Spoilers ahead for the November 5 episode of NCIS: New Orleans Season 6, called "Matthew 5:9."
Whoever says that major TV character deaths can only happen in finales and premieres obviously doesn't work on NCIS: New Orleans! Despite the fact that Season 6 (which got off to a rough start) is still weeks away from its midseason finale on CBS, NCIS: NOLA just went ahead and killed off one of its original characters. None other than Special Agent Christopher LaSalle was killed in "Matthew 5:9," and the farewell messages from actor Lucas Black, combined with a statement from the current showrunners, indicate that this is a death that's going to stick. But first, let's look at what happened.
Determined to avenge the death of his brother Cade (played by Lethal Weapon's Clayne Crawford), LaSalle went after an Alabama drug ring he suspected was responsible for what happened. While on the case, LaSalle took several bullets to protect a woman, including one to his right arm and to his belly. In true TV style, he survived the initial harrowing surgery and woke up, seeming like he was going to be fine, before something went wrong, his vitals dropped, and he died.
His final words were heartbreaking, as they were addressed to his dead brother. "Let's go fishing, Cade," said LaSalle, and that was it for one of the NCIS: NOLA cast members who had been around since all the way back in the NCIS backdoor pilot that launched it as the second successful NCIS spinoff. The death was shocking for many reasons, not the least of which is that this wasn't the midseason finale or even penultimate episode, meaning fans had no real reason to worry that they'd be losing such a huge character.
Fortunately, Lucas Black hasn't remained silent on his character's death, and although his two statements via social media are bummers insofar as they indicate that LaSalle really is totally, 100%, super dead, they may deliver some closure. Here's what Black had to say on the official NCIS: New Orleans account:
Lucas Black's first message of farewell after LaSalle was shockingly killed off was short, sweet, and to the point in expressing his gratitude to the fans who have followed his character's journey over the six seasons of NCIS: NOLA so far.
He didn't come across as overly emotional in this video, but he was also prepared and it was to be posted on the official account, so it stands to reason that this was a rehearsed statement designed to get his message across quickly and effectively, if not super personally.
The actor did get a lot more personal and emotional in a second video that was posted on social media following the episode's airing, and this one was on his personal account. He filmed it himself, outdoors and seemingly somewhat unrehearsed. At the very least, we can be confident there was no teleprompter or set of cue cards! Take a look:
This second video ran for almost a minute, and Lucas Black used that time to share how much fan support has meant to him as well as express the honor he felt at playing a character in law enforcement. He explained that he learned a lot, has a lot of respect for the real-life people in these challenging jobs, and supports the military.
It wasn't until almost the very end of the video that Lucas Black choked up, said one final thank you, and closed with a "God bless you." He didn't detail why NCIS: New Orleans killed LaSalle off, but he seems more emotional than bitter, so we can only hope there was no bad blood about the situation.
NCIS: New Orleans showrunners Christopher Silber and Jan Nash addressed the departure in a statement (via TVLine):
We had an amazing run with Lucas Black and he has been such an important part of our NCIS: New Orleans team. We are sad to see him go, but happy he will have more time to spend with his family.
They didn't reveal precisely why the time was right to kill off LaSalle, but their comment that they're "sad" to see him leave and "happy" he'll have more time with his family may be signs that Lucas Black himself requested to be written off the show to focus on his family and personal life. Only time will tell if an official explanation is ever released; we can always hope. Hey, maybe such a huge plot twist will impact the ratings!
Find out how NCIS: New Orleans moves on from LaSalle's death when the next new episode airs Tuesday, November 12 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.