Winter is coming to an end and with it the wait for new episodes of Saving Hope is almost over as well. The CTV drama gets set to return for its fifth and final season on Sunday, March 12 at 10 p.m. and is sure to pick up right where things left off in Season 4. For those that will recall, when we last left the gang at Hope Zion a vengeful Tom Crenshaw (Rookie Blue‘s Travis Milne) was pointing a gun and firing a shot at Alex (Erica Durance) and Charlie (Michael Shanks).
Things were a little happier elsewhere in the hospital as Zach (Benjamin Ayres) and Dawn (Michelle Nolden)’s relationship seemed stronger than ever. While Maggie (Julia Taylor Ross) may still be unlucky in love, she recently won a fellowship award with Alex and has some exciting professional prospects on the horizon. Also doing well was Dana (Wendy Crewson), back on her cancer treatments and responding well.
The TV Junkies were lucky enough to be invited over to the Saving Hope set last summer for a chance to peek behind the curtain of the show’s final season. We spoke exclusively with showrunner Adam Pettle, writers Noelle Carbone and Patrick Tarr, as well as actors Benjamin Ayres and Kim Shaw. From those discussions we were able to take away a few hints about what’s to come for the doctors of Hope Zion. Read on for some of those teases and browse through photos from our visit to set below as well.
Things Pick up Immediately
Given the big cliffhanger that Season 4 left us with, it’s nice that Season 5 wastes no time in showing us what happened. In fact, showrunner Adam Pettle tells us that things pick up “almost directly after.” He went on to tell us that we’ll be dropped right “in the ensuing melee of ambulance, police and squad from the shooting. Then we go real time with Alex and Charlie and through their first shift” in the premiere.
Writing Your Own Destiny
Pettle says that the theme for Season 5 came directly from the Julius Caesar quote, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.” For Pettle and the other Saving Hope writers, the quote brought up questions about whether or not each character writes their own destiny or whether it’s written for them? For example, Pettle asks “What is Zach and Dawn’s destiny? Are they destined to be together? Is Maggie destined to be a great surgeon?”
These questions and a central theme “really helped us to have an organizing principle for this year,” he explained. Writer Patrick Tarr added that “for a show that always has one foot in the supernatural, ramping that up a bit and having those metaphysical questions encroach on the real lives of our characters” really lended focus to the final season.
Charlie’s Ghosts Get Darker and Scarier
For those wondering whether or not Charlie will still see spirits, there is no doubt he will, but the show is doing a different take on things. “His relationship with the spirit world is a shifting thing and unnerving at times during Season 5,” warns Pettle. Writer Noelle Carbone adds that “every year we like to see ‘What can we do this season to take that hook of the show and give it a bit of a goose?’” She says that means that “this year we’re kind of doing the same thing, but a little darker or scarier.”
Audiences shouldn’t be too worried though because Carbone promises the shift not only makes things more interesting for Shanks to play, but also for the audience. “To see how Charlie, who’s so good at ghost-doctoring, what happens when the rules change, or when the ghosts want different things or when they are sneaking around? What does he do with that?”
But There’s Still Plenty of Laughs
Pettle calls his writing team “some of the funniest writers.” He says that while “we’re not writing on a comedy, but I think we could be. There’s a levity and it’s funnier than past seasons.” Benjamin Ayres agrees with his boss adding that “I’ve found this year that even stuff that’s not written necessarily funny, I’ll turn it funny. That’s me allowing him to have fun because I think he [Zach] deserves it.”
Romance Is Still a Cornerstone
“Ultimately Saving Hope is a love story. Morwyn Brebner’s mantra was always ‘the show can’t be too romantic’” Pettle assures us. He says for the final season that they’ve “tried to carry that forward with Charlie and Alex at the spine of it. It is a very romantic show and we’re all softies.”
Dawn and Zach Are Very Happy
Fans of the romance between Zach and Dawn should have a very good season this year. “At the beginning of the year, we talked to the writers about what’s going to be happening with our stories, and the one thing they told us was that our relationship will be the rock of the show,” Ayres assured us. He added that “any conflict that comes for us will be mostly professional.” It was a nice change for Ayres to see Zach allowed to be happy and that translates off screen as well.
“It’s great to work with Michelle. I’m so lucky to get to work with her and for us to make a go of that relationship,” he says. While everything is happy and good, Tarr says there were some challenges in writing a happy couple. “The challenge was allowing those two characters to be happy without either of them losing that bitter edge that we all love so much about them individually. But so far so good,” he jokes.
Zach and Maggie Are Still Good Friends
One of the things we loved most about last season was the strong friendship that developed between Zach and Maggie. It’s something Ayres was also a fan of. “Julia and I are really great friends. It was especially important for her to have a different sex platonic friendship, which I also agreed with,” he tells us.
The two did kiss last season, so will that have any lasting effects on their friendship? “Now that the kiss happened we’re going to get to a point, as happens with good friends, where we make fun of it,” he says.
Maggie Runs a Cancer Study
So just what will Maggie be up to then this season? She’s co-running a big cancer study with Alex that according to Pettle, will professionally give her “a strong drive for the first chunk of episodes.” Her friendship with Zach may bleed over into her personal life as well because Tarr previews that “she’s trying out dating with some pressure from Zach and tries out online dating.”
During our set visit, we had the opportunity to learn more about the characters and their evolving relationships, including an in-depth look at Sydney’s journey and her dynamic with Maggie throughout Season 5.
Cassie Is Still Looking for Love
Now that Cassie (Kim Shaw) is back for year two at Hope Zion she may not be the same person we saw in Season 4. “She’s a different character this year. She’s grown up a lot and she’s a little more comfortable with everybody, but in turn maybe a little too comfortable in some ways,” previews Shaw. After ending her relationship with Dr. Bishop (Peter Mooney) when he left for LA, Cassie will still be looking for love. “She’s got some history with a character that is here and that sort of flares up again.
There are some new characters that come in and it wouldn’t be Cassie if she didn’t try to dip her fingers in,” jokes Shaw. While Shaw says personally she “always wants to focus more on the medicine,” she does realize that “we are on a nighttime drama so it’s all about the sex. I can’t complain though about that so far,” she jokes.
Expect More Cassie/Dana Bonding
Count Shaw among those who were fans of the Cassie and Dana relationship last season. “Wendy is an absolute dream to work with and I learn from her everyday. She cracks me up and is so goofy. I don’t think we really see that side of her, but man is she funny,” Shaw tells us.
She says there will still be plenty of Dana and Cassie scenes again in Season 5, which in turn gave Shaw a lot of time to try and impress her costar. “When I was growing up, if I could make my brother laugh it gave me such a sense of joy and fulfillment. I feel that same connection with Wendy, where she laughs at me and inside I’m like ‘yes!’” says Shaw.
There’s a Competition for Chief Resident
Cassie may be having romantic complications, but she’s pretty busy professionally as well. “She’s really focused on being Chief Resident and I think that’s only going to lead to greater things for her to come,” previews Shaw.
Cassie may not get the job though because “there’s a bit of a competition going on for that with the residents that come back. We have a strange resident that comes back and gets her hat thrown into the mix and screws everything up,” Shaw says.
The Surgeries Get Even More Real This Year!
If you’re a Saving Hope fan who has a hard time watching the on screen surgeries you may find yourself looking away more this year. Shaw says that she was “most impressed this year with the prosthetics team. Holy cow! They’ve outdone themselves and I’ve almost thrown up at least three times.”
She recalls for us one incident in particular where she says she “walked in and was like ‘No I can’t! This is too real!’ They hadn’t even put the fake blood on yet and I almost lost it a few times during that day. A couple weeks ago we did a heart transplant and it was actually beating. That whole team is out of this world and I’m blown away all the time.”
Dana Searches for Meaning
As mentioned, Dana and Wendy Crewson are definitely back this season and Pettle says she “has some really fun stuff.” In particular, he tells us that “she has a really cool little arc where, because of her cancer diagnosis, she’s questioning what it all means and wants more meaning. She wants whatever time she has left as a doctor to count.” Carbone teases that “maybe plastic surgery is not the best way to make it count.”
Which Puts Her at Odds with Dawn
In looking for a new challenge and something to give her meaning, Dana will be clashing with Dawn. Pettle says that Dana does indeed go “down a different avenue and recertifies as a trauma surgeon. She wants to be on the front lines and not doing as many nose jobs.” By doing this, “it puts her in nice conflict with Dawn who, as Chief, doesn’t want her best plastic surgeon to recertify in something that she’s less good in,” says Carbone.
Regardless of the outcome, Carbone and the writers agree that “it’s been really great to watch Michelle Nolden and Wendy Crewson together in scenes because we don’t think they’ve ever been in any scenes together. Then this season they are in a whole bunch and it’s so fun to watch.”
Jarrod Joseph’s Character May Spark with Alex
New to the cast in Season 5 is Calgary-born Jarod Joseph (The 100). He’s playing radiologist Dr. Emanuel Palmer and “he’s just been amazing and is such a phenomenal talent. He’s so charming and there’s such an ease to him, both as a person and as an actor. He brings a unique flavor to the show that we’ve haven’t had before,” says Pettle. He went on to say that “he and Erica have a really nice chemistry. He’s very different from Charlie and Joel as well.”
For more from our visit to the set of Saving Hope browse through these behind the scenes photos: