'Chasing Life' Boss Breaks Down April's "Moment of Weakness," Season 3 Plans

"With this finale, I wanted to go out as big as possible, with as many question marks as possible," Patrick Sean Smith tells THR. "Everyone's life is up in the air."
Courtesy of ABC Family

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Chasing Life season-two finale, "La Dolce Vita."]

April Carver's fate on Chasing Life is now in the hands of ABC Family.

The network has yet to announce a season-three renewal for the drama about a young woman living with cancer, meaning Monday's season-two finale might be its last episode...and it ended on a major cliff-hanger. After April (Italia Ricci) received the news from her doctors that her latest clinical trial was no longer working for her, she jetted off to Italy to finally use the tickets meant for her honeymoon to get some clarity on what to do next.

After spending time in Italy with her best friend, Beth (Aisha Dee), and newly reignited love interest Dominic (Richard Brancatisano), April revealed in the final moments of the episode that she was going to stop fighting her cancer and just live out the rest of her days with no regrets. The finale ended with April looking off into the Italian sunset after dropping that bomb on Beth and Dominic, who could only look at each other in horror as the truth of April's words sunk in.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Chasing Life showrunner Patrick Sean Smith about how April came to this polarizing decision, what this means for her family and loved ones and what fans can expect from a potential third season.

What a way to end the season. I imagine fans are screaming at their TVs right now.

We're really proud of what we did this season, and we worked really, really hard to leave this season with a strong, lasting impression and a lot of cliff-hangers.

You certainly did! April's decision in the final moments was definitely shocking, since from an outsider's perspective it does seem like she's giving up, but then again, she's accomplished everything she wanted to in life. How much thought has she put into this decision?

In my mind, it's a spur-of-the-moment decision. The conversation she had with her doctors, they presented something that had never even entered her mind. It's something that, in our research and hearing about all these experiences people have had, it's something that doctors do let their patients know. If this is becoming too draining on you, there are other ways to treat this and other ways to go about this. You cannot treat it and just live with cancer. That was really interesting to us and an emotional area that April would never go to, but it seems also really real to have that moment of "I want this. This is good. This is OK. This is how I'm going out." But I think she hasn't really thought it through at the time. Italy itself is such a beautiful, magical place, and I was so glad we got to shoot there, and it really can take you to a different place emotionally and psychologically. She's swept up in the romantic moment in this beautiful place and it makes her look at her cancer and her treatment in a different way.

Are you nervous about how the fans are going to react to seeing April decide not to fight anymore?

It's certainly a moment of weakness and we're hoping to continue with this show (laughs) and to see more of what comes of this decision that she's made in the spur of the moment. I hope people understand that we're trying to hit every emotional aspect of what it's like to live with cancer and battle cancer, and those moments of weakness are real. I hope the fans are understanding of that. I think also having that moment at the end with Beth and Dominic looking at each other in concern, so much of this show is about the people in her life that support her. They're going to have something more to say about this decision in the future.

The look they shared after she dropped this bomb on them was so powerful. How is this going to affect all her relationships with her loved ones moving forward?

I definitely want to explore their reactions to that decision. She made a decision that is so big so quickly, and she needs to understand that they want her to stay on this earth for as long as she possibly can. That would really shake their confidence in how much of a say they can have in April's battle. It's also so interesting and real that at the end of the day, it's her life and her decision. But they're all so invested in her that it seems really murky and gray.

It seems especially cruel for Dominic, having just renewed his hope for a relationship with April. How is he going to take her decision?

We dropped all these seeds in the finale, with Sara talking about who April can build a life with and April bringing Dominic to Italy and how quickly that can all change. This cliff-hanger is going to shake up the dynamic and further complicate their relationship. I really want to explore that more in the future.

You've known from the start that Leo [Scott Michael Foster] wasn't going to be a permanent character on the show, but the fan response to his relationship and marriage with April was astounding. They wanted him to stick around forever. What did you think of that at the time, knowing that you were going to kill him off in such an emotional and heartbreaking way?

There's a lot of people who love Leo very much and so we were careful to continue to be respectful of that relationship. They really reacted strongly to them as a couple. So I was proud of how it turned out in this finale, when Dominic tested April with that kiss and she still wasn't ready for that yet. She's stuck in this place where she doesn't want Dominic to move on, but she's just not there emotionally yet. That is an indication of how complicated a relationship between April and Dominic would be in the future.

Beth came to a decision about her surprise pregnancy — but we don’t find out what that is. Any chance you'd reveal what she decided?

We don't know which direction she's headed yet. That was something we wanted to be a little ambiguous about for the third season. That's still up in the air. We wanted that cliff-hanger to be a question that hopefully the network will want to answer in season three!

Have you started planning out a third season in the event that you do get the renewal?

Not officially, but with this finale, I wanted to go out as big as possible with as many question marks as possible. Any time I ask a question on a show, I typically know what that answer is. There's a lot to explore in season three, like April's emotional state and her big decision to end treatment, there's a lot to explore with Uncle George and the manuscript and the investigation that's now in play, and then a lot to explore with Brenna and Finn now that Greer is moving back to town, and also what happens with Beth. I mean, everyone's life is up in the air right now by the end of the second season.

Speaking of George, he was been taken by the police for questioning even after Natalie [Jessica Meraz] told her mom not to go to the police. Is this the final nail in the coffin for Natalie's relationship with the Carvers?

In our minds, it was a decision that her mother made on her own. It will create more conflict between Natalie and Olivia after Natalie made the right decision and showed real character growth saying, "I'm going to end this right now," considering what she was like when we met her in Key West in season one. It's going to stir up drama for her and her mother as well as her mother and her relationship with the Carvers.

And how is this going to affect George?

I'm really interested to explore how the investigation with Uncle George will affect his future. What would his future look like, coming under the scrutiny of being a doctor who participated in an assisted suicide? That will have a huge impact on his professional life.

Brenna just found out that Finn might be the one who received her donation, just as he's getting sicker after their night at the Junior Ball — and her ex Greer is moving back to town. That's a lot to happen all at once. Where is her head space at going into next season?

That's a great question. (Laughs.) We wanted to imagine how scary it would be to have this responsibility as a teenager for your health and having to protect yourself from any infection, but also being a teenager who wants to have sex and wants to be in love and have a relationship. That's the big complicating factor for Brenna and Finn and the return of Greer felt easy and familiar for her. She's really going to be torn about which relationship to move forward with. One is considerably easier than the other, but what she's started with Finn has only just begun. There's a lot more to mine there.

What did you learn from the past two seasons of Chasing Life that you want to apply to next season?

That's a really good question. We're going to be super cautious if we kill off another character. (Laughs.)

Ouch. Too soon!

(Laughs.) Sorry! You know, I think season two was much louder than season one. We needed to do that out of necessity and self-preservation in the ever-expanding landscape of television. I'm really proud that we were able to sustain that. I think there is probably a balance between season one and season two that we could find in the third season. But there were so many decisions happening outside of the creative that we had no control over — how many episodes we'd have, when we'd air — and that affected what happened in the second season. Hopefully, for a third season, we have a little more of a solid ground to look at what we've done in the past two and find the best balance of both. 

What did you think of the Chasing Life finale? Hit the comments section below to weigh in now.

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