Now at the halfway point of its final season, the stakes on Mary Kills People are higher than ever before. Despite it looking like Mary (Caroline Dhavernas) and Ben (Jay Ryan) may finally be heading towards a happy ending, with her letting him in on their baby’s life, attending an ultrasound together and having family dinner, Frances (Elizabeth Saunders) may be threatening to derail all that. She’s killing people who may not be ready to die, all while thinking she’s an Angel of Mercy. Oh, and she’s also threatening Mary with the knowledge that Annie (Grace Lynn Kung) has been feeding her patients.
Meanwhile, even though the death retreat was his idea, Des (Richard Short) is finding that he’s getting much more than he bargained for from the patients, including Lucy (Rachael Ancheril). Things will no doubt start to come to a head in this week’s episode “Switzerland Has Trees”, written by Karen Moore and directed by James Genn. To get a closer look into the show’s final season The TV Junkies recently spoke with co-showrunner and executive producer Marsha Greene.
Greene has been a writer for Mary Kills People since Season 1 but this was her first experience as a showrunner, working alongside Tassie Cameron. She shared with us their approach to the final season of the series and what may still lie ahead as Mary and Ben work together to take down Frances.
The TV Junkies: You’ve been a part of Mary Kills People since the very beginning. How did you feel about it ending?
Marsha Greene: It’s weird because you’re always sad that it’s ending, especially because it was such a big part of my life, but yet, we felt like this should be the last season. It was such a gift to know that it was the last season so we could really discuss how we thought it should end. What was so interesting about it was that things I felt really sure should happen, weren’t necessarily how they ended up being. Some things were what I wanted and some were not what I expected, but it was a bit bittersweet. The hardest part was saying goodbye to the actors and characters. We love them so much and they’ve done such an amazing job.
TTVJ: You’ve worked with Tassie on a lot of a shows, but what was it like getting to showrun your first time out alongside her?
MG: I could not have asked for a better experience. Showrunning is such a hard job and it was such a gift in so many ways because it was a show I had been on from the beginning. I knew the story in my bones to help ease that transition, but also to have Tassie as a partner in that, I thought ‘she won’t let me screw up.’ I always had someone with the knowledge and experience, but who is so generous and brought me in to help make all the decisions and really trusted me. I so appreciated that and it made me feel confident in that ‘I won’t ruin the show because I have her here to make sure.’
It’s funny because we shot some of the season in studio where they shoot Private Eyes, the first thing Tassie and I ever worked on together. She’d be like ‘it’s hard to believe you were this new writer and now I’m just letting you boss me around.’ [laughs]
TTVJ: We’re only halfway through the season, so I don’t know how things will end, but it does seem, surprisingly enough, that some of the characters are headed towards a version of a happy ending, whether that’s Mary and Ben or Des with Lucy. Was that a goal for you?
MG: For Mary, I definitely had a desire for her to have a happy ending, but wasn’t as sure with the other characters and where they’d end up. I think the fact that Mary was pregnant really did end up affecting the story because it made them start in such a different place. I kind of felt though, at points, that I didn’t want to write a straight ahead happy ending, but also my feminist happy ending is that this woman can have it all. If she gets a happy ending then that’s my way of saying you can have it all — baby, job and love. That was my way of comforting myself.
TTVJ: Well, because on paper there’s no way Mary and Ben should be able to be together and be happy, but then we see these really nice moments like them at the ultrasound last week. Can you preview what they must still go through?
MG: The scene at the ultrasound, I was on set that day and I was dying laughing at Jay Ryan’s performance. He did such a great job of being awkward and nervous because they had never been in that place before. Because of everything Mary and Ben had been through, it was hard to imagine how they’d get to any different place, but Mary being pregnant really did change that. It changed how she approached their interaction and how he approached it as well.
They didn’t end Season 2 in a great place, so it was like ‘what will it take to bring them back together?’ This was a really good way for them to come back together and ultimately recognize they’d be tied to each other forever because of this baby. It does start to change their mindset in terms of how they need to work together. Now, what Mary is doing affects Ben more personally than it did before.
TTVJ: Mary did come clean to Ben about everything and Frances is causing some major trouble at the moment. How will they go about taking down what may be the scariest villain yet?
MG: The struggle for them is that as much as this baby has brought them to a different place, they’re still people who approach their problems in different ways. Ben comes from a cop background and approaches it with that mentality, whereas Mary is used to working outside of the law. As much as they are trying to forge this path together, they also approach it very differently. So it’s a challenge going forward, but every season Mary and Ben try to find a way to work together and it’s always a struggle. That certainly continues. [laughs]
TTVJ: It’s been really nice to watch the relationship between Des and Lucy. Why did you feel like she was a great way to come in and really humanize Des in a way we haven’t seen before?
MG: When we were thinking about this season and the hospice, Mary and Des spent a lot of time fighting and not on the same page last season. Mary agreed to do the death retreat with him, but it’s really his dream. You have a dream and an idyllic picture of what it’s going to look like, but because the hospice was driven by Des, maybe he needed to get his hands a little bit dirty this season in a different way. It wasn’t about the criminal aspect, which often lives in Mary’s story, but Mary has been fighting to give the patients a good death and for Des to understand what that means. He has this way of being her partner but never having to carry the weight she does, and this will make him understand the weight she carries with her and be personally affected like he never has before. The way to do that is to give Des the one special patient that Mary often had in the other seasons. Now maybe he’s making some questionable choices the way Mary has done in the past because he now sees.
TTVJ: I also really love the way you’ve taken Nicole (Charlotte Sullivan), who was a bit of a fringe character in Season 1, and made her very involved in helping to run the hospice. What sort of role will she continue to play this season?
MG: It has been really nice to have Nicole take on this greater role. We started thinking of Nicole and who she’d be in the hospice, and we had a line that I don’t think made it into the show about her being the cruise director on the Titanic. She’s trying to make it fun, bringing them games and this person who could connect to patients on a day to day basis. Where the story goes, and that we found really interesting, was the way in which Mary may have always taken care of Nicole and shielded her from the harder things in life, starting with what happened with her mother.
So they bring Nicole into the hospital but are still keeping her at arm’s length — that becomes more apparent and more of a challenge. Things come to a head over how much Mary has shielded Nicole and they’ll have to come to a place where she lets Nicole into the fold more.
TTVJ: Anything else you wanted to preview about what’s to come this season?
MG: This season has been a wonderful marriage between some of the things we know and love about the show and some of the new things. The Frances storyline will really start to heat up and take off. All of our villains through the seasons have tried to show us something and not just been the bad guy. They’ve always been about Mary’s struggle too about what she does. Is she a hero or is she a criminal? When we start this season she’s still struggling and Frances is there to help Mary understand who she is, why she does this and why it’s important. I think that’s a really nice way to show that element and keep it on the deaths which have always been the heart of the show. I think we have a lot of really good stuff coming up!
Thoughts on this season of Mary Kills People? Sound off below!
Mary Kills People airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Global.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.