'Are We Actually Doing This?': FBI: Most Wanted's Roxy Sternberg Talks The Gruesome Serial Killer Case And Heartbreaking Twist For Barnes

Remy, Barnes, and Nina in FBI: Most Wanted Season 5x04
(Image credit: Mark Schafer/CBS)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of FBI: Most Wanted Season 5, called "Hollow."

FBI: Most Wanted is by far the darkest of the three hit FBI shows on CBS, and the 2024 TV schedule delivered quite possibly the most gruesome episode of the year so far with "Hollow." The task force headed upstate to hunt a serial killer who had been brutally killing and consuming – yes, really – Indigenous women. As if that wasn't a big enough source of stress, Barnes was also facing problems with her wife at home. Actress Roxy Sternberg spoke with CinemaBlend about what went down... and what she was surprised could air on network TV.

The case of the week was gruesome enough when the agents only knew that there was a killer targeting women who wouldn't be missed until it was too late. It got much grosser when they realized that he was harvesting the organs of the women to eat, and abducted a pregnant woman with the intention of eating her nutrient-rich placenta. Barnes dropped a line about "human foie gras," which I noted to the actress is not something you'd expect to hear from many shows on TV. Roxy Sternberg responded:

No, you don't get many. I don't think you get to see those things either. You see those organs out. It was crazy. It was crazy.

The women of the task force made a disgusting discovery when they tracked down the killer's home and opened his freezer to discover some human organs being kept on ice. That wasn't even the pinnacle of the gore, as they would discover a shack in the woods that I for one couldn't believe made it to the airwaves on CBS. When I mentioned as much, Sternberg agreed and said:

There were moments where I was like, 'Are we actually doing this? Are we sure we want to go forward with this? This is kind of crazy.' It was crazy, is what it was. It was so dark that it was almost unfathomable. I feel all of the cases are dark, but somehow I'm able to get my mind to go there because I see it on the news. You don't see this very often on the news. I just couldn't digest it. It was really awful. It was disgusting.

The five seasons of FBI: Most Wanted so far (which are available streaming via Paramount+ subscription) have frequently ripped or at least borrowed from real-life headlines. While there are tragic real-life statistics about Indigenous women being murdered and going missing, "Hollow" hit a bit harder for Roxy Sternberg without as much of a frame of reference for the show's organ-eating serial killer. And who could argue that it wasn't "awful" and "disgusting" for the characters to process?

Charlotte and Barnes in FBI: Most Wanted Season 5x04

(Image credit: Mark Schafer/CBS)

Unfortunately, the serial killer wasn't the only problem that Barnes had to deal with in "Hollow," although her other struggle was domestic rather than despicable and murderous. The first scene of the episode between the agent and her wife showed that Charlotte was busy outside of the home due to a trial in Washington, D.C., and not quite putting a lot of stock in her wife's attempts to plan a date night.

At first, it seemed like they just weren't on the same page due to two very busy careers. By the end, though, there was a more heartbreaking reveal: Charlotte dropped the bombshell on Barnes that she'd met somebody else. Roxy Sternberg opened up about how she approached that final scene with her co-star, Fedna Jacquet, with the reveal:

Fedna is an amazing actor. I love working with her. It's been amazing having her there. She's also been there from the beginning, from Season 1 of the show. So it's lovely having that rock and we always have really fun, difficult, different things to do, from her giving birth in a mall to this happening at home to mother-in-law stress. I feel like it's just great being able to play with her, and we always have a little talk beforehand. Like, 'I was thinking this, I was thinking that,' but I didn't want the scene to be so obvious that it was going to end the way it ended. She has this one line, which is 'We need to talk,' and it's like, 'Oh God, that doesn't sound good.'

"We need to talk" rarely leads in any good directions on the small screen, and that proved to be the case in "Hollow" as well, even though Barnes initially had no idea what her wife was going to say. Roxy Sternberg continued:

I wanted it to be a bit playful... I always like to have some kind of image in my head or some kind of story in my head before I do a scene and I had this image that I was going to come home, maybe get some food together, and maybe start cleaning the house and get ready for Charlotte to come home. I was hopeful that maybe I could get her to forget that she was upset with me, and she takes me by surprise sitting in the bloody dark. It's all kind of, 'What the hell's going on? Why are you in the dark? And now you want to speak to me? This is all kind of weird. What the hell's going on?' But still in denial. I just wanted to play it as fun to a certain point and then it's heartbreaking. And then it really hits her.

It was playful to a certain point, but even Barnes' best efforts to deny that something was off were foiled by the end. Charlotte looked heartbroken in her own way, and clearly took no joy in breaking this news to her wife. In fact, it showed a clear difference between the two women. Sternberg explained:

I think there is usually one person in a relationship that tries to make it okay. I feel like there's usually one person that is the driver behind it. The one that wants to make a change, and then there's one that wants to hold on and not make any changes, and that's definitely me in this situation. The one that wants to kind of keep things as they are, but things aren't okay as they are. She's just in denial, is what it is. Poor Barnes, as she's so consumed in her work.

Barnes has proved capable of many incredible feats over the years of FBI: Most Wanted so far, but achieving a healthy work/life balance hasn't been one of them, even when she took some time off in the wake of Jess' death. Roxy Sternberg touched on the Jess era of her character's life as she continued, saying:

I feel like she's a real workaholic. She was when Jess was there, and then when Remy came in and she had to prove herself all over again to this new person having worked with Jess for so many years. She now has to prove herself to this new boss and now she has gotten herself to a nice place. She now has this new castmate. She's really trying in all parts of her life but the most important thing, unfortunately, is being compromised.

Barnes and Charlotte's marriage survived when the agent went through the pain of Jess' death after he was killed off in Season 3, and survived the frequent cast changes that led to Shantel VanSanten's Nina Chase as the newest member of the team. Was "Hollow" the end of their relationship? Only time will tell, but Charlotte saying that she met somebody doesn't necessarily have to be the death knell of their marriage. There are plenty of questions that need answers first.

Keep tuning in to CBS on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET for new episodes of FBI: Most Wanted, following FBI: International at 9 p.m. and FBI at 8 p.m. All three are available streaming via Paramount+, with Most Wanted also available streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).