'Devious Maids' Boss on "Go Big or Go Home" Finale and Season 4

"The best strategy was to go big or go home," showrunner Brian Tanen tells THR.
Annette Brown/Lifetime

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season- three finale of Lifetime's Devious Maids.]

Lifetime's Devious Maids is known for its cliffhanger endings, especially ones that propel the show into the next season and set up a new, unknown murderer. The third season finale, "Anatomy of a Murder," was no exception. 

Following a string of season-long murders, Monday's closer revealed that Carmen's (Roselyn Sanchez) fiance, Sebastien (Gilles Marini), was the culprit, right before Michael (Brett Cullen) was shot and killed, while an explosion left Sebastien's and Adrian Powell's (Tom Irwin) fates up in the air. 

As though that weren't enough, Peri (Mariana Klaveno) showed up to take advantage of ex-husband Spence's (Grant Show) amnesia, and Zoila (Judy Reyes) went into a complicated labor that placed her and her baby's life in Genevieve's (Susan Lucci) hands. 

To dissect the jam-packed episode — as well as find out if the Marc Cherry dramedy will return for a fourth run — The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunner Brian Tanen.  

Did you always plan on having so many cliffhangers at the end?

This was what I call a kitchen-sink finale. We felt like the best strategy was to go big or go home. We really wanted it to be the most exciting possible episode so we just went for it. There was no plan on the number of storylines in which we’d put a cliffhanger, but we really wanted to leave the audience wanting more. We really are hopeful about getting a season four, and we really pushed everything so everyone would want to know more and want to come back to see the show.

When did you decide to kill off Michael?

We had not always decided that, but we did feel like we needed some serious repercussions in the finale. Somebody probably had to die and it would be a really big and shocking moment, the kind of moment that would let the audience know this was a seriously dangerous situation, that we were playing for life and death. That came up as we were writing the finale. We went ahead and let Brett know right before the actors got the script and he was very good about the whole thing. He told me he had been expecting to be either revealed as the villain or to be killed all season. He was waiting for that shoe to drop. He was an absolute great sport about it and it made for a great shocking moment in the finale.

When did you tell Gilles Marini that Sebastien was the killer?

We withheld the secret all season long. Gilles knew a little bit before everyone else, but it was right around the time that the final script was circulating. So we did a good job of keeping that secret. We wanted to reserve the right to change the story as we went, but we really did have a pretty clear idea of where we were going and we did lay in some clues that he was the killer. I do believe that most people will not have seen that coming.

What kinds of clues, specifically?

We revealed he was a Realtor early in the season. We thought it was a very cool twist that he had brought Evelyn Powell (Rebecca Wisocky) to the house where Blanca (Naya Rivera) was found. When you watch that episode it seemed innocent that he had brought her to a listing and they both seemed very surprised to discover the body. But as you learned in the finale, he brought her there intentionally so that the body and the note would be found. We also made the mystery all about who Taylor (Brianna Brown) was having an affair with, and throughout the season we suggested that Sebastien was cheating on his wife — not only with Carmen but with various other women. We gave the idea that he was a serial adulterer as another clue.

Zoila's life was also hanging in the balance. Was there any discussion about Valentina (Edy Ganem) returning?

We talked about it, but we were so engrossed in the story we were telling, which was the story of Zoila and Genevieve and how the push and pull of their lives kept getting them into trouble. We felt that’s what needed to play out in the end. They had that therapy session, which goes awry, and then the elevator becomes their therapy session. They seem like everything is good, they’re going to be able to get on with their lives, and then of course there’s this major life-and-death problem that happens in the end and once again Zoila’s life is in Genevieve’s hands.

Did Susan Lucci actually climb out of that elevator?

I was fortunate enough to be there on set and the crew broke out into spontaneous applause when she rehearsed that scene. There’s no stunt double there, she climbed out of an elevator in high heels, probably six feet, at an incline. She climbed up that ladder and out probably 15 takes in a row. She never complained and did it beautifully and hilariously every time. She was an absolute champ.

Why bring Perry back now?

We’re crazy about Mariana. She was a series regular on Stalker and we had been paying close attention to see if there was any chance we could bring her back. As it turned out we were able to, and we were really excited about that twist. The character is so fun and so unabashedly terrible. So we were thrilled to be able to have her. Every time I watched that moment in the finale where she shows up it just puts a big smile on my face. 

Given all these twists how confident are you in season four and when will that decision be made?

I am very optimistic. The show has been exciting and fun this year and I’m hopeful that Lifetime will give us a fourth season. It’s not in my hands but I’m optimistic. We should have an answer about a potential season four by the end of September.

How far ahead have you planned if it does go forward?

We have talked about various strategies, but I will say that at the beginning of every year we deviate quite a bit from the plan when we figure out who our new characters are going to be. I wouldn’t place any bets right now on what’s going to happen. It’s a little bit up in the air.

What did you think of the Devious Maids finale? Sound off in the comments below. 

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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