When The Fosters season 4A came to a close, it left several characters in peril and thousands of fans holding their breaths. Pop City Life spoke with the show’s co-executive producer Peter Paige, who co-wrote and directed The Fosters 4×10, about the creative decision-making that went into the episode and what to expect from season 4B.
Read on for our interview with Peter Paige!
You had a few different options for a cliffhanger final scene of The Fosters season 4A. It could have been Sophia in the bathroom with Doug, or Callie in the car with Martha Johnson’s grandson, or even Nick’s car pulling up next to Mariana. What was the thinking behind ending the episode with Jesus?
Peter Paige: Well, to me, everyone is in a period of maximum challenge. What we realized as we were constructing the finale was that we had all these stories that had been brewing for 10 or 20 or even more episodes that were naturally coming to a head. We had the opportunity to intertwine them at this music festival, so we decided to run with that.
As you said, we could have ended in lots of places. Callie’s in a lot of danger in the car, but she is resourceful and thoughtful and in control of her own destiny at the moment. Jesus, however, has made some choices that have just taken a hard right turn in a very awful way at a very horrible moment. That was why the decision was made to leave things there, wondering how he’s gonna be when this all plays out. He’s a kid who’s had a traumatic head injury and he gets punched square in the middle of the forehead, right where the first injury occurred. It’s a really dangerous thing for a human brain.
How did you come up with the idea of Jesus nail-gunning himself in the head in the first place?!
It’s a true story! We were doing research on construction injuries and, boom, there was this story! And, by the way, it’s not just once. It’s happened multiple times. Nail guns are incredibly dangerous, and they have enough power to easily pierce the skull. The thing we found so fascinating about it is that you don’t know it happened, because the brain itself has no nerve endings so it doesn’t feel pain. You feel [the nail] in your skull, but only as it’s going through the skin, the same way you would if you were getting a shot. It was such an amazing thing for us to find out, and we had the organic setup for it, so we did it!
Going back to that cliffhanger scene, would you say there’s any chance at redemption for Nick following the punch that left Jesus unconscious, or is there no coming back from that?
The immediate circumstances of Nick’s actions are that he cut off his ankle bracelet while he was home on parole for weekend, and there’s no coming back from that. He’s going to jail, period. Down the road, what has he learned? How has he changed, or can he change? Nick has mental health issues, and there’s a lot to be sorted out there. I don’t know yet where he will reappear in our world or if he will, but the immediate circumstances are pretty black and white for him.
As co-writer, director, and co-executive producer of The Fosters 4×10, you had a lot of control over this episode. Were there any specific aspects that were particularly important for you to get right, and do you feel you were able to execute everything the way you envisioned it?
I wanted to make sure that even though there are like six story lines in this episode, they are all trackable and you know what story line you’re watching at any given moment. Then, as they start to collide, you’re able to keep all of the pieces with you. I do think we succeeded at that. Also, even though we write right up to the edge of melodrama, it’s really important to me that it doesn’t play as a melodrama – that it plays as human. None of these stories are outside the human experience. None of these stories aren’t things that happen to people regularly, it’s just that we have a lot of them happening at the same time. We do have a bit of a compressed timeline, so it’s always really important to me that on a moment-by-moment, scene-by-scene basis, the characters believe what’s going on around them, and that we as an audience can relate to that because it’s human.
You mentioned that the different plot threads in The Fosters 4×10 were centered on the music festival. How did you come up with the idea of the festival as the place where everything would converge?
The network is always asking, “What are your events this season? Where are we going? What are the big promotable moments? Where are the parties? Where are the dances? What’s happening?” In a finale, you want to have something that looks big – and believe me, it was big! We talked about a lot of different versions of what that festival might be. We ended up settling on something that our family had a small stake in, but it wasn’t like they generated it. That gave us this innate opportunity to have a lot of people there and a lot of paths intersecting.
A lot of Fosters fans are going to be biting their nails over the next few months, waiting for the second half of the season and wondering if Jesus and Callie are going to be OK! Is there anything you can share about what to expect when the show returns?
We are picking up seconds after The Fosters 4×10 ends. There’s a lot that has to be resolved in the short term and in the long term. We realized as we started breaking The Fosters season 4B that we had so many threads to pull, it was basically rope! So much of the season is already put into motion based purely on things that have been happening in the first 10 episodes, especially the finale. Even the stories that feel like they’re resolved are now kind of flipping and dovetailing into something else.
Thanks to Peter Paige for taking the time to speak with us about the dramatic summer finale of The Fosters! The show will be back for season 4B next year, but in the meantime, you can follow Peter on Twitter.