Imposters creators break down the exhilarating series finale
Despite going into the season 2 finale of Bravo's thrilling dramedy Imposters knowing it would also serve as the series finale (after the network canceled the show on June 1), no amount of brooding could stop the show from sweeping us along on a twisty, turny, and touching final episode.
With the Bumblers having teamed up with Maddie (Inbar Lavi), Max (Brian Benben), and Sally (Katherine LaNasa) to take down the mastermind behind the all their criminal operations, the slimy and sinister Doctor (Ray Proscia), the stakes were high to out-con the conman or face the ultimate consequence — we all know the good doc isn't shy about torture and murder!
So if you just watched the last-ever (sob!) episode of Imposters and are feeling a little breathless, dizzy, and upset, we don't blame you. Rather than see a doctor (who'd even trust one after watching this show?), read what series creators Paul Adelstein and Adam Brooks had to say about pulling off cons within cons in the most entertaining and emotionally satisfying way possible.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So much goes on in that one episode — identity fraud, theft, fake murder, actual murder! — and it all just zips along. How difficult was it to plot all that out and make sure everything and everyone ended up where you wanted them to be?
ADAM BROOKS: The finale was, in some ways, both the hardest and then the easiest episode to write. When we first start planning, there's so much stuff going on, and you don't want to sacrifice character for the plot, but you also have to make sure the plot works. When we were in the thick of it in the beginning, Paul and I just feel like we just want to blow our brains out, but then there's the day when we go, "Oh! A then B, then this over here, then that there!' and you're like, "Ah, there it is!" That process takes a couple of weeks, and then we write it very quickly.
PAUL ADELSTEIN: We try to be cognitive of making sure that everyone felt like they were accounted for emotionally and plot-wise so that the audience and the characters were very clear about what was at stake, where they were going, and how their season had concluded. Also, because it's a con show and because it's structured to have a big con at the end, we know early what episode 10 is going to be — we just have to make sure everything is in place to get there. Once we have everything in place, we can just do the thing we talked about four months ago, hopefully.
BROOKS: For me, part of the joy of writing it was knowing I'm directing episode 10, so there's an immediacy to the whole thing in terms of having visualization in the script and knowing how it's going to be executed. It's a big episode, there's a lot happening, and we were really pushing the boundaries of what we were capable of, money and production-wise, but we were very, very happy with how it turned out. Visually, I'm really happy with it.
Right! The Marilyns all coming up the stairs together looked amazing!
BROOKS: Isn't that crazy? Shooting that was so delirious. Having 20 Marilyns around for a week and a half…
ADELSTEIN: We were always looking for Inbar. [Laughs]
BROOKS: Besides being visually cool, it seemed metaphorically cool too, in terms of identity.
Let's talk about the ending: Did you always know going in that the Doctor was going to end up dead, Maddie was getting arrested, and Ezra (Rob Heaps) was planning to take over the Doctor's operation? Were those plot lines set in stone, or did you go back and forth?
ADELSTEIN: The Ezra thing we kind of knew. We didn't know how we were going to execute it, but we knew the idea that we wanted for the season-ending. There was a question of who kills the Doctor and who would be most satisfying, and we decided that Sally seemed the most appropriate and most satisfying. We were clear about Maddie going to jail. We talked about her getting away, but we felt like she got away last time, and with everything she went through at the Harbor in terms of finding her authentic self and since the theme of the season was consequences, she had to turn and face it at this point.
BROOKS: I think one of the things I was really happy about was how Inbar played that scene. We talked about it and she was going in the same direction I was. There's a little smile on her face as if to say, "You still don't get it. No one ever stops me." And then there's also a sense of release.
ADELSTEIN: We read about people that run and run and run and run, and when they're finally caught there's actually a kind of release.
BROOKS: Yeah, sort of like when you get canceled! [Laughs] I think that she was really able to get all those things down in a good way. We weren't imagining it as the last episode [of the series], but I think it can be satisfying the way it is. Anything is possible in terms of going forward with her. We know she can get herself out of jams, so is she going to be in jail for one day or one year? How is that going to work? The idea of how she extricates herself from that, in a way that's consistent with the story and with the characters, would've been really fun to get into.
ADELSTEIN: There's also the catch-me-if-you-can idea too. The FBI needs her more than she needs them at this point. The Doctor is dead; they can arrest her and charge her for her various crimes, but the person that they're really after is done. Now her particular expertise and her knowledge of all these different cons and people across the country is still something the FBI is interested in.
BROOKS: As far as Ezra taking over for the Doctor.… About a year ago, before we started the second season, Paul and I were talking about Ezra, and we kept always thinking about Michael Corleone sitting in the chair at the end of The Godfather. He was supposed to be the one that got away from that life, and then suddenly he's sitting in his father's chair. So we always had that image in our minds of where Ezra was heading. Also, the whole season was about running from the Doctor, then stopping and turning and going after him. That was always the idea.
Is there any part of you that writes a season finale that could work as a series finale too just in case of cancellation?
ADELSTEIN: I didn't feel that way. I actually think that this one works better as a series finale than season 1 would've, but it wasn't intentional. We took a step back and said, "If worst comes to worst and this is actually where it ends, I guess there's some fun moments to go out on," but we didn't give it much thought.
BROOKS: If anything, we would tend to think the other way. Does this feel too much like there's nothing left to tell? We wanted to make sure there was still the sense of possibility and tension and things you were excited about finding out how they go. In hindsight, it's great that it wasn't a cliffhanger. It wasn't like, the Bumblers' plane crashes into the woods!
I never would've slept again! So what would've happened if there'd been a third season?
ADELSTEIN: We have all of those ideas on a piece of paper. We never circled one and said we will definitely go in that direction. That being said, we knew a few beats down the line, regardless of where Sophia [Laura Archbold] and Ezra started — whether they went to Paris or whether they started to do some small cons, or actually took over the doctor's operation — we knew that we had a couple of complications in our back pocket that were going to come for them. It wasn't going to be an easy road for them, certain things were going to rear their heads that were really going to throw their relationship a big challenge. Plot-wise we weren't 100 percent sure, but we don't want to say what might've happened, just in case we get to write that airplane novel of it!
What about Shelly (played by Adelstein)? I'm assuming there's no way Jules (Marianne Rendon) would've killed him, knowing she disapproved of Maddie planning to take out the Doctor, but he also took that bottle to the face…
ADELSTEIN: I think he's got a really bad headache.… And I think he doesn't have a boss anymore and maybe he'd go try and find his ex-wife [played by Uma Thurman].
There's the spinoff!
ADELSTEIN: [Laughs] Yes, it's a sitcom called The Cohens.
BROOKS: We can sell it to ABC, they have a slot! But seriously, I think that we were really intrigued by the fact that Shelly is not dead. Lenny and Shelly have not been together, and what kind of revenge might they exact? Especially if Ezra is going to flirt with the Doctor's business. Also, even though the hard drives were erased, Richard [Parker Young] has his political ambitions, but is that possible? Secrets always come out.
ADELSTEIN: From a plot perspective, we talked about what happens when the figurehead of these massive operations is removed. It's the Pablo Escobar thing: Once he's removed, there's all-out war because everyone wants control. We thought it would be interesting to start seeing these other crews and what ends up happening in the game if the Doctor's gone. It could be really fun for Max, it could be really fun if that catches up to the Bumblers or to Maddie.
BROOKS: One thing we learned and saw very quickly, in both seasons, was how much the audience wants everyone to be together. That always seems to be the surge of everyone's happiness, so there probably would've been more of that.