‘Firefly Lane’ Showrunner Wanted to ‘Stay True’ to Book’s Ending and ‘Come Full Circle’
Note: This piece contains major spoilers for “Firefly Lane” Season 2 Part 2, so if you have not watched yet, don’t read ahead!
The on-screen story of the “Firefly Lane” girls has come to an end.
Part 1 of Season 2 ended with Kate (Sarah Chalke) just missing out on telling Tully (Katherine Heigl) she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. The seven-episode Part 2 landed on Netflix Thursday and concludes the drama series, which is based on Kristin Hannah’s novel.
The estranged friends, who had a falling out over Kate’s daughter Marah being in a car accident with Tully at the wheel, make up and reunite within the first two episodes.
They come together in a moment of dire need for Kate as she prepares to undergo a mastectomy surgery and then a reconstruction one for her breasts, as the aggressive form of cancer she has is already at Stage 4. Author Kristin Hannah’s mother had breast cancer, which motivated Hannah to write the story in the first place.
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“I suddenly went through one of those waves where I really missed my mom, which is a classic grieving process for your mother. It comes and goes and comes and goes, and at 40 I just felt this driving need to get to know her again,” Hannah told TheWrap. “I went in search of her the way I go in search of everything, which is I write about it, and in this piece, at different times I’m certainly the rebellious Marah, but I’m also Kate going going through this and trying to sort of see our life through her eyes. Interestingly enough, I did not realize this, but I began the book at exactly the age that [my mother] was when she was diagnosed, and I finished it at the age she was when she passed away. So I really felt like she was sort of on this journey with me.”
Kate battles into recovery for a brief period, in which she marries Johnny a second time, before finding out that the disease has metastasized in her bones and liver. Tully tries to get her into a trial, but Kate soon has a seizure, and upon the news that the cancer has spread to her brain, there is nothing left to do but spend her remaining days at home. The heartwrenching moment of Kate’s death comes when Tully is telling her about finally being with Danny Diaz (Ignacio Serricchio), but Tully misses the exact moment Kate passes because she goes inside to refill her tea.
“We talked a lot about a lot of different versions in the writers room of how exactly the moment of [Kate’s] death was going to play out, and what we finallylanded on was this idea that Kate was hanging on until she knew that everyone was going to be okay,” Friedman told TheWrap. “In that moment, she knew after Tully told her, ‘Okay, I got together with Danny. It finally happened and we’re going to be together.’ That was when Kate sort of exhales [and says] ‘Okay, Tully’s gonna be okay. Not because she needs a man, but because of the idea that Tully had never really let anyone else in, in a deep way, other than Kate.”
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Tully and Danny are old flames from the early journalism days, but Tully has come to lean on Danny quite a bit since Kate got sick.
“Now she finally has grown in a way where she could be having an emotionally intimate relationship with somebody besides Kate. It gave [Kate] the freedom to let go. And then in that moment, you know, Tully goes inside, it’s Kate’s last moment to assess her life and communing with nature and just have have appreciation for for who she is and where she’s been and where she is at this moment.”
The show closes with Kate’s funeral, where she has made arrangements to accomodate Tully, who can’t go inside over the grief of losing her best friend. The final moments unravel just as the do in Hannah’s book, down to Kate’s note and the song Tully plays when she dances — ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”
“I thought it was such a beautiful ending. I love ‘Dancing Queen.’ It was so great that we were able to get the rights to use it and we use it multiple times in that last episode,” Friedman said. “There was something about the way that the book ended, that you know it feel free to just stay true to that and come full circle. And to see that totally. We know that it’s so sad, but [Kate’s] going to be with [Tully] always.”
Though there is a sequel to “Firefly Lane” called “Fly Away,” in which Hannah traces the aftermath of Kate’s death and how it affects Tully, Marah and Johnny, Friedman doesn’t have any plans to adapt it into a spinoff.
“I’ve worked on plenty of shows where we think the show coming back for another season, we ended on a cliffhanger and then for whatever reason, it doesn’t come back,” she said. “I knew I wanted to tell the complete story of Kate and Tully and have it feel like if somebody has never seen the show, and they want to sit down, they can watch all the episodes and then the story is complete.”
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