THE ROOKIE Post-Mortem: Eric Winter on the Chenford Twist and Fallout From the Blast From Tim's Past - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE ROOKIE Post-Mortem: Eric Winter on the Chenford Twist and Fallout From the Blast From Tim’s Past

April 9, 2024 by  

The Rookie Chenford breakup

THE ROOKIE – ìThe Vowî – When a toddler is found at the scene of a crime, John and Bailey must decide whether to let the child go to a shelter for the night or care for her themselves. Meanwhile, when someone from his past returns, Tim disappears and leaves Lucy in the dark. TUESDAY, APRIL 2 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on ABC. (Disney/Raymond Liu) MELISSA OíNEIL, ERIC WINTER

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Tuesday, April 9 episode of THE ROOKIE.]

THE ROOKIE’s Tim (Eric Winter) was haunted by a face from his past, Ray Watkins (David Dastmalchian), who was determined to take down the sergeant’s professional life…but Watkins ended up derailing Tim’s personal life instead.

After Tim was able to put a department investigation behind him—thanks to lies he told Grey (Richard T. Jones) and IAD’s Commander Percy West (Michael Beach), he confessed to Lucy (Melissa O’Neil)—he was clearly distraught. Though he had finally told Lucy what was going on, after Ray threatened her and Tamara (Dylan Conrique), a spiraling Tim broke up with her.

Speaking to Give Me My Remote hours before the episode aired, Winter acknowledges with a laugh, “I’m a bit nervous and excited.”

“I imagine there’ll be some sort of an uproar,” he says about fan reaction to the hour. “And people aren’t going to sit too easy with it. But I think the way that this breakup goes down, I think there is going to be a lot of empathy for Bradford and what he’s going through. And it’s…almost like a traditional ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ but in a way that I feel for Bradford and what he’s trying to juggle mentally. And he’s just not happy. If you can’t be happy with yourself, you really can’t be happy being with other people.”

Here, the actor talks with GMMR about diving more into Tim’s backstory, the friendship with Angela (Alyssa Diaz), and the Chenford split.

To go to the start of this arc, what conversations did you have with THE ROOKIE showrunner Alexi Hawley about diving into this part of Tim’s backstory?
I actually didn’t know a whole lot of anything, funny enough. They started to craft the arc and when the first episode came out, he had said we’re gonna explore a lot of Tim’s past, his military past. And then he told me, “I wrote the longest monologue I’ve ever written for the show”—which was the speech I had with Angela. And I was like, “Oh my God.” I got nervous about that. But I had no lead-up, I had no real prep. And I trust Alexi, obviously, immensely and our writers are fantastic and they always deliver such fun scripts. So I was just excited to be surprised and get the script like everybody else and dive in.

What does this new awareness of his backstory bring to what you’ve brought to Tim going forward?
It just continues to, I feel like, complicate his past. One thing is true: He always does things for the greater good, whether it might mean crossing the line or not. He’s shown that in the past, he’s very protective of people around him, his loved ones, his fellow officers, fellow soldiers, anybody under him; he takes it very personal and takes their life as a responsibility. So it sheds a lot of light again on who he is as a stand-up human. But that he clearly is someone that will, you know, bend the truth or go down slightly the wrong path in order to do a greater thing.

The Rookie Chenford breakup

THE ROOKIE – ìSecrets and Liesî – Following their time as foster parents, Bailey has decided she wants to have a baby and forces John to reconsider their decision to not have children. Meanwhile, John and Celina discover a prison escapee whom they fear is out for revenge and race to find her before it is too late. TUESDAY, APRIL 9 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on ABC. (Disney/Raymond Liu) ALYSSA DIAZ, ERIC WINTER

As you noted, Angela ended up being his partner for a large part of this episode. What did it mean to Tim—and you—to have her to lean on during this ordeal? 
I think that was a lot of fun. I’m really glad that they actually went about it that way, because we touched on a lot of their friendship in earlier seasons, obviously—Tim and the wedding and their closeness and picking out the dress and all these things. But I think it really just…rooted their connection in trust and just, again, solidify their relationship as a true friendship, [a] ride or die kind of relationship. 

And I thought it was nice having that for Tim, because he didn’t want to involve Lucy obviously; didn’t really want to involve anybody who he cared about. But she inserted himself in a way that Angela does best, [saying,] ‘No choice, I’m here.’ And it’s great to see that Tim does have someone he can lean on in the workforce.

A number of Tim’s colleagues are aware of what happened, despite his best efforts. How are people reacting to him in the aftermath?
Everybody knows. As we move on from this, there is a bit of a delicate dance of Tim’s emotional state. How he’s coping with what happened between him and Lucy. Sort of accepting that he might need some help to sort of dive in again to what kind of a struggled past he really has—whether it comes from his family, his upbringing, his dad; Tim’s been juggling a lot for a lot of years and I think refuses to see people and get help and I think that’s something that we’re going to unpack a bit. Getting him sort of the help he needs, making him feel safe and communicating and knowing you can’t take on the world by yourself. You need friends and you need support.

Are we going to see him pursue any kind of professional mental health help or is that something that he would not consider?
That’s something that we’re going to dive a little bit into: Him just getting help and opening up to the idea of therapy.

Hopefully a different therapist than the one Aaron has?
[Laughs.] We will see.

Tim lied, but he did manage to evade the most serious professional complications Ray was trying to throw at him. But what professional ramifications are there going forward? 
There will be ramifications. Yeah, he massaged it and fixed it as best he could. [Laughs.] But he acknowledges, in the way that Tim can, that I was wrong. I will accept all punishment that comes his way. And there is some; there is some for sure.

The Rookie Chenford breakup

THE ROOKIE – ìThe Vowî – When a toddler is found at the scene of a crime, John and Bailey must decide whether to let the child go to a shelter for the night or care for her themselves. Meanwhile, when someone from his past returns, Tim disappears and leaves Lucy in the dark. TUESDAY, APRIL 2 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on ABC. (Disney/Raymond Liu) BRIAN WHITE, ERIC WINTER

Will we be seeing David Dastmalchian beyond this episode, or is this going to be Tim dealing with the fallout without that kind of wildcard in the mix?
Yeah, at the moment, it’s dealing with the fallout without him. Going forward, he doesn’t have any more episodes this season, but he was great, so fun to work with. And that character was such a great piece from Tim’s past. There’s definitely room to figure out a way, I’m sure, for him to be a Big Bad still—you know, make things more difficult for Tim. I’m sure he knows more [about] Tim, still, that we haven’t even fully [explored].

To dive more fully into the split, for you as a performer, what do you think was going through Tim’s mind as he was breaking up with Lucy—and also as she was trying to fight him and reject his breakup?
You know, it’s funny you ask that, because when we got that scene, it’s not a traditional breakup scene by any means. When he comes out from the meetings with Grey and West, he’s very broken about how he let it get this far, this spiral. And I don’t think Tim fully embraced even the decision with Lucy. It’s very much almost a snowball effect of emotions. He almost doesn’t feel like he’s worthy to be with her and he doesn’t want to cause any more harm to people he loves and I think he’s scared. 

When we got that scene, it was an interesting one to sort of carve out. And Melissa had her sort of take on it; I had my take. I like to get through it in the moment a lot and see how we can bounce off each other when we’re doing the scene. But, you know, there’s not a lot of time for that on network television either. You’ve got to be mindful of the pace of keeping things moving. But we had a great director and it was fun to really dive into that scene on the spot and uncover a breakup the way it went down. 

Obviously, the breakup was going to happen [because it was in the script], but I don’t even know that the emotions and the way that it played was truly carved out that way. It just kind of happens as you get into it. 

It was such a sad moment for the two of them, as far as they’ve come and everything that they’ve worked to sort of build up…[and then] to see Tim sort of spiral and lose control of himself. And have that sort of be the reason why, again, in Tim’s way, breaking up with her was a way of protecting her from him. It’s not like he doesn’t love her; he loves her. But he doesn’t know how to be the person he thinks he should be with her. Which is just be himself. He just does not know how to do that totally.

You and Melissa seem very aware of the Chenford love from fans. What was important for you guys to kind of portray in the scene to kind of make it clear how much these two love each other and how much this was hurting them?
What you just said was very important; that was exactly it. We feel like the fans have earned this relationship and they’re the ones that really built this relationship, funny enough. It was never scripted or intended early on that these two would ever be a couple. And I feel like this was a relationship created by the fans. 

Melissa and I are always very aware of keeping this very truthful and authentic and real as a relationship. I didn’t know it was gonna go this far with our troubles, but I really was open to them having troubles this season because that’s what relationships are. And that’s life. Everybody else is sort of tied up in marriage or very far along in something [on the show]. And I felt like we needed to explore what that’s like to go through those challenges. We’re always very protective of that, that this feels like a very authentic, real relationship. And that the breakup was treated with a lot of respect and time. The director was the same way, giving us all of that freedom and being a part of it. And Alexi as well. We feel like we’re very protective about this relationship. And we want the fans to know that we treated it with the utmost respect in doing it.

The Rookie Chenford breakup

THE ROOKIE – “The Hammer” The team comes together to celebrate John and Bailey’s wedding; meanwhile, Celina discovers a discrepancy in her case, leading to a new discovery. Elsewhere, Lucy and Tim’s relationship is put to the test. TUESDAY, FEB. 27 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on ABC. (Disney/Raymond Liu)

Given how impulsive this breakup was, once they’re able to regroup and see each other again, what is that next interaction like? And where do they go from here?
[Laughs.] The interaction is very awkward. It’s very funny. It’s a little bit of uncharted territory for Tim, for sure. And Lucy, I think even for her in some ways, because the breakup was just so sad and awkward…she was left very much wondering why and she didn’t deserve that. 

So when we see each other for the first time, it is funny, awkward. We don’t really know how to respond to each other. We don’t know—saying hi is weird. [Laughs.] We don’t know how to engage. There’s a lot to build on with that for the rest of the season. And our season finale sort of sums up, in a very nice way, the two of them about communication.

What hope can you offer the Chenford fans in the immediate aftermath of this split?  
My offer of hope is…obviously Tim came clean on the lie detector test about this in the 100th episode: Tim loves Lucy. There’s no question about it. He loves her. I believe that he truly feels she makes him a better person. Lucy has a ton of love for Tim, and they’ve been through crazy, crazy things together on their journey together since working as partners and beyond. 

So I think the glimmer of hope I would say is when two people do really love each other, nothing’s impossible, you know? They can find a way to possibly work things out. How long that may take, or will there be many, many roadblocks between that journey? I’m sure. But nothing’s impossible when it comes to Tim and Lucy and what they could possibly figure out with one another.

THE ROOKIE, Tuesdays, 9/8c, ABC


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