SPOILER ALERT: Do not read unless you have seen the fifth episode of the third season of “Supergirl,” entitled “Damage.”
The “Sanvers” era of “Supergirl” has come to an end.
The audience went into the third season of the CW superhero drama knowing Floriana Lima – who plays Maggie – wasn’t going to be returning as a series regular, but it wasn’t until the fifth episode that just how she would exit the show became known. Maggie and Alex (Chyler Leigh), who were engaged, chose to split after Alex realized she wanted kids, and that didn’t fit with Maggie’s life plan.
Here, “Supergirl” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg talks with Variety about the passionate fan reaction to the couple, why he chose to break them up and what’s ahead for Alex.
Were you surprised at how quickly fans gravitated to Alex and Maggie last year?
We had a chemistry test between Chyler and our three finalists for Maggie, and it’s pretty rare that the actor and the producers don’t have the same choice, but we were so in love with Floriana that we were holding our breath wondering if Chyler was going to feel the same. Then Chyler said I can’t do this with anyone but Floriana. We were aware of how potent their chemistry was – and how much they liked each other personally as actors and people. There are some things I definitively worry about in terms of “are fans going to respond to this?” but that one was something were we all felt so proud of what we were doing and the story we were telling. We just knew that was going to be OK.
It’s no secret you wanted Floriana to be a series regular for the third season. When did you find out that wasn’t in the cards?
Floriana only signed a one year deal with us for Season 2, and our hope was that she would want to continue on, and it was during the hiatus that we reached out to her people and her, but she was ready to move on. She agreed to give us five episodes – and we definitively knew we didn’t want to kill Maggie, and we thought it was cheesy ’70s TV to break up a relationship because “I got a job in a different city, I have to move.”
How did you land on Alex wanting kids and Maggie not wanting them as the reason for their break-up?
Some of us in the writers room had difficult break-ups with people that we loved because they didn’t want to have kids, and we thought that that was a true human experience. It’s very difficult to break up with someone that you love, but if you know down the road you won’t be happy no matter how happy you are now – it’s great drama. It was also important for us to tell this story where there are no villains, no bad guys. It’s not like Maggie did something wrong – or Alex did something wrong – they just never really dealt with this because everything happened so fast. Just as last season was about Alex realizing she was gay, this year it’s about her realizing that she wants to be a parent.
You never showed the argument that leads to the break-up, it’s very much just about the two of them packing things up and saying goodbye.
Yeah, we felt like you didn’t need to see that argument because no one was wrong and no on was right. It just is what it is. You’ve never really seen two people break up – who are still in love with each other – for legitimate reasons. We kept talking about the banality of breaking up with somebody. There is actually a scene we left on the cutting room floor of them calling the caterers and wedding venue to get their money back. We really liked the idea that even after they decided to break up they slept together again, because they love each other. Even when Maggie walks out the door, both of them still love each other.
How does the break-up affect Alex in the coming episodes? Kara (Melissa Benoist) mentioned that the two of them would be going home for a bit.
We’d be doing a disservice to Alex if – after Kara having lost Mon-El [Chris Wood] and went into a bit of a tailspin – didn’t have a sizable reaction as well. Episode 6 is a very emotional episode for Alex, but it’s a fun episode for the audience because it takes them back to Midvale – the town the two grew up in – to hide out in their childhood home until Alex can get up off the couch again. Then she will have a fun, and funny, hookup in the months to come.
Will Maggie’s presence just go away now that she isn’t featured on the show?
She’ll still be mentioned. We’re writing an episode now where – Floriana isn’t in it – but Maggie gets into contact with Alex, and we see Alex’s reaction to the first reach out after months. Just because Floriana isn’t on the show, it doesn’t mean Maggie is forgotten. It’s always our hope that if we can work out the right story and timing that she will come back.
A couple weeks ago you told a really powerful story between Maggie and her dad (Carlos Bernard). Why was it important to tell that story with the limited time left you had with Maggie’s character?
Because we love Floriana. She’s a tremendously talented actress, and we love the character of Maggie. That was an important story to tell. We had told the story of Alex – who had come out to her mother, and sister, and friends, and boss, and everyone in her life was so incredibly supportive as it should be. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. We’ve all heard too many stories of people who were not accepted, and we wanted to tell the story of someone who didn’t get the coming out story they deserved but at the end of the day they were OK. In that particular story it is really Maggie’s father who isn’t accepted, and is truly the one who is losing out.
New episodes of “Supergirl” are on Mondays at 8 p.m. on the CW.