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Spoilers ahead for the Season 3 finale of S.W.A.T. on CBS, called "Diablo."
The third season of S.W.A.T. has come to an end, and the finale cliffhanger means that Hondo is probably in for a doozy of a fourth season premiere. Like many other shows in the 2019-2020 TV season, S.W.A.T. had to halt production before filming the intended season finale, but the end of "Diablo" nevertheless should leave fans on the edges of their seats waiting for the show to pick up again. While the episode didn't end with anybody's life on the line, it closed with a big unanswered question.
The team spent most of the finale, which was originally intended to serve as the penultimate episode, chasing a group of drug smugglers after they crashed a plane in a Los Angeles suburb, with the kingpin known as "Diablo" in the mix. It was an intense chase that lasted most of the episode and saw Chris take a bullet, although it fortunately hit her in the vest to knock the wind out of her and leave her with a mighty bruise.
The twist came in the final confrontation with Diablo, when he revealed that he'd crossed the border into L.A. to try and stop something from happening, and he suggested that it was something that Hondo and S.W.A.T. would want to stop as well. Unfortunately, Luca had to shoot him through the window before Diablo got around to telling Hondo what he was talking about.
The good guys beat the bad guys in "Diablo," but Hondo ended the episode without answers and taking his frustration out on a punching bag. Something big and bad must be coming if Diablo believed that he and S.W.A.T. had a common enemy on the way. S.W.A.T. showrunner Shawn Ryan actually revealed what had been planned for the finale that would have followed "Diablo" in Season 3 after it was clear that production wouldn't be able to pick up again before Season 4.
Shawn Ryan shared that the episode would have been split between the action in the present and what had happened to teenage Hondo and his dad during the L.A. riots, with the finale actually timed to the real-life anniversary of the riots. He elaborated in his talk with TVLine, saying:
And it picks up an A-story beat that was sort of a cliffhanger in the previous episode, which will now be our finale.
While it was unclear at the time what the A-story would be that would carry over from the penultimate episode to the intended finale, it's pretty clear following "Diablo" as the de facto finale that Diablo's cryptic hint would have been explained before the end of Season 3. As it stands, fans have a while to wait before potentially finding out the details of what Diablo meant and how it would have tied into Hondo's story.
The good news is that Shawn Ryan has already assured that the episode won't just be lost because Season 3 had to end early, and the story will continue despite the premature ending:
[That] will probably become either our season premiere or an early episode in Season 4. But we will get around to filming that episode, because that’s a special one, to look back at the riots through the perspective of a teenage Hondo.
The bad news is that S.W.A.T. won't be back in the fall TV season as usual. CBS recently announced the plan for the 2020-2021 TV lineup, and S.W.A.T. (along with Undercover Boss and freshman series Clarice) will debut later in the season, which likely means midseason. Not only will S.W.A.T. have to miss the anniversary of the L.A. riots for the special episode, but it potentially won't be back at all until next year. At least CBS already renewed the show for Season 4 before the Season 3 finale cliffhanger!