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'Wayward Pines' actor talks shocking exit — and why it had to happen

‘In that moment, she gets to a place where she doesn’t want to be there anymore,’ says Carla Gugino

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Sergei Bachlakov/FOX

Warning: The following story contains spoilers from season 2 of Wayward Pines. Read at your own risk!

Poor Kate Hewson. The widowed resistance leader of season 1 and ex-Secret Service partner to Ethan (Matt Dillon) decided to sacrifice herself in the season 2 premiere of Wayward Pines when she realized the First Generation would be there to stay. Cornered inside her hospital room by Pilcher worshipper Megan (Hope Davis), Kate slit her own throat and died draped over Megan’s body. “We were capable of so much, but now it’s your world, your future,” she says in her final line. “I don’t want any part of it.”

For actress Carla Gugino, having her character exit this way felt right, even though she would have liked to play a longer arc as Kate if she had the time. (Gugino is also starring on the upcoming Cameron Crowe series Roadies, set to premiere in June on Showtime.) Below, Gugino talks her brief return to the spooky series.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you learn you would be back for one episode and that it would be your last? Why come back at all?

CARLA GUGINO: I had really loved the people I worked with so much on this, and I was really invested in Kate. They had asked if I would come for the entire season, and I love the show and I would have been very open to that, but I’m doing Roadies for Showtime and so I wasn’t able to do anything longer on Wayward Pines. But we all really felt very passionately about Kate and about maintaining the integrity of that world.

You knew you couldn’t return for a full season, but did you have any ideas of your own on how Kate could have died? This was such a bloody exit — you had to slice your own throat.

No, I’m sure [the writers] bounced around other ideas, but we had the sense that she would take her own life. By the time we spoke, that was really the only conversation we had… What I didn’t want was for her to have just disappeared, you know? As we talked about how she would be able to exit the story, what we kept coming up with was this notion that ultimately, all that she was fighting for just seems futile. Her husband had been shot in front of her by the young man who’s running the town. In that moment, she gets to a place where she doesn’t want to be there anymore.

The town has this horrifying ritual of reckonings, where [people are] brought up in front of the town and their throat is slit, so [for Kate], it’s a self-reckoning. And I think the fact that it happens face-to-face with Hope Davis’ character Megan is interesting, because they just have entirely different viewpoints of where they want the world to be and where the world is. It was certainly an intense and bold way to go. [Laughs] But I thought, when they presented me with the material, that it was interesting and made sense for where she’s at emotionally.

I was hoping she would at least get some revenge and take some of the First Generation followers with her on her way out.

I know, I know. [Laughs] You want her to have a moment to fight a bit more! I have to say, as a total side note, that things will have to change at some point soon in regards to being able to do two things simultaneously on television. There’s so much more material. Obviously, you can do any number of movies in a year, but the exclusivity of TV is a tricky thing, and I couldn’t be more excited about Roadies, but it would have been nice to have had a little more time, to have a little longer of a storyline to complete Kate.

On that note, what would you have wanted Kate to do or wanted to show if you had more time?

We touched on this in the first season, but I always wanted to go back to when she first got [to Wayward Pines]. I was interested in exploring how she becomes this perfect citizen on the surface who, underground, is doing a lot of work with the resistance. I would have loved to have seen what got her there, because her entry was so traumatic.

Sergei Bachlakov/FOX

Even though you were only around for one episode, how did it feel to come back to Wayward Pines? Did being on set for season 2 feel different in any way from season 1, especially now that the story’s jumped forward in time and killed off its hero? The series wasn’t conceived as something that would last more than a season.

I really can’t say there was a massive difference for me that week, because I was working with Hope and I fell right back into that world. We were shooting in an abandoned mental hospital up [in Vancouver] where we had shot before, so I was like, “Oh, I’m back!” the second I walked in there. It felt like we picked up right where we left off.

I’m just happy that the show is having a continued life. The fact that people embraced it so much and got into it was exciting…. It’s such a strange thing to say farewell to a character you love, but there have definitely been other things I’ve done that have been shorter lived that I wish I had been able to dive into further, and with this one, even though I love Kate and will miss playing her and felt like there’s certainly plenty to explore with her history, I do feel like I got to dig in there for a while.

Kate’s story has ended, but do you know anything else about what’s coming in season 2?

I actually don’t know a thing, and I can tell you that with total honesty. I am as in the dark as you are. [Laughs]

But is there any chance you’ll come back down the line?

Well, you never know in the world of Wayward Pines, because there’s always the ability to go back to the people’s past before they arrived there. So I would say never say never to Miss Kate Hewson returning at some point.

Wayward Pines airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.