[Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen tonight's episode of "Private Practice" do not read ahead.]
In its time slot debut tonight on ABC's Tuesday schedule, the long-running Shonda Rhimes series "Private Practice" comes out with a strong episode that utilizes all its major players and takes each of their storylines to both new and unexpected places. The "It Was Inevitable" episode's purpose, according to Executive Producer Betsy Beers, is to drive us not only to the end of the medical drama's fifth season but also into the sixth. In an exclusive post-episode chat, Beers told our Jim Halterman earlier today about the major happenings in tonight's episode as well as offered up some teases about "largely emotional" and "gigantic" things to come before the season wraps on May 15.
Jim Halterman: In general, let's start with the time slot question. I'm guessing it softened the blow since it was 'Scandal' that took the post-'Grey's' slot but how are you feeling about it?
Betsy Beers: I think it's great. The thing for us is we love the show, we're incredibly confident with the show and I think we have a very solid fan base and we're real excited to try out Tuesday night at 10 o'clock. It's a vote of confidence for 'Private Practice' that we're standing up on our own, by the way, with a phenomenal lead-in. 'Dancing [With The Stars]' is an incredible thing to actually be following. I'm going to be excited to actually get to watch one of the shows on Tuesday night and watch the other shows on Thursday night. Like I said, it's a real vote of confidence on ABC's part, too. They've been incredibly supportive of 'Private.'
JH: Tonight's episode took everyone to really interesting places and, I'm guessing, amping up for the rest of the season. Am I reading that right?
BB: I think you totally are. I think what we're doing is gearing up the trajectory for the rest of the season and setting up some things for next season, which are going to be incredibly important in season six of 'Private Practice.' Most importantly, what we do with this particular episode is really launch a couple of very new situations. I think that, certainly, Addison (Kate Walsh) with the baby is something we've all been waiting for, Addison has been waiting for, her therapist has been waiting for, probably more than we have. [laughs] I feel like the amazing satisfaction and the excitement and how emotional that is is an incredibly starting off point for the last run of episodes because Addison finally has a new man in her life and, in a way, it's the man she's been waiting for.
JH: Addison wanting a baby has been going on for a long time. Why was this the right time for that to finally happen?
BB: I think for Shonda [when] these things happen, they're sort of instinctual. I think Addison has worked incredibly hard to have a baby. She came to the decision that she wanted a baby. She came to the decision that the truth is she didn't need to have the baby but the important thing is that you love a baby and there are so many babies in the world that need to be adopted. There are so many children out there who need love and need the care and then I think it was the right time for Addison. Shonda instinctively knows both for Addison and the viewers that she's tried really hard, she's grown a lot this season. I think the whole concept of therapy for her and us watching her in therapy has gotten her to a place of self-knowledge, which I feel that the timing for the baby is perfect for her. She really knows herself, knows her process and she's really kicked the tires on how important it is for her to have a child. Her relationship with Sam, to a large degree, fell apart based on the fact that she really wanted to have a baby and he really didn't. It felt like after all that the right time to have the child through this incredible adoption was now.
JH: And what a coincidence that when this is all happening she's kissing Benjamin Bratt (Jake), then she's kissing Taye Diggs (Sam)...
BB: Isn't life funny? And in a weird way that's the way things happen. Sometimes when you're ready for something and you open yourself up to the possibility of it and you really grow into it I think that's a lot of what [the baby] is going to be. These other things start to pop up as possibilities and I think we've all maybe experienced that in our lives and one of the things I love about this show is that it does sort of reflect the state of mind a lot of us get to at a certain point where these changes are huge. They really are momentous in your 40s as to late 30s/40s and the decision you're going to make and really trying to articulate what it is you really want and she was willing to sacrifice a lot for this baby and in return there are amazing things that are happening around her.
JH: Can we expect this triangle to heat up a little bit?
BB: I think you won't be disappointed in it. It's a rough job, for sure.
JH: It's a good problem to have! The story in tonight's episode with Elise (Enid Graham) - the woman in jail who killed her two children and is about to have another baby - how challenging was it to make her sympathetic?
BB: I think one of the great things about this show, and this is the perfect example because a lot of what we're dealing with is morally and ethical dilemmas, it's really important to feel the point of view of the people who are involved in some of these incredible heart-wrenching cases. I think this is a really good example of being absolutely surprised that you can start to sympathize and identify with her. Part of it challenges the show and part of the thing that I think we find incredibly interesting about it is that you want to create situations where we do find yourself surprised that you do understand both sides of the issue. It's a monstrous thing and it's a terrible story but one of the challenges that I think the writers really successfully achieved in this episode and they often do is understand everybody's point of view and even [Elise] has one.
JH: What's coming up for Cooper (Paul Adelstein) and Charlotte (KaDee Strickland), who are going to be parents together with Mason (Griffin Gluck)?
BB: To a large degree for the next few episodes and the rest of the season, a lot of what we're going to be dealing with is obviously the adjustment of having a full-time son, Mason's adjustment dealing with grief and I think it's going to be an opportunity to watch both Charlotte and Cooper grow as a couple and as parents. There are some wonderful, really moving episodes coming up for the two of them. Also, dealing with the difference and how it changes the dynamics of being a couple. Parenting for two people who didn't necessarily set out to parent in this particular way creates different kinds of conflicts. Stylistically different people have different expectations on how to parent and that's one of the things they're going to be exploring.
JH: And Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) finally embraces having a baby and I think she's always been such a lost child but will this help her or make things more complicated?
BB: I think the process ahead for Amelia is continuing to grow, continuing to deal with the loss of the man that she loved and continue to mature. The pregnancy will certainly be a part of that.
JH: Pete (Tim Daly) and Violet (Amy Brenneman). Are they finally going to be together?
BB: Pete and Violet have finally come to terms with the fact that maybe it's too early to give up and I think that a lot of what we're going to be doing is watching the two of them struggle with these things that have always been issues in their relationship but try to deal with it in a new way and confront it head-on. I think in this last chunk of the season there are going to be some very, very large events that occur that changes some of the relationships in the practice and the dynamic which is going on.
JH: What can we expect the rest of the season? Some happiness, some drama and a cliffhanger, perhaps?
BB: You're going to have at least one cliffhanger. There's definitely a balance of happiness and drama. There's something largely emotional that is going to come up and it's something that affects everybody and it's pretty gigantic.
JH: I feel like everybody has been through so much but it is a drama so...
BB: It's a drama and it all comes out organically of what you've been watching.
JH: Between 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Private Practice' and now 'Scandal,' how do you structure your day between all three?
BB: It's interesting because it really varies from day to day. Sometimes I think my job is super reactive. You come in and people react to things and other times it's very proactive so in periods of development or in periods where casting is happening or storylines are being formed or negotiations are going on, I find that it's very active but then a lot of the job is literally making sure that everything gets done, which ends up being more reactive. It's a really fun combination and I love it. There are always schedules, there are always table reads [and] there are always a certain number of creative conversations that are going on. There are usually a fair amount of interaction between studio and network but, it's weird, it's the relationship interactions that sort of define the structure of my day but then a lot of it is just being able to jump into a situation if you're needed. It's really fun for me because you're never totally sure what the day will hold, which makes things exciting. I get to use all the different parts of my sometimes small but hopefully always-growing brain.
"Private Practice" airs Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c on ABC.