Why did Senior Criminalist Susie Chang have to die? Good question, strange question. It’s a question I asked loudly two weeks ago in my recap when the episode first aired. A question we were all basically guessing at wildly for the whole week after it happened…until. Until the actress herself Tina Huang addressed it in an interview with Talk Nerdy With Us last week. So, how was this decision made? Did the actress want out? Had she booked another project? Was Was it anything other than a creative decision by the writers to kill of yet another – albeit this time for less sadly mandatory reasons – longtime character from this series?
So here is Tina’s answer to whether she knew about Susie’s death going into Season 6:
“I actually did. Jan and everybody at TNT handled it so professionally. I knew pretty early on but of course I didn’t want to spoil it for the fans and that was a really difficult secret to keep under wraps. The Susie character is such a fun lovable character that Jan Nash (the show runner) is very, very sensitive about. She called me and we were all really upset to see this character go. At the same time I think the story opens the world up to interesting story lines for the other characters to go through that grieving process. I knew pretty early on. The writers and directors of the episode called me and we all spoke privately.”So, there you have it. It was a creative choice by the writers. Siiiiigh.
Writers have every right to write whatever stories they want. But the decision by a show built largely on cast chemistry to kill off another recurring, and – may I also say – beloved, character kind of baffles me. Yes, I get this is could be some big arc they want to have about grieving. But, dude, we already did that – and in very real, very sad life with Det. Barry Frost. So unless her death is part of a larger mystery that becomes a overarching plot this season, I just don’t get it.
Also, if her death was so integral to this season, why in the very next episode afterward, was there not one single, solitary mention of her, her passing or her absence from the crime lab? Hey, this person we supposedly like, respect and see every day in the office was murdered. Let’s all eat zeppole and ignore it!
Maybe they’ll get back to it this week. The writing staff was actually extremely sensitive and respectful in its handling of Lee Thompson Young’s unexpected death last season. But, then again, that makes me wonder why they want to revisit such a similarly emotional storyline. We’ve seen these people grieve – and for horrible real reasons. Why do it to us again?
The other thing about this decision that really drives me nuts is its essential halves the show’s diversity. Now we only have poor Nina Holiday to carry the torch. And – whether intentionally or not – they’ve basically added a white male while taking away a woman of color from the cast. Now the addition of Kent Drake to the crime lab smacks of a replacement for Susie Chang. And, as an Asian-American woman myself, I hate to see another character like Susie go. There are so few of us already. Why not give us our own (living) storylines instead of making our deaths catalysts for storylines in other (white) characters?
Like I was saying, siiiigh. Who knows, maybe it’ll all pay out fine. But for now, I’m left wondering what possible “interesting story lines” could be opened by these developments that seem worth this loss.