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Warning: Spoilers of the Blue Bloods season 8 finale to follow.
Blue Bloods may be a procedural, but this season fans were treated to some pretty dramatic changes in the status quo.
First, viewers were thrown for a loop last fall when, in the season 8 premiere, it was abruptly revealed that Linda Reagan (Amy Carlson), wife of series’ protagonist Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), had died in a helicopter crash offscreen. The decision was borne out of Carlson’s decision to exit the series (she’d been a regular since season 2), and laid the foundation for an exploration of Danny’s grief and attempts to move on.
Then, on Friday night, the season ended with another (happier) shocker: the engagement of fan-favorite pair Eddie (Vanessa Ray) and Jamie (Will Estes). That shake-up promises to push the show in new, surprising directions as well. (Read our postmortem on the finale.)
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Reflecting on a transformative season, showrunner Kevin Wade spoke to EW about his handling of Carlson’s exit. “Amy’s departure wasn’t planned,” he says. “We were catching up after the fact, after the actress decided not to return to the show. It was an offering out of very limited choices, the way that we handled her departure. We then had really 22 episodes to deal with the impact of the death of that character on the life of her surviving husband and kids, which I like to think we did somewhat successfully and paid respect to her character.”
Last year, Carlson herself criticized the creative decisions made in the aftermath of her leaving the show. “I feel badly that [Linda] dies the way she dies,” she told Deadline. “I did not know they would do that, I was surprised. I wouldn’t have done that.”
Wade recognized that if the season began with an unexpected ending with Linda’s tragic death, it could conclude with a happy new beginning in the form of Eddie and Jamie’s long-awaited union. “About [in] the middle of the season, it came to me,” Wade recalls to EW. “If that was the first scene of the season, dealing with that stuff [about Linda], then maybe the last scene could make an addition to the family.”
Blue Bloods will return for season 9 later this year.