Royal Pains wraps up its rookie season Thursday (10/9c, USA Network) with "Wonderland," a modern take on an old-fashioned ghost story that takes places in a haunted Hamptons manor. Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) treats the hallucinating Zoe Hill (guest star Alexandra Holden), one of the proprietors of the manor where Divya (Reshma Shetty) is hoping to have her engagement party.
As with most of the ailments featured on Royal Pains, Zoe's delusions are not what they at first seem to be. In fact, her fantastical visions serve as nice metaphorical stand-ins for the various deceptions and betrayals that this juicy hour reveals.
According to executive producer Michael Rauch, the relationship between Hank and his scheming, smirking brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) is the emotional core of the show. Never mind the uncanny resemblance of Feuerstein and Costanzo, up until now the Lawsons have enjoyed snappy, charming chemistry, in which good-natured banter and brotherly love was exactly what the doctor ordered.
In "Wonderland," however, a questionable business decision by Evan will move the siblings to a darker place, as elements of their troubled past return to haunt them. "Evan is kind of a player," says Costanzo. "You'll notice that he hasn't gotten laid once this whole summer, but at the end of the day, he always comes through for the business... so far," he adds with emphasis.
Will Hank's troubles send him running back to Jill (Jill Flint)? "I think it's really premature to know," says Rauch, when asked if Hank and Jill are meant to be. "I think they're great together as characters and actors, but we have so much more story to tell." He says that whether or not the couple reunites, Flint will remain on the show - as will Bruno Campos, who plays Jill's estranged husband Charlie. "We haven't allowed Hank to be in the Hamptons as a single guy," Rauch hints.
Indeed, Holden's guest-starring gig is no mere one-off, according to Rauch. Look for the comely caterer to make good on all that flirty eye contact with Hank, as the character will probably recur next season.
And with that big party on the horizon, Divya's pesky engagement is on the verge of becoming very official and very public. "Soon enough you'll find out that all these lies she's created aren't something she wants to do, it's something that, because of duty, she's forced to do," teases Shetty. Indeed, she makes a surprising decision about her matrimonial future with Raj - one which may have serious repercussions for HankMed.
So what's on tap for Season 2 (which will most likely air next summer)? "I'm calling it 'the endless summer,'" says Rauch of his tentative plan for the second season to pick up immediately following the events of the season finale.
According to Feuerstein, a nine-month break in the action would raise questions the writers might not have the time or desire to answer. "There are so many elements that are time-sensitive," he says. "What would Boris' health situation be nine months later? Where would Jill or Evan be nine months later?"
Shetty, for one, is already ready for another go at the buttoned-up Divya. "The focus of this season is to get HankMed going, make money and hide the secret from her parents," she says. "Until all that is sorted out, how can she just be herself? Hopefully, that'll all happen and she'll have an affair with a billionaire who lives off the coast of the Seychelles." Hmmm, I bet Boris has a place in the Seychelles...