SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM THE SEASON 3 SAVING HOPE FINALE
By now, those who tuned into the third season finale of CTV medical drama Saving Hope have hopefully collected themselves–at least enough to wipe their tear-stained faces. In the episode’s final moments, viewers saw Dr. Joel Goran (Daniel Gillies), heroically save a solider from being blown to bits, sacrificing himself in the process.
You can read our interview with Daniel Gillies here, but we also caught up with scene stealer Ben Ayres, whose Dr. Zach Miller shared many of Joel’s final scenes. Here’s what he had to say on that shocking finale, his own reaction upon learning the news, and where we can possibly go from here.
The TV Junkies: When did you find out that Joel was being killed off?
Ben Ayres: About the day before the episode came out to everybody. That’s when Daniel found out; he’s the one who told me, but that was the day before the script came out. We had a read-through of Episode 17 and after the episode he was like, ‘Dude I have to call you right now.’ I was like, ‘What? F— off. There’s no way they’re going to do that.’ And then the next day everybody got the script. There it was.
TTVJ: What was the reaction in the room?
BA: [Loud laughter] It was a really pretty emotional. They had champagne there for everybody because it was also the wrap of the season and some kind words were given. It was hard. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t believe when I read the script originally. I couldn’t believe when he told me. I couldn’t believe when we filmed it. I couldn’t believe when I watched it … It’s so weird. He’s a good friend of mine too so I’m really going to miss him.
TTVJ: Since you are friends, was it nice to be able to film many of those final scenes together?
BA: Absolutely, I thought it was really cool that they did that. I think that Zach and Joel kind of … we always played them as friends and we always kind of wanted them to be friends. They would try and pit us together even in the scenes in the original season, I think because he and I found each funny and befriended each other quite quickly. So we would always turn any sort of argument between each other into kind of like, taking the piss out of each other, which is what a good friend relationship is like. So I thought it was really cool that they gave us that last episode together.
BA: They are going to freak out. I mean there’s going to be some anger Wednesday night I think for sure. Some major disappointment and real shock and surprise. It’s just going to be such a surprising thing because we’re not Game of Thrones, but it’s a Game of Thrones moment. I just think there’s going to be shock and surprise at what happens.
TTVJ: Could this be a chance for the show to reset from being a show about a love triangle?
BA: Yeah for the show I think it’s a good thing. It’s been a three-season, 49-episode arc of a love triangle that I think … it’s a good way to go and it’s a good way to kind of start something else. How much more do we really want to go back and forth as to whose kid it is and who’s getting married? I think it’s going to make all of those characters stronger and give Erica Durance way more to play. The fact that we don’t find out who the father is … I think the strong choice is that it’s Joel’s baby and Charlie has to be the man and be the father to a baby that’s not his. I think that would be cool.
TTVJ: Do you think Zach could experience some survivor’s guilt in Season 4?
BA: I would kind of like to see him go there. I think he’s going to feel a bit responsible for it and that he could have done something. Not that, ‘Oh I’ve flipped heads or tails’ or ‘It should have been Charlie and not you’ or something like that, but he’s going to feel a little responsible for what happened. It was a weird moment to even play after he explodes. Like eff. How do you react to that? It was a really weird moment that we kind of played around with in a few different ways. I was really happy with how they dealt with it. That moment I thought played really well.
TTVJ: What do you think the significance of the horse was?
BA: It’s a very noble animal, especially a white one. And what joel did at the end was a very noble thing. I believe that he maybe even knew that was going to happen and that it was the best thing for him to do for Alex. And I don’t think that it was a surprise to Joel. I think it was something he was expecting and I think that forces representation of a noble act.
TTVJ: Did you find it weird that he blew up but then afterwards there was a whole body under that body bag?
BA: Yeah, I wasn’t sure what the deal was. I remember Daniel and I were joking that the explosion would happen and then I would be pulling pieces of him off of me going, ‘JOOOOOEL!’ Yeah so I think the idea is that there are pieces of body in that bag, but I think maybe they thought showing it was too much. There’s nothing left of him, right? There’s no bag, there’s no toe to see his tag on…
TTVJ: Season 3 has started incorporating more of the supporting characters into the storyline, has that been nice to play?
BA: Yeah, I know, which is great right? That’s kind of been as an actor, hard on the show because you’re always wanting more to do so anytime you get to delve into your character’s past is a real treat. For me to get to discover more with my kids and my ex, and especially with my father dying when I was young … we discovered that in such a great way in the episode where he’s trying to out a secret in a guy so his wife doesn’t hate him. And then of course his relationship with Melanda (Glenda Braganza) was exciting to see that grow. Glenda and I really talked a lot about that relationship. I remember in the episode where Zach thinks he has prostate cancer. Originally the intent of the writing was that we actually go and play paintball after work, it was like a thing they went and did. I was like, that just seems ridiculous, let’s just make it code for sex. They’ll have crazy sex in the hospital. I think we just had a lot of fun and they were really receptive and open to it. So we started finding these nuances of the characters that they were crazier than they kind of appear as far as their sexual activies and love for each other and kind of what they’re finding out with each other. I’ve been happy with it and of course excited to see where we’re going next season.
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Amber Dowling is a bonafide TV Junkie, critic and freelance writer who watches countless shows and lives for dramatic (fictional!) twists. She currently serves as the vice-president of the Television Critics Association and has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows across North America. An advocate for Canadian Television and a lover of the medium in general, Amber founded TheTVJunkies.com as a spot for fellow enthusiasts to connect and collaborate. She previously spent almost eight years as the EIC for TV Guide Canada.