Kristin Kreuk on Saying Goodbye to 'Burden of Truth' After Four Seasons (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Cause One Productions/Cause One Manitoba
Kristin Kreuk's Burden of Truth, The CW's Canadian summer series, was originally conceived with a three-season plan, but over time, it became apparent there was one more chapter to tell. The hour-long legal drama begins its farewell tour Friday when the fourth and final season kicks off stateside -- and life for Joanna Chang (Kreuk) and Billy Crawford (Peter Mooney) will look very different. New parents to a baby girl, the couple adjusts to their distinct parenting styles while trying to balance career with parenthood.
For Joanna, that's easier said than done as she dives into a new case representing a local farm owner whose land stands firmly in the way of a major mining project. But sleepless nights raising her baby begins to deeply affect her work and she makes a potentially fatal error that leads to serious consequences. "Her brain cannot focus as sharply as it used to be able to. And that is incredibly difficult for her through the season," Kreuk tells ET. "She'll make a lot of mistakes because of it."
Ahead of the U.S. premiere of Burden of Truth, Kreuk discusses the unique challenges of ending the series, the hardships Joanna and Billy face this season and if marriage is on the horizon for the couple.
ET: This is the final chapter for Burden of Truth. Was it the right time to close the book now? What were the conversations about ending the show after four seasons?
Kristin Kreuk: Originally when [creator] Brad [Simpson] was talking about the show, we had talked about a three-season arc, which is how we had moved forward. But we really thought that because it's a show about intergenerational trauma, it would be interesting to explore that with Billy and Joanna having a child because that's the next logical step, is if you have struggled with tragic experiences, how does that affect the next generation? The tough thing about Burden and the great thing about Burden is that the cases are very personal and tied to very emotional, personal things. We thought that it would become too much to constantly find something that was super personal to Joanna year after year. We were like, "This seems like a nice way to end it."
In approaching this last chapter for Joanna and Billy, what were the most important things that you, personally, wanted to convey in this final season?
There are a few levels. I think for Joanna, we wanted her to build the confidence to know that she is a nurturing, loving person and that she's capable of taking care of other people because she really doesn't believe that she's capable. It evolved knowing that she's building the confidence that she can take care of somebody, even though she's done some things in her life that she regrets. She has the ability to make amends for and to continue to do good things in her life from the present moment forward. She's not her father and her daughter will not live the same life that she lived with an abusive parent. And there's other stuff too. We also explore and show governmental systems and how much they help or hinder. Luna being able to explore how she wants to engage in the legal system and what is her best avenue to do that, which is really important given her past. Beckbie explores the same things this year from a different angle from policing.
What was the challenge in wrapping up four seasons in a gratifying way?
The writers' room works really hard [to do that]. It was a weird, difficult, challenging year to be doing it 'cause no one could really see each other in person because that's when things were the worst with the pandemic. So we were facing a bunch of challenges on top of understanding what the final chapter was for each of our characters and what the last things they needed to learn for them to move forward in their lives. I do think that ending any show is really hard. I was thinking about that just the other day, 'cause I'm rewatching Breaking Bad. It's amazing how going into a show you often don't know the end point of that series and when you're coming to an end, I find it a miracle that people can pull the pieces all together and do that elegantly. So yeah, I think that it is a challenge. Because our show is, it's not super sprawling -- it's pretty grounded, but the stakes aren't... I don't want to say easier, but that is the word I'm going to use. It's easier to conclude it than a big, big show.
Joanna starts off the final season facing a lot of challenges. She's balancing being a new mother while also leading a new case. In the first episode, you see her struggle to get her bearings in her new normal. What can you tee up here for the struggles she'll face trying to kind of navigate both parts of her identity successfully?
Joanna finds solace in work. It's the only place she feels super confident and capable and able, and she is, but she's exhausted. And her and Billy don't have anyone to help them out. I know this is a big part of the season, just trying to juggle and navigate their way through this, which is for Joanna, how does she find peace and sense of confidence when she feels completely out of her league? And she is a perfectionist. So being what she perceives as bad at something, it's really tough for her and the only way she can solve it in her mind is to work. But then through working, she makes herself more tired. And so I think there's this real struggle and she has a bunch of judgments that are perpetuated by, in some cases, Billy, and some cases, society -- about the fact that she should be breastfeeding and that the kid shouldn't be in daycare. There's a bunch of stuff she really feels guilty about because she doesn't have a lot of other women in her life or a mom around that can help her. That is going to really influence how she filters information because she's still dealing with postpartum stuff and how she can collect thoughts one second and how she can actually do her job well when her body isn't letting her do it. Her brain cannot focus as sharply as it used to be able to. And that is incredibly difficult for her through the season. She'll make a lot of mistakes because of it.
What are the biggest challenges facing Joanna and Billy? What kind of push and pull are they going to face with their relationship?
They do have very different ways of being. Billy is very permissive and is quick to alleviate discomfort, and Joanna is more on the side of letting a kid develop strategies instead of being more self-soothing. They definitely have conflict that way. The season helps them find a balance between two things because they're both dysfunctional in their own way. And they're trying to find a functional way of being that is neither the extreme that Joanna is at or the extreme that Billy is at. The reality is they love each other and they will have a massive fight in episode 3. But it's exacerbated by a bunch of other stuff and sets them on a path to start to actually talk about and deal with the things that are going on for them.
Is there room for Joanna and Billy to move their relationship forward in a more permanent way?
Oh, well, it's interesting because I think that they also have differing opinions on [marriage]. The season will find balance between their perspectives, but when Billy feels insecure, he's looking for his mom in a way. He wants -- his mom is no longer around, she's passed -- and the vision he has of her is of someone who was always there, always present, a very nurturing and loving and warm. He's looking for that kind of safety and comfort whereas Joanna is looking for a feeling of competency, being able to work, make money, be good at some things. They're just very, very different that way. When it comes to the more permanent thing we're talking about, it's reflective of ensuring that they both can feel secure and not having either of them feel like they're sacrificing for the other person in a negative way.
The final season of Burden of Truthpremieres Friday, July 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. For more, watch below.