Are big changes afoot on Suburgatory?
In the one-hour finale of ABC's sophomore comedy, George (Jeremy Sisto) and Dallas (Cheryl Hines) take their whirlwind romance to the next step with the potential purchase of a new home, which rubs Tessa (Jane Levy) the wrong way. What comes after will affect even the most stable of relationships in the small Chatswin suburb.
For creator Emily Kapnek, who inked an overall deal with Warner Bros. TV, the arc of the second season has been all about integrating big-city transplants George and Tessa into the sometimes-kooky suburban lifestyle -- a departure from the "fish out of water" vibe its freshman year.
"For Tessa in season one, we put in a lot of the kicking-and-screaming element and her constantly weighing stuff against Manhattan," Kapnek tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Season two has been more about the assimilation for George and Tessa, and really immersing them in Chatswin and Chatswin culture, like dating. When you hold up Tessa in season two to who Tessa was in season one, there’s a lot that changed there and it happened slowly."
But the events of the one-hour finale will give Tessa a big dose of reality -- and it won't be pretty. In fact, a familiar face comes back into the fold in a significant way, complicating matters between Tessa and George.
"She has a lot of reason to feel -- at the end of the season -- frustrated and angry at Chatswin and herself for getting sucked in and doing stuff she thought she wouldn't do," Kapnek says.
Tessa, however, won't be the only one feeling this way.
"And George too," she continues. "George went into [the move] with the best intentions and thought Chatswin was the best place to raise his kid. There have been a lot of bumps along the way that came with the country club membership and getting involved with this woman [Dallas] he normally wouldn't be involved with, has really set nicely for season three."
Kapnek, who wrote the final season two episode "Stray Dogs," also stepped behind the camera in what is her directorial debut.
"It was a great episode to do it on with all these dramatic [moments] happening," Kapnek recalls of her experience. "There was the opportunity to shoot some cinematic scenes, which we like to do a lot on our show. It was just a fun way to end the season. It's an enormous amount of work obviously; it's like trying to run a marathon after you've just finished running a marathon."
As Kapnek tells it, the most challenging moment as a director wasn't blocking a scene or translating a moment from page to screen, but rather being the one to start the fires that as a showrunner, wearing multiple hats, she often puts out.
"I'm so used to being in the position of putting out fires," she says, "and when you're directing you have to be willing to start fires. You can't just buckle down: 'OK, we didn't get what we wanted but we gotta move on because we're running long.' I think it's difficult to fight my instinct to make everything clean and easy; sometimes you have to stay and push it a little bit and go longer, make sure you got what you've come for. It was contrary to what my normal role is on the show, and that was the trickiest part."
The final installments, Kapnek promises, gear up for an intriguing third season. (ABC has not officially renewed Suburgatory.)
"There are a lot of great changes set for season three," she says. "It’s my favorite way to go out, with a great stir of the pot so that there are all these wonderful, complicated story lines to come back to."
Suburgatory ends season two at 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC. Check back after the East Coast airing for an in-depth chat with Kapnek about the finale's biggest developments and what's to come.
- Emily Kapnek