The Coterie was rocked by a major exit during the March 16 episode of Good Trouble. Callie got a job with the ACLU in Washington D.C. and left Los Angeles behind to start the next chapter of her life. The episode was full of emotional and tearful goodbyes, especially the one between Callie and Mariana.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with executive producer Joanna Johnson about Maia Mitchell’s shocking departure in season 4. Joanna stressed that she “totally supported and understood” Maia’s decision to leave. She also opened up about Callie and Jamie’s “rom-com” final moment and what it means for Jallie shippers. Read our full Q&A below:
Obviously, this is a huge change. How much beforehand did you know that Maia wanted to return to Australia and leave the show?
Joanna Johnson: Well, I knew last season. I knew that it might be her last year, but you never know. People say that. Near the end of season 3, I went to her and said, “I really want you to stay. How are you feeling?” And she said, “I love this show so much. I love this family. I love this character. And it’s so hard for me to say that I just need to go home and need some time.” I think she needs to see what the next chapter of her life is. She’s been playing this character since she was 18-19 years old. It’s been amazing to watch her grow up and become just the most lovely and professional and talented woman that she is. Even though I did my best to try to talk her out of it, I realized that that’s what she needed to do. I support her 100 percent. I was in grief over it. I’m still in grief over the end of The Fosters. I’m still not over that one. It took me a little while to just sort of accept it. I totally understood and supported her. She and Cierra [Ramirez] are like daughters to me. I’ve watched them grow up, and I love them so much. People may say this, but they are truly the most beautiful, lovely people to work with and so talented. You can write anything for them, and they just elevate it all. They make it all so much better than it is on the page. That was really tough, but I asked her, “Will you stay and do the first couple episodes of season 4 because I want to give you a real episode. I want it to be an episode dedicated to Callie leaving.” She said, “Absolutely. One hundred percent. I want it to be great.” She came back from Australia and did those episodes for us, so I’ve known for a while. I’ve gotten over the burst out in tears, and I have to say I am so excited to continue writing for this amazing cast. We have such a wonderful ensemble cast. It’s not like you lose one person and the show falls apart. Everyone is so talented. We still have Cierra as our fearless leader of the cast, but they’ve all stepped up. They’re all-stars in their own right. It’s not like we didn’t have 10 other people to still write to that are wonderful. I’m really excited about the new people this season that we brought in. Although we miss Maia very much, I feel like the show’s as strong as ever. I’m really excited. I’m not just saying that so the fans don’t leave. I’m proud of the episodes and excited about them.
Especially at the end of last season, it seemed like you were heading possibly in that direction with Callie. A life change was inevitable almost.
Joanna Johnson: Yes. Of course, we knew she was leaving. The fantasy scene where she’s on the witness stand and Wilson is talking to her, I really wrote that very specifically to Maia in many ways as well as Callie. I knew it was going to get her. At the table read as she was reading it, her voice cracked and she started to cry. Then I started to cry. The two of us barely got through the rest of the table read because it was so emotional just knowing this was coming.
She gets a job in DC with the ACLU, which is very Callie. She has been wanting to do something like that. Were there other ways to write her out that you considered?
Joanna Johnson: No, that was always gonna be the thing. We always want to keep the door open. In our show, people come back. We still have the Fosters come into our show and no character is ever done. It’s funny because our costume designer will say, “Well, are we done with that character? Can I get rid of their closet?” I’m always like, “I wouldn’t let go of anything. You just never know.” We wanted to keep the door open, obviously, and that was always the way we were going to do it.
Will we get updates about her throughout the season at least?
Joanna Johnson: Absolutely. I mean, she’s not forgotten. She’s still a real presence. I still feel like Maia’s a part of this show and this team and always will be.
You know I’m a huge Jallie fan. The ending of the episode is a clear victory for Jallie shippers. How should fans feel about that final Callie and Jamie moment on the plane?
Joanna Johnson: It’s really interesting. When we brought Beau [Mirchoff] in as the brother of Brandon’s wife for the finale episodes of The Fosters, there was no plan really to bring that character on Good Trouble. But then, we had an idea to bring him on and the chemistry that they have was so amazing. I love Beau so much that we really just had to have him be part of her life and part of the show. I think most of us felt like they’re endgame, you know? As much as we love Callie with Gael, there’s just something about her and Jamie that seemed right. We just had to have that happy ending on the plane. It’s very rom-com, but I felt like we really needed to send her off with something kind of hopeful, too.
Will we find out if they get back together or should we just assume that they are or they will?
Joanna Johnson: It’s not the last we’ve heard of them.
How is Mariana going to be dealing with Callie’s absence moving forward?
Joanna Johnson: The way we’re sort of looking at it is that it’s sort of the five stages of grief. First, it’s a little bit of denial, then you get into anger, then you get into bargaining, and then you get into all the other sort of stages. We’re definitely doing that with Mariana. I think she was trying to be really supportive and positive, but you see in that very last scene in the episode when she picks up Callie’s doll and she’s crying that this is not going to be easy for her. She really relied on Callie so much. They shared a room when they started fostering Callie and Jude and then they went to college, but they’ve been living together for a while now. It’s really tough not to see your sister every single day and not have that support system. But luckily, Mariana has the support of everyone at The Coterie as well. I also loved the moment where she comes up in the elevator after having said goodbye to Callie and they’re all there waiting.
You said that the door is open for Maia to return. Is it sort of like if it comes up in the storyline or if she wants to come back?
Joanna Johnson: I think it’ll really depend on where she’s at and what happens next, but the door’s always open 100 percent. She’s a part of the show. She’s a part of this family, and I would love to have her back for anything that we could.