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Spoilers ahead for the Season 5 finale of Superstore on NBC, called "California Part 1."
The Superstore Season 5 finale marked the beginning of the farewell story for America Ferrera's Amy, and "California Part 1" left some major questions worth contemplating as the show heads into an earlier-than-expected hiatus. Season 6 will be the first without Ferrera as Superstore leading lady, but fortunately, Superstore showrunners Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller opened about about the original plans for the finale, Amy and Jonah's future, changes for Season 6, and more. Including sharks!
Read on for what the Superstore showrunners shared with CinemaBlend about the show in the aftermath of the Season 5 finale!
The Original Plan For The Season 5 Finale
Like many shows (including some of the other major NBC hits), Superstore had to halt production earlier than planned in the 2019-2020 TV season, which meant some unfinished business and a finale that was never intended to be the finale. In a lucky break, however, "California Part 1" did end on a cliffhanger with Amy and Jonah, and it was an altogether big enough episode that Season 5 doesn't feel incomplete.
On whether the Superstore team made any changes once it became clear the penultimate episode would have to be the finale, the showrunners said:
Jonathan Green: We had always sort of envisioned the last two episodes almost as a two-parter, leading to the original finale. So we already had a cliffhanger-y moment planned for the end of Episode 21. That was just supposed to lead us into Episode 22. And then when we realized we weren't gonna be able to shoot the finale, we realized that that cliffhanger would just become a cliffhanger between seasons instead. So there weren't a lot of changes at that point that we had to make to that episode. We felt like it already worked pretty well as a finale. It was sort of a lucky surprise that way.
Gabe Miller: Yeah, we felt good about it as our season finale. You know, if we had to shut down production at least that was a good episode to end on.
Considering America Ferrera's departure was originally announced as coming at the end of Season 5, the cliffhanger regarding Amy's future could have been painful. Amy's story wrapping off-screen, if that's what it came to, might have been pretty unsatisfying.
Luckily, Gabe Miller confirmed that America Ferrera's final episode was not the Season 5 finale:
Gabe Miller: Yes, she will [be back]. We want to give her character a real sendoff, and we feel like [this episode] would not be. It just wouldn’t feel right to end it this way.
As for how that sendoff will work in the Season 6 premiere, fans will have to wait and see for the details. Considering how "California Part 1" ended for Amy and Jonah, the future for the fan-favorite couple was left uncertain. The showrunners weighed in.
The Future For Amy And Jonah
"California Part 1" ended with Amy determined to take the fantastic job opportunity in California and Jonah determined to move across the country with her. They were happily looking ahead to a future together, which would have made for a totally happy and not at all nerve-wracking final moment of the Superstore Season 5 finale.
With America Ferrera confirmed to be leaving, however, there were questions about what their hopeful Season 5 ending meant for Season 6. Specifically, it raised the question of whether Superstore had dropped a surprise reveal that Ben Feldman was also leaving. Jonathan Green has some reassuring words about Jonah:
Jonathan Green: Ben Feldman is not going to be leaving the show, but we don't want to give away too much of what's gonna be happening in the premiere.
Ben Feldman isn't leaving Superstore, but the showrunners will keep fans wondering over hiatus about what this means for Jonah and his relationship with Amy. Could they survive a long-distance romance?
With the Amy/Jonah romance becoming such a pivotal and popular part of Superstore by the end of Season 5, finding a way to separate them presented some creative challenges. On planning the Jonah/Amy relationship moving forward:
Jonathan Green: Well, we had been working on the end of the season, an endpoint of the season and then we found out about halfway through the season that there's a possibility America would be leaving. So we had to start preparing another version where Amy might be leaving as well. So definitely, yeah, we had to change course a bit midway through. And America was very helpful as a producer and weighing in.
Since America Ferrera's decision to depart came with enough time for the Superstore showrunners to plan Amy's farewell arc, there was time to change course and put together a story, with Ferrera's help.
In fact, both America Ferrera and Ben Feldman were helpful in handling the relationship with Amy and Jonah moving ahead:
Gabe Miller: And then we had a lot of talks with both of them about where they felt it made sense for their characters to end up at the end of the season, and especially once we knew that America was leaving, how that would all work. So yeah, it's really valuable when you get to this point in a show's run. They've played their characters for five years now. And they know them very well. It’s really valuable to be able to talk to all of our actors about their feelings about what their characters would and wouldn't do and how they're feeling about things. It's just one of the advantages of getting to do a show for this long. Everybody becomes very helpful in just knowing the show and knowing their characters.
Fans can rest easy -- or as easy as possible following a season finale cliffhanger, anyway -- knowing that the showrunners and the actors put a lot of thought into how Amy and Jonah's relationship will be handled with America Ferrera departing and Ben Feldman staying.
Superstore Changes For Season 6
Amy's departure will mean changes on more fronts than just her relationship with Jonah. After all, as manager of Cloud 9, she impacted all the characters' lives. Based on comments from the showrunners, Amy's final episode was going to involve a lot of people. On whether some changes will have to be made to the Season 6 premiere due to the two-parter split:
Gabe Miller: One thing that we're going to have to wait and see is we had originally intended to have some pretty big crowd scenes in that episode. For a while we thought we were going to be producing that episode as the crisis was unfolding, and there was, you know, a time when we were talking about what are the fewest number of actual people we can do to make this a convincing crowd scene. And then after that we started to realize, 'Okay, can we tell the story without a crowd scene?' So, yeah, so that's kind of a question mark, what we'll be able to do or whether we'll have to make some bigger changes to that story we had in mind.
Jonathan Green: But the overall story moves are pretty much going to be the same as far as how Amy ends up leaving and how we send her off in that episode. Yeah, we're definitely planning to give Amy and America the sendoff that they deserve.
Once Amy gets her sendoff, Cloud 9 is going to be a very different place, and the showrunners noted that Superstore has "such a large and strong ensemble" that they're looking forward to doing more with them, and there aren't "any specific plans" yet about possible new characters.
As for what will happen with the post-Amy power vacuum at Cloud 9:
Jonathan Green: Definitely that is an interesting thing to us. That she's leaving that manager job. And we're still talking about what will give us the best stories and the best dynamic going forward in Season 6. We have some ideas about what happens with that. But not only will it leave a vacuum as far as the hierarchy of the store but we're excited to see what it does just for our characters in Amy's absence, just having more opportunities to show the dynamics between some others or explore different dynamics between our other characters that we will now be able to focus more on.
Part of why Amy was always so well-suited as the leading lady of Superstore was simply that she was by far the most competent person at this particular branch of Cloud 9, so it definitely should be interesting to see what happens to those who will suddenly be without her. The showrunners did confirm at least one storyline for Season 6, and it just so happens to include sharks.
Sandra's Expanding Family
In a twist that nobody could have seen coming, Glenn spent most of "California Part 1" trying to convince Sandra to take in a foster son named Tony. The surprising part? Well, that foster son is a 17-year-old who makes a mean grilled cheese and has an aquarium with sharks that do not have names, because they're sharks.
When I noted that Tony's line about sharks not having names was one of the funniest of the Season 5 finale, Gabe Miller confirmed that more of Tony and his new mom is on the way:
Gabe Miller: That Tony character was really fun to write. We like the idea of how sort of blunt and matter-of-fact teenagers can be at times. You know, we're both fathers to teenagers. As a way of not connecting with Sandra just seems like a funny personality thing that he wasn't willing to give her anything in that conversation and there was no ill will, no hard feelings about it. He was just ‘Nope. Sharks don't have names. They’re sharks.’ But she's caught in this very strange situation in the episode and suddenly made to feel like she's the crazy one… We're excited about that storyline to see what Sandra is like as a mother next season.
Sandra told Tony that there would be room for his shark aquarium if she and Jerry took out the oven, so all signs point toward Tony keeping his nameless sharks for Season 6.
Naturally, I had to ask a very important question: is Sandra's cat safe from the sharks?
Gabe Miller: We'll see! It might be the biggest cliffhanger of all.
So, if your favorite Superstore character is Sandra's off-screen cat, then you're in for a doozy of a cliffhanger about whether or not Tony's sharks will get their teeth on her beloved pet! In all seriousness, Superstore's Season 5 finale left plenty for fans to ponder over hiatus, and showrunners Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller left some hints of what to expect in Season 6. America Ferrera will return to finish what "California Part 1" started, among many other things.
If you're now in the mood to rewatch Superstore from the beginning or just check out some of your favorite episodes, you can find the full series streaming on Hulu now. For some upcoming viewing options now that Superstore is finished for the season, be sure to swing by our 2020 spring premiere schedule.