Enlightened Finale Post Mortem: Mike White on Amy's Future and Her Explosive Final Showdown
Enlightened‘s Season 2 finale ended with a bang — but also with a peaceful meditation.
After an entire season of working to expose the sins of Abaddon’s greedy, felonious CEO Charles Szidon, Amy finally saw all the information she’d gathered land on the front page of the L.A. Times.
But before the story broke, Szidon learned of Amy’s whistleblowing ways (thanks to Tyler coming clean to his girlfriend/Szidon’s executive assistant Eileen).
In a series of events that was alternately suspenseful, thrilling and hilarious, Amy was escorted up to Szidon’s office, where his minions threatened to sue her and demanded she tell them exactly the information she’d leaked to the newspaper. In the face of their threats, though, Amy found a new strength and clarity of purpose. “You took my hard drive,” she said, breezily. “You figure it out.” Shortly thereafter, Szidon lost his corporate cool, dismissing Amy as having nothing more than “fuzzy-headed idealistic notions that don’t f****** apply.”
Amy’s response was concise, but breathtaking: “If caring about something other than money is dopey, than I’m a f****** moron. And the only feeling I feel right now is satisfaction. I think this meeting’s over. Thanks for the 15 years.”
Cue Amy exiting via elevator, and Szidon on the other side of the door, screaming obscentities and threatening to crush our heroine like a bug. It was, without a doubt, the perfect bookend to the opening moments of the entire series — back when Amy had her nervous breakdown and pried open the same elevator door to scream abuse at the married coworker with whom she’d had an affair. In other good news, Amy’s mom read the explosive Times piece and finally seemed to understand (and be proud of) her daughter’s mission; Amy turned to Levi in her hour of need and found her ex-husband’s anger had subsided, and his shoulder was open for leaning purposes; and Amy convinced Eileen that she was solely responsible for taking down Szidon, and that Tyler would never have knowingly hurt her.
The Season 2 finale began with Amy asking, “Am I my higher self or am I in the mud? Am I an agent of change or a creator of chaos? Am I the fool, the goat, the witch, or am I enlightened?” But it ended with lovely clarity: “You can change. And you can be an agent of change.”
TVLine caught up with series creator, writer and star Mike White to talk about Amy’s final showdowns with Szidon (and her former assitant Krista) and to talk about why he ended the season with a win for Laura Dern’s protagonist. And while HBO still has yet to announce whether Enlightened will be renewed or canceled, we got White to give us some hints of what we could expect to see if indeed a Season 3 happens.
TVLINE | Given that this is a season finale that could also be a series finale, how important was it for Amy to score a victory over Abaddon, to have a happy ending, if you will?
Amy spends so much of her time being not particularly coherent when it comes to her bloviating about political stuff. So it was important to me that when she finally has this ultimate confrontation with power, that she manages to be eloquent. Otherwise, the whole thing feels like it’s a fool’s errand. It’s important that in the end, Amy’s not a fool. She certainly lets her emotional reaction to things override her intellectual side, or the ability to have a more nuanced reading of situations, but in the end there’s something pure and important in her mission.
TVLINE | The other scene in the finale that was amazing — and amazingly horrifying — was Amy bursting into Krista’s hospital room right after she’s given birth and chewing her out for tipping off Szidon to the article — not knowing all along that Krista is totally innocent, that it was Tyler who gave her up to Eileen. Talk to me a little about the dynamic of the Krista-Amy relationship.
To me, there is a reading of that relationship as one of baby envy. Actually, a reading of the entire show is what kinds of hijinks people can get into if they don’t have kids to distract them. It’s really something that I can relate to. So, it always felt to me from the beginning of the pilot — and poor Sarah Burns had to be pregnant [on screen] for like three years — but there’s the idea that Krista is pregnant and is living the life Amy could have had, had not a couple bad things happeneded to her. The backstory is that Amy had a miscarriage and then, out of that, she ended up getting a divorce. It’s the idea that had things gone a different way, would Amy be Krista? Krista is living the life that, in a sense, Amy may have at one point wanted — and it makes her crazy. In a way, it’s sort of unraveling, whether consciously or unconsciously, the threads of pleasure that Krista is deriving from this simple life that she’s just living — without any intent to drive Amy crazy. But just by existing, Krista makes Amy irritated and frustrated, and she wants to shove in Krista’s face all of these other issues and shake her cage. That is something that’s interesting to me. So, their final interaction — at least in this season — is Krista finally had the baby, and her family is happily enjoying this big, personal moment. And Amy still has to turn it into a much more conflicted drama.
TVLINE | And of course we also see hope for Tyler in his relationship with Eileen, with her coming back to his apartment in a wordless scene that nevertheless indicates she’s forgiving him.
I don’t know if we’ll get another season, and I’ve had this experience [working on other TV series as well]. Just as a cultural artifact, I wanted to feel like if we don’t do more than these two seasons, that all of these characters have some resolution. Yet while it ended on a positive note, their bubbles are very easily burst. So if HBO decides that they want to give us a Season 3, there’s certainly more story to tell.
TVLINE | With Szidon’s sins exposed in the LA Times story, Amy accomplished the mission she set in motion at the end of Season 1. What are the stories you’d like to tell if Enlightened gets another chapter?
My hope is that multiple shoes could drop over time. I think that Season 3 would be “Abaddon Strikes Back.” Amy’s reputation makes her a perfect person to rip apart, and I could imagine [Abaddon] launching a very effective smear campaign to discredit her as a whistleblower. I’d also be interested in pulling in all of these ancillary characters we’ve met, using them in a Rashomon way to be a party to a lawsuit and countersuit to figure out if Amy is a heroic whistleblower or if she’s a wackadoo bent on revenge — with a lot of personal faults. I mean I feel like there’s something interesting to that, putting your eye to the legal institution as another way to talk about justice and ethics in contemporary America.