Imposters creators break down the shocking finale

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If you’ve been keeping a close eye all season long on Bravo’s exhilarating new show Imposters, congratulations! All that detective work just came crashing down.

Twists and turns were always to be expected on the April 11 season finale of the dramedy series, which tracks the chase of three jilted spouses (Rob Heaps, Parker Young, and Marianne Rendon) on the hunt for the con woman they all married (Inbar Lavi). But creators Paul Adelstein and Adam Brooks are well aware of the expectations they’ve set for the snaking series, and as such, the duo crafted a freshman season finale that sent the characters—and the audience—reeling.

“It’s the whole season in one episode,” says Brooks, and between the disastrous wedding, the lost ring, the speedboat, the Lenny Cohen call, and the bus ride to the beyond, we believe him. EW got to the bottom of the Imposters finale with the two people in the best position to unpack it all.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, how did you possibly even keep track of everything that went on in this episode?
PAUL ADELSTEIN: It was a beast, and we kept getting to it and saying, “Let’s talk about something else” because it hurt our brains a little bit. [Laughs] But once we got our heads around it, it was really fun to finally write, because we knew that the whole season was building to this one big final con.

ADAM BROOKS: Paul and I had a very strong idea before the writers’ room even started about the shape of the season, and it was only as we got towards the end, where you start painting yourself into certain plot corners, that there was some reinventing, but mostly we knew where we were going. The hardest thing was outlining it, and then writing it was a dream. It was a very ambitious episode for us, and our most action-y episode.

When you say you knew where you were going, what do you mean? What was the thesis you were following, and what were the supporting puzzle pieces that fell into place around it?
ADELSTEIN:
I think the thesis was, Maddie and what we call the Bumblers team up to do one big final con to burn the Doctor and the FBI. We knew we wanted to end with the three of them pulling away on a bus together. We had that when we pitched season 1 of the show to Bravo. Getting everybody into those positions was a different matter.

BROOKS: And part of the thing about moving towards that was that you have three people who thought they were living normal lives until this woman ran through them, and in their quest to find her, they developed a taste for the adventure that they’re on. It’s changing who they are and how they think about themselves—especially Ezra. And for Maddie, the whole season, she’s longing for something she’s never wanted before, which is something maybe more normal. Those two things cross each other around episode 6 or 7, and the last three episodes are like their own movie moving towards this hopefully thrilling finale, where they still don’t know where they stand with each other and whether they trust each other. Who are they? And for all of them, there’s some kind of resolution on these themes or emotions that they’ve all been battling with all season.

I find it interesting that the Bumblers remark how they think they’re free. Ezra literally has an FBI dossier about him. Is he in the most exposed position of all three?
ADELSTEIN:
Yes, I think that would be safe to say that he is. I think Ezra feels like, “Well, the FBI’s going to blame Maddie for this. They’re going to think Maddie stole the ring. She’s going to be the priority.” So I don’t think he necessarily feels like the heat is on. Although that might dawn on him in the future, if there is a future.

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BROOKS: I think maybe they’re a little bit in denial about what they’ve gotten themselves into. With the rush of doing it and of being heroes to the woman that they’ve been obsessed with, there’s a little bit of denial about what kind of jeopardy they’re actually in, which will probably be one of the big things that we’ll want to start thinking about and exploring if we have a season 2.

If there is no season 2, is this a satisfying finale? And if there is a season 2, what can you say about the broad strokes you’ll want to paint?
ADELSTEIN:
I think it would be a satisfying season ender. I don’t know if it’d be a satisfying series ender. It cleans a lot of stuff up, but it turns the wheel and sends them all off into different directions. They’re all unmoored from where they started, and that’s exactly in the realm of the themes we’re dealing with in the show, themes about identity and who you are and who you want to be and how you get there. If there is a season 2, that’s exactly what we’ll start with. For instance, the Bumblers have been so defined by loving Maddie and then losing Maddie and then chasing Maddie and finding Maddie, and now that’s all gone. Their lives have been blown up. They’re left with one another. They have this little makeshift family, with its own little problems in it, but what happens with the rest of their lives? What do they do? What happens when that paranoia creeps in? And that goes across the board. It’s true of Max, it’s true of Patrick, and it’s true of Maddie.

BROOKS: Our main characters are unmoored, in the way that they get to now redefine themselves but also that they’re all in jeopardy, and those two things are going to be moving at the same time. How close is Patrick going to get to Maddie again? How close is Lenny going to get to the Bumblers? All those things are sort of implied in the last minutes of the season.

What was the actual probability that Maddie was ever going to get on that bus? Fifty percent chance? Or like, zero percent?
ADELSTEIN:
There are two mitigating factors. It certainly seems like she’s about to get on the bus, and so I would put it in the coin flip realm. But the other question is: If that ring had been there, and she had gotten it, would that have increased her chances of getting on the bus, or decreased them? And I think that’s something that we want the audience to have to argue amongst themselves about.

BROOKS: And it’s something that we debated over the entire writers’ room. What’s great about TV is the fact that you can let the show talk to you as you’re doing it. You’re seeing what the actors are doing and what the vibe is and what feels real and what feels powerful, and in a way, we didn’t decide what would happen on that bus until well into the season, because we let the show tell us what would be the most powerful ending.

ADELSTEIN: There were a few endings we considered that essentially had the same shape but had very different participants in each of those moments, and as Adam said, we kind of didn’t really decide until we were writing 8 and 9, basically, what exactly was going to happen at the end of 10.

I was surprised there was no bloodshed, especially given what happened to Gary earlier. Was there ever a body count in the finale?
ADELSTEIN:
Actually, for quite a while, there was a dead body bait-and-switch. I’m not sure when we abandoned that, Adam.

BROOKS: I can’t even remember.

ADELSTEIN: I don’t know when that went away. But we had 10 of these things that were just one step too complicated, and we ended up pulling back. But yes, there was the potential for some violence.

What are the repercussions for the FBI here for this botched mission? An abandonment of it, or a doubling down?
ADELSTEIN:
Patrick is in deep trouble, and I don’t think the FBI is going to let that million-dollar ring just slip away. And then there’s the problem of the Doctor. Yes, they have the Bumblers and Maddie out there in the wind, and that’s a problem, but the real problem is they have this murderous psychopath that they thought they were about to take down who has slipped through their clutches again.

What should we be asking ourselves about the mythology of the Doctor? What his reach is? How many operations he has? Whether he answers to somebody else?
ADELSTEIN:
[Laughs] I think those are the three main questions. That’s very well put. Is it only Lenny Cohen? Are there some other Lenny Cohens out there that do the Doctor’s dirty work for him? How much of what happened at the wedding does he actually know about, other than the fact that it didn’t go as planned and this person they’ve picked as a mark is actually in the FBI? And does he have other operations out there, and will they be compromised, too?

By the way, this is a few weeks late, but please tell me how you landed Uma Thurman to play Lenny Cohen.
BROOKS:
I’ve been friends with Uma for a very long time, and we’ve, on a number of occasions, tried to do something together, and something would always happen that would mess it up. It’s been going on for years. She asked if she could see the pilot when we finished it last spring, almost a year ago—she said, “Come over, we’ll make a dinner, we’ll all watch it.” So we had this thing, and she said, “Oh my God, it’s so fantastic. I would love to do a character arc in season 2.” And I was like, “You can do a character arc in season 1. We have this character who would be perfect for you.” We knew that we wanted this henchman named Lenny Cohen, and we had outlined it, but we hadn’t started writing it, and so I called Paul, and we wrote it for her and she loved it and she said yes. And we had an amazing time doing it with her.

Let me ask about Maddie and Ezra. Two questions: One, are they the couple that we’re supposed to consider the most genuine for Maddie? And two, was the make-out in the church part of the plan, or an unexpected development?
BROOKS:
Maddie’s so good at this because she always feels something. But yes, we always felt in a way that something happened with Ezra—a shift in her—that in a sense made her falling for Patrick possible. Was she really in love with Ezra? I don’t think she even knows where it starts. I think what also happens is that Ezra is sort of puppydog-ish to begin with, and by the end of the season, something happened to him, and I think she’s very intrigued by that. I think there is a connection between them, and it’s shifting given what’s happened.

ADELSTEIN: And to answer your question about the church… we don’t want to answer. [Laughs] I think they were there to provide a distraction for Patrick and piss him off. Whether they were supposed to make out or not, we’ll leave that to the audience’s imagination.

BROOKS: But even if they were supposed to make out, how were they making out?

Out of all the twists this season, which one caused the biggest uproar among the cast and crew?
ADELSTEIN:
That’s a good question. Because, for instance, the Patrick reveal, everyone knew that going in.

Everyone?
BROOKS:
People on the crew didn’t. For instance, we were doing post-production, and the sound mixers saw that and were totally unprepared for it. And they were freaking out. That’s got to be the single biggest one, I think. And even when we told the actors, I think that was the biggest single reaction. And the fact that Gary Heller gets killed. As the show starts, it’s about dark things, but there is a sort of bouncy [vibe]. I don’t know that anyone expected we were going to go darker and darker over those first five episodes when we started.

What would be the dream audience reaction for the finale?
ADELSTEIN:
On one level, satisfied, and on one level, leave them wanting more. They’ve got to want to know what happens next. This chapter of it has obviously come to a close.

BROOKS: The most immediate thing, as that car drives over the camera and Lenny Cohen’s Challenger roars into blackness, is, “When is season 2 starting!?” But then, if you just back up a minute and 20 seconds, what I hope is a kind of catharsis. The three of them have reached something, and then there’s Maddie, and what does that mean, and why didn’t she get on the bus? So both a kind of catharsis and a kind of lingering question and an interest in where these people are going now.

ADELSTEIN: And I think a satisfaction in that maybe the three of them, in particular Ezra, have reached a new place. A new height. That he has gone from being a boy to a man when he produces that ring, and there is a satisfaction in watching this guy who got so badly destroyed in the pilot not just get his comeuppance, but kind of come into his own.

BROOKS: And there is, for the three of them, a version of mission accomplished.



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