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Spoilers below for the Season 4 premiere of CBS' SEAL Team, so be warned!

As one of the many TV shows whose schedule got completely upended in 2020, CBS' SEAL Team finally returned to audiences this week for its COVID-free Season 4 premiere, which followed up on the impromptu Season 3 finale that aired back in May. Unfortunately for fans of Jessica Paré's CIA vet Mandy Ellis, the actress exited SEAL Team as a series regular moving forward, with Mandy having formally announced her own exit to David Boreanaz's Jason. We now have a better idea of the reason behind that character beat, as well as a hint of how Paré is returning in the future.

Not all fans were so readily shocked by Mandy's big news following her return from the latest tragedy-stricken deployment, since it was announced earlier this year that Jessica Paré would be stepping back. For those wondering why things played out as they did with that exit, showrunner and executive producer Spencer Hudnut offered some insight into the matter, telling Deadline:

Our show strives to be as authentic as possible to the experiences of our service members, and similar to real life, SEAL Team units change and evolve so in our show some of the characters move on as well. Over the last 3 seasons, we’ve seen how war takes a toll not just physically but mentally and emotionally. In this new 4th season, many of our characters will be at a crossroads and confronting tough decisions in their careers. For Mandy’s story arc, it was finally time for her to retire and leave this life of service, but this does not mean we won’t potentially see her again later.

By all means, Mandy Ellis has not had the easiest career during her time on SEAL Team, what with having lost assets and other setbacks. Granted, no one's life on this show (or in the real world) qualifies as easy, and Mandy was dedicated and able to handle it all before this point. Now, however, everything came to a head, and the character made the kind of life-changing decision that correlates to how things sometimes go for members of the government and military.

In case anyone was worried that something controversial happened behind the scenes, it doesn't appear as if Jessica Paré is leaving with any bad blood between her and SEAL Team's cast and crew. In fact, she'll actually be making a BTS return at a later point in Season 4, beyond any potential on-screen returns for Mandy. Here's how Spencer Hudnut explained it:

On a personal level, we love Jessica and she has and will always be an integral part of the SEAL Team family. And we are excited to announce that she will actually be coming back behind the camera as a director for an upcoming episode this season, and this will be her directorial debut.

That should be something of a silver lining for fans who didn't want to see Jessica Paré going away for good. Unfortunately, the same kind of situation can't be said for the dog who plays Cerberus, as it looks like that retirement will stick. Plus, dogs can't direct TV episodes. Yet, anyway.

SEAL Team airs Wednesday nights on CBS at 9:00 p.m. ET, with its fall finale already coming on December 16. While waiting to see what happens next for the group, head to our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule and our Winter and Spring 2021 TV guide to see what new and returning shows are coming soon.

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