Jess would always put himself in the line of fire to try and save lives. David Hudgins explained why giving Jess a heroic death was the way to go for McMahon’s exit:
While Jess dying just when he was painting the house and planning a vacation and continuing to court Sarah may be one of the biggest tragedies in the entire FBI franchise, David Hudgins pointed out that it’s also realistic that sometimes the heroes aren’t going to make it out of their missions alive. And Jess did save the woman whose life had seemed all but hopeless when she was being hunted, so his tragic death also honored his life. Plus, Jess’ death is still going to be explored further on Most Wanted, with continued “fallout” on the way.
Of course, Sarah suffered a horrible heartbreak with Jess’ death, and may have been the one least prepared thanks to her status as a civilian. David Hudgins went on to explain that Sarah finding out the bad news from Barnes and Hana also included some parallels to real life, and he was full of praise for actress Jen Landon:
The episode didn’t just end on the immediate moment of Sarah finding out about Jess’ death, but continued the sequence with her realizing that their trip to Bali will never happen, and Jess will never finish painting the room blue, and the life that they’d built together was over in one fell swoop. The showrunner explained the goal of spending the last few minutes of the episode on the aftermath of his death, rather than just ending on the reveal that he was gone:
Sarah’s reaction to the terrible news showed the broad spectrum of grief, as she went from the initial denial to fretting about the tickets to Bali to facing the prospect of telling Jess’ daughter that her father was dead. Fortunately, she wasn’t alone, as both Barnes and Hana broke the news and then stayed at the house with her while she processed it. David Hudgins explained why those two characters were the right ones to break the news, as well as what Kristin Gaines and Ortiz were up to off screen:
FBI: Most Wanted said goodbye to another original member of the team at the beginning of Season 3, when Kenny Crosby was injured to allow for the exit of Kellan Lutz, so it was down to Barnes and Hana from the original team. Julian McMahon previously spoke about the “extremely unique” relationship between Jess and Barnes, and it’s a good thing that Hana made her return to Most Wanted after her long absence earlier in Season 3. The entire cast of characters will have a lot to process moving forward, even before the arrival of a new leader played by none other than Dylan McDermott.
The next two original episodes of FBI: Most Wanted won’t actually have an official team leader, and the rest of the team has proven that they have what it takes to handle cases without Jess when necessary. David Hudgins already confirmed that fans will see how the team deals with his absence moving forward. Not much is known about Dylan McDermott’s character at this point, but the show is undoubtedly heading into a new era in the wake of this tragedy.
See what happens next on FBI: Most Wanted following Julian McMahon’s exit and Jess LaCroix’s death with new episodes on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS in the 2022 TV schedule, following FBI: International at 9 p.m. and FBI at 8 p.m. To relive some of Jess’ glory days in Most Wanted (or revisit the FBI backdoor pilot for the spinoff), be sure to check out the entire FBI shared universe with a Paramount+ subscription!
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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 and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).