Snowfall is making its highly-anticipated return to FX this week. The fourth season comes well over a year after the third season ended in late 2019.
Taking place at the top of 1985, the season sees Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) and company "benefitting greatly from the rising tide of addiction, they are also starting to become aware of the damage the drug is doing to the people and to the place they love." With the War on Drugs getting funded, there are rumblings in the government that one of their own may have a hand in the epidemic. Franklin will "emerge from his near-grave in order to try and regain control over his business and end the rising gang violence in the streets before it becomes an all-out war."
Ahead of the series' premiere, Shadow and Act spoke with series star Isaiah John who previewed what's to come for the season overall — as well as what to specifically look out for with his character, Franklin's right-hand, Leon. As viewers will notice, the dynamic between them will be different.
As John explained, "Franklin was gone for a while and Louie kind of had to step up in a way, and Leon didn't know how to take that because he's cool with being Franklin's right-hand man and taking orders from him and doing what he needs to do...but as far as like someone else coming up and him having to take orders from Aunt Louie...like he ain't even taking orders from his own mom [laughs]. It causes a rift with their relationship because Franklin comes in thinking everything's going to be back the same, so they really have to figure out how to mesh with this new dynamic that Franklin is kind of getting thrown into because he's been down, but Leon was like, 'I got my mind made up of how I want to interact with you and everyone else.'"
Teasing what is to come between the characters in season 4, the actor added, "I think they have a brotherly love for each other that is unmatched [and] I haven't seen that dynamic...like, no matter what, these two guys that aren't even blood-related [have this dynamic]."
Snowfall's fourth season comes at a time where more content, particularly in the form of documentaries and docuseries, is highlighting the crack epidemic and the role that government corruption played in it. A lot of dialogue has also been about the difference between society's response to the opioid epidemic vs. the crack epidemic. In a way, Snowfall was ahead of this curve in the way it portrayed the beginnings of the epidemic in its first season several years ago.
"For me, everything is about perspective," explained John. "So I feel like people that aren't in the Black community had one perspective. 'OK, [so] why [are] these Black people selling drugs in our community?' But now, we get a new perspective of how that even came in our community in the first place and why we felt the need that we had to do it, because a lot of opportunities were stripped from us. And the fact that you have people in a desperate situation that had an opportunity to possibly get their family out of poverty or out of a certain financial situation, and you come down to a point of desperation, you're gonna do it. I think that the perspective that was portrayed on just the situation in general was kind of one-dimensional. But now that we have had John Singleton come in and try to give us all this new perspective, like hey, this is not just black people killing each other or destroying their communities."
John also talked about his personal connection to the epidemic as well. "I know for me, because I was born in '95, it [research for the show] really informed me like, 'Wow, this is interesting because I have people that are close to my family that had personal interactions with crack.' And so it's just like when you have that one perspective, like, 'Man, like I wonder why that person did that, but you don't have a backstory...isn't one dimensional and you don't know much, you just have an opinion or something you really don't know about. And the research that I had to do for this project really broadened my perspective, not even just in this story, but just in life.'
Watch the full interview below, in which John talks about seeing himself all over social media for the show's viral scenes, what will surprise people most about season 4, having production suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and more:
Snowfall season 4 premieres Feb. 24 on FX.