Mary Shannon is keeping it all in the family for the final season of In Plain Sight. The USA drama's last episodes, which kick off Friday at 10/9c, will find Mary grappling with motherhood just as her fugitive father (Stephen Lang) suddenly returns to her life after abandoning her as a child. "It will be bittersweet for sure. I love everyone I work with down here," Mary McCormack tells TVGuide.com of the series' end. "Then the part that will be sweet is that I'm exhausted and I want to spend time with my kids."
In our Q&A below, the mother of three also shared what's next Mary and Marshall (Frederick Weller) and why she may be back on TV sooner than you think.
How did knowing that this would be the final season affect your preparation?
Mary McCormack: We were grateful to USA for telling us. It allows everyone to plan for work in the future, both the actors and the crew. But it also allows for us to tell the stories better and shape the final eight episodes in a way that I think honors the fans who have followed it for many years. I know when I'm watching a show and it gets canceled after they shoot the finale, I always go, 'Well that was an unsatisfying finale.' You can tell the writers didn't know that that was their last show. I hope it feels more satisfying and more organic so that fans are more able to say goodbye.
Was there anything that didn't make it into the last episodes that you were disappointed about?
McCormack: No, I don't think so. We are dealing with the dad stuff and the Mary-Marshall stuff. Those are the main stories that the audience really care about. The dad stuff has been something we've toyed with for four years, so it's time. I think it's actually great we saved it. It's a big part of her character and why she is the way she is. It feels appropriate that we're dealing with that in the final season.
What made Stephen Lang the right fit to play Mary's father?
McCormack: Until he comes back in Episode 5, he's one of the FBI's most-wanted. He was a gambler and a bank robber and a con man, and a tough man in many ways. Stephen Lang feels like all of those things. He's age-appropriate, but still physically feels like a threat. He feels physically right and emotionally right.
How will the entrance of Mary's father affect her?
McCormack: It's obviously a very complex relationship. He was the most important person in her life. Her mom was a drunk and kind of crazy and she was in love with her dad. He left when she was 7 and didn't tell her he was leaving. For her whole life, she's been, in a way, pining for him and also been getting more and more angry at him. When he comes back, she is still sort of in love with him and also incredibly angry. Through the episodes, you get to see how they figure out their relationship.
His return must complicate her life on a professional level?
McCormack: It does a lot. She's a cop and he's wanted, so it's messy.
How will Mary handle being a mom this season?
McCormack: She gets grouchier. She was super grouchy before, and now she's sleep-deprived on top of it. Her clothes don't fit and her boobs are a mess. We deal with it and talk about it. I have a newborn, so I can relate. I'm right in those trenches now.
Will she develop those maternal instincts?
McCormack: She is as maternal as she gets. She obviously loves the baby and she protects the baby. All she knows is how to protect people. She doesn't do baby talk though. In the first episode, her mother uses baby talk and it drives her crazy. She doesn't goo-goo or ga-ga. She uses her own voice. It's exactly what I think you would expect from Mary Shannon as a mother. In the quiet moments, when she's alone with the baby, you certainly see how madly in love she is.
Is there anything you can tease about what's coming up for Mary and Marshall?
McCormack: At the beginning of the season, Mary is single and Mark, my baby-daddy, is in Albuquerque and we're co-parenting. We're friends, but we're not dating or hooking up or anything. Marshall is with Abigail, and it looks like they're getting more and more serious.
Looking back, why do you think now is the right time to end the show?
McCormack: I think shows can go too long. I think it's a nice, organic ending. It feels right. I think the dad stuff is really big and that being resolved feels like a natural ending to me. Whether that could have waited another year or two — who knows? I think there's a bunch of decisions that go into how long shows stay on the air that are above my pay grade. ... For me personally, it feels like the right time to end, even though I love this character. I don't think I've played a part better than this and maybe never will. But I also have these three teeny children who need me and I want to get to know them before they go to college.
But you've already signed on for another pilot. Why?
McCormack: I happen to love the script and I really love the writer and the director. But on top of that, the schedule of a multi-camera comedy is incredibly appealing to me. If I ever hear a person complaining about the schedule, I'm going to kill them. I could do that in my sleep. I always want to work. I think it's good for moms to work. I have three daughters, so I like them to see me working and doing something I'm passionate about. I just also want to be around for them. When I signed on for In Plain Sight, I had one tiny little baby and it was completely doable. And now I have three tiny babies and it just feels like something has to give. This new job feels like the right thing for this time in my life.
Watch an exclusive — and explosive! — sneak peek from the Season 5 premiere: