The final season of Mary Kills People has been an emotional ride, and it comes to an end tonight.
As we get ready to say goodbye to this groundbreaking show, I wanted to share some more of my conversation with executive producers Marsha Greene, Tassie Cameron and Amy Cameron from my set visit earlier this year.
Below, we chat about the five-month time jump, themes explored in Season 3, and key character arcs as they were writing toward a conclusion. And be sure to read Heather’s preview of the Mary Kills People series finale and interview with Richard Short.
In the first two seasons, you shot in the summer, but Season 3 was filmed in the winter. How did that shift change the look and feel of the series?
Amy: We jumped forward in time out of necessity because we were shooting in winter. Caroline was pregnant and due in the summer. We didn’t want to be shooting in the last trimester of her pregnancy, so we pitched it to the network that we would push it to the winter. We loved winter for the water theme element. There was something really lovely about shifting the look of the show a bit. [And the writers] were so inspired by the idea of Caroline actually being pregnant that it also became part of the storytelling.
Family is a big part of the season. Plus, with Nicole involved in Joy’s, Mary’s work becomes a family business.
Amy: It’s a family business in more ways than one because Mary is pregnant and killing people. When we opened the season, they have started the hospice, and it’s all in Nicole’s name. Nicole is owner and operator of Joy’s, so Des and Mary are working out of the hospice. They’ve gone as legitimate as they can in terms of their business.
Jess learned the truth about her mom in Season 2 of Mary Kills People. Does that have an effect on her this season?
Tassie: Jess’ knowledge of what her mom does allows her to ask harder questions that inform her storyline with Naomi. As we learned over the course of Season 2, Naomi is struggling with mental health issues. The morality about whether you should help someone who wants to die is very present and active in Jess and Naomi’s [Season 3] storyline.
Des has struggled throughout the series, and his friendship with Mary has been tested again and again. Now the team is back together and working at Joy’s. What does this mean for Des?
Marsha: The hospice was his dream. It’s the realization of his dream, but there are some realities to that dream that he didn’t consider. With the hospice, some of the situations that Des finds himself in have led him to make his own questionable choices. He understands how complicated death is in a way that he hasn’t before because Mary always took the lead.
Tassie: In order to successfully function in this death retreat, Des has learned how to cut himself off from human connections. [At the beginning of the season], he is very business-like and doesn’t want to know names or have any human, messy connections. And of course, we gave him someone to have a messy, human connection with. A number of people challenge Des’ desire to keep his defences up.
A new character, Frances, comes into play. How does she compare to the Seasons 1 and 2 villains?
Amy: [The writers] set her up as a relatively benign presence. That’s part of her character and how she’s doing what she does. She’s sort of a forgettable person.
Tassie: We were trying to get back to the core themes that interested us in the first place. Our first two villains were criminal mastermind, drug dealing siblings. When looking at what Mary does and if it’s moral, good or bad, we created a character that could help us investigate those themes a little bit more. Frances is a funhouse mirror version of Mary. She’s Mary if Mary was a sociopath. Frances believes in the same things as Mary but has a very different approach.
The Season 2 cliffhanger left viewers wondering if Ben survived. Did you consider killing him off?
Amy: Ben allows Mary to be vulnerable in a way that can’t be with anyone else. Everywhere else, she’s a boss or a mother, but with Ben, she can just be Mary. She has struggled with being open and honest with anyone because she’s hiding and compartmentalizing so many parts of her life. To remove the person who allows her to be vulnerable would have been a weird [choice].
Marsha: Once we knew it was the last season, it felt odd to not have him back as part of this trilogy.
Amy: Ben is in a different state of mind after what he went through, and is at a different point in his life. As much as we were able to strip Mary down to who she is with Ben, the reverse is also true. He’s stripped of being a cop, so he meets Mary again on very raw terms.
How do Ben and Mary come back from that betrayal in the car wash scene with Olivia at the end of Season 2?
Tassie: The challenge of this season was watching them come back from that. We talked about that scene in the car wash more than I can tell you, where we left them and how to come back from that in any meaningful way in six episodes. [Season 3] isn’t the same cat and mouse, cop and suspect dynamic. That gave us the opportunity to say, “What if Ben was at her house for dinner? What would these two people being normal look like?” It was very interesting.