[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Tuesday’s season finale of Imposters, “Always Forward, Never Back.”]
The con is over. Or has it just begun?
With that feeling of uncertainty, Bravo’s dark con-artist comedy Imposters ended its first season. The finale saw Maddie or “Saffron” (Inbar Lavi) marry fiancé and recently revealed FBI agent Patrick (Stephen Bishop). Thanks to an elaborate plan concocted with her longtime colleague Max (Brian Benben) and the “bumblers,” aka Ezra (Rob Heaps), Richard (Parker Young) and Jules (Marianne Rendon), Maddie was able to keep the doctor from getting caught and run off in her white wedding dress before anyone from the FBI was any the wiser.
Max also escaped capture — but without the cash he had been expecting, which was returned to the FBI — and the bumblers banded back together to travel to San Francisco with an added financial bonus in the form of Maddie’s pricey engagement ring.
The episode ended with Maddie watching their bus ride off into the sunset, just as Lenny Cohen (Uma Thurman) rode off from New York toward Seattle in the hopes of pinning down all five culprits, as per the doctor’s strict orders.
The finale’s mix of closure and cliffhangers comes as Bravo has yet to renew the series for season two. Averaging 1.3 million viewers with seven days of delayed viewing factored in, Imposters has grown more than 20 percent among adults 18-49 over its first season and ranks among the top 10 cable scripted shows on VOD in the demo.
With the series’ future in question, The Hollywood Reporter jumped on the phone with creators Adam Brooks and Paul Adelstein to break down the finale and what may lie ahead.
One of the biggest twists of the season was obviously the FBI reveal. How early in the process was that part of your season one plan? Did you ever consider revealing that earlier or later in the season?
Paul Adelstein: It was part of our original pitch: One, that Maddie starts to fall in love and that the person she falls in love with is not who he says he was. That was always part of it because it goes to the theme of the show and it goes to what was going on for all the characters — these identity games. When we got into the room, and actually even before the room, Adam and I had a structure of the beginning, middle and end of the season and we really wanted that to be right in the center; that’s kind of the peak of the tension and what’s going on. It just fit nicely in there.
Viewers finally got to see a glimpse of the real Maddie with that flashback to her teen years. Why did you feel that was important to show?
Adam Brooks: When Paul and I started inventing the show, inventing the pitch, we constantly thought about: Why is she Maddie? How did Maddie become Maddie? It was just an ongoing conversation that we would, every once in awhile, go back to, never satisfied with what the answer was. Most of our early answers were like the answers she gave to Ezra in episode nine: I was an orphan, I used to follow families around — sort of like sad-sack, Dickensian stories. And finally we hit upon this idea that it would be something much more in a way relatable and banal and strong in a different kind of way, very specific.
So we came up with this story and then we were sort of like, ‘What if episode 10 starts with that story?’ Ezra’s been asking since episode two, “Who are you?” And the audience has, I think, been asking themselves too. So we thought it would be a very intriguing, unexpected, powerful way to begin the finale. Where everyone is waiting for all this stuff to happen and we’re like, ‘No, no, slow down for a second. Here’s a view of something that may be you didn’t expect.’
Maddie only shares this story with Ezra, whom she ends up kissing. Does she really have still feelings for him or it just part of the con for her?
Adelstein: Yes and yes. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. They were clearly in that church in order to draw Patrick in and distract him. Did they need to make out? Was that necessary? And if they were going to make out, did they have to make out like that? And I think one of the fun things about the show is that these things happen and both things can be true. They can have this love-hate and they can both exploit it and be worried about it and lean into it and lean away from it.
Brooks: I think that we’ve become comfortable with… when people say to us, is Patrick in love with her or is just he trying to get to the doctor? And we’re like, yes to everything.
Adelstein: It’s true to life in that way. Both those things can be happening at the same time. You can want to be using her to get to the doctor and you can be falling in love with her, and that’s a conflict for him, and that makes it tough to be him for a minute.
Is that also true for Ezra? It’s an interesting moment when he goes to Patrick’s house and gets the engagement ring for himself and Richard and Jules.
Adelstein: We see this very sophisticated con artist in Maddie and we see that Ezra is not quite a man, and that in the course of the season, he goes from being a boy to a man. You see him growing over the course of the season and then that piece de resistance is the fact that he’s actually able to pull one over on Maddie and on Patrick and even on his cohorts — they didn’t expect him to do this thing. He did it on his own. He used all the skills that he’s gained along the way and I think that’s a really satisfying thing for the audience to see.
Brooks: The other questions are: Was it because he didn’t trust her? Was he hoping that she would appear on that bus and he could show her that he did it? And if she had gotten that ring, do you think that she would have gotten on that bus? So I think those are all questions that we’re interested in too.
Ezra, Richard and Jules jump on a bus and head to San Francisco like there’s no way the FBI should track them down. How realistic is that? What’s going through their minds?
Adelstein: In the adrenaline of pulling this off and the stress of it and the excitement of it, they believe that, ‘We have some coverage here because they’re going to believe it’s Maddie who stole the ring.’ I think 90 seconds after the show has actually gone to black they will start saying, “Wait a minute, are they after us? Who’s after us? What did we need to do?” It’s a victory won, but they’re going to have to snap back to reality relatively quickly. They’re in a completely different position than they’ve ever been so it really is a raising of the stakes for them.
Maddie obviously doesn’t get on the bus, so where does she go from here? What is the next step for her after this?
Brooks: Thematically, all the main characters are very much in a similar position, which is everything that they defined themselves by has been blown up. Jules, Ezra, Richard, Maddie — they’ve all left their lives and they’re starting from scratch, which is both exciting and yet, they’re also in jeopardy. They’re sort of on the run. They’re kind of con artists but not really. Patrick has blown the biggest case of his career. Max, who has defined the last decade of his life by his devotion to the doctor, is unmoored from that and also in jeopardy. So for us, it’s about the game of cat and mouse going on and there’s, like, five characters who have to redefine who they are. With Maddie, she is also unemployed so to speak and has been talking about wanting a normal life. So is that where she’s going to go to? Is she really capable of doing that? And she knows that everyone’s after her too. So they’re all in a position of reinvention and in peril. As we look ahead, that’s what we’re interested in exploring.
You talk about these core five characters, so how much of a role do you envision Patrick and the other FBI agents playing if you come back for a second season?
Adelstein: We don’t want to give away anything about season two because we’re still figuring it all out. But we will say this: What happens with Patrick is he’s been completely humiliated and you would imagine he gets kicked off this case and he’s left with two great questions: What does he do with himself professionally even if he’s still in the FBI? Does he try to make a run at solving this thing to get his reputation back? And two, what does he do with his feelings for Maddie as conflicted as they are? How does he resolve that within himself?
Brooks: In a way, Patrick is where Ezra was at the beginning of the first season. So what’s he going to do with that?
The finale ends with Lenny Cohen getting that call from the doctor and going after the crew. Why was this the right scene to wrap the season with?
Adelstein: I think you want to feel the doctor’s reach and the potential peril that they may be entering into that they don’t even know about. There’s that sense that there’s a certain satisfaction in their victory, but that it’s short-lived and there are adventures ahead that they can’t really anticipate. Also, Uma Thurman in a cool car. (Laughs.)
Brooks: There’s the rush. As Lenny Cohen says, “You’re not doing your job.” They didn’t finish their job, and there are going to be consequences. And I think everybody’s been waiting for Lenny Cohen to come back in some form before the end of the season. This seemed to be the most intriguing, exciting way to end season one; this kind of rush of adrenaline and the future prospect of her on their tails.
How big of a role would Lenny play in season two if the show is renewed?
Brooks: It would be premature to say, but she was an important part of season one, and we hope that she’ll be an important part of season two.
Speaking to that, what would you each say were particular strengths of the first season?
Adelstein: The thing that we always talked about that was the hardest thing to keep our finger on was this mixture of fun and a certain kind of lightness and adventure, but with real peril and real comedy without tipping it too hard either way. So that would be the challenge of season two as well. I think we’re happy with what we ended up with in season one. We would just try to do it all again.
Brooks: One of the things we’ve been really happy about is seeing how hungry people are for the twists and turns of it, which is great, but at the same time, we want to be careful of not being like sort of addicted to that. Sometimes, it’s not that it’s too easy, but you can’t rely just on that. The character stuff always has to be really good, otherwise those twists and turns don’t matter. I don’t know why we were thinking about it, but people were just so into all of the surprises and we’re so happy that that worked.
At this point, how confident are you feeling about getting a second season pickup?
Brooks: I think [Bravo’s] been very, very supportive of the show we wanted to make. They’ve been very enthusiastic about the results; it’s been building an audience. … We’re hopeful.