[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Monday's season premiere of The Fosters. Read at your own risk]
We saw a stomach-turning cliffhanger The Fosters Season 4 premiere Monday, but that's just the beginning.
Though Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) were able to evacuate students safely after realizing Mariana's (Cierra Ramirez) boyfriend Nick (Louis Hunter) was on school property with a gun, Nick managed to slip away. And we soon learn that, instead of being at school, Nick found a way to break into the Fosters' home. Now, the Fosters are about to enter their house, clueless to the fact that Nick is on the premises and still armed.
TVGuide.com talked to The Fosters executive producer Peter Paige about what prompted the show to tackle gun violence and what's in store for the family in next week's premiere follow-up.
What prompted the decision to tackle gun control and specifically guns in school?
Paige: There was so much that was interesting to explore in both environments. The impetus for doing this story was really we got to that point where were hearing about school shootings every week and school lockdowns every day. It got to the point where we said we can't ignore this. It's really important that we show the people that are watching what we are asking our kids to go through.
How did you prepare for the episode?
Paige: We did an extraordinary amount of research. Everything we did is based on multiple schools that we came into contact with. We didn't find one school that doesn't have a procedure like this at this point. It just breaks my heart. When we went to school we had the odd tornado drill. To know that we are asking kids as young as six to learn what to do when someone with a gun comes into their school? It felt like something we had to talk about.
The school lockdown is just one half of Nick's saga. Why take him to the Foster home as well?
Paige: The way we set up the situation with Nick, it made it very personal for the family. There were all these other pieces of that story that we couldn't explore in the bigger environment of school. It just made great sense for us to carry it home.
What can you tease about episode 2 when Nick is in the house with the family?
Paige: It's interesting. We go from this massive, almost action-like episode to basically a tense, tense, very personal thriller at home. No one knows where Nick is except the audience. Terrifyingly, he's either in or near the Foster's house and they are all trapped in there thinking they are safe.
Are you going to address mental illness and how that contributed to Nick stealing the gun?
Paige: For sure. Nick is clearly not entirely well. I don't think that's a question at all and it is something we talk about.
What do you want the feeling to be at the end of episode 2 when the storyline is primarily wrapped up?
Paige: I want the audience to be engaged with the reality of what we are asking our kids to live with. We prioritize access to guns to such a degree that we are traumatizing an entire generation of children. That's incredibly important. It was never a storyline I thought we would do. I thought it was one we would avoid and then it just became such a reality in our lives that I thought now we're just sort of falsely ignoring it.
Is there going to be more of a gun control debate on the show after the two episodes or will you leave it with these?
Paige: We let them speak for themselves.
The Fosters continues Mondays at 8/7c on Freeform.