Ausiello: So… I take it that wasn't Sara's head in that box…
Matt Olmstead: Yeah, that wasn't.
Ausiello: But initially it was supposed to be her head. What changed?
Olmstead: What changed was…. once we realized that the emotional hook of Season 3 was going to be the death of Sara, when we didn't get the actress to do it, as soon as we wrote it and shot it, we realized that there was actually a way she could still be alive. Lincoln glanced at the head in the box for a split second. That could've been anyone. He wasn't about to pull it up from the hair and inspect it closely. And then we were fairly careful thereafter of references we made to that and who took credit for it and what was seen or heard, and we left it fairly [vague]. But initially when we realized that we never actually saw the character get killed, we just had that knowledge in our back pocket and moved forward with the narrative as we intended. Which was, she's out of the picture, Michael's guilt and Lincoln freaking out because if they did that to her they could do that to his son. It really gave us a real push for the season.
Ausiello: Don't you think that was a little unfair to the audience — particularly fans of Dr. Sara — to jerk them around like this? They had every reason to believe she was dead.
Olmstead: I don't think it was unfair, because it gave us some real juice storytelling-wise, because it put teeth in the antagonists. Obviously, they were capable of killing somebody now. It also gave us a couple of episodes where Lincoln withheld the information from Michael, and that gave us conflict with the brothers. But also, what were we really going to do? Were we going to see Sarah Wayne Callies tied to a chair for 13 episodes? And then if she broke free, what is she really doing? It was almost a disservice to that character to keep her around last season. Certainly, we could have put her on a cruise ship and she's off sailing away. But we felt if we're going to lose that character, why not get the most drama out of it. We didn't look at it in terms of we were trying to tell the audience to go, you know, do something to themselves.
Ausiello: What role did the fan response to Dr. Sara's death play in her return?
Olmstead: It factored in. It was kind of a confluence of events. We saw on the message boards that a lot of fans were wondering if she really was dead. And then that led to conversations of, "Well, what if she isn't?" But then we put that on the backburner and moved forward with what we had to do, because it wasn't anything that could be dealt with right then. And then when we came back after the strike and we realized that we were not going to finish Season 3… we creatively decided to blow it all out, jump forward in the timeline and get a fresh start. And, so, when we pitched that, a lot of those elements remained, but we were still looking for what that emotional core was for Michael. We were kind of exactly where we were in the beginning of Season 3, which led to her demise, quote unquote. So we went back and revisited [the idea of bringing her back to life]. And once we started talking about it, it was mentioned again that fans are still wondering about her. And when people who are fans of the show — and of Sarah — are asking, "Is she really dead?", what they're saying, essentially, is, "I hope she's not dead."