Caution: Spoilers ahead.
When Rizzoli & Isles returns tonight for its fifth season on TNT, fans will be waiting to see how different things will be for Maura, Jane and the rest of their Boston-based crew. With the exit of showrunner Janet Tamaro and hiring of Jan Nash, the tragic death of star Lee Thompson Young, and cliffhanger of a Season 4 finale where Jane tells Maura she is pregnant, it’s a time for change both on-screen and off.
During a recent set visit, though, the cast and crew assured reporters that things really couldn’t be any better. Despite the fact that the first two episodes deal with the heavy subject of Detective Frost’s fictional passing to match the real life loss, the eulogies delivered on screen and feelings felt by all who knew Lee are part of a touching well-played send-off.
“It’s a reflection of the entire company’s commitment to honoring Lee and his memory and it turned out exactly the way we hoped it would,” Jan Nash said of the second episode. Angie Harmon praised the out showrunner for coming on at a time where the cast was grieving, and also asked for input on the dialogue about Frost in the actual show.
“[She asked] like ‘What do you want me to say in the eulogy?’ Things like that and I would call her back and say,’It needs to be more, it needs to be about this and this and this, and we’re talking about Frost, but we’re talking about Lee—because he was my closest friend here, so to have that collaboration on something that is as devastating as that… to have Jan be able to come in and take that subject matter, that was first. That’s a tough thing. She didn’t know him, she wasn’t here—all that. To be able to go through that and move it through with each one of our characters it’s not just about two characters anymore.”
Jan has worked on several procedural crime series, including Without a Trace, Unforgettable and the Sarah Shahi USA series Fairly Legal, so she said Rizzoli & Isles is “in her wheelhouse.”
“It’s a genre of TV that I’ve very much enjoyed writing for and do in fact think when they’re really good are very satisfying to watch,” Jan said.
Jan, whose first job in television was producing and writing for Ellen in 1996, said she wasn’t aware of the Rizzles lesbian fanbase of the show until she was hired on.
“I had heard about the Rizzles when I went through my meetings,” she said. “I see why people see [the subtext]. I totally see why people see it. There are these two incredible actors who also happen to be really beautiful who have incredible chemistry and a really compelling friendship on screen. I totally see it.”
But fans who are hoping for anything more than friendship to unfold on screen are going to be severely disappointed. Even under the helm of a lesbian showrunner, Jane and Maura are best friends who date men. Jane’s possible pregnancy from the Season 4 finale becomes a reality in Season 5, where Maura is the only one who knows and is thrilled about it, too.
“I think [Maura’s] really excited about everything from all the gadgets you can get and reading you can do and information you can gather,” said Sasha Alexander. “Pregnancy statistics and stuff about the baby—I think she’s definitely more into that than Jane. Jane’s just kind of riding along, so yeah she’s just there. She’s a truly supportive friend and in this situation, we don’t know Casey’s situation in terms of being with her or not but presently with her.”