[Editor's Note: This interview contains spoilers for The Watchful Eye Season 1 finale, "Hale Fellow Well Met."]
In the opening minutes of The Watchful Eye Season 1 finale, party girl Bennet (Grace Kaufman) puts into words what viewers have come to realize over the past 10 episodes: "This building, and everyone in it, is toxic."
Bennet's observation proves prescient almost immediately. The finale unleashes one twist after another, from the revelation that James (Lachlan Quarmby) has been doing the Greybourne family's dirty work, to the brutal murder of Bennet's father, Dick (Christopher Redman), at the hands of his wife, Tory (Amy Acker). Tory's act of violence is sudden and shocking — she repeatedly stabs Dick with scissors until he bleeds out before her — but it's also justified, as he was directly responsible for the death of her sister, Allie (Emily Tennant). Just before the final credits roll, Elena (Mariel Molino) stumbles into the apartment and finds Tory standing over Dick's body, a moment that unites two women who were once adversaries and sets up a second season of the Freeform thriller.
In an interview with Primetimer, The Watchful Eye showrunner Emily Fox discusses that cliffhanger ending, Darcy's (Megan Best) heel turn, and where a potential Season 2 might take the residents of the Greybourne.
The past few episodes have raised suspicion about James, but it's not until the finale that we finally learn what he's up to. Were there any signs pointing to his collaboration with the Greybournes that viewers may have missed?
If they're looking for them, they're there. There's a little Easter egg hidden in Episode 4 ["The Nanny Vanishes"], after Elena finds the cameras in the apartment. That night, we know that James has blown off Alex [Baraka Rahmani] — they had plans, and James ghosted them. If we're putting pieces together, that was when Morgan [Elena's predecessor, played by Ayumi Patterson] was dispatched to wherever Morgan is now.
Episode 7 ["Out Like a Light"], when they're stuck in the elevator with Mrs. Ivey [Kelly Bishop] – Mrs. Ivey knows where James is from. That was when Alex's antenna went up, like, "What? This doesn't make any sense." That's a weird thing to know about someone. That's too specific to have been a lucky guess. Those were the two big ones.
The actor who plays James, Lachlan [Quarmby], is magnificent because he's so dazzling that you don't ever look at him and think, "This guy's got a screw loose. This guy's super dangerous." I love that he's a wolf in sheep's clothing, that he's hiding in plain sight. He's been there all along and he has been this menace to Elena and all of her friends because he's such a mercenary. He's one of these people who will, like Elena, do almost anything to get out of their current situation and get ahead, and that can include lying and cheating and obfuscating. He's no worse or better than she is, in terms of his motivation. Maybe the operations are a little more violent and scary, but in a way, there's a twinning between the two of them that I think is really interesting.
Speaking of wolves in sheep's clothing, it's so interesting that it's ultimately Darcy who causes this house of cards to topple by framing Matthew (Warren Christie) for Allie's murder to protect her father, Dick. How did you settle on Darcy as the agent of chaos?
Again, I love that it's the person you least suspect. The actress who plays Darcy, Megan Best, has such a sweetness to her, but underneath it, there's a little edge that I always thought was rippling just beneath what you could see. [Darcy] seems like someone who has grown up in the shadow of a very forceful and defiant older sister. Her supplicating herself to her dad and acting like his caretaker, mother, spouse, daughter, all of those things all at once, that could all coalesce into a scenario where someone like that could lose their tether on reality.
And she's young. That's the thing that we don't always remember about teenagers: Their brains are still forming. She could have an idea in the back of her brain that the front of her brain – it's still not attached fully to the idea generator. There's no break system in her head that's like, "This is a terrible idea, don't do it." All she knows is, "This is a terrible idea," and then picks up the phone. That feels like, to me, very authentic to the teenage experience. And I think there's something about her that's a little bit, not a hero complex, exactly, but she cleans up messes. Everything she does in the finale, she thinks is cleaning up a mess. She doesn't think, "I am an agent of chaos." She thinks, "Chaos is afoot and I am going to fix it." And it's super misguided. It is a terrible, terrible choice, and also is a felony. But this kid's not thinking.
It speaks to – she lives in an ivory tower. She has every privilege in the world. People don't think through the consequences in the way viewers do, or, I guess, exceptionally stable grown-ups do. You make these choices in the moment, and you think it's the right choice. You're not making a choice and saying, "This is a terrible idea, I'm making a terrible choice." You're like, "I'm going to save my dad. I'm going to frame this other guy." That's all there is to it.
We see so many different sides of Tory when she's confronting Dick about his role in Allie's death. At first it seems like she will show him mercy — until she doesn't. Do you think Tory would have grabbed those scissors if Dick had kept his mouth shut about her "hating" Allie?
The scissors were the front of the brain not talking to the back of the brain. The scissors were impulsive.
I think she wanted to get a confession out of him, and thus, the poison. She holds the antidote and is like, "Come with me if you want to live." He has to confess, or he's going to die. He confesses, and then because he cannot help it – again, that was a bad decision, and in the fullness of time, I bet you will recognize it, except for the part where you're dead. That is his failure. He's a deeply flawed person. But yeah, Tory is wound so tight that it was really just a matter of time before she was going to snap. And snap, she did.
What role does Elena's mother Ronnie (Jacqueline Obradors) play in all this? Her meeting with Scott (Jon-Michael Ecker) suggests she's about to flip on Elena, but is there more to her than we've seen so far?
Yes, there is more to their history, Elena and her mother. I don't want to say too much more, but I will say that Elena's mother is a real loose canon, and it's a scary thing to come across a loose canon and realize that they hold a lot of power over you that's beyond just the literal, like, "This person could expose a secret, or this person could have me arrested." There is something specific to the mother-daughter relationship that we wanted to explore about how this particular mother still owns a part of Elena in a way that is not healthy and deeply toxic, but which is undeniable.
The fun of it is the specificity of their relationship. It's not Mommie Dearest, and it's not Gilmore Girls. It's some weird nether-region in between those two, which is like, we've been in it together, and we've seen a lot, and we've done some things, and nothing can be undone. Scott doesn't seem terribly reluctant to play with fire, and I think he has some notion that he can weaponize mom. So, there's a lot more to play with.
Oh, do you want to hear something amazing?
So, the actor who plays Teo [Joaquin Obradors], Elena's younger brother — we hired that actor whenever we did; I think he shows up in Episode 4. And then at a totally different time, we cast the actress who plays Elena's mom. It turns out, they are mother and son. And I didn't know! Like, at all. She was like, "Oh, he's my son," and I was like, "Yeah, yeah, that's cute, he's playing your son." And she was like, "No, I'm literally his biological mother," and I was like, "What are you talking about?"
They have the same last name, you'd think I would have put it together, but it was not close together in time and I didn't compute. I sort of figured that was something someone would have mentioned, but no one said anything. They figured either I knew, or I would figure it out, or it didn't particularly matter. But yeah, she's his mom. And it was great! Because we got to see them act together. That was the first time they had done a scene together in a show.
Looking ahead, where would a potential Season 2 take us? Am I wrong to assume that any of these rich people will face consequences for their sins? I probably am.
Everybody faces consequences. I will say that. There is no consequence-free crime, even if it's not a conventional judge-jury trial, jail. We all live with karma.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Watchful Eye Season 1 is now streaming on Hulu. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.
TOPICS: The Watchful Eye, Freeform, Hulu, Amy Acker, Christopher Redman, Emily Fox, Kelly Bishop, Lachlan Quarmby, Mariel Molino, Megan Best