Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the series finale of Deception. Read at your own risk!
Mystery Woman’s ultimate goal was unveiled in what now serves as the series finale of Deception — though not without a few twists.
After stealing the Linx diamond, Mystery Woman (Stephanie Corneliussen) finally had all the puzzle pieces to unlock that antique photo at hand — well, she needed Cam’s (Jack Cutmore-Scott) newly acquired pen, so she basically forced him and twin brother Johnny to help her unlock Alistair Black’s vault, which ultimately revealed a map.
Here’s the deal: Alistair Black was hired by high-level members of Corvus Vale to hide parts of their fortunes. The photo would unlock the location of the fortune, which she believed was Cam and Johnny’s inheritance. Well, and hers. No, she’s not their sister. But she did consider Sebastian Black (Jack Davenport) like a father — he was hired by her thief mom to pull off heists around the world. But when Sebastian caught young MW talking to Johnny, he threatened her, and that’s apparently why she’s wanted vengeance all these years.
Alas, MW has one last trick up her sleeve, offering up info on the FBI’s Most Wanted list in exchange for her freedom. But she doesn’t provide the proof that would exonerate Johnny. Hence, Cam decides he’s going to break out his brother. But Johnny doesn’t want to break out with him. Instead, he knocks Cam out and switches places with him, leaving Cam to rot in jail, turning over the map to MW. And with that, the series ends. Fortunately, EW turned to executive producer Chris Fedak to find out what would’ve happened had the show been renewed for season 2:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What would season 2 have looked like with Cam in jail after Johnny screwed him over?
CHRIS FEDAK: About a month ago, we put together a pitch for season 2, which was epic and a really fun flip on the show that would have had Jonathan out in the world with the Mystery Woman, having adventures there. For me, I don’t think that Cameron would have been trapped in jail for too long. I think that he would have been there for probably 36 hours, enough time for him to seriously get into trouble. He would save himself by trying to do some magic tricks and hiding. With the DNA test or fingerprints, they would realize what had happened. He would be out of jail, but that’s only the beginning of it. The idea that you’ve been betrayed by your brother, the guy you’ve been trying to save, that’s such a delicious [story line] — Cameron going after his brother and trying to figure out what exactly happened. I think that would have been a huge twist on our show.
Did Johnny, at any point this season, actually realize who MW was from his childhood?
I think the coin moment is where he’s starting to put it together. Throughout the story, we essentially wanted to get into a little bit of how memory works. For Johnny, yes, he’s interacting with the Mystery Woman and thinks he’s been lured out for that final episode, and kind of forced to be in a room with her. She’s essentially doing this very personal thing. It’s almost like this entire case is to illicit him to remember that they had had this moment when they were kids. So by that final moment, in my mind, I think that it really is kind of up to the viewer. And then Johnny is locked into how she fits into his memory, and why that couple days in Reykjavík were important. I think that’s the big moment, but he’s still devastated when she stands up and walks out.
Was there more to her motivations than money that we would’ve discovered next season?
Oh yeah, absolutely. We had worked out much more of peeling the layers of her story. There was personal stuff, and there was also the family connection between her mother and what had happened in the past with Cameron and Johnny’s father. That would all be played out. We wanted to meet her mother, and see that world, and realize that she was a part of something that was much more elaborate and bigger, and that it wasn’t simply Mystery Woman freelancing on her own — she was part of a bigger operation. And that would be a neat role for Johnathan to explore.
MW says the money is their inheritance, but would she have ultimately screwed them out of it?
It’s so funny, because when you work out a pitch for a season of a show, it builds to this epic moment. But I always find that characters change over time. In the beginning of the show, there was a certain amount of getting, not revenge on the brothers, but essentially manipulating them and using them, because she needed them for this fortune that she was going after. Over time, I’d like to see the relationship develop between the two of them. Because I do think that Johnathan would be intent on screwing her over. I think that the twist is that Johnathan thinks that he’s probably better than his brother at figuring out what happened, and freeing himself, and that manipulating the Mystery Woman would be a part of that. You have these two characters, Johnathan and Mystery Woman, dueling back and forth, trying to see who can outsmart the other. They’re both smarty-pants in that way. Jack and Stephanie had such great chemistry; I would love to explore that. I’d like to see that kind of edgy chemistry that we really began to see in episode 8 — actually, that was Cameron and Mystery Woman. But throughout the season, there’s a really interesting chemistry between the two of them. I think that they would change over time, and maybe there could be a relationship there that would undercut their Machiavellian plans.
You end the finale with MW revealing her name to Johnny, but not the audience. So, what’s Mystery Woman’s name?
Margaret. Or Cornelia. No, here’s the thing about the Mystery Woman: She’s an Ashley. No, Tiffany. I think she’s definitely a Tiffany. [Laughs] For me, one of the things about season 2 was about Johnathan coming to know who she really is, and it’s seeing her as a tragic character, in a way. What is her real name becomes a thing where it’s like, she has lots of names. She doesn’t reveal to anyone what her true name is, and that would have been something that would play out over the course of the season until she finally does, and that would be another emotional connection between the two of them. It’s the secret she keeps close, and we would of course give her a number of different names, and that was a part of the fun of it. I just like calling her Mystery Woman. The moment we were like, “So we have this Mystery Woman, and we’ll give her a name at some point.” I’m like, “Maybe we don’t.”
Did you ever give her a definitive name in the writers’ room?
Yes, there is. A part of me doesn’t want to say, though. Yeah, we had a really cool name. That was something that would have been set up in the season, and then would be in the big reveal. But it was definitely tied into her backstory and her relationship with her mom, who would have been the big bad of this season. We did come up with something, but I’d rather it stay mysterious.
Was Stephanie playing her own mother in this finale as well?
It was. It was. It was one of those weird situations where we were like, “She’s not in the scene, but who can we get to play her mom?” You really can only get Stephanie to play Stephanie. She’s so unique, so we put her in the short blonde hair, and I was like, “Oh, that’s dope.”
That was Johnny who pushed Kay away at the end, right?
I know. It’s like Kay actually opens up, and she opens up to the wrong brother!
Can you talk about how that scene might have been different if it was Cam, because it seemed like Kay was actually admitting her feelings for him.
Yeah, that’s true. You have this moment where it’s devastating because essentially the Mystery Woman has manipulated the FBI, and she’s walking out, and Kay can’t do anything to stop that. Over the course of the season, she’s come to realize that she has feelings for Cameron, and then he has begun to realize he has feelings for her. It’s that type of thing that starts with a friendship, starts with a partnership, and now it’s a little something more, and that Cameron is this big-hearted guy. When she finally gets the moment, she had to be the FBI agent, and she’s saying a bunch of things in that moment that speak to, “If you need to do something, if you need to figure this out …” she’s almost giving him a pass to go do whatever it takes to get his brother back. She’s breaking a lot of rules, that’s who she is. But she’s saying it to the wrong brother. And Johnathan, who’s been betrayed by her, he plays it off and says, “No more promises, I’m leaving,” and it’s devastating. We end season 1 with just this amazing moment with Kay revealing herself, she just unfortunately does it to the wrong brother. And Johnathan, he had his own plans.
How would the team have reacted to Johnny screwing Cam over?
I think it would be complex. I also think that over those 36 hours that Cam’s in prison, he only makes mistakes. He comes up with escape plans for Winslow. He only makes mistakes while inside that prison, so that would come back over the course of the season, would be just, “What else did you do in prison that screwed things up for people?” I think that, for the team, it’s complex because they all have different motivations.
We love [the Deception team] actors on the show, and we wanted to explore that more. So I think for Gunter, Gunter is a little more aligned with Johnathan. Johnathan was the one who helped Gunter in his darkest moment, and recruited him to the team and gave him a job. We wanted to see what had happened to Gunter, and why he would be loyal to Johnathan. And then for Jordan, it’s more about Cameron because of their backstory, which we wanted to delve into as well. And then for Dina, she’s conflicted because she now has Mike, who’s an FBI agent who’s now on the manhunt for Johnathan. She still has feelings, Johnathan’s her ex, so it’s a complicated thing. So that would have been a really fun thing to explore. But I think at the beginning of the season, they would definitely be after them. But we would have fun twisting that around over the course of it.
Any other blue-sky things you had in mind for season 2? Or things that you wish you got to do that you never had a chance?
Oh, it’s funny, there was so much stuff that we wanted to do. It just was a matter of, in season 1, with 13 episodes, we really packed them with a lot of stuff. But there was still other things that we were excited about. We wanted to do an episode with missing subway trains, subway cars disappearing. We wanted to do a D.B. Cooper episode. There was a number of different magic tricks that David Kwong had kind of conceived that had to do with perspective, and how to do it watching the show live at home. We jam-packed every episode with something. There’s stuff that we were kind of planning for season 1.
It was the emotional stuff that was a part of the pitch for season 2 that we were all so excited about. I think the other thing that we learned was it was really fun to put a twist on the perspective of the show. When we did our episodes 7 and 8, where we did one from Johnathan’s perspective and one from Cameron’s perspective, that was a neat thing that also kind of set the show apart from other shows. We wanted to do more of that. So it could be one week it’s the villain, and one week it’s the guy working with the FBI. That would be fun.
Is there hope for continuing on in some form — a short or a comic book or something?
Yeah, I’d love to figure that out. I think that right now, who knows? We’ll see what happens in the future, and what may be an opportunity for us to talk about that.