The River Star Weighs In on That 'Holy S—t!' Finale, Burning Questions Still to Be Answered

ABC’s The River wrapped up its eight-episode freshman run on Tuesday night by putting one of its main characters through quite the game-changing metamorphosis –- meaning, the river itself was reconfigured by the evil Boiuna spirit, effectively cutting off the Magus‘ escape route with the grimmest of dead ends.

Upon seeing that special effects sequence for the first time this morning, Leslie Hope tells TVLine, “I was like, ‘Holy s—t!’ I mean, I knew what we were supposed to be looking at [when filming the final scene], and the notion on the page was terrific and scary, but it was really well-executed.” (Watch that closing sequence here: http://www.hulu.com/embed/hAAmBNPt-hKvEwdVpXEHjA/2485/2595 )

And with that chilling closer, just like that it was made clear what Season 2 would be about. “Yeah, well – we should hope!” Tess’ portrayer says of the show’s prospect for renewal.

While The River never quite overflowed in the ratings, it did see a bump in its final week. Plus, Hope believes, sticking with a truncated episode count could be alluring as ABC makes its decisions for the 2012-13 season.

“[ABC president] Paul Lee is British, so he comes from a world where seasons are shorter,” she notes. And the actors benefit as well. “It’s a big show to maintain, just in terms of the emotional pitch you have to ratchet up on a daily basis, so that’s a good way to go.”

After all, so many cards were laid on the table — so many agendas and secrets revealed –in the finale and the weeks preceding, that a second season would not be lacking for material.

“[Our writers] could tell stories for the rest of our lives put together,” Hope declares. “They’ve always got something simmering between all three of them, so I have no doubt that would have plenty of stories to spin.” For example, young Jahel and what happened to her mother remains much of a mystery. There’s also the matter of Lena’s ominous birthmark, how she got it and what it means, and the nature of Kurt’s cryptic connection to the Source. “Not to mention, I imagine there will hell to pay when we all sit down and have a family chat!” Hope offers with a laugh.

Hey, maybe the Magus crew will even bail on the boat and take their trek to the jungle if the Boiuna is going to play hardball with the waterways. “The truth is,” Hope reiterates, “there are a lot of stories to be told when you put people together in a space like [the Amazon].”

But at the very least, if The River has met its end, Hope can cross “supernatural horror-drama” off her to-do list as an actress.

“I’m 46 years old, and I’ve been in the business for 30 years, and at this point in my life I’m only interested in trying for a big swing,” she shares. “I’m most interesting to step into a completely different world, and that’s what we got to do on this show.”

What did you think of The River‘s finale? And what lingering mysteries do you most want explored?