WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the series finale of “Snowfall.”
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When John Singleton embarked on narrating the narrative of the impact of the ’80s cocaine trade on Los Angeles, he had a distinct vision. His aim was to create a storyline that completed a circle and seamlessly transitioned into his directorial debut, “Boyz ‘N the Hood,” a film set in the ’90s that delved into the harsh realities of Black families in South Central L.A. This groundbreaking movie earned Singleton, then 24 years old, his first Oscar nomination, making him the youngest and first Black filmmaker nominated for best director.
In FX’s “Snowfall,” Damson Idris played a pivotal role, portraying Franklin Saint and bringing Singleton’s narrative and vision to life, right up to the show’s concluding moments. As Franklin’s journey reached its conclusion on Wednesday night, fans bid farewell to the remnants of the show’s prolific anti-hero after his intense conflict with the CIA, his family, and the South Central dealers left him destitute, isolated, and teetering on the edge of sanity.
“We explored various iterations over the years,” shared “Snowfall” showrunner Dave Andron. “I recall pitching FX ideas for the fifth and sixth seasons. At that point, I considered scenarios like, ‘Maybe he attains his wealth but loses everything and everyone, wreaking havoc on his community, yet emerging as a solo figure.’ However, what we settled on felt right. Even in the earliest discussions with Leonard [Chang] and John [Singleton], there was contemplation about whether he ends up meeting the same fate as his father.”
Writer Walter Mosley concurred, expressing that the decision felt fitting and clarified that killing off Franklin was never part of their writing team’s plan. “I revisited it many times, and I believe we crafted the right conclusion for him and everyone else.”
In the absence of Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson), who died before transferring the millions he stole from Franklin back to him and his imprisoned mother, Cissy (Michael Hyatt), Franklin found himself in urgent need of cash. However, instead of heeding the advice of the few family and friends he had left, he systematically severed all his lifelines.
His descent from power led him into a life of crime, involving theft and murder, with a brief appearance by Peaches (Deray Davis), who had been part of the series from Season 2 until his character abruptly left town with $5 million of Franklin’s money.
The episode concluded with Leon (Isaiah John) journeying from Ghana back to South Central to visit Franklin, only to discover a mere semblance of his former best friend. Franklin appears disheveled, with hazy, bloodshot eyes, deteriorated teeth from excessive drinking (a habit he developed as his life unraveled), and his mother’s home—purchased with drug money—is being foreclosed due to unpaid property taxes.
In preparation for the final scene, the actor’s portrayal moved some of the production crew emotionally as they bid farewell to his character.
“When we entered the set for the first time with him, discussing hair, makeup, wardrobe, right? But I hadn’t seen the full thing. So, we walked onto the set for rehearsal in Cissy’s house. We shot that stuff before filming the scenes out in the street. The director, myself, and our script supervisor walked on set, and our script supervisor saw him in the next room, in the corner, head down, muttering, and shuffling around. She started crying. And I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is gonna land.’ Just seeing him, she couldn’t take it.”
The two friends take a walk through the changing neighborhood to reminisce about old times. At one point, they pause by a movie set with a young John Singleton in the director’s chair. Franklin shouts, “Y’all ain’t gon’ win no Oscar!”
Idris ad-libbed that line, along with two other scenes, as shared by Andron.
“One of them aligned with Leon as they’re walking down, and he’s saying ‘sexy, chocolate motherfucker like me,’” says Andron. (The actual line Idris said is “Sexy, chocolate n–– like me, can’t keep a bitch”).
“Then, the real heartbreaker with him and Leon standing there. Part of it was wanting to really push Isaiah and get Isaiah as Leon to the point of breaking, and when Damson leaned in and said, ‘You’re my best friend, and I’m proud of you.’ That was Damson. I was like, Oh my God, and that broke Isaiah. It was perfect. It was unbelievable.”
“Snowfall” delved into the origins of the U.S. crack epidemic in South Central, Los Angeles, portraying the narrative from a Black perspective as the crisis afflicted Black communities nationwide. Franklin Saint forged a life in the cocaine trade, causing destruction in his wake, resulting in the loss of everything. His mother became incarcerated, and his father, Alton (Kevin Carroll), was killed alongside his uncle Jerome (Amin Joseph), leaving his aunt Louie (Angela Lewis) to lead a life on the run.
Contemplating the wreckage, fans pondered the significance of Franklin’s downfall, prompting the question: Who emerges victorious in this cutthroat game of survival?
“It’s not so much that nobody wins. Though, that’s part of it. But I mean, this is also true about life itself. Nobody wins, you know?” remarked Mosley. “This is a really concentrated experience of life. How these people, having done their absolute best, couldn’t think of everything. In that way, it transcends race.”
Singleton’s visionary impact was commemorated at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where plans were unveiled to dedicate a lounge in his honor. The lounge, adorned with posters from Singleton’s renowned films, will be situated outside the Dean’s office suites.
View the photos of the lounge below.