[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Sunday's series finale of The Family. Read at your own risk.]
"We pitched Season 2 to the network and they had a great response," Bans told TVGuide.com prior to the show's cancellation on Thursday. "If anything, we feel like we have even more stories for next year. We've taken them to the point where the stakes for each of them could not be higher, so we'd be really happy if we could get a Season 2."
The Family could theoretically be picked up elsewhere, but unless it does, Season 2 unfortunately will not come to fruition. But with so many loose ends — Adam is actually alive (!) and threatens to expose Ben (Liam James) on the phone, Jane (Zoe Perry) drives off with Adam, Bridey (Floriana Lima) is dead after Willa (Alison Pill) convinces her to not run her story about faux Adam — and so many questions, what would've happened in Season 2? Bans tells us below.
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So Adam is alive. Was that always the plan?
Jenna Bans: It was always the plan. Obviously you and I had chatted about [if he was dead] before. Basically there are cliff-hangers going on and I went into a fugue state when you asked me if he was dead. [Laughs] The second thing was we were in a bit of a Jon Snow position because we're obviously as popular as Game of Thrones! You don't want to do a disservice to the audience and hem and haw and be vague about an answer like that, because audiences today are smart enough to know that any dancing around the topic means definitive confirmation that he's alive. He is alive. We always knew he was alive. And we always knew we wanted that to be the last moment of the season finale.
There were hints that he might not be dead. Doug (Michael Esper) said he "took care of it," which could've meant he killed Adam or he locked him away elsewhere.
Bans: Exactly. I think what you see in terms of the flashbacks in the finale is that Doug — and none of our characters — is not exactly perfect in whether they do good things or bad things. Doug fits that mold too in that he is a monster and a kidnapper and a pedophile. I don't think he really thought it through when he put two boys down there. Now that they're older and we see present-day Adam in the bunker flashbacks so driven and determined to escape at all costs, it was basically a constant struggle for Doug. These are two relatively strong teenage boys that could overpower him, and they almost did if Ben hadn't freaked out and ruined the moment. I think Doug was smart enough to realize, given the opportunity to take Adam away after he got that injury and spiked a fever, he couldn't put him back down there. There's a lot we haven't seen in terms of where Doug took Adam and where he's been the in the few months. That would be something to explore Season 2. Our fans are smart. They were guessing that [Adam was alive].
Was Adam in that cabin that whole time?
Bans: He was. In our minds, he was in that cabin, which is Doug's friend's cabin, which we don't really explain on the show. But in the writers' room, you sort of work out logically how that cabin would not be listed under Doug's or Jane's names. ... Adam is really, really angry. What I love most about the reveal is that the Adam we see in the finale is markedly different from the Adam we see in the bunker. Ben and Adam have always been different. Even in captivity, Adam was always escape-driven. He's less willing to accept the situation he's in. You see that scar on his shaved head that, "Wow, this kid is not the kid we met three months earlier." When he says to Ben, "You took my life and I'm coming to take it back," I think there is an anger and a betrayal in his eyes that tells us that he's going to have a very, very different reaction to the outside world and society than Ben has done this season. We're excited about that.
Why didn't Doug kill Adam or let him die?
Bans: In my mind, Doug is not a murderer. He's a terrible person, to be sure, but I think people compartmentalize. ... I think as horrible and monstrous as this man is, I think he draws the line at murder. It even took a lot for him to go to kill Clements (Matthew Lawler), which is why he asked Jane for that rifle. He doesn't want to. When he saw that Jane hit him with a frying pan, he was like, "Good God!" He doesn't want to see a body count on his watch. He's also had these boys in his life for a really long time. He doesn't hate them. That was a line he couldn't cross. You're right. It would've been much simpler had he finished Adam off, but he cares about this kid and couldn't do it.
Jane did not realize Adam was alive until she heard the noise from the cabin, right?
Bans: Right. She didn't know beforehand. I hope that's clear. Jane didn't know about Adam. She didn't know about the two boys until the very, very end. She faintly hears the sound of Adam kicking the door. But the whole time Doug is asking for the rifle, she knows Adam has it.
Where are they driving to? Adam is threatening to come back home.
Bans: Jane is driving to Canada. She's trying to get across the border. Jane's single thought is about her baby right now and she knows she'll be in major trouble once the authorities get involved. She made one big mistake for a guy she loved. I think Adam doesn't know his plan yet. He's gotten out and they've been driving for about 18 hours and I think he's seen enough news coverage over the election to know Ben has stolen his life. Obviously it's a huge shock to him and so I don't think he knows his true plan yet. Season 2 would be about his plan. Right now he's on the run. Ben has not only stolen his life but he's stolen it in a very public way since his mother is a newly elected high-ranking government official.
If someone other than Ben had answered the phone, what would Adam have done?
Bans: I don't know! [Laughs] We talked about that a lot. We always knew Ben would answer the phone for our purposes. I don't think it's easy for Adam to say, "Mom, it's me." The situation is really complicated. He believes she believes that Adam is home. He doesn't know that Claire (Joan Allen) knows that boy is Ben. I think in his eyes, he'd go, "Ben has been pulling the wool over their eyes. I had been telling this kid about my life for 10 years in great detail and they believe it's him." We had talked about, would he hang up if he heard her on the phone? He got the perfect person on the phone.
Bridey's dead. Did Willa kill her?
Bans: We obviously heavily implicated Willa. In Season 2, we would find that there are many people and many other facts that could've contributed to the fate Bridey has found herself in and it's not so simple.
Do you have the culprit in mind?
Bans: We do. Bridey is an interesting character because she was one I wished we spent more time with. A lot of Bridey's motivations didn't make it onto the screen this year because of time. Our goal in having Bridey meet this fate is having Bridey explode audience's minds. Floriana would come back. This is a show that exists in the past and present, so I think we would have more things to explore [with] Bridey next season.
Willa can be a killer? She could hire someone.
Bans: I think if there were a moment where she was really backed into a corner, this would be it. Bridey pretty much has her pinned down. She had the information and the story was about to come out. Do I think Willa is someone who could stab someone and do it herself? No. I love the character of Willa. They actually have feelings for each other, which is why this makes this situation worse. Does Willa have it in her to order someone's death? It's not as simple as, is it Willa or is it not?
Hank (Andrew McCarthy) stopped taking medication to resist his urges. He came up against a test with that boy with the scarf and passed. Would he resume taking it?
Bans: He stopped taking it at the end of [Episode] 11. That was him at his most self-hated. He's put to the ultimate test. He knows he couldn't take the boy home, but he does. We took Hank to the ultimate line and he chose not to cross it. He isn't going to be the monster. I think he will retake his medication. He took a lot of kids' scarves and gloves. That box of stuff is just the physical symbol of the war within himself. The temptation is always there. It's also a symbol of his strength. He has the willpower not to act on it. It's like "Look at all the boys I did not cross the line with!"
How much of a Season 2 do you have planned out? Do you know when Ben and Adam would come face-to-face?
Bans: We do. We would do that sooner rather than later. We're not going to draw out the idea that Adam is out there and not coming back. He's going to come back soon. But it comes with a twist. We've been able to plan and structure a season in a way that would allow for Adam to come back to the Warrens' lives and for the murder mystery to be wrapped up quickly. We revealed Adam was Ben pretty early on this year and we would take a page from that model. We bring Adam back, but that would turn into a different story. We have it loosely sketched out.