Jan Nash on Saying Goodbye to Frost and the Heartbreaking Cameo
RIZZOLI & ISLES tacked its most difficult episode on Tuesday night as the show said goodbye to Detective Barry Frost — following the real-life death of Frost’s portrayer, Lee Thompson Young.
“It was very important to [series stars] Angie [Harmon (Jane)] and Sasha [Alexander (Maura)] that the death of Barry Frost be handled in a way that was very respectful,” R&I showrunner Jan Nash explained. “When you start seeing things through that prism, the decisions [become clear] that in retrospect almost seemed inevitable. If you’re going to try and deal with the things that were left over from season 4, you don’t want to add the death of a character on top of that, because then everything’s fighting each other. So that led to us dealing with [Frost’s death more fully] in episode 2.” “And we didn’t want to have the death of that character be a case, because that felt exploitative,” she added. “And so you end up with an accidental tragedy, and the decision of how to handle that unfolds…we’re a cop show, so we didn’t want to just do a Very Special Episode of RIZZOLI & ISLES, because then the people who aren’t fans of the show who might come to it for episode 2 would be confused because there is no crime. Which led us to a crime story that thematically resonated with the planning of Barry Frost’s funeral, in way that hopefully makes the episode feel even fuller. While it was a challenge to work on it, when you start laying out what your goals are, you do almost end up in an almost inevitable place. And then you have a great writing staff, which we do have, and a great story, and you end up with a script that is acted by incredible actors, with a crew that was very invested in doing not just a good job, but a great job. And you end up with what I feel is a very compelling episode of television…And that’s where it was. It started in a place of very much wanting to respect and honor this person who was such an important member of the family.”
And during the course of the characters saying goodbye to Frost, Jane — in a moment of denial/grief — saw a vision of her former partner…and viewers saw a brief glimpse of Young, too.
“I can’t remember where that idea came from, but the notion of a person who had died being that present in your life was something that very much resonated with Angie and very much resonated with me,” Nash shared. “It made the episode [complete] – it gave it a fullness that seemed like a good choice. Initially, some of the discussions we had were about doing clips, but that seemed almost like people were sitting in chairs going, ‘Remember when?’ It didn’t seem like the tone we were going for. And when we landed on this idea – which our special effects department executed very beautifully – it seemed right. It’s like Maura said: there are studies of women who have lost their husbands, and like 60% of them actually reported seeing their husbands in the months after their death. It’s a real thing. So once you kind of ground it in reality, you think that this is a thing you can do, we just had to figure out how to do it. And boy, didn’t Angie Harmon act the hell out of it?” - See more at: