By Benjamin Lindsay
[Warning: Contains spoilers leading up to the season finale of Eyewitness]
Well folks, the time has come: Eyewitness season one wraps this Sunday, Dec. 18. Week in, week out, the critically acclaimed series from Shades of Blue showrunner Adi Hasak has kept us on the edge of our seats as we watch the intricacies of our loveable #Philkas unfold as supporting characters such as Tony and Gabe rise above the call of duty to steal our hearts, and the ever-vigilant Helen inches closer and closer to uncovering the truth behind Ryan Kane. We spoke with Hasak leading up to Sunday’s explosive conclusion to get the scoop on what’s to come for our boys and Tivoli’s resident sheriff. “We have a lot of beloved characters,” he teases. “Not all of them make it to the finish line.”
USA Network: It’s been such a pleasure this season getting to know these characters. As a creator, what’s been the most gratifying aspect of seeing Eyewitness find an audience?
Adi Hasak: It’s been the connection. I’ve never been so engaged with an audience. I have young people working with me who are very involved with social. I can tell you that before this show premiered, I couldn’t even spell Twitter, let alone have an account. We’ve been following this show specifically on Twitter and engaging with the audience, and I must say, it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my creative career. It’s a fan base that not only understands the show, but that really picks up on the nuance and that really embraces these characters. Usually as a creator and writer, it’s a monologue -- you are talking and they’re listening. This has been a dialogue with the fan base. There is a community that’s been formed around this show.
USA Network: The thing that keeps audiences watching week to week is the show’s incredible plot. Week in, week out, we get the cliffhangers, we get the high drama, we get the romance. Do you have a favorite plot twist?
Hasak: My favorite thing is the relationships between the two boys and the relationships between Helen and Gabe. I figure if there is a plot twist, what’s really interesting to me, and it occurred in episode eight, is the growing relationship between Ryan the ‘Bad Guy’ and Helen. Usually in these types of shows, the bad guy goes from being bad to being badder to being the worst. Here, we’re actually opening up and trying to get an understanding of who he is. One of my favorite scenes is a scene that USA allowed me to do, which was an eight-minute scene of Helen and Ryan just sitting in front of the computer having a conversation and really revealing to each other some of their deepest secrets. Ryan has done a lot of horrible things -- from killing an underage girl and murdering teens -- but there is an attempt here to understand his narrative, his point of view, and his complexity.
USA Network: We see Helen almost relying on Ryan as a support system as she’s going through this case in the final episodes. Now that she’s had that eureka moment and realizes Ryan is the killer, what can we expect with Helen going into next week’s episode?
Hasak: Well, again, one of the reasons that we built an emotional connection between these two people -- both who are scarred and both who have inner demons that they can’t share with the people around them -- was that when she realizes that Ryan is the guy she has been looking for, it’s an emotional mind-f---. As opposed to a plot twist, it’s an emotional twist. That’s what, as a writer, was so interesting. This man who she’s learned to admire and to like, this man to whom she revealed her innermost secret which she hasn’t even revealed to her husband, is proved to be the villain. That means that in episode 10, her journey will be one filled with emotions -- and not just filled with the adrenaline of getting the bad guy. Although that, of course, will also be a big part.
USA Network: Another reason audiences have latched on so eagerly to this series is the central couple of Philip and Lukas. Did you go into Eyewitness with the intention of creating a different kind of LGBT narrative? Did you want the series to have a greater social message?
Hasak: Yes, very much so. This is a thriller that happens to have two gay teens as its characters. One of them is dealing with coming out, but it’s not a story about coming out. That, to me, was absolutely riveting and fascinating. Being the father of teenagers, I love writing teenagers. And I also very much saw the thriller story almost as a metaphor for the anxiety that teenagers have. It was just literally writing the story of two teenagers who are filled with anxiety, who are coming of age with their sexuality, who happen to be gay. That’s what I tried to tap into: the anxiety of being a teen.
USA Network: I think in terms of Philip and Lukas, fans are hoping for the best but bracing for the worst as we head into the season finale. We’ve seen them really go through the ringer. Do you think that a happy ending is possible for these two, or is not quite as simple as that?
Hasak: I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Life works in crazy ways, and this is a story that tries to be real. Characters who we like, like Sita, disappear and find a horrible fate. It’s one of those things that needs to be kept in question. What you can’t do in a show like this is, if you want to be true to the narrative where really anything can happen, you can’t all of a sudden tie up all of the loose ends in episode 10 and then say, ‘And they all lived happily ever after,’ and have the only anxiety be, ‘Will the sheriff catch the bad guy?’ In these types of shows, she usually does, so that can’t be the only anxiety. What I can say is we have a lot of beloved characters. Not all of them make it to the finish line. But let me put it this way: They deserve that moment of happiness. They’ve earned that moment of happiness. And then the question is, the original sin for them is not reporting this murder, so will this murderer catch up with them or not?
Binge-watch every episode of Eyewitness to get ready for the season finale, this Sunday, Dec. 18, at 10/9c on USA Network!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.