SEAL Team Star On How Sonny Will Process Clay's Death Following Emotional Episode

AJ Buckley in SEAL Team.
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Spoilers ahead for Season 6, Episode 9 of SEAL Team, “Damage Assessment,” so read at your own risk.

This week's episode of Paramount+’s SEAL Team was a tough one for Bravo, to say the least. Following the tragic shocker of the previous installment, in which Clay was shot and killed after trying to help a fellow army vet, the team finally received the news while on their op. It was a truly sad moment, especially for Sonny. Now, the actor who plays him, AJ Buckley, has shed some light on how his character will process the shocking loss over the last bit of the season.

In “Damage Assessment,” Sonny tried to deny the news that his comrade had died and even tried calleing him and Clay's wife, Stella, multiple times. When the reality finally hit him and the rage welled up inside him, he broke down. On top of that, just as the team were ready for extraction following a successful mission, they found themselves stranded after their helicopter was shot out of the sky. (That last part is a dramatic development that further exemplifies the impact Paramount+ has had on the show's direction.)

AJ Buckley spoke to TV Insider about whether his character has finally accepted his brother's passing by the end of the episode. The star doesn't believe that to be the case, though it sounds like that realization will be arriving sooner rather than later. As Buckley explained:

No, I don’t think he does until — and you’ll know what scene I’m talking about in 10 — there’s a scene in 10 that truthfully was probably one of the toughest scenes I’ve ever filmed, but I’m really proud of it. Spencer and Chris Chulack were really awesome in discussing this journey that Sonny was gonna take over the next two episodes and how to emotionally blueprint it so we have these highs and lows of Sonny and stay true to the mission where he can’t get back and dealing with that and staying focused at hand and being aware of his brothers that he’s in battle with.

It’s no secret that Sonny and Clay have grown close over the years, as they are more like brothers than anyone else on the team, in my opinion. So it only makes sense that he would have a hard time accepting that he's gone and would also need an ample amount of time to get himself together. Ultimately, it seems there will be a scene in Episode 10 that could provide him with a bit of closure, and I don't think I'm ready for it. SEAL Team has been emotional enough this season, and anything else that's super heavy could be a lot for viewers.

Although Bravo did previously deal with Full Metal’s death, it can't quite match up with the loss of Clay. Like Jason said, he had a real impact on the team and, considering everything Clay went through, his death hits that much harder. AJ Buckley discussed how tough it was to film a particular scene in Episode 10, and I feel like I need to prepare my tissues right now:

And then in 10, whatever happens in 10 — you’ll understand when you see it — there’s this sort of release that he needed. It was definitely tough, but like I said, Spencer and Chris Chulack were just awesome with having an open door with me just to ask all these questions, my worries, this and that, because it’s the first time we’ve really lost someone in the core group and we just wanted to honor that story as best we could.

It’s sure to be an episode for the books, to say the least. While the rest of the team seems to be handling the situation somewhat better, I'm curious as to whether other members will further break down. They've got history with Clay, so some may be bottling up emotions.

Let's be honest, due to Max Thieriot's commitments to Fire Country, it was only just a matter of time before his character was written out. I just wish that it didn't happen in such a heartbreaking way. But if anything, the surprising development does set the stage for what's sure to be an entertaining finale. And with this new information from AJ Buckley, I'll be paying especially close attention to Sonny during the episode.

Don’t miss SEAL Team's season finale on Sunday, November 20 by streaming it with a Paramount+ subscription!

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.