The Most Shocking Snowfall Finale Questions, Answered By The Showrunner
After six seasons, 60 episodes, and enough murder to make John Wick nod in respect, Snowfall, the final creation of the late filmmaker John Singleton, has finally ended. When it debuted in 2017, Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) was a clean-shaven teenager in 1983 in South Central Los Angeles selling dime bags of cannabis he hid from his mother in his radio because he dreamed of being the master of his own destiny. His livelihood being beholden to an oppressive boss and the 9 to 5 rat race like his struggling mother, Cissy Saint (Micheal Hyatt), was tantamount to death. He wanted freedom, and by the end of the series finale, he got it, for better or worse.
The series finale is a sort of epilogue season compressed into an episode. Following Cissy’s murder of disgraced CIA agent and Franklin’s cocaine supplier Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson), the major Snowfall players are trying to salvage what’s left of their lives before they get lost in the rubble of Franklin’s fallen cocaine empire. Franklin spent months burning bridges with his incarcerated mother and the mother of his child Veronique (Devyn A. Tyler), tracking down and killing the bodyguard who robbed him in Season 5, Peaches (DeJohn Hill), and threatening his best friend Leon (Isaiah John), all to regain some of the money he lost. In the end, we find Franklin in 1990, living in squalor as an alcoholic in his childhood home just before authorities repossess it due to unpaid property taxes.
Dressed in a tattered white beater grayed by filth, wobbling from intoxication, Franklin rebuffs Leon’s offer to pay his home’s property taxes and renovate it. “I don’t have no fucking chains on me, man. I’m free. I’m free from all of it—my fucking way, not yours and not theirs,” he tearfully remarks to Leon. On the same streets lined with palm trees where the very first scene of Snowfall took place, Franklin finally tastes freedom. To Snowfall showrunner Dave Andron, who wrote the series finale, the freedom is bittersweet.
“At that point, the freedom is, ‘I’m just going to sit, and I’m going to drink, and I’m going to ignore the world.’ He’s not going to try to do it again. He’s not going to try to kiss the Colombians’ ass to get stepped on cocaine,” Andron says. “He’s not going to go get some job. He’s not going to do any of it. He’s done, but he is still doing it his way. And it’s really heartbreaking.”
Just because the series is over doesn’t mean there aren’t questions about Franklin’s fate, the rumored ’90s spinoff series centered on Leon’s reformed drug addict wife Wanda (Gail Bean), and if the Singleton had any influence on the finale episode. Luckily, we have just the man to answer them all.
Men’s Health: Typically, people leave the drug game in one of two ways: In a casket or prison. Franklin Saint spilled a lot of blood to become the biggest cocaine dealer, yet the series ends without him dying. He even escapes unscathed after being shot at close range by Peaches in the series finale. Why was he able to leave the series alive?
Dave Andron: I think that once things had gone south with his mother, Teddy had been killed, and the plug now being gone, if Franklin had chosen to go back to try to buy cocaine from someone in the street to stay in the game, he probably would’ve got killed or ended up in jail. The fact he put everything he had into trying to maintain this legitimate empire he had built is the thing that kept him from [being killed]. Once we realized Franklin couldn’t keep the business afloat, death felt a little easy. The dramatic irony of Franklin becoming his father and being forced to live in this house, this neighborhood, this place he destroyed and wanted to escape seemed like a fate worse than death for him.
One person with an open-ended conclusion we’ll likely find out more about is Wanda, who we found out recently could be the basis of possibly a spinoff series. In the series finale, Leon says Wanda is going to pursue music. Was that a way to set up for the spinoff?
My condition with thinking about the spinoff was that I wouldn’t sacrifice any of the story of Snowfall for this next chapter. I wasn’t going to keep a character alive we had already decided was going to die for the sake of our story or be in jail. Of the characters that would make it out, we knew that Leon and Wanda would make it out in their way. We could take those characters and figure out what’s next for them. That line from Leon about her trying to get into the music business was the one concession I made I don’t think I would’ve made in the finale were it not for this next chapter, which I should add, is still in development. Nothing has been green-lit. That story of the spinoff got leaked. That was not something we had intended to come out. It’s great there is enough love for the show from fans and FX that people want the story of South Central to continue. I think that would’ve made John really happy.
We had been talking about the spinoff since last fall or something. We talked about it and knew what the world would be like. I knew it was developed, and I had written the line hoping it would see the light of day. But then, the story leaked well after I had written it. The spinoff may never come to fruition, but the line would play that Wanda returned and found a passion. I love that she found something she was passionate about and wanted to be a part of.
The series finale left even more stories open-ended. For example, Louie is still hiding out from the DEA four years later, Veronique has Franklin’s son in another country, Oso hears a message from his girlfriend about coming to visit her and her children in North Carolina, and Franklin ends the series walking the street. Was it intentional to leave things open-ended that way?
Yeah, a little bit. We moved into the future to give you a glimpse into where people were headed. Their lives are going to go on. Veronique is going to raise a baby in Europe, presumably with her mother. Louie’s going to be wanted forever, and she’s going to have to live this life where, even if she has moments where she finds a place with some peace, the DEA could come knocking on the door one day. Part of this is letting the audience decide what they think and believe should and would happen unless you get to do the finale of Six Feet Under, the greatest finale in the history of television, where you get literal closure on every possible story, which was genius. It fell in line with the conceit of that show and was so genius. But with us, people just have to decide for themselves.
For the series finale, you brought back some characters from earlier in the series, like Franklin’s former bodyguard, Peaches. However, I was really hoping to see Oso’s ex-girlfriend and cartel boss Lucia appear after Teddy showed Oso a surveillance photo of her in Season 4. Why didn’t we see the fan-favorite make a return?
The situation with Lucia had more to do with an actor, frankly, than it did to do with us as storytellers. Also, at this point in this show, it felt like we had done the things we had to do out of necessity back in Season 3, and the show had moved on. Oso had moved on and had this new family. I don’t know what closure would’ve looked like. It might’ve been fun for a moment as a kind of Easter egg. But I think the story had become about these kids that he had kind of taken in. Lucia would never be anything but bad for him (laughs). She was toxic and damaged. So for Oso to get as happy an ending as he could in this show, it felt like he had to move on.
Who else did you consider bringing back for the series finale?
There’s only one other person I think fans would’ve loved to see if it felt warranted: Melody. Melody was rattled when she saw Franklin at the end of Season 4. But there was no way Franklin was going to seek her out. And I didn’t believe she would come after him for some kind of revenge. Organically, it felt like it was a stretch to bring her back. For what it’s worth when I think about her, I think she’s okay. I think the temporary crutch of the church probably wore off. But, as much as she endured tough times, I believe she returned to school. I think she went to college. I think she’s going to have a good life.
You mentioned John Singleton earlier. I know he died shortly before Season 3, so half of Snowfall’s run is without his involvement. But, creators typically have a general idea of how they want the story to end. Was anything from the series finale influenced by John?
No, unfortunately not. He passed at the end of the third season. We had big-picture general discussions, mostly about what could happen to Franklin. But we had talked about a bunch of different things, and there was never a grand plan. We had no idea what would happen to these characters over the course of Season 4 and Season 5. So, it was really impossible to pick an end. There was no kind of roadmap. From an early place, John had empowered Walter Mosley, myself, and the rest of the writing staff to own this show. There were a lot of voices. It didn’t feel like when John died, we were like, “Oh my God, we’re lost.” He had laid the groundwork.
You also wrote the penultimate episode, “Sacrifice,” with the most surprising yet deserved death in Snowfall history when Teddy McDonald was shot by Franklin’s mother, Cissy. Fans were pissed she killed Teddy right before he would get Franklin his $37 million. Did you want to write Cissy as a villain or martyr of sorts?
It actually goes back to the first episode of this season. I know there are a lot of things going on once she shoots Teddy, but she gives that speech earlier in the season where she asks him, “Are you with me or you with them?” Franklin was still sort of hedging his bet and was unsure about siding with the KGB. She lays that on him. At that moment, he’s like, “Yes, I’m with you. Set up the meeting.” But then he was going to let Teddy go. I don’t think there’s any chance Teddy would leave Franklin alone. I think Cissy felt like this was the only thing that could happen to know that Teddy would not go after Franklin. There was still a path for Franklin after he lost that money with Veronique to get rid of the downtown [L.A. property]. He owns the buildings in South Central, and he could grind it out, and over time, he’d probably have been able to make quite a bit of money. But he won’t do it. He saw himself in these huge terms. He didn’t do all of this to manage a few buildings in South Central.
For Cissy, it was like, “He’s on his own now. I’ve saved his life. He doesn’t have the money, but I saved his life. Now, Teddy will never come after him. I very much see Cissy’s point of view. I also understand everyone’s reaction: “She couldn’t have waited five more seconds?” No, she couldn’t have because if Franklin gets that money, I don’t think [the CIA] are really going to let him keep that money. He’s not going to learn anything. Unfortunately, he doesn’t anyway, but she does the only thing she thinks is possible.
What was the last scene that was shot for the series? What was the sentiment around the set when it was all over?
It was all pretty bittersweet. I think we all knew that we were ending it strongly. I think we all knew this was the right time to end it. I think we all felt a lot of gratitude for the experience and what we’ve been given. There were kind of two endings in my mind. There was the second to last day, the night scene we shot, where Damson, I mean Franklin, drops Ruben off at that cul-de-sac after Havemeyer tells him if he didn’t want to go to jail for the rest of his life, he needed to do this. That very much felt like one kind of end. Then, we had one more day, where we went out to the outskirts of LA to shoot the scene with Louie when the DEA showed up at the farm. That was the last time we said cut, and it was very bittersweet. We were sad that it ended but felt really good we had this incredible run, and it’ll always be there, and people love it, and it means a lot.
This interview has been condensed for content and clarity.
Keith Nelson is a writer by fate and journalist by passion, who has connected dots to form the bigger picture for Men’s Health, Vibe Magazine, LEVEL MAG, REVOLT TV, Complex, Grammys.com, Red Bull, Okayplayer, and Mic, to name a few.
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