[This story contains spoilers from the season finale of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.]
Prime Video unloaded all eight episodes of Mr. & Mrs. Smith on Feb. 2 — and, given the short order and relatively propulsive nature of the spy drama, it’s likely that more than a few viewers plowed through the entire run.
That’s what showrunner and co-creator Francesca Sloane had in mind for the new series starring Donald Glover and Maya Erskine. “As I’m getting older, there’s something that’s really refreshing in telling the story and in watching the story when you feel like you want to sit down and spend time in that world,” says Sloane. “In that way, I think it lends itself very naturally to being a binge watch.”
For those who did binge, they were treated to one hell of an open-ended finale. In the last hour, John (Glover) and Jane (Erskine) are briefly at odds with one another before a second pair of Smiths (Wagner Moura and Parker Posey) attempt to take them out. Turns out the “super high risk” assignments that these other Smiths teased in episode four is killing each John and Jane who falls out of favor with the clandestine spy org employing them all. It offers a bit more context to the brutal opening scene from the very first episode, but not much clarity on what potentially lays ahead. Our primary John is last seen bleeding out, while the two Janes exchange some off-camera gun fire. Anyone, it appears, could be dead or alive.
Below, Sloane breaks down the thought process behind that ambiguous ending, talks about casting the first season’s slew of guest stars and muses on what’s potentially in store — should there be a season two.
Your roster of guest stars over these eight episodes is kind of nuts. Who among them were you writing for — and who came on board after you had scripts?
The guest stars make teenage me just want to fall over and die. We wrote Bev for Michaela Coel. She’s a friend of Donald’s, so she got the script ahead of time and, thank God, wanted to come on board. For Toby, Ron Perlman happens to be my father-in-law. I definitely thought about him for that part, only because I thought it would be fun to take this classic character actor who has been the badass “Take that, motherfucker” kind of guy and put him in the role of being a giant baby. What better person for that than Ron? Outside of that, the parts came first and then the casting came about after the fact.
It seems like you kind of got whoever you wanted.
For somebody like Paul Dano, who played Hot Neighbor, that one really was a head scratcher initially. Everybody assumed that it was supposed to be a Marvel movie actor, but that character was more about showing that Jane has specific taste. It’s not about who everybody finds hot but who Jane finds hot. Who’s a little bit mysterious — maybe to some other people, creepy — and not so comedy with a capital C? And Paul Dano is handsome! But it is a specific taste for somebody.
Casting the other John and Jane also proved to be more important than viewers probably realized when we first see them.
We knew that other John needed to be somebody with charisma that Donald himself would look up to — and be maybe slightly intimidated by. Wagner Moura really helped that dynamic. Donald was totally enamored by him, as all of us were. Other Jane, I just knew it needed to be somebody that, like Maya, people initially identify with comedy but has so much more. I wanted somebody with a legacy that Maya could look up to. Nobody fits that better than a Parker Posey. We really did want to make sure that we found character actors that made the world feel grounded, but, at the same time, had a twinkle in its eye of camp and fun.
In hindsight, we’re left to assume it was Parker’s Jane who took out Alexander Skarsgård and Eiza González in the opening sequence of the first episode.
And casting Alexander and Eiza was all about, “Who would you expect to star in this show if it ended up in other people’s hands?” Then we try to immediately turn that on its head within minutes, once we lead into the Maya story.
How many John and Janes are there in this world you created?
It’s endless. Anyone could be John and Jane.
What do you want people to take from the finale? It does not look good for them, but it’s also… TV.
We wanted to make sure that it felt like a complete story, even with the ending being what it is. We watched a lot of films from the ’70s. I love the way that a lot of films then ended. The Graduate has one of those endings that still feels satisfying without giving you everything. We feel like there’s a beautiful complete story here in that sense. That said, we have definitely already started discussing ideas for season two… in the world we make one. We would never want to make a season two if we couldn’t kick our own asses, in terms of taking down season one. So it really depends. We’ll see what life has to offer us, but we definitely have some exciting thoughts.
But there are talks of a season two?
Definitely. It really depends on how everything is received. Of course, while you’re in the muck of making something this difficult, you really don’t even let yourself fantasize about the future. It just about trying to get to the end. But now that we’ve all done it, it’s sort of like childbirth. I love the baby! So, there are talks of season two and we have some really cool ideas for it — I’m collaborating with Donald and Taofik Kolade, who wrote on Atlanta with us. He’s incredible and I think he’d be a great addition in terms of voice… if we do go forward with it. We’ll see.
By the way, I was pleasantly surprised that you picked a relatively obscure Cardigans track to kick off that fight sequence.
I appreciate that you even know that that’s The Cardigans. That’ll make Donald happy, too. While we were making the show, Donald and I would sort of John and Jane with each other, just sending playlists. That song was heavily sent back and forth. He really wanted that one to be in that section in the finale. It was a Donald choice.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith is now streaming season one on Prime Video.
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