Sometimes not knowing is the greater evil and that’s something Natalie (Torri Higginson) wrestles with on this week’s episode of This Life. Sunday’s episode “Scanxiety,” written by Joseph Kay and Maxim Morin and directed by Ruba Nadda, sees her anxiously awaiting results that will determine her progress on the drug trial. It’s hard for her to find comfort in her children when they all have problems of their own as Romy (Julia Scarlett Dan) works on her independence, Emma (Stephanie Janusauskas) faces trouble on the job and Caleb (James Wotherspoon) adjusts to living away from home.
The season’s fifth episode marked a special opportunity for Morin, a 2015 Ryerson University graduate, as he got his first writing credit. After serving as script coordinator on Season 1 of This Life, Morin says they “took a chance on me” and gave him the opportunity to co-write this week’s episode with showrunner Kay. The TV Junkies recently spoke with Morin about the experience which he says was “super fun, scary and interesting,” as well as “scary as hell,” and had him give us a preview about what we can expect from the Lawson family this week.
TTVJ: What was the experience of writing your first script with Joseph like?
MM: Working with Joseph was an extreme delight. He has an incredible amount of trust in the people he works with and even though this was my first crack at it, he really trusted me to go my own way, write what the room had developed together and put my stamp on it. Without consciously doing so he taught me a lot about the process, about working as a team and working by committee, so that experience was really gratifying. He has a vision that we try to access. He allows the room and space to try and do so–we sometimes fail and sometimes succeed. In that respect, it’s a very safe room to be a part of.
But I don’t only credit Joseph Kay but also Rachel Langer, one of our senior writers on the show, who really took me under her wing and taught me a lot about not just the craft, but how to be a professional. So I owe a lot to Joseph Kay and to Rachel Langer, someone I like to sometimes call my “real life Yoda.”
TTVJ: One of the stories this week involves one of this season’s breakout stars, Jude the cat. Why has he become such a big part of this season and why is he so important to Natalie?
MM: Because cats are awesome. [laughs] I’m actually more of a dog person, but we had two cat actors on the show and once I first saw them I was truly, truly in love. Jude is important though because he’s a symbol and he’s there for Natalie when she has her first side effect. That’s a huge moment for someone with illness and since then he’s been a comfort for Natalie.
Torri actually told me something really interesting which is that Jude is the only person that won’t look at Natalie as a cancer patient, but just as another being. He’s really the only living thing capable of doing that in her life because her family is all reacting to her being this way. What’s fun about Jude is that anyone can apply whatever they see fit to what he represents. That can provide a powerful symbol for the show and a powerful companion to Natalie.
TTVJ: Nicole (Marianne Farley) finally made a definitive decision regarding her marriage to Matthew (Rick Roberts) last week. How do those two go about moving on from there?
MM: It’s going to be tough for them to move on, although I think we saw a degree of acceptance from both of them in Episode 204. Now the challenge for them is how will they move on from this? There’s a lot of other players in this problem and one is their daughter Abby. How does she play into the situation? What are the logistics of separating and going your own way? Does Matthew have to find a new place? It creates a lot of opportunities for newness that these characters aren’t used to and I think the audience is going to shed a lot tears as they attempt to do that.
TTVJ: We see the use of flashbacks in this week’s episode. Why did you guys feel like it was a good time to incorporate those and what was it like writing them?
MM: Flashbacks are challenging because they can often feel inauthentic when you’re writing them. They can feel parachuted in and then ran away from–it’s there and then it’s gone. What we tried to focus on is the idea of Maggie (Lauren Lee Smith) going back home and unearthing a truth about herself. What was ground zero for her troubles with intimacy? We hope the scene sheds some light on that, and that what comes across is this character reckoning with that in a very real way and confronting it instead of backing away.
TTVJ: Last week ended on a very disturbing note with Maggie at Oliver’s (Kristopher Turner) apartment. Can you give us any insight into what’s going on with Oliver?
MM: To be fair, when I was in university I’ve lived in worse places. [laughs] Oliver has made a decision though to do something with his life and about his art career. Viewers can expect him to try to actively pursue that in the Lawson way, the imperfect way humans do. Without spoiling too much, we’re going to have to see Maggie deal with what she’s seen and what’s the fruit of Oliver’s damaging labor that we were privy to. That’s what we’ll see and it’s going to lead to a lot of fireworks.
What do you think of this season of This Life? Sound off in the comments below!
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.