SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Season 2 and series finale of The Catch. Note that the interview was done before the show was canceled Thursday.
Betrayals, betrayals and more betrayals – ABC’s The Catch went out for the season with even more back-stabbing than usual for this Shondaland tale of con artists, FBI agents, former and current lovers and the ever-shifting loyalties of family.
Stop reading here if you don’t want spoilers.
“The Mockingbird,” the John Scott-directed season two finale of the Shondaland series – which might or might not be back for a third season – began as private investigator Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos) and con artist Benjamin Jones (Peter Krause) joined forces with crime queenpin Margot Bishop (Sonya Walger) and her brother Rhys Griffiths (John Simm) to track down young Tessa Riley (Philippa Coulthard), the 15-year-old daughter of exes Ben and Margot. The girl – more fatale than waif – was kidnapped by Felicity (Shivani Ghai), Margot’s villainous sometime lover with designs on usurping Margot’s entire international criminal enterprise.
That would be enough to fuel any finale, but tonight’s Catch was barely 10 minutes old before young Tessa revealed herself to be in cahoots with Felicity, and soon had Ben, Margot and Rhys at gunpoint.
Meanwhile, Alice teamed with mega-wealthy ex-fiance Ethan Ward (Warren Christie) to rescue Ben and the others, while also dealing with a separate threat to the entire enterprise: the mysterious Mockingbird, a newcomer to L.A.’s criminal underworld threatening to undo the lucrative collaboration between Margot’s enterprise and Alice’s private investigation firm.
Mockingbird is also Alice’s brother Tommy (T.R. Knight). Well, more or less. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
After much twisting, turning and double-dealing, The Catch ended its season on an airport runway, Casablanca-style, with all involved coming to grips with the revelation that Tommy and Rhys – the real Mockingbird – had teamed up to swipe the entire kit and caboodle of criminal doings. Boarding a plane to escape the law were Ben, Margot and Tessa, with Alice, her loyal employee (and Margot’s squeeze) Danny Yoon (Jay Hayden) and Ethan bidding them a fond farewell – till later or Season 3, whichever comes first.
Deadline spoke to executive producer Allan Heinberg about the finale, how the show’s writers unravelled the byzantine storylines and what will happen if ABC gives The Catch a lease on life.
DEADLINE: Tonight’s episode – lots of betrayals there. How long have you known who was going to stab whom in the back?
HEINBERG: Well, we knew from the start that Rhys was going to be behind everything. We wanted to go in a different direction with him this year, and have people forget that he’s a dangerous man, a murderer, and so this year he played a sort of softer version of himself to ingratiate himself with the FBI so that by the end he could essentially be the king of Los Angeles. So that was something we wanted to do from the very beginning, and we knew Felicity was coming back, and we knew that Tessa was going to come back and that she was going to work for Felicity.
I will say this. Initially, before the role was cast, Tessa was going to turn out to be like a 32-year-old woman who was not really the daughter of Ben and Margot and who was simply impersonating her. Then once we cast Philippa Coulthard, we fell so madly in love with her that we just changed the rest of the season and decided she is a 15-year-old girl, and she is the daughter of Ben and Margot and will always be. So, it was really just a testament to Philippa’s extraordinary work. It just changed the course of the entire season.
It was the same with Warren Christie, who played Ethan, because Ethan was supposed to be the other Big Bad of the season, and then once we met Warren and we saw what he was, the chemistry he had with Mireille, we changed the course of the entire season.
DEADLINE: So if Tessa had stayed a 32-year-old woman, what would the season have looked like? Where would that character have gone?
HEINBERG: I think the character would’ve been far more disposable. You know she would’ve simply been sort of an agent in Felicity’s army, and I think Margot probably would have killed her. That’s what would’ve happened. So yeah, I’m very happy with where we ended up because now I can’t imagine the show without Tessa.
DEADLINE: And obviously Ethan would’ve been roadkill, as well, if he had stayed the bad guy?
HEINBERG: Yes. Alice and Val (Alice’s P.I. partner, played by Rose Rollins) would’ve put Ethan behind bars. Once we cast these actors, it changed everything for us.
DEADLINE: Tell me a about Tommy as Mockingbird. When did that idea come up?
HEINBERG: That one, I’ll confess, came very late in the game. I knew I wanted to have T.R. come back in the last two episodes, to sort of make things right with Alice after he left in episode four and they were on bad terms. I had an idea that I wanted him to kind of surprise her with his selflessness, at the very end of the season. That was the idea from the beginning. We knew Rhys was ultimately going to be Mockingbird, but that just felt too easy. So, it was sort of a late-in-the-day idea to have Tommy return as Mockingbird, working for Rhys. I think we came up with that during the breaking of like episode seven or eight. Very late in the game.
DEADLINE: And speaking about Rhys, we saw a different side of him in the episodes with the Human Hard Drive (actor Nolan Gerard Funk as Troy, the underwear-clad hunk whose photographic memory – and pecs – made him a sought-after target of both heroes and villains on the show). Rhys really seemed sort of human and likable and funny around him. I have to think now that that was all part of your plan, to throw us off who Rhys really was.
HEINBERG: Absolutely. I mean Rhys is, you know, extraordinary. The way John Simm plays him is extraordinary, and I do feel like his feelings for Troy were real, both his lust and then his sort of parental concern for him, and I feel like his feelings for Justine (the FBI agent played by Gina Torres) were also real. I just think in the end, Rhys can’t help but be motivated by self-interest, and the only person who can really get through to him is Ben.
So, if we do come back in Season Three, Ben and Rhys is the other big romance of the show, I guess bromance is the better phrase. So, if we come back for Season Three, getting the two of them back on speaking terms is going to be a major project.
DEADLINE: That would have to be a running, season-long project, to get these two back to where they’re not going to strangle each other. So what do you hear? Do you expect to the show will come back?
HEINBERG: Well, I don’t know. I heard I might hear by end-of-day today. I might hear tomorrow. If they do pick up the show, then they’ve got to get Peter Krause and Mireille Enos on a plane to New York – the ABC Upfronts are Wednesday. So, I would imagine that they’d let the actors know Friday or Monday at the very latest.
DEADLINE: Let’s play out both scenarios. If The Catch comes back, you’ve set it up so that there are any number of routes you could take. Ben and Rhys would be a significant plotline. Danny and Margot. All those things are in place. But if it doesn’t come back, should we view tonight’s final scene as sort of Casablanca standing-on-the-runway saying goodbye?
HEINBERG: That was our intention! We wanted to do Casablanca for the end of the show. We decided on Casablanca like halfway through the season. Ben had made a huge sacrifice for Alice at the end of Season One, and I knew that Alice had to make a huge sacrifice for Ben at the end of Season Two, and so we did the reverse Casablanca, gender-wise.
If it does end up being the series finale, I feel like it was still satisfying for me because everybody’s in love, you know what I mean? It’s sort of a happy ending. Danny knows that Margot loves him and cares about him, and Ben and Alice have this really strong connection, even though Alice’s feelings for Ethan are still sort of in play. So everybody but Val got a nice sort of romantic happy ending, and at the same time we created a situation where we can continue the conflict as we move into Season Three. So I hope it’s satisfying for people.
DEADLINE: If you get a Season Three, do you know who’s coming back? What characters would be on your wish list?
HEINBERG: As far as I’m concerned, everybody would be coming back. I would love for everybody to come back. I fell madly, madly in love with Gina Torres this year. She’s got her Suits spinoff that she’s suiting up for, but I’ve been told we could get at least four episodes with her if she was available, if not more. And Warren Christie and Philippa Coulthard would come with us, ideally as series regulars.
I mean, I’d love to see Troy, the Human Hard Drive, again, if we could.
DEADLINE: Looking back, how would you say the show changed from beginning to end, comparing Season One to Season Two?
HEINBERG: The only real major shift we made going into Season Two was that we decided not to have independent procedural cases for Alice and Val every week, so that the things they would investigate would be things that were important to them and to the people in their lives. We made Margot their client, so now anything they’re investigating is immediately interesting because it’s about Margot, rather than having strangers walk in off the street to have cases solved.
The show started with the premise that put (Ben) and (Alice) in opposition to each other, in conflict with each other, and I think the show started to get a lot more fun when we resolved that conflict at the end of episode four, so that they could play together, which made a huge different.
And then the addition of John Simm, in episode six, changed everything for me as a writer, because it sort of opened the door to this other level of comedy. For whatever reason, writing for John really allowed me to indulge that side, and I feel like it affected the entire rest of the show. Peter Krause, when working with John Simm, suddenly became part of a comedy duo, and that changed the nature of the scenes. And when we added Gina, they became a comedy trio. Gina likes to talk about them as Hope, Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour, and it’s true.
You know, I was new to the show, and had come in very late, and so I think it just evolved naturally into something that shared my sensibilities. I love writing screwball romantic comedy. That’s what I love doing, and so the show eventually evolved into this screwball, romantic, comic caper show, an odd show, but we’re very fond of it. We hope we get a third season.
DEADLINE: One more question. I was struck with the introduction of the Ethan character and the scene between Ben and Alice when Ben admits that he knew all along about Alice and Ethan and had based his con man persona – his invented fiancé character – on Ethan. How long had that been planned? You couldn’t really have laid the groundwork for that when the show began, before Ethan came along.
HEINBERG: That’s an idea that came out of the writer’s room, as we were talking about that scene, and I said how horrifying would it be if we found out that Ben had actually based “Christopher Hall” on Ethan, and we all got chills.
I’m so glad you liked that scene. It was a big one for us, and it was really beautifully acted, I thought. I wish Mireille could hear this. That was her favorite scene in the show.