Jill Hennessy, <EM>Crossing Jordan</EM> Jill Hennessy, Crossing Jordan

The fifth-season finale of NBC's Crossing Jordan also the show's 100th episode (airing Sunday at 10 pm/ET)  marks the dual milestone with one whopper of an opening: The morning after celebrating Lily's pending marriage, Jill Hennessy's lady coroner wakes up with a gun in her hand and next to the dead body of her former beau, J.D. Pollack (Charles Mesure). With little recollection of what did or did not transpire, Jordan becomes the No. 1 suspect!

Perhaps the only person taken aback more by the situation than Jordan was her portrayer. "What's funny is there were a lot of rumors going around about this episode for over a month before I actually got a script," Hennessy tells TVGuide.com. One example of the taunting she endured along the way: "Allan Arkush, one of our executive producers, walked past me on the set one day and said, 'Oh, boy, are you in for it! You have no idea.' I said, 'Tell me, Allan! Tell me!'"

But Arkush kept mum. Ultimately, "when I finally got my hot little hands on that hot little script," Hennessy relates, "it was a total page-turner. I'm always dying to see what they're going to do, and from the get-go, the opening scene of this episode, you saw it could go so many different places. What happens to Jordan? What becomes of her emotional state?

"They also left it wide open," she continues, "for the possibility of what I hope will be movement into more of the political type of story lines."

As evidenced by...?

"Jordan actually ends up in Washington at the end of the episode," the actress reveals, "and the audience has no idea what she's up to. But we are left with the feeling that she's going to try to figure out who is after her and who actually murdered Pollack."

Maybe Woody's lady friend, Lu, got crazed with jealousy and sought to snuff the competition, we suggest. "That'd be fascinating," Hennessy chuckles. Trying again, we propose that one of the hotties from sister show Las Vegas secretly crossed over again to frame the good Dr. Cavanaugh. "That's also a possibility," she says, politely pandering.

The allure of "possibility" is precisely what has the Crossing Jordan star excitedly looking forward to perhaps 100 more outings. "I'm open to anything," she professes. "We could literally go anywhere at this point, and I think the writers are ready to do that. I've already heard some possibilities about plotlines of next season. [NBC renewed Crossing Jordan last week.] We really have no boundaries left."

Ruminating over 200, even 100, episodes at one time was almost unimaginable for Hennessy, as she thinks back to her first days promoting Jordan's premiere. "At one of the first upfronts I went to, a couple of people said to me, 'So, a female coroner show. How long do you think that's going to last?'" she recalls. "And in that first season we were the No. 1 new show, which a lot of people forget. Our show hit hard, and thank goodness we had that core audience because we've been up against a lot of stiff competition."

Why did it strike a nerve the way it did? Recounting her initial attraction to the series, Hennessy says, "I hoped that people would respond to [creator] Tim Kring's characters, which to me were so appealing and unique and original." So unique and original that others couldn't help but copy. "Since Tim created the show five years ago, there have been so many other shows that have come on and been heralded for these great 'original' ideas, and I'm thinking, 'Um, we did that five years ago.'

"We had an original concept combined with great forensic story lines, which are more popular now," she says, adding to her praise for the show. "And the characters are so well drawn and funny  they don't take themselves too seriously. As an actor, it's more fun to play that than be forced to spout purely technical dialogue every episode."

Flashing forward to the very recent past, Hennessy shares how the night after she wrapped her work on the finale, she hit an audition, then returned to the set to shower the cast and crew with vino. "They were still working, god bless them, so I was the only one semi-inebriated," she reports with a throaty laugh. "And just so you know, I was not on the clock as an official Universal [Television] employee at the time, so I think I was safe!"