Home trending How ‘Superstore’ pulled off that shocking finale: Interview

How ‘Superstore’ pulled off that shocking finale: Interview

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Nico Santos' character Mateo Liwanag was a central player in the Season 4 finale of 'Superstore.'
Nico Santos’ character Mateo Liwanag was a central player in the Season 4 finale of ‘Superstore.’

Image: Tyler Golden / NBC

This post contains spoilers for the Season 4 finale of Superstore

It’s safe to say that when you’re watching a feel-good sitcom, you don’t expect to fear for your favorite characters’ lives. But Superstore pulled that rug out from under us with the Season 4 finale, “Employee Appreciation Day,” sending Mateo Liwanag (Nico Santos) into custody of ICE for being an undocumented immigrant.

“We’ve always had in the back of our minds since we introduced the storyline that that was one potential move we could do,” showrunner Justin Spitzer told Mashable via phone interview. “We had originally planned on doing it about two-thirds of the way through the season, and then just the way stories unfolded and arcs were working out, it just sort of pushed it later.”

Mateo’s immigration status was first revealed in Season 2, but only to Cheyenne (Nicole Bloom). At the time, says Spitzer, the decision wasn’t especially calculated, but seemed like an interesting subversion of expectation and a fun way to juxtapose Glenn’s (Mark McKinney) Olympics patriotism with Mateo’s more jaded outlook.

By Season 4, it’s practically an open secret among the Cloud Nine staff, but a mark of love and trust that few of them have revealed their knowledge to one another (even Jonah and Amy). Spitzer and his writing staff originally planned for the ICE raid to happen earlier in the season, but it made for a more fitting finale as the characters and stories of the season played out.

Because of that, seeds of this climax were sown throughout the season. Mateo revealed his status to Glenn, who fabricated a social security number for Mateo at great personal risk. In an early episode, Mateo suspected Sayid (superb new addition Amir M. Korangy) had overheard the truth and might reveal it to protect his own good faith as a refugee. 

“We’re hoping that the audience will think that he’s going to manage to get away in a more classic sitcom ending,” said Spitzer. “We try to be real and relatable wherever possible, and most of the time people don’t get away. It felt like a more interesting move for the series to discuss going into the future, to figure out what does Mateo do now that he’s been found out and detained.”

Most of the episode follows the frenzied employees as they try to sneak Mateo out of the store or hide his presence with an onslaught of customers. Dina tries to lead him to safety with the help of Cheyenne and Amy, but in the end, Mateo himself calls it. “It’s over,” he tells them.

Lauren Ash, Mark McKinney, Amir M. Korangy, America Ferrera, Nico Santos, Nichole Bloom, and Ben Feldman in 'Superstore' Season 4, episode 22: "Employee Appreciation Day.'

Lauren Ash, Mark McKinney, Amir M. Korangy, America Ferrera, Nico Santos, Nichole Bloom, and Ben Feldman in ‘Superstore’ Season 4, episode 22: “Employee Appreciation Day.’

Image: Tyler Golden / NBC

This is far from the first time Superstore tackled a hot-button social issue with expert writing from larger-than-life characters. Spitzer insists the show doesn’t try to have involved, intelligent conversations, but it has done an exceptional job tackling #MeToo (“Back to School”), cultural appropriation (“Costume Competition”), the environment (“Cloud Green”), and now immigration – without even alluding to the political spectrum or naming any prominent public figures.

“Employee Appreciation Day” references ICE, but nothing further regarding immigration policies, detainment, or family separation. For Mateo and his colleagues, this is a micro issue about one person they care about, and that’s what drives it home.

“We don’t try to reach to talk about some issue that wouldn’t effect our employees in some way, and when we do deal with an issue, we’re not really tackling it head on,” Spitzer says. “We’re not trying to draw out all the sides of it and have this intelligent conversation where both sides are represented and intelligent points are made. The comedy comes from how our characters are dealing with it.”

Spitzer is stepping away as showrunner between Seasons 4 and 5, but assures that Santos and Mateo will still be very much part of the show. With a few exceptions, Superstore has always taken place in one location with a coterie of characters, but this seismic shift newly expands the show’s universe. The rules as we know them have been broken – and there’s nothing more Superstore than that.

Catch up on previous seasons of Superstore with Hulu or NBC.

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Source : https://mashable.com/article/superstore-season-4-finale-justin-spitzer/