Spoilers ahead for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Season 3 finale.
It took her three full seasons, but Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) finally took responsibility for all the "crazy" things she's done. She hit rock bottom, but this time, rock bottom actually felt hopeful because she realized exactly what she needed to do to make things right. By Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Season 3 finale, she found herself on trial for the attempted murder of her stalker ex Trent (Paul Welsh) — when she was actually just trying to stop him from murdering Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster). After confessing his love for her, Nathaniel, as her lawyer, tried to persuade her to plead not guilty by reason of insanity so that she wouldn't go to prison. But Rebecca didn't want to keep blaming her actions on everything except for herself.
Encouraged by the appearance of Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) at her trial after Donna had essentially broken off their friendship once she learned about Rebecca's lies, Rebecca decided to plead "responsible." So she pled "guilty." Season 3 ends on her looking extremely satisfied and relieved with her choice, but that cliffhanger leaves the rest of us feeling very worried. Is Rebecca going to go to jail?
"Oh my god! I don't know!" executive producer Aline Brosh McKenna yells as she pretends to freak out with me. "What's going to happen? Are you freaking out? It's crazy." While McKenna wouldn't confirm Rebecca's fate for the show's fourth season (should it be renewed), she did break down what Rebecca's plea means for her moving forward.
"She has blown up her life but for the very first time in her life, she's actually going to try to take responsibility now," McKenna says. "Is she taking responsibility for the right things and in what order, we don't know, but she is actually for the first time starting to wake up from the fever dream that started when she ran into Josh on the street [when the series first began]."
Rebecca's speech before giving her plea to the judge was so heartwarming because it seemed like she and Paula were on the path to patching things up in their relationship. But that came with a price, as Rebecca may have just sealed her own fate legally by pleading guilty. Plus, her decision will have ramifications not only for herself, but also for Nathaniel.
"For Nathaniel, he offered her a route to getting her out of trouble and to being with him," McKenna says. "He thought that's what she wanted. He gave her what probably would have worked and said, 'I want to be with you,' and gave her a way out but she turns her back on that. In some ways it's a culmination of their love story but it's also her choosing something besides a love story."
And when I press for any teases on what that means for Rebecca and Nathaniel's relationship in Season 4, McKenna jokingly freaks out again. "I don't know! Ahhh!" she yells. "We're going to find out next year! I just wrapped a season, I don't have answers. I'm tired!"
She then laughs when I ask if Season 4 is going to turn into Chicago, with Rebecca singing and dancing behind bars.
"Perhaps, perhaps," McKenna says. "We think of it less in the specificity of that and more in terms of her general arc and where she's going as a human being and what she's learning, how she's going to try and redeem herself. That is more what we're talking about as opposed to the exact mechanics of where she'll be and how that will go."
Creators McKenna and Bloom have always made it clear that they envisioned four chapters for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. As we're about to enter the fourth chapter, the musical dramedy unfortunately does have a shelf life and the end date is fast approaching.
"Rachel and I have always thought about it in four chapters, so for us that means four seasons," McKenna says. "I guess there is a world where the fourth chapter could be two seasons, but I don't think so. We don't know, because we haven't gotten picked up but we've always thought about it in four chapters, whether those are seasons or not."
The next and final chapter of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will find Rebecca coming to terms with who she is in the hopes that she can find happiness.
"The show is about the pursuit of happiness and about her trying to find a settled, comfortable place to operate from emotionally and morally and spiritually. She isn't there yet," McKenna says. "We have a ton to explore in terms of her journey towards understanding who she is and her place in the world and how to be useful in the world and who she is meant to be with, if anyone. There are a lot of unanswered questions after the finale."
McKenna is most excited to explore what happens between Rebecca and Paula moving forward after their fallout over Rebecca's lies and Rebecca pleading guilty as a symbolic gesture of her trying to become a better person in Paula's eyes.
"I love her relationship with Paula and that is the heart and soul of the show for us," McKenna says. "We had this very intense season where Rebecca was trying to deal with the ramifications of everything she's done and who she is and her new identity as someone who has BPD and all the repercussions of all the things she's done since she's coming to West Covina. This opens a lot of doors to the fourth season."
But what McKenna is most proud of in the Season 3 finale is that Rebecca didn't choose the love of a man over her own happiness and well being. She could have taken the easy path and followed Nathaniel's instructions to plead not guilty via insanity, but she owned her choices instead.
"She's trying to find a place for herself in the narrative of what women are and are allowed to be that is outside what we've been told that we are and are allowed to be," McKenna says. "We're told that finding the love of a man is a great destination and in this episode she gains the love of a man and that's not enough for her. What she ultimately wants is to be a fully realized version of herself. That's what the show is about. This story is not about the guy, it's about being happy."
Then she adds with a laugh, "Plus Josh finally punches someone in the face, thank god." Talk about going out with a bang.