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Home » ‘Snowfall’ Finale: How Damson Idris Ad-Libbed Its Tearjerking Ending

‘Snowfall’ Finale: How Damson Idris Ad-Libbed Its Tearjerking Ending

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the series finale of “Snowfall.”

When John Singleton set out to tell the story about the effects of the ’80s cocaine business on Los Angeles, he had a clear vision in mind. He wanted something that came full circle and ultimately led into his directorial debut “Boyz ‘N the Hood,” a film that was set in the ’90s and explored the harsh realities of Black families living in South Central L.A. The movie earned the then 24-year-old his first Oscar nomination, making him the youngest and first Black filmmaker to be nominated for best director.

Damson Idris was a major part of the story of “Snowfall.” Starring as Franklin Saint, Idris carried out Singleton’s tale and vision down to the show’s final scenes. As Franklin’s story came to an end on Wednesday night, fans finally said goodbye to what was left of its prolific anti-hero after his brutal war with the CIA, his family and the dealers of South Central which rendered him penniless, alone and on the brink of sanity.

“Over the years, we talked a lot lot of different variations of it,” said “Snowfall” showrunner Dave Andron. “I can remember pitching FX the fifth and sixth seasons and at that point, I was like, ‘Well, maybe he gets his money and loses everything and everybody and destroys his community, but he becomes the soloist.’ But this was the right thing to do and even in the very, very, very early mini rooms we did with Leonard [Chang] and John [Singleton] there was a talk of ‘Well, maybe he ends up destroyed like his father.’”

“It feels like the right thing,” added writer Walter Mosley. Mosley also told Variety that killing Franklin just wasn’t in the plans for their writing team. “I read it many times and I think we had the right ending for him and for everybody else.”

With Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson) dead before he could transfer the millions of dollars he stole from Franklin back to him and his imprisoned mother, Cissy (Michael Hyatt), Franklin was in need of cash quickly. But instead of taking the advice of the family and friends he had left, he slowly clipped away all of his life lines.

He resorted to a life of thieving and killing in his fall from power, which also included a short cameo from Peaches (Deray Davis). Davis starred on the series from Season 2 until his character abruptly skipped town with $5 million of Franklin’s money.

SNOWFALL “The Struggle” — Season 6, Episode 10 (airs Wednesday, April 19th) — Pictured: Damson Idris as Franklin Saint. CR: Ray Micksaw/FX.

The episode closed with Leon (Isaiah John) making the trip from Ghana back to South Central to pay Franklin a visit, but what he finds is a shell of his former best friend. Franklin is unkempt. His eyes are hazy; one is bloodshot. His teeth are past the point of repair due to his excessive drinking (a habit he picked up once his life began to run sour), and his mother’s home — which he previously bought with his drug money — is being foreclosed by the city because of unpaid property taxes.

In preparation for the final scene, the actor even left some of the production crew emotional as they also said goodbye to his character.

“When we walked onto the set for the first time with him and we talked about what they were going to do hair, makeup, wardrobe, right? But I hadn’t seen the full thing. So we walked onto the set for rehearsal and it was in Cissy’s house. We shot that stuff before we shot the stuff out in the street. The director, myself and our script supervisor walked on set and our script supervisor saw him over in the next room, in the corner, head down and 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 go for a walk in the changing neighborhood to reflect on old times. At one point, they stop by a movie set with a young John Singleton in the director’s chair. To whom Franklin shouts, “Y’all ain’t gon’ win no Oscar!”

That line, along with two other scenes, were ad-libbed by Idris, Andron shares.

“One of them aligned to Leon when 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 was like, ‘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 “The Struggle” — Season 6, Episode 10 (airs Wednesday, April 19th) — Pictured: Isaiah John as Leon Simmons. CR: Ray Micksaw/FX.

“Snowfall” served as an exploration of the U.S. crack epidemic’s beginnings in South Central, Los Angeles. It was a story told from the Black perspective, as the issue plagued Black neighborhoods and homes across the country. Franklin Saint built a life while pedaling cocaine and, consequently, killing off those around him. He ultimately lost everything because of it. His mother became a prisoner. His father, Alton (Kevin Carroll), was killed along with his uncle Jerome (Amin Joseph), and his aunt Louie (Angela Lewis) was left to live a life on the run.

In looking at this wreckage, fans considered the meaning behind Franklin’s downfall, which begs the question: Who wins in this game of eat or be eaten?

“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?” said 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 vision was celebrated at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts on Thursday as the school unveiled its plans to honor the director with a lounge named in his honor. The sitting area will be located outside of the Dean’s office suites and will be decorated with posters from Singleton’s popular films.

View the photos of the lounge below.

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