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June 06, 2018 at 09:04 PM EDT

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from the series finale of The Fosters. Read at your own risk!

Saying goodbye to a family you’ve come to love for more than 100 episodes is never easy. We get it. And, clearly, so did The Fosters.

The Freeform hit made its final bow Wednesday night, and rather than moving fans with topical issues and heartbreaking drama, it — and the rest of this week’s three-night finale event — felt like a celebration of the characters and reflection on how they’ve all grown. Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Brandon (David Lambert) had a few big moments that surely teased Brallie ‘shippers, but ended with Brandon marrying Eliza (Abigail Cowen) in Turks and Caicos and Callie kissing his brother-in-law (Beau Mirchoff). Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) had final moments with both of her big love interests, Mat (Jordan Rodrigues) and Wyatt (Alex Saxon), but ultimately realizing she’s just fine without either of them. Jesus (Noah Centineo) and Emma (Amanda Leighton) called it quits out of respect for each others’ opportunities, and Jude (Hayden Byerly) finally made some smart choices when he turned to his moms for help.

Lastly, of course, the series looked back on all the love Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) gave to their children and one another.

But this wasn’t really goodbye forever. Callie and Mariana will live on in Good Trouble, a 13-episode spin-off that’ll premiere in 2019 on Freeform and likely feature some familiar guest appearances. And, thankfully, though we’ll have to read through our tears, executive producer Peter Paige has some final words for us fans.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This three-episode finale really felt like a gift to the fans who’ve been with the show all these years.
PETER PAIGE: It was. We got a little less political, a little more into the relationships and who these people were becoming in their adult lives. It was nice to be able to check in with all of them and see how they were making it on the road to adulthood. We wanted to create stories where there would be organic reasons to remind us how far we’ve come, where, in moving forward, we would naturally look back.

What was the hardest, most emotional scene to shoot?
The empty house. Of course, our very last shot was in Turks & Caicos, so that was pretty gutting, but in terms of the actual content that was challenging and difficult, it was definitely the empty house… I couldn’t even go to the stage when they tore down the sets. I couldn’t even look at it.

You know that I have always been a Brallie fan, and I felt really satisfied with the way that bubbled up and teased and ultimately concluded. Was that a hard choice?
To me, it’s the truth. I understand everyone’s investment in them as a couple and I share it on some level. I love both those human beings and I love what they’ve taught each other and brought out in each other and all of that, but the truth is, life is not a romantic comedy. And this show is not a romantic comedy. This show really takes place in the real world, and it just felt like we were honoring something so much bigger than a ‘ship.

Was it difficult to figure out how to sell fans on Eliza and why she deserved to be married to our Brandon in only three episodes?
Of course it was! We had Callie to contend with, we had the ghost of Grace to contend with, and we needed you to feel — at the very least — about Brandon getting married, you couldn’t be dead set against it. At the very, very least, we needed that. I love that sort of rom-com moment, both of them telling the same story but not quite the same way sequence from the first episode. I thought it really did let you, if not fall in love with them as a couple, at least let you enjoy them as a couple.

Let’s talk about Jesus and Emma, who had a great moment of closure but ultimately went their separate ways. What went into the choice to pull them apart?
One of the things that we didn’t want to do was the Downton Abbey finale…[where] literally, everyone suddenly finds their true love. That’s just not the universe that this show takes place in. As fun as that was for that world and those characters, it just felt false for us. These are messy real people on messy real journeys, and those journeys don’t always run parallel. You don’t always get to grab someone’s hand and say, “You’re coming this way.” What drew Jesus and Emma together was the rule of opposites attract, but that’s also what undoes them ultimately. Emma is having a much bigger, more ambitious life than Jesus, and that’s kind of insurmountable. It doesn’t mean they’ll never come back together, doesn’t mean they can’t, but she’s gotta go and take the opportunities where they are and he’s craving something a little more homespun, a little closer to the rock.

How much fun — or pain — did you have making Mat a little bit of a villain there?
Jokes about crabs are funny. They just are.

How was deciding what Lena and Stef’s final scenes would be?
Very painful, but beautiful. It’s an interesting question: When so much of your life has been about raising this brood, when so much of your identity has been wrapped up in this big, loud, messy family, who do you become? What’s the next chapter like? Seeing the seeds of that journey get planted and start to break through the ground is, I thought, really fun and satisfying.

Jude had a particularly interesting arc in this trio — his was obviously the least romantic — with him ultimately needing to feel more connected to home and family.
Yes, he sort of had the anti-romance arc. More than any other character, once it got into season 2, Jude’s drivers were almost all romantic. He had two big relationships that carried him through all five seasons basically, so it was more interesting to sort of flip that on its head and see how he’s doing now. And the answer is, he’s struggling.

This also applies to Good Trouble — part of the reason that Callie and Mariana moved to the big city together is they’re adopted kids. They’re foster kids. They have been unmoored. Whereas so many of us are anxious to get unmoored from our families, in Callie’s case, it’s only been a few years that she’s had a family to call her own again. So I think those ties are different for them. The average kid who’s grown up with an intact nuclear family may feel like, “Oh, Jesus Christ, I can’t wait to be 18 and get outta here,” but there are other kids who have a much harder time with that, and I think psychologically it’s really sound that these particular kids would still long for the protection, the rock that is the family.

Speaking of Good Trouble
It’s going to be really good! I’m really excited about it! The world we’ve found for them, their jobs, the place they’re living, the people they’re surrounded with is really good. It’s a beautiful, messy, adult extension of the heart of The Fosters.

So is Beau Mirchoff in it?
We might just see a little bit of Beau Mirchoff.

And they’re going to be in L.A. — Jude is in L.A., Brandon and Eliza are in L.A….
Absolutely. Part of the entire reason we wanted to do a spin-off was to keep the family alive. And I know the fans are struggling, as we all are, of letting go of the show as it was, but this is what life does. You live with your family for awhile and then you move out into the world and you still have your family, you just don’t get to see them every night when you go home for dinner. One of the reasons we said, “Yes, we absolutely have to make this show,” was so that we could keep the entire Fosters clan alive.

It certainly seems like we’re going to get opportunities to see the siblings, but how much are we going to get to see Stef and Lena?
I can’t confirm or say anything officially, but we absolutely are very hopeful and optimistic that we’re going to get to spend some quality time with the moms.

What final message do you, Peter, want to give to the fans who have been with the show from the beginning?
I want them to know how grateful we are for them, for their love and their passion, and how much they’ve come to care about this group of people. And I want them to know that we’re with them, that for every ounce of passion that they have for this family, we have 10. They came out of us, they are family to us, and we are so honored that we got to do five years in this iteration, and we’re really excited about what we’re going to get to do in the next iteration as well.

Good Trouble will premiere on Freeform in 2019.

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