ABC’s Suburgatory always brings the laughs. But this Wednesday’s one-hour season finale (airing at 8/7c) finds the denizens of Chatswin also dealing with plenty of emotional upheaval as George and Dallas’ plan to merge their families blows up in their faces.
Below, executive producer Emily Kapnek gives TVLine the scoop on Tessa and Dalia’s feud — which turns violent in the finale (take a look at the photo to the right for proof) — a mother of a return, and the future of lovebirds Tessa and Ryan.
TVLINE | How is Tessa going to retaliate against Dalia?
Tessa and Dalia have been on each other’s s–t list for a while. [Laughs] As the blows get lower and dirtier, Tessa is scouring her mind for a way to turn this around… Things really get pretty dirty between the two of them. Ultimately, these two really have a lot in common. One of the great moments in that fight sequence between the two of them [in the finale is] where [they're] like, “Your mom said, ‘Hi.’” “Your dad said, ‘Hi.’” They have such a long list of injuries where they have all this overlap about people that have hurt them or not been there for them when they should have been. That makes the emotion that much more at the surface. These two have a long way to go before they can reconcile, and I do have hopes that we’ll get them there.
TVLINE | How does the tension between them affect George and Dallas’ relationship?
It’s just the worst case scenario. The parents have been a little bit removed from how bad things have gotten between the girls… Everything comes to a head in the worst possible way when George is trying to contemplate this idea of potentially blending families to prove to Dallas what he’s always been trying to prove to Dallas — that he loves her and cares about her and is invested in her. When he realizes how bad things are between Tessa and Dalia, it’s just the worst timing. Stuff just kind of falls apart.
TVLINE | There’s a lot of shifting in terms of who’s living where. Can you talk a little bit about Tessa moving out? Where does that leave her?
One of the things that happens when you have divorced parents is that there always is that option of, “I’m going to go live with my mom. I’m going to go live with my dad.” For Tessa, it hasn’t really been an option. Her mom’s not been around, but now that she has this newly forged relationship with her grandmother, she’s trying to play that card. … One of the most frustrating things about being a young adult is that you have all these strong feelings like you should be independent and you should be able to make choices for yourself, but your hands are a little bit tied. So we see Tessa trying to scramble for that independence and George giving her the space to figure it out. But Tessa doesn’t have the support where she thinks she does. It is a little bit of a reveal there, what her options actually are.
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TVLINE | You said before that Malin Akerman is going to be back. What role does Alex play in the finale?
In the writers room, we felt that Alex would have to wake up [Christmas] morning, find her kid gone and realize, “My God. She doesn’t really have any allegiance to me, and I haven’t done much to make her feel connected. If I want to have a relationship with this kid, I’ve got to be more accessible.” So our finale has Alex waiting in the wings and trying to assess if there’s a right time. Tessa’s grandmother winds up doing a little bit of puppeteering behind the scenes when she gets wind of the fact that George and Tessa are at odds. It does wind up being a clean entry point for Alex to sail back in and test the waters to see if Tessa is ready to spend time getting to know her.
TVLINE | Are things really over between Tessa and Ryan?
It’s easier for them to say goodbye in an argument. They’re clinging to that break-up as a way to make the process of letting go easier. The two of them have undeniable chemistry. The actors are great. We have a very sweet send-off in the finale between the two of them. We get to see that there is still a [strong] connection there, still a lot of feelings and attraction. For that reason, the door’s always a little open.
TVLINE | Parker Young has a pilot. What does that mean for a Ryan Shay’s future on Suburgatory?
This season, we obviously have a huge cast of regulars. We did a certain episode commitment with Parker. We would do the same if his pilot didn’t go forward and keep him in our world as much as we can. If his show does go, hopefully, we get him to return and just do some guesting, maybe for the holiday episodes. You never know. TV things are always in flux. The door is always open. We adore Parker. He is hugely talented and, obviously, a really big part of the Shay family.
TVLINE | There’s a lot of emotional stuff going on in the finale. Where does the levity come from in the episode?
The comedy comes from this purity ball that Sheila is putting together. In her mind, Chatswin girls are growing up too fast. Things are getting too racy and this is her way of slowing things down. Of course, on the night of the purity ball, Tessa and Ryan wind up hooking up in the bathroom. So that’s kind of Chatswin in a nutshell. [Laughs] On the one hand, Sheila is downstairs preaching and right under her nose is the very thing she is concerned about happening.