Royal Pains kicks off its seventh season this week, but producers already have their eyes on the finish line. The USA drama was renewed for two eight-episode seasons last November, and executive producers/showrunners Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch say the show's future beyond Season 8 is uncertain at best.
"Though nothing's been officially announced as it being the end, we're certainly not planning for more afterwards," Rauch tells TVGuide.com. "One of the things that we decided we wanted to do - mostly for creative but also financial reasons - was kind of simplify our storytelling, and really put the real estate of the storytelling back on our core characters. ... And so, what we wanted to do, with looking at these final 16 episodes, was figure out where we wanted to end the stories for Hank and Evan and Divya and Paige and Jeremiah and Boris, and start to work backwards. So we're able to have pretty much a two-season arc that took us to the end of those stories."
So, what can viewers expect from Season 7? For one thing, Hank (Mark Feuerstein) will go full steam ahead on a quest for romance. Elsewhere, Evan (Paulo Costanzo) will find himself stretched a little thin between his personal and professional lives, Divya (Reshma Shetty) makes a new start, and a secret that Boris (Campbell Scott) has been harboring may come back to haunt him. Here are details about those developments and other teases for Season 7:
1. Hank's on the lookout for love: A major event in the season premiere makes Hank reconsider his relationship with Charlotte (Gillian Alexy), and will spur him to pursue other romantic interests. "Hank is beginning a journey that in a way started off somewhere around the pilot, and will be taking us deep into Season 8," Rauch tells TVGuide.com. "It's part of his feeling like he's slowly becoming a part of the Hamptons in a good way. He's feeling very comfortable in his life there, and there may be one thing, one element in his life that's missing, which is finding his true love. ... Something happens in the premiere of Season 7 that kind of kicks this search for love into drive."
2. Boris has a secret: With Hank reluctantly joining the board of directors at Hamptons Heritage, which is now owned by Boris, at the end of Season 6, don't expect the pair's working relationship to be conflict-free. "With Boris, there are always things that aren't as simple as they seem," Lenchewski says. "We're going to play a big arc in Season 7, revolving around a big secret that Boris is keeping inside the hospital, something that he's been very quietly arranging for a very special VIP patient. And Hank, of course, is going to get drawn deep into that mystery as it unfolds." But it will also allow viewers to see a different side of Boris. "It's going to be, for Boris, an opportunity to redeem himself for a mistake that he made a long time ago when he was a young man with a lot of money and without a real moral compass for how to use that money," according to Lenchewski. "The mistake he made is one that's been haunting him ever since."
3. Boris' health issues: Boris' health will take a backseat in Season 7, but will continue to lurk beneath the surface. "We've always kind of played [his disease] as something that ebbs and flows, and lies dormant for long periods of time then of course rears its ugly head again when the timing is less than ideal," Lenchewski says. "It's not going to be a huge part of Season 7, but it's going to be a very big part of Season 8."
4. Is Evan in over his head? Evan grapples with a couple of surprising developments in the season premiere, both in his personal and professional life. "The extent to which he's now trading life and work outside of the hospital for life and work inside the hospital is going to be much more focused," Rauch teases. "Evan finds that he actually gets sucked into the world of the hospital much more deeply than he expected to by Boris. So, Evan's going to have this big juggling act, particularly because there's also going to be a really big development in his relationship with Paige. Evan's going to have a full plate, both professionally and personally, in Season 7."
5. Sibling rivalry? With their issues seemingly resolved, at least for the time being, the next milestone in Paige (Brooke D'Orsay) and Evan's relationship will be starting a family. "They're definitely interested in that kind of storybook picture," Lenchewski says. But any baby talk actually may end up having a ripple effect on Hank as well. "What's really interesting thematically is that Hank was always the older brother, if not the surrogate father in the relationship, and always mature beyond his years," Lenchewski says. "Certainly mature beyond Evan's years. But what we're starting to see is that Evan is progressing in life much faster than Hank. As we like to say, he's essentially lapped Hank and may lap him again. So, that's a dynamic that we're really interested in looking at in Season 7. Evan and Paige are going to be looking at finally having their own home, maybe starting a family. Evan's got his professional life really stable and secure, and Hank is really struggling in a lot of these aspects in his life, to figure out what he wants and where he can find it. ... [He's] kind of feeling inspired by his brother's ability to have it all and feeling like he can too. And he wants it."
6. Divya gets swept off her feet: Though Divya's custody battle still looms over her head (and "will heat back up in the season premiere," according to Lenchewski), she also has some big developments in her romantic life after meeting "someone who poses a challenge for her ... and who is a prince in many ways and really seems like someone who she could pair off with very well, until complications ensue." (The show isn't called Royal Pains for nothing, right?)In addition, Paige and Evan may not be the only ones expecting this season. Rauch and Lenchewski say Shetty's real-life pregnancy will be written into the show. "We will be addressing it at some point," Lenchewski promises. "We're certainly not going to spend the next 16 episodes pretending she's not pregnant. ... It would pretty much be impossible."
7. Guest stars galore: Guest stars for Season 7 include Vanessa Williams in a multi-episode arc as a woman who brings Hank to the UN on business, and Ed Weeks, who will appear in the third episode as a patient. And that probably won't be the last we'll see of his character. "We are so excited about not just his performance in the episode, but the bromance that erupted between him and Mark on set," Lenchewski says. "We're already talking about whether there's a way to bring his character back." And the premiere features Jane the Virgin's Azie Tesfai as a character who's involved in "one of the more emotional and weighty medical story lines we've played in a long time."
Royal Pains returns Tuesday at 10/9c on USA. Will you watch?
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