A nameless stranger rolls into town and unexpectedly saves the day. It’s easy to see how the 1985 Clint Eastwood Western Pale Rider inspired the drama’s cinematic two-part premiere—even if gunslinger heroics are the last thing on Hondo’s (Shemar Moore) mind when we catch up with him. He’s been in Mexico, using a friend’s vacation home to regroup after being demoted as SWAT team leader for speaking to the media about racism in the LAPD.
“He feels bruised and battered despite having done the right thing,” says S.W.A.T. exec producer Shawn Ryan. “A lot of his swagger is gone. He’s soul searching about what to do with his life.”
While out for a ride (in scenes filmed south of Mexico City in the picturesque Morelos region), he stumbles onto trouble at a neighbor’s property and gets pulled into the lives of a young woman (Val Dorantes) and her widowed mother (Pilar Padilla). The two are trying to keep their farm afloat while fighting off land-grabbers. “There is a very epic Pale Rider–ish showdown,” Ryan promises, adding that, in the second hour, while Hondo is still in Mexico, we also rejoin the team in L.A.
Here’s a preview of what’s to come.
- Jim Street (Alex Russell), who’s recovering from liver-donor surgery, and Chris Alonso (Lina Esco), back from leadership training in Germany, reunite months after that passionate Season 4–finale smooch. “That relationship story will get closure this season,” hints Ryan.
- In Hondo’s absence, Deacon Kay (Jay Harrington) is tapped to lead, but he doesn’t want to betray his friend. Coming up: He and Chris are ambushed on a private security detail drive from L.A. to Vegas. “It turns into a spectacular survival story,” says Ryan.
- Newlywed Victor Tan (David Lim) has been part of another team. He’ll face a dilemma when an old flame comes to L.A.
- A cold murder case that widowed commander Robert Hicks (Patrick St. Esprit) was obsessed with becomes hot again, providing insight into his early career.
- Dominique Luca (Kenny Johnson) is central to an arc that begins with the intro of LAPD/SWAT vet Rodrigo Sanchez (David DeSantos), a political climber. Says Ryan, “It shakes things up in a way that will be different for us.”
S.W.A.T., Season 5 Premiere, Friday, October 1, 8/7c, CBS
This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2021 Returning Favorites issue. For more inside scoop on the new fall TV season, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.