Dynasty fans were shocked when earlier this summer one of the stars of the reboot, Nathalie Kelley, who plays Cristal, announced that she will not be returning for Season 2.
It turns out that he exit was part of a soapy plot twist. At the CW executive session, it was announced that telenovela Ana Brenda Contreras is joining the show in Season 2 as a new character, revealed to be the real Cristal Flores.
Cristal, Alexis or Michael’s fates were left up in the air in the Season 1 finale cliffhanger, which ended with the three still trapped in a fire after Cristal also had been shot.
“We were a little surprised she spoiled the surprise,” the CW president Mark Pedowitz said of Kelley’s comments, noting that “we have plans for other characters too. (Showrunner) Sallie (Patrick) has fun twist and turns in store.”
Asked for the reason for the switch Pedowitz said, “it’s a wild soap, these are things you do on a soap.” He said the the plan to go into that direction with the character started in midseason.
I hear the decision started as a recasting, with the producers using the soap form as a creative way to do it.
Contreras’ casting restores the original setup of the reboot, in which the story of the feud between the Carringtons and the Colbys was to be told primarily through the perspectives of two women at odds: Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies), daughter of billionaire Blake Carrington (Grant Show), and her soon-to-be stepmother, Cristal (Kelley), a Hispanic woman marrying into this WASP family and America’s most powerful class.
Cristal was a version of the Krystle Jennings character in the original series, played by Linda Evans, which was considered a female lead. It also was the case on the CW’s Dynasty, whose Season 1 key art featured Gillies, Kelley and Show.
The dynamic on the show changed in the second half of Season 1 with the introduction of Nicollette Sheridan as Alexis Carrington late in Season 1.
“Nicollette has been a great addition,” Pedowitz said. “She is a disrupting force, she is that diva.”
The decision to make the stepmom Hispanic was an effort to bring the 1980s soap to the 21st century and better reflect the diversity of America today as well as add a race/class dimension to the family conflicts, though fan reaction to the character has been somewhat mixed.
Asked about Cristal fate, Kelley, a Peruvian-born Australian actress, said, “Is it a coma? Is it death? … I actually don’t know. But I know that I’m not going to Atlanta in July, that I’m staying [in LA]…. I’ve got my life back.”