"We end the season on a question that's almost as provocative as the one that started the whole journey, so I think it could live elsewhere," Eliot Laurence tells EW.
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Motherland: Fort Salem

Don't start mourning Motherland: Fort Salem just yet.

Freeform's alternate history drama about a United States that is a matriarchal society run by witches is ending after season 3, but series creator Eliot Laurence tells EW that he has ideas for how the show can live on.

"Absolutely. It's one of those things that, I remember when I first landed on the idea, it just felt like an oil geyser of, there's a lot to tell in this world and a lot more provocative questions to ask about the world," he says. "We end the season on a question that's almost as provocative as the one that started the whole journey, so I think it could live elsewhere. That might be graphic novels, it could be a lot of things. We have incredibly passionate fans. I mean, they are powerful. They're a force. So we'll see what happens."

Laurence hadn't planned on ending the series after season 3, but was grateful the network let him know in advance so he could plan a satisfying series finale. "I don't think we were [ready to say goodbye], but with that being said, it was a very up front, kind way for the network to give us the news and let us think about how to somehow wrap up this insanely big story," he says. "I think it was nicely handled, so I'm super grateful for that. But it was a heady experience for sure. Who knows though, crazy things could happen."

Below, Laurence teases the final season, who might get a happy ending, and more.

Taylor Hickson from the Motherland Fort Salem season 3 premiere
Credit: Jeff Petry/freeform

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you got the news that this was going to be the final season, did that change where you planned on taking the story so that you could end it in a satisfying way?

ELIOT LAURENCE: Yeah, we had to accelerate some stuff that was always in the works and move it up more quickly. But it actually turned out to be a gift in the storytelling. We weren't stretching so much and we were really getting to the meat of this explosive, world-changing event that we lead to in the season. So it was challenging, but it gave us some fire.

Did you always have the ending of the series planned in the way that it happens this season?

I did. I always knew I wanted it to be about this first song and this mystery of human language, and our witches' ancient ancestors' participation and the acquisition of language for the human race. I always knew it was going to tie in that kind of stuff, and so that's one of the most delicious parts of the season. We're going to really get into the question of, what is a witch?

We know a little bit. We know that they have these extraordinary voices and can hear things that we can't hear and make sounds that we can't make. We see them following these Pagan traditions. But they seem cultural, like their power doesn't come from the Pagan gods by any means. It's kind of innate and goes down the maternal line. And even the magic itself has a scientific feel to it. I feel like it's always been a show that was on the blade of a knife between sci-fi and fantasy, and so we get to explore this ancient language history this year, which is super, super fun. There's certainly some clues along the way that hopefully tie up beautifully this season.

What did you want to accomplish with the final season?

Just to wrap up stuff and to flip things once again. I'm always trying to surprise people, so this season was about flipping expectations in a really, really daring, hopefully effective way, and keeping people entertained. People have grown to love these people a lot so we wanted to give as much as we could for these characters and land them in a very satisfying place. We talk a lot this season about lost lineages, whether it's war or colonialism or the ravages of history, and this whole storyline is about reclaiming history. That kind of story is important to me. And because we're a sound show, this lineage manifests in the form of an ancient song which could change the world or end the world depending on how it's sung. That's the central quest of the season.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the final season?

A lot of them were logistical. It's been hard to shoot during COVID. We had some bumps that involved taking some actors out of the show for a little while, while they recovered from some stuff. And it's always hard to, for example, kill a beloved character. It's pretty heartbreaking, but you just have to trust that the story needs it and can sustain it. But I think we were so focused on the logistical challenges of the year that the creative ones seemed kind of small in comparison.

The premiere begins with most of the main characters on the run. How long is that going to last?

They're on the run for quite some time, past the midpoint of the season. We're going to get to learn about the Cession. Raelle [Taylor Hickson] grew up in the Cession, which is a massive grouping of unified Indian reservations on this swathe of land that separates the country, and it's on this incredibly prosperous land. That's a great place for people to hide. It's a sovereign nation outside the United States, so our fugitives will wind up there and we're going to get to learn a lot more about that culture and see the people who rule that part of the country. We've talked about the Cession a lot, so it's nice to finally see it and meet some people. It's a visually beautiful season. It's a little poignant that we ... I feel like we nailed it in a lot of ways this year, so it's kind of sad that it could be the end, but we're so proud of it.

Without giving away too much, it's going to really complicate things for the people in the Cession because our fugitives are bringing a lot of trouble with them, unfortunately. And that's going to escalate in some really, really upsetting and shocking ways. It ties right into the story. It's going to feel very alive and kind of uncomfortably familiar with what's going on in the world right now in terms of invading a sovereign nation. That's what I love most about speculative fiction, that ability to look at our world with a little distance and from a new angle.

It's also great to see that, even on the run, the romance is still alive and well for some of the fugitives. What are we going to be seeing from the romance this season?

There's such good stuff, but it would just be criminal to tease it too much. We're going to get there with some people who haven't really had a chance to be close to each other for a couple years, namely, Raelle and Scylla [Amalia Holm]. They're on the run together, which helps a lot. It doesn't really fix the situation. But it's lovely to see them grow and blossom and face some relationship stuff that they really haven't had time to do ever. And it ends in a very special way for them. I don't want to give anything away though.

I still have to ask: are Raelle and Scylla going to be able to get a happy ending by the end of the series?

[Laughs] The forecast looks really good. I think the world needs that. I'm happy to supply that.

I know fans are going to be really happy to hear that. What else can you tease about how the final season is going to end?

We thought we understood witchhood, but it's a whole new situation, which really could send the show in a new direction if we were able to find new life somewhere else. It's just another dramatic shift-in-humanity kind of ending that would be incredibly fun to explore in the future somewhere. Was that super vague? [Laughs] Oh my god.

The final season of Motherland: Fort Salem premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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