SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Superstore season finale.
The Season 2 finale of Superstore shook things up for many of the characters tonight, including fan-favorites Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) who unexpectedly took their love/hate relationship to the next level.
Tonight’s episode, “Tornado,” saw the Cloud 9 employees on edge as Glenn (Mark McKinney) tried to figure out who to lay off. Jonah struggled to make things normal between him and Amy after he called her sexy, Garrett (Colton Dunn) and Dina (Lauren Ash) hid their true feelings from each other and Mateo (Nico Santos) called Jeff (Michael Bunin) and told him that he loved him right before the big tornado hit the store.
This season, the NBC comedy, which has already been renewed for a third season, included a slew of hot topics including the election, unions, open carry gun laws, an undocumented Filipino character, pro-choice/pro-life debate and more – all told in a balanced way through the lens of comedy. Deadline spoke with creator Justin Spitzer on where they are with Season 3, Amy and Jonah’s future and what other plans they had for the season finale.
DEADLINE: Did you ever think about making the episode longer for the finale?
JUSTIN SPITZER: We talked a lot about it, “Do we try to at some point turn it into a two-parter?” As we were breaking it, it seemed my God, there’s a lot of stories we’re doing. But I don’t know, I felt like we get the best in, in the time allotted.
DEADLINE: So how much of Season 3 have you started on?
SPITZER: I’m sorry to say none really. We’re ready to start back up in two weeks, and normally I would have been working on it over the break. I just had a baby a month ago so that’s been more my project more than anything. We talked a little bit at the end of last season about places we might want it to go but just in very, very vague terms. So yeah.
DEADLINE: Since Cloud 9 was destroyed, do you think there’ll be a time jump and the store is rebuilt in Season 3 or you’re going to pick up right where you left off?
SPRITZER: The beginning of the second season we picked up literally the second that we left off at the end of the first season. I don’t think it’s going to be that precise, but I don’t think there’ll be a big time jump either. For a long time we had imagined there would be and that we’d just come back in and the store looked different, or even that all of our employees would be working at different Cloud 9s or doing something else while they rebuilt, which was a possibility. And then we felt the stuffing, anything is still on the table.
But we want this show to be is real and true to life whenever possible, and we had a huge tornado hit the store, which doesn’t happen a lot but does in fact happen. And I think part of being real and grounded is really dealing with what the fallout of that is and not just saying it’s a few months later and the store’s rebuilt and what’s on sale today? But like what happens to the employees when their store is hit by a tornado and really dealing with that. I think that for a while we’re going to be seeing the store being rebuilt around them as they work, which is very true. You hear about stores where a big calamity happened and you got to stay in business and then keep moving product.
Related to that, part of the reason we did this episode was because we had to change sound stages anyway. We always had imagined that one day we would want to do an episode where a tornado hit the store, it was always in the back of our minds. And then early on in the year we found out that Universal was going to have to knock down our sound stages at the store to make room for the theme park and move us to a different place where we could rebuild the stage. But it would undoubtedly look a little different, and so we thought, oh well how are we eventually going to have to explain that and thought that the best way would be that the store’s under construction because it had been demolished.
DEADLINE: Yeah, and the tornado’s kind of like a metaphor for everybody’s lives, especially with Amy and Jonah. What’s their future look like?
SPITZER: Their lives are a tornado… You make plans and you deal with the mundane routine of everyday life and then all of a sudden a tornado comes and changes everything up. I mean, for Jonah and Amy, you know, their kiss came out of this panicked moment when there’s at least a decent chance they were going to die. And Jonah just helped keep Amy from getting hit and possibly killed by these enormous heavy shelves, but then afterwards in the light of day when there’s not a giant storm coming down on them, I think they probably took a step back and saw things more clearly at least.
And step back’s not even really the word because they’d never taken a step towards each other. They kind of accidentally bumped into each other. And then you saw at the end of the episode when she runs to hug Emma and Adam. Being so close to that I think made Amy contemplate what’s important in her life, and family is part of that. And is having some fling with a guy at work who she has a love/hate relationship with really worth risking all that? So I think moving forward, things don’t move full forward at once, just because there’s a lot more to explore between them.
DEADLINE: So why wait for the big kiss between Amy and Jonah until the end of the season?
SPITZER: There was a big debate about whether we should even do the kiss now, and we went back and forth a bunch of times. I’d say it was the most debated thing we’ve done in the two seasons and the thing I’ve changed my mind about more times than anything else. And for most of the time, the plan that I was excited about and were pursuing, was to have that moment just be like an almost kiss, just a moment where they looked at each other, we think it could happen, but then it doesn’t. And that was in part because I was worried about whether we’d really earned the kiss yet. I think we played a few sparks between Jonah and Amy, we’d created some moments of jealousy, we’d put some moments of connection and some sexual tension, but I didn’t know if it felt like they were ready to explode yet, like we needed them to kiss now.
So I was tempted to just keep pushing it off and keep building to that, and then eventually we kept the kiss for a number of reasons. Mainly just because it didn’t feel like an almost kiss was a significant enough move to get that moment, when Amy runs back into the arms of her family, any real meaning. And also I think when you have that tornado bearing down on you, a lot more is explainable. So even if they would not have kissed, yet under any other situation, under that specific scenario, it’s more acceptable.
DEADLINE: Speaking of relationships, because there’s just so many. There’s Dina and Garrett, Mateo and Jeff, Sandra and Jerry. Do you think there’ll be happy endings for everybody or do you think there’s going to be some sadness for some of them?
SPITZER: Oh, I think there’s ups and downs. I think like in real life there’s rarely a moment where you have absolute happiness or absolute sadness. There’s phases and times where you’re more happy and times where you’re less and I think these people are going to have that, too. Real life doesn’t end, it keeps going. So I think for some of them they’ll pursue relationships which may go well or may not go well, others will find new ones. I don’t want to find myself in a situation some series do where a character finds happiness with another person and then those two are now together and now you have to find a whole other character to find a romance for them. I think people come together and come apart.
DEADLINE: This season you talked a lot about hot topics such as striking, gun control, the election, etc. Is there any other hot topics you’d want to take on for Season 3?
SPITZER: Most of the topic episodes we did didn’t really come out of saying “let’s explore topics right away.” It came out of talking about the characters and what they’re dealing with, and when an issue or topic came up, not being afraid of it, not wanting to shy away from it. So I think we’ll keep approaching things that way. We do sometimes ask what are some issues that are out there that we might have a fun take on or might be interesting to explore in this environment. But we’re not a rip from the headlines show. So much of what we may decide to do today may not be relevant in six months if it’s just something that’s going on at this precise moment. But when it’s a topic that would affect these characters, that topic will still be affecting these characters six months from now in all likelihood.
We have one or two general areas. We’ve talked about pay caps between men and women. I’m trying to think what else we’ve dealt with. I don’t know, I love it, but we don’t have anything in mind that’s a topic we are planning to explore in any way.
DEADLINE: Were there any other plot lines or things that you wanted to explore in the season finale?
SPITZER: Well, one thing that we wrote and shot and eventually cut largely for time really, was when Mateo gets told “you’re going to die alone” and then Mateo during the tornado is on the phone with Jeff saying I love you, and that phone call kept going and he said, “And the reason I broke up with you was not because I don’t love you, it’s because I’m not a U.S. citizen and I couldn’t tell you that.” And then we were just going to have to deal with the fallout that now Jeff knows or Mateo wonders did Jeff hear it. But we’re going to deal with that next season. And we may at some point, but we lost that part of it.
DEADLINE: For Season 3 do you have any special guests in mind that you would like to have, or will we be seeing more of Amy’s parents?
SPITZER: Amy’s parents were great, I would love to see more of them. Tony Plana was so funny. So if there’s an opportunity that presents itself where they would logically go out of the store, or her parents would come into the store, I’d be excited to bring them in again. I’m proud of the fact that we have been very frugal with how many of our characters’ parents, siblings and children we brought in. We can do it occasionally but we’re pacing it out slowly, which I think give us more opportunities for stories.
[As for guest stars], we haven’t really ever said, “Oh, this exciting actor wants to do the show so let’s wrap a story around them.” But there’s definitely actors out there that we would be really excited to write for or that have expressed interest to someone that’s related to the show that’s gotten passed on to me that they might be interested in doing one day. I mean, I love Patton Oswalt, I was talking to him the other day. Fred Armisen is someone else I’d love [to have on]. So there’s great actors out there and we’d love to have them.
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