'FBI' Star Zeeko Zaki Explains How the Heck OA and Gemma Are Still Together

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With its latest harrowing case, FBI is bringing up some hard memories for Special Agent OA Zidan (Zeeko Zaki). In “No One Left Behind,” the team investigates a kidnapping case that quickly gets political as the missing person is a member of the Taliban, and he’s been taken hostage by soldiers in the hopes of trading for a POW in Afghanistan. While Maggie (Missy Peregrym) is taking some time off to focus on the young girl she’s now guardian of, OA and his own Army Ranger past take center stage. We also get to go home with him and his girlfriend, Gemma (Comfort Clinton), which might be the most shocking development at all. How on earth are those two still together? She does cocaine, he inadvertently got her friend killed when she worked as an informant to take down the mob running the nightclub they liked to go to. It feels like there’s no way this relationship is still working, and yet it clearly is. Zaki chalks it up to the fact that maybe Gemma and her dead friend simply “aren’t as close as they seem to be.” 

“I like to think of it as a true opposites attract relationship,” Zaki told Parade of OA and Gemma. “I definitely would have never thought the writers would have given him a relationship with, you know, a girl who does coke, so it’s been nice to play it slightly on screen, mostly off screen. It just kinda shows the line in the sand between my personal and professional life. OA hopefully seems to be handling it really well.”

Zaki also pointed out that Gemma seems to have been purposely “very far away” from his work partner, Maggie, meaning the two women are never going to be “butting heads.”

“It’s kind of nice that it feels like a totally different world,” he added.

We’ll get to see a bit of that world in the episode, which reveals a lot of new information about what OA has been through and how to approach it with the people in his life. “We get to see him struggle with opening up to his girlfriend, and we see all of it coming to a head by the end of the episode where he does become extremely vulnerable with her, and it was extremely fun to play.”

Read on for the rest of Parade‘s interview, in which Zaki shares his feelings on the sensitive topics addressed in this episode and teases a dramatic end to the season.

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Can you talk about the line between personal and professional and how that’s changing for OA, thanks to Gemma?

Zaki: Well, I think what we’ve seen with OA is he carries a lot on his own shoulders, and in moments throughout the series, you’ll see that there are these breaking points. A few seasons ago, he started going to therapy, and I think what it reinforces is that no one can do this alone, no matter how hard you try. It’s nice to see a strong hero like OA have these vulnerable moments, have these dilemmas, and then see him actively seeking the healing of his traumas.

Do you think OA’s experience with therapy helped him see that Maggie needed that time off?

I think that’s a result of just our overall connection and the ability to see that both of us will do anything for the job and anything for the work, and being able to step in for the other person to give them what they need. It takes a very strong person to be perfectly balanced and to know when to draw the line and when to take care of themselves and when to sacrifice work for self and things like that. Sometimes, you do need someone else to push you over that edge. It shows you can’t do this all on your own and no one is strong enough to carry the weight of the world.

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Do you think there’s a limit to what OA will do for this job, or how much he’s willing to give up?

I don’t know if there’s a limit, but I think you see in this episode that the job or system that OA exists in isn’t necessarily always as just and as honorable as he is. So you see this moment in this episode where the villains have kidnapped a terrorist to exchange for a prisoner of war, and there’s a very fine line where, on a personal level, I understand doing whatever it takes to save your brother, but I do have to honor the system of rules that are in place. That is kind of what the show is all about. We are tied by the law, and we do have to honor this justice system even though it might not always be just.

What kinds of things does this case bring up for OA?

I think the easiest way to put it is that it just brings up some stuff that he’s packed away, very, very deep down. Staring face-to-face with a prisoner of war really reminds him of this trauma, and the ability to be triggered by it and to deal with it immediately takes a lot of courage. Hopefully it plays as a courageous thing that he’s doing by facing the darkness head on and communicating it with people and not trying to just pack it away even deeper.

It feels like there’s a lot for this episode to deal with, both politically and personally, for OA. How do you feel about how much the episode managed to cover?

I love when we do these episodes that really pack a lot of sensitive subjects into one episode. To me it’s like we have a show that, when it’s just a case of the week episode, can feel very fun. It can feel like we’re just creating an hour of escape. But then there’s a few episodes where we try to turn the temperature up a little bit and remind people of the sensitivity and the realities that are going on in the world, and we build the trust with the audience to sit with us and hand over their time. It feels very valuable to be able to take these opportunities to just wake people up to the intensity and the darkness of the realities of war and the realities of our political situation.

When episodes like this come across, I take them very seriously because me running after a bomb or a kidnapped kid, like, everyone can relate to just trying to solve a puzzle. But when it comes to these moments where I’m truly standing on a platform representing prisoners of war and representing soldiers and representing the United States Army and representing the country and then also representing my religion and my faith, that is the glue that holds this whole world together. And if these moments are false and untrue, and if we don’t do them and honor them correctly, I think the world can fall apart. So I am appreciative of how everybody really turns it on when we get into these sensitive topics.

What can you tease about the end of the season? What’s coming up?

We get back into Jubal’s storyline for a minute, and…you really get to see the team come together to honor losing one of their own, and whether it ends in a cliffhanger or not, we definitely get to experience a full circle moment and hopefully we honor it with some good scenes and a good episode.

Are you saying there’s a cliffhanger?

There’s always the potential for a cliffhanger, but I think we are going to satisfy the audience with this one. 

Next, ‘FBI’ Renewed for 3 Seasons, But Will Everyone Be Back? What We Know About Season 7

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