Adding nuance to the flashbacks was the casting of Sophia Grace Gianni, who is transgender
, as Maura, who still identified as Mort as a child. While the priority was to find a transgender girl, Our Lady J says she just knew they wanted the actor to be female rather than a cisgender male. “I wanted everyone to see Maura how she sees herself.” In previous episodes about Maura’s past life, she’s often gendered as a man. But Our Lady J wanted to come from a place of her true identity and gender. “It changed the way we thought of present-day Maura, to see that this isn’t a man who became a woman. This is a person who was born female but assigned male.”
But the episode just doesn’t focus on Maura’s journey; it also reveals new details about the childhood of her ex-wife, Shelly (Judith Light
). Building off a line from season one, where Shelly says she hates music, it’s revealed that in 1958, she was actually molested by her music teacher. Ashamed, she eventually becomes riddled with anxiety. While her flashbacks are brief compared to Maura’s, they serve as a jumping-off point for season four, which Our Lady J promises will dive deeper into Shelly’s psyche.