Summer's approaching, and you know what that means: time to head back to the Hamptons! With Royal Pains returning for its eighth and final season on Wednesday (10/9c, USA), the show's executive producers have had plenty of time to map out the perfect ending for Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) and Co. So what did they come up with?
"After we got our two-season pickup after Season 6 ... we really began writing Season 7 and 8 as if it were one long season, so that we could chart out where we wanted our characters and relationships to end," executive producer Michael Rauch tells TVGuide.com. "It was such a luxury. ... It was incredibly satisfying for us as the writers, and I think for the actors as well, to be able to complete the stories in a way that felt like they would be satisfying to the characters and to the audience too."
The series picks up a few months after the Season 7 finale, and a lot has happened in the interim. We caught up with Rauch and executive producer Andrew Lenchewski to find out what lies ahead for the major players. Here's a breakdown:
Hank's endgame arc will be a continuation of the journey he began in the pilot: to find true love. But larger questions loom as well. "For Hank, this season was really about, is the Hamptons a pit stop in his journey, or is it going to be his final destination?" Lenchewski says. "And obviously essential to that is his search for love. ... By the end of the season, with all our characters and first and foremost for Hank, we feel that we resolve the ultimate question of, has Hank found his second chance in life?"
Adds Rauch: "It's about Hank figuring out that perhaps the role that he plays in the community may be equal to finding a partner, and that he's so deeply rooted in the Hamptons and in the people and patients who he's helped throughout these eight seasons, that perhaps that's enough for him, and being alone may be his destiny. And it's really only when he gets to that place that he's able to let go and see where it takes him."
Along the way, Hank encounters a number of eligible women (including Jordana Spiro's nurse, Jen, and a woman in Hong Kong played by guest star Constance Wu). But we're guessing the pivotal moment will come when Jill (Jill Flint) returns midway through the season. Expect a big realization on Hank's part in the penultimate episode, which will be a musical episode.
Professionally, Evan deals with a crisis involving a computer hack at the hospital that has potentially devastating consequences. "It does have far-reaching implications, and the most important is that Evan is going to be firmly in charge of the hospital, but always closely watched by Boris, the overlord of our world," Lenchewski tells TVGuide.com. "Never will the stakes be higher for Evan as head of the hospital than when this hack happens, and he has to make sure that he exercises damage control quickly and effectively."
As for his personal life, Evan and Paige will keep trying to have a baby. While Lenchewski hesitates to describe their ending as "happy" in this regard, he assures that it will be a fitting one. "We really thought a lot about endings that didn't feel gratuitous, that also felt ... true to the authenticity of where we thought these characters should end up," he says.
Boris (Campbell Scott)
Speaking of Boris, the repercussions of the computer hack bring him and Hank to Hong Kong in the third episode. There, they meet a man (guest star Sebastian Roche), who is believed to be a longtime adversary of Boris and may hold some key answers to the conspiracy surrounding the mysterious Mr. Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz.
Divya (Reshma Shetty)
Surprise (and spoiler alert)! Divya is pregnant when the season picks up - and is in the process of hearing back from the various medical schools she's applied to. "Since the very beginning when we first met Divya, she's always been a character who didn't want to be forced to choose between her dreams. And that certainly is true in Season 8 as it was in Season 1," Rauch says. "So, she wants to chase this dream of being a doctor, and ... she obviously wants to be a good mother, and she wants to figure out her evolving family dynamic with Raj. ... So she's got a lot of chainsaws to juggle, and it's going to be really interesting to watch her over the course of the season try to figure out how to satisfy all these dreams equally as best she can."
Jeremiah (Ben Shenkman)
As he recovers from his regression, Jeremiah has a tough time getting back into the groove at work. He'll turn to Divya for support, but it won't be easy. "We've handled Jeremiah as carefully as we could ... and we felt that he was progressing in a very positive way, and perhaps it was time for him to be dealt a blow and a setback, to see how he'd recover," Lenchewski says. "In Season 8, [we] ultimately hopefully show the strength that he's been able to build, and the self-confidence, being surrounded by this new family at HankMed - and then, even more importantly, how he can do it on his own. That becomes a big part of his arc, taking him to the season finale. Even though the growth is incremental, in Jeremiah's world it's enormous, in terms of how he was when he first showed up in Royal Pains to how he is at the very end of the show."
Royal Pains returns Wednesday at 10/9c on USA.