It’s still blue skies in the Hamptons when Royal Pains returns tonight for its fifth season (9 p.m. ET on USA), but things will be getting a little stormy for Hank, Mark Feuerstein says. “A director I worked with, in of all places sitcoms, James Burrows, would say that in order to find the dimension and depth of a character, we need to find the dirt under his fingernails — which we were always looking for on Good Morning, Miami and Conrad Bloom and never necessarily found. But the writers of Royal Pains,” he says, “are so excellent at creating dimensional characters who you love, that this year they’ve earned the right to go to a darker place. So while Hank’s greatest flaw in the first four seasons has been like in a job interview, when you’d say ‘I just care too much about my job, I have to save everybody, and at times it’s at the expense of my private life,’ this year, Hank will realize that in trying to be perfect and invulnerable, he actually will get very vulnerable.”
More specifically, there are hints that Hank will develop a chemical dependency in his recovery from a craniotomy performed six months ago, after the explosion at Shadow Pond that he believes killed Boris (Campbell Scott). It won’t be in the foreground of every episode, Feuerstein says, “But what the writers do so well is introduce an issue and plumb the depths of that story line throughout the season, so it will come back to bite me.”
Hank will also be investigating the blast. “In one of the [early] episodes, we’re going to address the issue of where is Boris and what is going on with this plot to kill either Boris or his child. There’ve been several attempts,” Feuerstein says, “and the question is, who’s doing them and why. We will answer that.” Laura Benanti, one of the Broadway stars who lamented her track record of canceled TV shows (The Playboy Club and Go On) on Sunday’s Tony Awards, will recur as Shelby Shackelford, the head of Symphony Healthcare, which takes over Hamptons Heritage Hospital. “There’s a potential affiliation with HankMed, and that will become a potential affiliation for Hank as well with Shelby Shackelford,” Feuerstein says. She and her company come from Savannah, where Divya (Reshma Shetty) and Dr. Jeremiah Sacani (Ben Shenkman) will visit. “So we’ve been to Savannah, and Budapest, where we’ll travel in episode 3, and there’s an even more exotic trip looming for certain characters this season,” Feuerstein adds.
At home in the Hamptons, Evan (Paulo Costanzo) and Paige (Brooke D’Orsay) will be working through their first year of marriage: “Where are they gonna live, and how are they gonna spend their money?” While Divya, Feuerstein teases, “has a big question, which we can’t spoil, at the end of tonight’s episode. It’s a brilliant plot for the entire season. And the relationship between Dr. Sacani and Divya will be heating up, going deeper, and getting more complicated with that new plot twist for Divya.”