This post contains spoilers from Queens‘ fall finale. Please proceed accordingly.
Knocking royalty off the throne is no small endeavor. But in Queens‘ fall finale Tuesday, one of the Artists Formerly Known as the Nasty Bitches went down for the count… and maybe worse?
Those who watched last week’s episode know that the masked gunman who confronted the women as they gazed at their billboard managed to shoot both the group’s manager, Eric, and Brianna. Of the two, Bri (played by Eve) was far more seriously wounded. And this week’s hour chronicled the vigil that Naomi, Jill and Valeria held for their friend while she underwent surgery to save her life.
The development takes on real-world significance given the recent news that Eve, who is expecting her first child with husband Maximillion Cooper, will miss several of Queens‘ remaining Season 1 episodes. For the straight scoop — as well as a discussion about how Jill’s crazed husband, Darren, turned out to be the shooter (!) — TVLine recently chatted with Queens showrunner Zahir McGhee. Read on for his take on the episode and what lies ahead.
TVLINE | So, the obvious first question: How much of this was planned, and how much of this was, “Oh, Eve is having a baby, we’ve got to work around that?”
I would say 85 percent was planned prior. Now, look, I’ll just be straight up, because why not? The setup for the shooting occurred in Episode 2, which I would have thought of in June. I didn’t know Eve was pregnant in June. I didn’t know Eve was pregnant until late August. We actually shot the scene where she gets shot in August, shortly after we found out. So I can’t say that she wouldn’t have gotten shot. Certainly, it helped decide who the person who was going to get shot. [Brianna] certainly was somebody we were discussing, anyway, as any good writing team would. You would go through all the options… We knew Eric came to the Billboard meetup. We knew we had to eventually lay in what that story was. All those things were built for us to be able to generate story throughout the season. So this was not a situation where we invented something to service this.
TVLINE | When news of her pregnancy broke, I remember thinking, “Hmm… maybe Brianna is going to get shot.”
Number one, kudos to [Eve]. None of this would have been possible without her. She and the production worked so insanely hard. We stopped everything to shoot as much of the season that we had done with her already, and that’s a testament to her other castmates. That’s a testament to her and the hard work that she put in, her commitment to the show, and our crew that worked tirelessly to, basically, throw everything out of order. And our directors, too, coming in for two days to shoot something in their episode that they weren’t going to come back and shoot for six weeks. And our producing director, Crystle [Roberson].
TVLINE | I watch TV pretty closely for my job, and I have to say: I was not expecting Darren as the shooter.
We did it! [Laughs] But after [Episode] 5, you would be thinking he definitely was, right? You know, he sets the divorce papers on fire.
TVLINE | Yes, but that was in Episode 5! And this show moves so quickly, I honestly didn’t have that part in my head.
We did a good job, I think. Number one, we were so concerned that it was so obvious, that he was the shooter from the beginning. In my head, I was very interested in the character. I wasn’t trying to give him super dimensions, but I was interested in this notion of: You’re married to someone. They were living a different truth, and they want to live that truth, and now you watch her become a celebrity, and she broke up with you on national TV. And we should celebrate everything that Jill stood up for, and her coming out and living in her truth, but there is another person who’s just at home being like, “I thought we had a life together,” right? … It’s like when he says in the car — which, everything he does is a little bit crazy — but there’s a truth in that, like, “I could have swallowed the Tina thing, but now I see you broke up with Tina, and you’re with someone else.”
I didn’t want to humanize him deeply, but what he’s feeling is real. He obviously takes it, like a lot of men, to a place that it just doesn’t have to go. So we were so concerned after 5 that it was so obvious that it was him that we were debating whether or not we had to see him again. I felt like if we saw him at all, he was going to be the number one suspect. Fortunately, there were a lot of compelling, interesting and wild stories that entered our world that allowed us to focus on some other characters. We certainly do a good job of, I think, hiding the ball and making that a total surprise, but also being something that doesn’t feel like it’s out of left field.
TVLINE | Was I correct in hearing a heartbeat sound at the very end of the episode? If so, that feels like a hopeful note to end on.
I mean, I’ve never spent so much time thinking about three seconds of a show, right? [Laughs] … This changed [right] up to the mix last Wednesday about how much, if any, do we need. When should it air? Calling Disney to be like, “If we play this over [a] black [screen], are you going to invade our black? Can you promise us that you’ll give up all the black that we have?” Because at first, we were just going to put it over the black, and then we were like, you never know. You can have that conversation, but you don’t know what might infringe, [adopts announcer voice] “Tonight on Jimmy Kimmel!,” you know? [Laughs]
In my heart, I wanted it. I think some people are going to miss it, and I kind of like that idea. I like the idea of, “Did you hear that? I didn’t hear it. Did you hear it? Did you really hear it? What does that mean?” You know, I like that notion versus the definitive, like, we saw her eyes open. And I will say that: No matter what you hear or think you hear, that doesn’t tell us what happened two minutes later.
TVLINE | What can you tell us about Eve’s involvement in the rest of the season?
I am loathe to give it away, because it gives away a little bit of the story going forward, how much of the show we actually shot. I will say this: We have definitely shot more than you’ve seen of Eve. But I will say that with this caveat: LIke a show like This Is Us, our show exists in a past timeline of 20 years ago. There’s also 20 years intervening in the middle that we have not explored at all. So even if Eve[‘s character] died in Episode 8, she could be in 100 more episodes of the show. It would totally make sense. So I say that we’re definitely not done with Eve and her story, and I say that without saying definitively whether she lives or dies.
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