The fleet will be in town for Pride and his team: For the NCIS: New Orleans finale, airing May 15, some of the episode takes place on an actual assault ship. We asked executive producer Christopher Silber to tease the two-hour event, which will feature an appearance by musician Trombone Shorty, and what it all means for Pride (Scott Bakula) and his team.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Will there be a cliffhanger?
CHRISTOPHER SILBER: It will definitely be a cliffhanger. It’s our first one, and we are excited we got permission to do it because we have been planning it for a long time. The two-hour finale is really like a full movie. It gets our lead character, Pride, in a most precarious situation. He loses his badge, he’s under indictment for abuse of power. And all the while, he has to solve this bigger conspiracy about the people who have worked so hard to get him to this position.
We have a character who comes from the Justice Department who seems to have a personal vendetta against Pride and wants to make sure he’s unable to continue his duties at NCIS. It started with an earlier episode with character assassination, and bringing up all of Pride’s old cases and twisting them to make it look like Pride isn’t good at his job and has abused power. Pride realizes that there is a bigger conspiracy at play. Since he’s had his badge taken away, in the first hour of the finale he’s not even allowed to work with his team. So he puts together a motley crew of some characters we’ve seen in the past and new characters we bring on, and they become his shadow unofficial team as he tries to break away this conspiracy.
Will this be resolved in the two hours?
By hour 2, we realize the entire conspiracy has to do with Fleet Week, which has come to New Orleans. It comes every few years, unlike New York, which is every year. All these Navy ships come to town. It also coincides with the 300th anniversary of New Orleans, which is for real. It’s been a yearlong celebration that just occurred. The conspiracy is an attack on Fleet Week. We got to shoot on these huge ships, working with the Navy. Usually we don’t get to do as much Navy stuff. The fact that we were able to have the Navy there, while we were shooting the finale during Fleet Week, gave us a great opportunity to up the production value.
So you literally shot during Fleet Week?
Yeah, we did. We’ve been talking to the Navy about setting this up for months. And then we were able to coordinate with them. We are on this ship, the USS Kearsarge, which I didn’t realize it until I arrived, it’s slightly smaller than an aircraft carrier. It basically is an aircraft carrier that holds fewer planes. We were able to spend a day shooting all over it. They gave us all this access. They gave us their sailors to be in the episode as well. It was so much fun, and was so cool. That plays a huge part in our episode.
Do you have anything special planned in terms of music for the episode?
Our show takes place in a city that’s all about music. We’ve always integrated it, but for the last two seasons it’s been really important for us to expand that. We will almost always have local musicians on, but we’ve also tried to bring on musicians that aren’t from or of New Orleans, but who come to New Orleans. We had Sheryl Crow, Marrin Morris, Jimmy Buffett, a band called X Ambassadors. Sometimes it’s as simple as they are planning in Pride’s bar. It makes a ton of sense that we have all various types of artists who will come by and be playing, whether it’s in the background or whether we are featuring them like we are with Trombone Shorty in the finale. Trombone Shorty was a perfect choice for us. He’s at this nexus where he’s got national appeal, but he’s of New Orleans. He’s bridging this new gap. To be able to finally have him on the show was so exciting for all of us.
NCIS: New Orleans airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. Check out some photos from the finale below.