'Fire Country' Star Kevin Alejandro Explains Manny's Escape to the Woods

In Season 2, Episode 9 of Fire Country, “No Future, No Consequences,” Manny Perez (Kevin Alejandro) was spiraling out of control.

The former Three Rock captain is usually a paragon of strength and leadership, but this week he was facing a disciplinary investigation for punching division chief Luke Leone (Michael Trucco) and accidentally starting a fire at the Firefighters’ Ball, and the stress of potentially losing the job he loves so much was causing him to act out.

He refused to take responsibility for his actions, insisting that Luke had it coming for trying to get Three Rock shut down, and he was being a real jerk about it, mouthing off to his daughter Gabriela (Stephanie Arcila), his officer Eve (Jules Latimer), and anyone else who had something to say about his behavior. Even worse, he was acting recklessly on the Lazarus campaign fire, handling dangerous, about-to-blow explosives while defying Jake’s (Jordan Calloway) order to get to safety.

It was a dark side of Manny we don’t usually see, but Kevin Alejandro said he loved playing it. “I love the fact that we’re highlighting Manny’s impulsiveness,” he told Parade, “because it comes from a genuine place of what he thinks is the right decision based on love and based on heart. There’s never any malice behind his choices.” Alejandro thinks it’s relatable, because we all make impulsive decisions sometimes, and can see where Manny and Fire Country’s other impulsive characters are coming from, even if we wouldn’t make those decisions ourselves. Or maybe we would!

“I’m not saying that his choices are the right choices,” Alejandro said. “But it leads to a deeper sort of understanding for himself of what he needs to do and how he should react.”

Keep reading for Alejandros’ break down of the episode.

Related: CBS Picks Up ‘Fire Country’ Spinoff: Everything to Know About ‘Sheriff Country’ So Far

On Manny’s failure to turn himself in

It took Eve calling him out to get Manny to be honest about not being OK. She correctly diagnosed that his reckless, blustery behavior was him trying to compensate for his feelings of shame and fear, and pointed out that he was setting a bad example for the Three Rock inmates, who look at him as a role model for a successful reintegration. After that, he confessed to Gabriela that he was wrong for hitting Luke.

Alejandro loves working with Latimer, and the relationship between their characters. “Jules and I, we have something that when we lock eyes, it’s like nothing can penetrate that room. In those moments, it’s our stage,” he said, adding that he loves how Manny and Jules learn from each other. “She’s a good yin to his yang,” he said.

The good news for Manny was that the disciplinary board declined to move forward, and his job is safe. The bad news was that the law was moving forward against him, and there was a warrant out for his arrest for aggravated battery and reckless endangerment.

When the campaign was over, Manny didn’t go back to Edgewater to turn himself in. He secretly stayed behind, and snuck off into the woods.

Alejandro explained that decision as Manny choosing to be there for Gabriela’s wedding to Diego (Rafael de la Fuente), which will happen in the finale. If he turns himself in now, he won’t be able to attend, and he would rather face more trouble later on than miss out on walking his daughter down the aisle.

“He’ll deal with the consequences that come as long as he has that one opportunity to be like, ‘Mija, I’m here,’” he said.

Manny will have to spend some time in the literal wilderness before he comes home, but he’ll probably be alright. Alejandro says he would be, if it were him. “I would actually do really well living in the woods,” he said. “I love living in the woods.” As an avid camper, he and his son like to take a few weeks to drive up from Los Angeles to Vancouver, where Fire Country films, and camp out of the back of Alejandro’s truck before production begins.

kevin alejandro as manny perez in fire country season 2

Kevin Alejandro as Manny Perez in ‘Fire Country’ Season 2
Sergei Bachlakov/CBS

On Manny’s unhealthy relationship with Roberta

When Manny makes it to Gabriela’s wedding, he’ll again reunite with his ex-wife Roberta (Paola Núñez). He and Roberta still have feelings for each other, and they kissed at the Firefighters’ Ball last week. But we shouldn’t be rooting for them to get back together.

In “It’s Not Over,” Manny told Eve that he was having a hard time, because Roberta asked him to get a drink for her even though he has a history of addiction. Alejandro explained that originally the line was different.

“The actual line was, ‘You know I have a history of addiction, right? Well, Roberta was my first addiction,’” he said. “And that was the greatest line for me to build off of. Because not only was there love, there was an addictive sort of thing about her. And that’s what I lead with. And I think every time that their eyes lock, and every time their heartbeats match, there’s gonna be that level of like, ‘Ugh, I still love you so much.’ And that will make for a lot of difficult decisions in the future.”

“It’s not exactly a good thing” that Roberta is back in Manny’s life, but it’s also a “beautiful struggle,” Alejandro said. “I think a lot of people who have been in love with the person who isn’t your person can relate to that sort of feeling.”

Related: Will Bode and Gabriela End Up Together on ‘Fire Country’?

Manny doesn’t yet know the biggest news of the episode, which is that Bode (Max Thieriot) is free. So it will be very interesting to see how he reacts to whatever Bode does at the wedding, because there’s no way Bode will be able to watch the woman he loves (and who still loves him) marry another man without trying to do something about it.

But whatever happens, Manny’s ultimate loyalty is to his daughter Gabriela, and he will be there to help her on her journey, as she faces a huge decision. “There’s something about this little family dynamic that they’re really doing justice to in the writing room,” Alejandro said, “and honestly anything between she and I feels like gold to me.”

Fire Country’s Season 2 finale airs Friday, May 17 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. The series is available to stream on Paramount+.

Next, ‘Fire Country’ Renewed for Season 3 on CBS: What to Know

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