In the end, Last Resort did what it needed to do in the wake of early cancellation — the thirteenth and final episode resolved the central storylines and character arcs, giving fans a sense of closure. But where would it have gone had it not been culled by the cruel, cruel blade of cancellation? Chatting to Hitfix, co-creator Shawn Ryan reveals where the story would have gone and how the show would have opened up in the back nine and beyond.
On how much the original plan for the thirteenth episode made it into the series finale:
The episode was always about the mutineers attempting to take over the sub, it was always about Marcus and Sam really being at odds, and in fighting against the mutiny, coming back together. The stuff that got rewritten once we found out it would be the final episode: we rescued Christine and returned her to the States, we accelerated and really minimized a story that was going to play bigger in subsequent episodes with James and Tani and these prospectors that were on the island and starting to mistreat people from Tani’s tribe. That was going to play out as a much bigger thing. If there are some rough scenes in the final episode, I would say that story was. We didn’t feel we could totally ignore James and Tani in the last episode. But that wasn’t a thing we were playing in the original scripts. And then the culmination of the story is pretty much all new. In the original version that we wrote, it was going to be the end of Josh Brannan, he was going to die in the gunfight on the sub, that was going to be our big emotional loss before Sam and Marcus retook the sub. All the act four stuff is new, and the culmination, the ending, is new.
So, with Marcus and XO reconciled, where was the story going to go from there?
We were about to dissolve the American blockade. In many ways, a lot of the first 13 episodes were about survival, and we were going to transfer in the last 9 to, “If survival isn’t the main issue, if we’re being left alone, what is this place?” we were going to do the opposite, where all of a sudden, things are open on the island, and they’ve become icons for a certain segment of the world’s population. All of a sudden, these boats arrive with people who want to be part of this movement. And what do you do about those people? Can those people be trusted? Is there an assassin among those people? One of those people was going to be Marcus’s surviving son, who had always disagreed with him politically, but who now looked upon Marcus’s actions as something admirable, even though Marcus thinks that his son was misconstruing that. There was going to be a woman with his son who would be a foil for Marcus, philosophically and romantically. We were going to do a much bigger story about how Christine gets saved. We were going to deal with the island and the fact that there were valuable minerals on it that needed to be saved, things like that. We had definite plans on where we were going to go.
As for what he could have done differently to make the show appeal more to ABC’s demographic, Ryan launches a quip in the general direction of Revolution:
In retrospect, probably the thing I could have done was sell it to NBC and have them air it after “The Voice.”
Ryan goes onto admit that while he hoped Resort could survive in a universe where the ratings-challenged Fringe was able to defy the odds, he effectively knew the writing was on the wall from episode 3 or 4. It’s pretty candid stuff, read the full transcript at Hitfix.