[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for FBI Season 3, Episode 12 “Fathers and Sons.”]
Assist. Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine (Jeremy Sisto) has a rough 12 or so hours in the May 4 episode of FBI: A case requires his full attention while his son Tyler (Caleb Reese Paul) is seeing a gastroenterologist after being sick a few days.
A father, Octavio (Luis Jose Lopez), whose son needs a kidney transplant and hasn’t been able to get one due to the lack of health insurance and resources (including financial ones), kidnaps doctors to operate. During the negotiation, Jubal poses as a surgeon (missing his son’s appointment) and tries to talk Octavio down but can’t and must step aside to let a sniper take the shot. After, Jubal learns that his son has leukemia, but they caught it early.
Sisto takes us inside Jubal’s emotional episode and teases the finale, which features the return of cartel leader Antonio Vargas (David Zayas).
This was probably the hardest episode yet on and off the job for Jubal, right? Did you read the script and wonder if he’d catch a break at any point during it?
Jeremy Sisto: Yeah, it’s definitely one of those moments where, if he had any other job, he’d [say], “I need the day off.” But you can’t do that if you’re trying to save people’s lives and you’re running this huge mechanism that is in place that you are the most knowledgeable about how it works. He gets caught up [in a case] that thematically ties into [what’s happening off the job]. It’s a rough 24 hours, maybe 12 hours that occurs.
If you’re a parent you’ll understand how much headspace your kids take at any given moment, and when there is some concern about the wellbeing of that child, it’s even more consuming. But there’s no time to take a break from the job of saving lives. Though the FBI is focused on trying to prevent further violence, injury, death, destruction, they are also present for the emotional fuel behind what’s happening, the human psychological causes of the issue.
In this case, [a father is] reaching into the depths of their own passion, love, and crossing boundaries that would otherwise be something they would never do. Jubal is emotional as any compassionate human being would be. It can be an exhausting ordeal to be compassionate in this job, but that is the kind of law enforcement we need. And truthfully anyone who doesn’t have that ability to have compassion probably shouldn’t be on the job.
You live in a gray area when you are a compassionate person and yet your job is to save lives and to think about things in a more black and white way. It’s constantly a battle between seeing things in a simple matter of taking down the perp and how do I get out of the situation with the least amount of damage done. And sometimes that risks more damage being done. It definitely was a tricky situation with no perfect resolution.
Jubal is reluctant to let SWAT take the shot because he’s also a father, especially one dealing with a son at a doctor’s at that point. How much did this case weigh on him especially with what was going on personally and that decision he makes to put himself in as a hostage?
Even if what was going on with his son wasn’t going on, he would still be compassionate of the situation and see the reasoning behind what’s going on and would be reluctant to just look at the perpetrator as a target. That’s a human being, and he would be cognizant of that. To some degree, I wonder if Jubal is more comfortable in his job in the JOC [Joint Operations Command] because it does weigh on him because he has spent time out there. It takes a toll and he’s a recovering alcoholic, he’s had a tendency towards leaning on vices to numb the pain, emotion. I wonder if that’s kind of why he loves what he does and is reluctant to be out on the streets all the time, doing what OA [Zeeko Zaki] and Maggie [Missy Peregrym] and Scola [John Boyd] and Tiffany [Katherine Renee Turner] do.
Would he have volunteered as quickly to go in and pose as the doctor, if he wasn’t going through this personal thing with his son?
I think it brought home for him the weight of what was going on. As a father, I know for myself when something’s going along with one of my kids in my job as an actor, I definitely bring that into it. Sometimes it’s really helpful, sometimes I have to intentionally block it out. Also as a parent, I always feel like I need to be handling a situation. I’m not going to leave this in somebody else’s hands. That might’ve also been a cause or a motivator: He just felt like he couldn’t trust anyone else in this situation to really understand it the way he did.
Jubal’s son has leukemia, but the prognosis is excellent. How much more are we going to hear or see about Tyler’s treatment and its effects on Jubal?
It’s very present in his life. He’s getting treatment. We’ll see where it goes. It’ll take an emotional toll and it will be a distraction to some degree. But it’s not something that derails his life.
Will we see Jubal lean on anyone? We don’t see too much personal stuff on FBI.
Not too much. When you’re in the FBI, your personal life has to fall between the cracks. And yeah, some fun stuff happens in the finale or in the next few episodes, where someone from my past is going to be coming into the equation a little bit more regularly. That’s going to add some drama to the office life. But it’s going to be ultimately a positive thing, someone for Jubal to lean on.
Speaking of the finale, Antonio Vargas is coming back. What can you preview about the “long-awaited showdown between [Special Agent in Charge] Isobel [Castille, played by Alana De La Garza] and Vargas,” as teased in the description, and what that means for the team?
Yeah, it’s exciting. That’s kind of the thing that I was teasing comes into play in that episode in a big way. Isobel’s got another chance to take this guy down and she might’ve lost something in the eyes of the higher-ups from her handling of the first Vargas situation. She has to rise above a sense of tentativeness and trusting her to handle it in the right way. She has to go pretty far out on a limb to do what she feels is the smartest move. The team really aligns behind her.
Jubal specifically has to support her in the face of someone else that he cares about that’s in a power position, having to ignore or put aside their concerns. It’s a really exciting episode, another great ticking clock scenario, and Vargas is just extremely good at getting out of a sticky situation. So I think it’s going to be pretty fun. OA and Maggie have to head out of the country to try to get to the bottom of some stuff. I think fans will love it.
Jubal is heading to Most Wanted for its finale.
I don’t know much about that, but it’s exciting anytime the worlds cross. Jubal and his JOC are a great tool to use for shows like Most Wanted. To tie in the JOC, which is a really solid resource, not just in the reality of solving the crimes but also in storytelling, is a great way to frame drama and frame these situations.
FBI, Tuesdays, 9/8c, CBS
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