If you watched last night’s episode of ABC’s Suburgatory, you, along with everyone else, found out that ice queen Dalia Royce (Carly Chaikin) has a same sex romance in her past and events in the episode drive her to a place that any woman scorned knows too well – a place of revenge.
While Dalia has never gotten along too well with classmate/neighbor Tessa Altman (Jane Levy), things went to new heights in last night’s episode when Dalia found Tessa spending platonic time with Jenna (Courtney Merritt), who we found out later in the episode was once a frequent hook up of Dalia’s. Jenna, however, broke it off with Dalia for her stalker tendencies and we’ll see just how unhinged Dalia is beneath her plastic facade.
In this exclusive first chat, AfterEllen talked to Chaikin and Andrew Guest, who wrote the “Decemberfold” episode, to find out how this storyline came about and what we can expect moving forward.
AfterEllen: What did you think of this turn in the story for Dalia since you know her so well?
Carly Chaikin: I never would’ve pegged this as happening but I can see in the grand scheme of things and the story as a whole is a hundred percent something Dalia would do. I think the best part about is more so how it affects her stuff with Evan (her most recent BF) and all the things that she does with him and how it’s just all for Jenna and just how conniving. It’s like all these extremes that she goes to really just to make her jealous.
AE: Do you think that Dalia is a little unhinged? Is that pretty much where we’re heading?
CC: Oh yeah. I’ve been telling everyone, “You have no idea what’s coming. She is losing it.” The way Emily [Kapnek, series creator] developed Dalia, we talked about this at the beginning of the season…I just kind of throughout the season about my character and she always says how she has this specific view for Dalia and how carefully we needed to develop her and I just think she’s done such an amazing job of slowly and revealing more and more things of this insanity.
AE: Andrew, were there any concerns about taking all this too dark and too far?
AG: Yes, that was one of the concerns, particularly the very ending of it. We’re sort of drawn to the darker sides of some of the storytelling that goes on in our show. We actually had a storyline, season one, that we couldn’t do because it was a little too dark. It was about Lisa being obsessed with Dalia and Tessa sort of questioning the nature of what this obsession was about.
We had to sort of tip our hats to it a little bit in this episode and in season one when Lisa became friends with Dalia, but we also like that both Lisa and Dalia have this darkness. That they sort of understand each other in a way that Tessa doesn’t, and this was a fun way to do a story. Hopefully it gets dark in a good way and also motivates it. I think we all love Dalia, but we didn’t want her to get too nice. We were cutting down this path of niceness between her and Tessa and friendship and we didn’t want to lose some of that edge and that darkness.
AE: So after seeing this episode, are we to assume the Dalia is gay or bisexual or…?
CC: You know what? I don’t think there’s really a label put on it. I think for her it’s just kind of like it is what it is. I was wondering that too, actually. I was like, “So is she gay?” I don’t know.
AG: I think from this point on we can assume Dalia is not labeled. I’m sure she’d like to keep all her possible options open.
AE: Is it safe to assume that everything Dahlia is doing is for Jenna? If Jenna wanted her back, would she go in a heartbeat?
CC: I don’t think Jenna would ever want her back. And there is a line that Jenna says that just perfectly sums it up is that [Dalia] just wants to hurt anyone who’s hurt her and so I think it’s really just about revenge and then have to lie about the secret that she really doesn’t want anyone to find out and then it leads into revenge between Dalia and Tessa. It wasn’t an empty threat when she said to her, “I really, really owe you one.”
AE: Tell me if I’m wrong here but I was watching it and I kind of felt a little sorry for Dalia just because I felt like we understand where she’s coming from a little bit.
CC: One hundred percent. You learn to hate her but love her and then you learn to really see these sides of her that cause you to warm some sort of sympathy towards her. I think the first time you saw that was in the beginning of the season with the Wan’Er (Dalia’s father’s fiancée) story like she dyes her hair dark and then you kind of see that there is a lot to her and a lot going on behind closed doors and a lot of things that she’s done that she would just never reveal and it comes out in all these different ways.
AE: What’s coming after this episode and how far will Dalia go to get what she wants?
CC: Far. She tells Tessa that she owes her one and she basically gets revenge by messing with her and Ryan’s relationship. And so in the finale, Tessa and Dalia actually have a huge throw down and a huge fight at school. It’s a full-on, girl-on-girl brawl. We bring catfight to a new level.
AG: I think we’re going to have a little redemption for Dalia, but first we’re going to have a big fight, basically. Where she thought they were becoming friends and then sees her hanging out with Jenna again and feels betrayed. And particularly I think, with that type of personality, when people are comparing notes about you and when you have a certain mask you wear or certain identity you have with one person and another you have with another.
When those people compare notes, it’s nothing more challenging and threatening and dangerous to you. I think it really strikes a chord and upsets Dalia and she takes revenge on Tessa in a direct way, with her relationship with Ryan. Then Tessa, in turn, tries to figure out how to get back at Dalia. In the end, they just have a big catfight.
And afterwards, hopefully there’s a little redemption for Dalia and a little help, because I think one of the things we felt too, is that Dalia needs a friend. It hasn’t been easy for her in her family or at school or friends and she can be pretty mean and pretty bitchy, but she’s also hurt and broken in some ways. You want her to have a helping hand and I think you will see a little bit of that at the very end of this season as well.
AE: Is it safe to say when the cat fight happens that Dalia fights dirty?
CC: Oh yeah. And so does Tessa, surprisingly. We go at it. It was so fun.
AE: Will Dallas (Dalia’s mother, played by Cheryl Hines) get a sense of some of this that’s been going on? Or Tessa’s Dad, George (Jeremy Sisto)?
AG: She will and she has so many other things going on at the same time, but she’s got sort of bigger fish. It ends up interestingly, sort of falling on George’s shoulders to worry about — and we do like this idea that there is this connection. I mean he’s having such a hard time with Tessa, and Dalia is somebody who really does end up having this kinship and friendship with him that is real for her. So, he’s the one in the end who ends up helping her out. But more immediately, I think Dallas just is a little taken aback by it — you’ll see.
Suburgatory airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on ABC.