By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated April 17, 2014 at 08:39 PM EDT
Parenthood Finale Sarah Ramos
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Parenthood closes out season 5 Thursday night with an episode that’s sure to be equal parts gut-punch and heartwarming — because, basically, both things are what you get with every episode of the show. In the preview for the finale that aired after last week’s penultimate episode, however, viewers learned there’s going to be at least one big surprise — an appearance from Haddie (Sarah Ramos), who has largely been absent from the main action while off at college and returns home with a female companion.

We called up creator Jason Katims for info on Haddie’s return and what else fans can expect from the show’s season (and hopefully not series!) finale.

On Haddie’s return:

“I didn’t see the promo. I didn’t see what they put on. But she is back….I guess what I would say about it — putting aside whatever was on the promo — is…we’ve obviously always loved Sarah Ramos and the character of Haddie. We had felt like we wanted to wait until we had a story to bring her back [that] didn’t feel like she was coming back to hug her family. We wanted to do it in a way that we felt like the story would not only be something that would be compelling in an episode but also potentially be interesting to tell stories about down the road with her — if hopefully the show gets picked up for more episodes. I think there’s more story to tell there….I don’t really want to talk about this story because this is a story I wanted people to see through the eyes of Kristina (Monica Potter) and Adam (Peter Krause), having Haddie come home for the summer. So that’s kind of how I wanted the audience to see it because that’s sort of the point of view of the show. In this case, the story is from the parent’s POV.”

On the Amber (Mae Witman) and Ryan (Matt Lauria) reunion:

“I guess we felt like there was this, on one hand, a resolution between their two characters, and on the other hand, there’s such a connection between the two of them. We always felt like there was more stuff to play between them. We really wanted to put Amber in a position where she sort of saw Ryan again but, as was the case, it wasn’t something she planned to do or something she wasn’t ready for. Mae is such a wonderful actress, it’s poignant to watch her deal with this crisis, and the character is sort of doing it in real-time. She’s doing it without any preparation, and I thought that was an interesting way to approach the story. It’s one thing when somebody breaks up and they decide maybe in an intellectual way that it’s easier to move on, but it’s easier to do that intellectually then it is emotionally. Suddenly, when she’s confronted with seeing Ryan again and seeing him in this vulnerable position, I think it makes it more complicated for her.”

On Julia and Joel’s future:

“I feel like when they were having trouble in their marriage they were having a lot of difficulty communicating with each other. And I think in last week’s episode, there was the beginning of seeing them have a conversation for the first time in a long time that was not all about the conflict between the two of them. It was the first time in a while where they had a peaceful moment with each other. The final episode picks up from that.”

On Kristina and Adam’s charter school:

“There’s not really a lot of movement in that. We did have something in the episode about that, but honestly, there was just not enough time for everything. I kind of felt like we left that story — the charter school story — with some good forward momentum from that. Should we get picked up again, that’s something I’d like to follow up with next season.”

Speaking of next season…

“I’m neither really positive or really negative about [the show’s chances of being renewed]. I really just don’t know. I really don’t think there’s been a decision yet. I know NBC has a lot of figure out over the next month or so about their schedule and Parenthood hangs in the balance. I will say everybody involved with the show — the actors, directors, and writer and producers, and the crew — really loves doing the show so much. Not only are we proud of the show, the process of doing it has been a real dream for everybody. So we all very much want to come back and do another season of the show, at least. But at this point, in complete honesty, I don’t know which way it’s going to go.”

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