Outsiders’ Francie Swift talks Haylie’s twist and what this could mean for Shay Mountain

Please note, this article contains spoilers from Outsiders episode 11 ‘The Run’.

After last week’s Outsiders episode, many fans thought Haylie would be the one to expose the coal people, but sadly, her time came to an end. At the conclusion of tonight’s episode of Outsiders, newly ‘woken’ Haylie Grimes was found dead in her hotel room in what ‘looks’ like a suicide.

In the following Q&A with Nerd Reactor, Swift tells us her reaction to get character’s demise and what it could mean to the coal company, the Farrells, and even Wade; what she hopes happens to Matt Meyers; and, maybe a potential return.

Nerd Reactor (NR): Hi Francie. I am in shocked because of the last episode. 

Francie Swift (FS): [laughs] I hope fans don’t see it coming. That’s more fun if they don’t.

NR: Oh no, not at all. I thought Haylie would pull an Erin Brockovich. But, what was your first reaction to the script? Did the writers tell you beforehand?

FS: Yeah, I had a little hint that it was coming, so it was certainly not a complete surprise. The way in which she went, I did not know. That was a little bit of a surprise for me. I really was grateful to the writers for giving me such a cool arc. I think it’s really where in television to have a character that you get to see different layers of, so complex and well-rounded of a character, especially for playing a bad guy. I kind of love it. You get to see it. You want to hate her. You just want to hate her through all of season one and just when you think, ‘oh yeah, she’s gonna get her due.’ I get to cheer as she gets shredded by the mountain people, then you have to feel bad for her. So just when you think ‘maybe she’s not so bad’, the real bad guys take her out. I think the emotional journey of it all is, as sad as I am to say goodbye to Haylie, I think the emotional journey for the character and the audience member is great.

NR: How do you think the mountain people taking Haylie, who is just a businesswoman doing her job, affected Haylie’s decision? Was it the impact of their life? Was it the hallucinations? Was it the Farrell Wine?

FS: I think it was the combination of all of it. I think it’s so easy to do the wrong thing when you’re not faced directly with the results of your actions. So, I think sitting at your desk and saying we gotta get these people off the mountain, so I could get my coal is much easier than going up and seeing ‘Oh wow, this is a really beautiful and complex community. These aren’t just people who would be better off in condominiums. I think yeah, the Farrell Wine pushes her over the edge of her revelations. I think she had no idea. I really think she was completely in the dark about the poisoning of the crops and the poisoning of the water. I think it’s very hard for her to wrap her mind around the fact that this company, which she devoted her life to, would actually do that. She definitely has a loose moral compass in some ways but that I think passes over what she can justify to herself. I really think it’s the whole journey – having to face it directly and seeing the complexity and the beauty of life on the mountain. I think she’s never thought about it being a lovely lifestyle. She thought of it as ‘eww, gross dirty, and we should get these people someplace they can bathe and use indoor toilets.’ Then, the Farrell Wine on top of it all, I think has a way of making her empathize on a deeper level with what does it mean to lose your child and what if I’m the bad guy after all in this scenario. It’s kind of a soul-searching moment there. She came down a different person than when she went up.

NR: A lot of fans are going to wonder this. Was the murder set up by the coal company or did she kill herself to make a statement?

FS: I don’t think she did. I don’t have any more answers than you do. I know what [happens] in my mind. In my mind, that was not. She did not make that choice. That is not something that she did to herself. I guess you have to ask Peter Mattei that to get the best firm answer.

NR: After looking at everything, do you wish she took that vacation instead?

FS: You know, as an actor or a character? As an actor, I think this was such a great and cool journey to go on with the character. As a character, yeah, maybe she should have. Maybe she should have sucked it up and taken a vacation. [laughs]

NR: I am guilty of believing Haylie to be the worst villain in the series. Now, I feel horrible about that. What were the fans reactions that you received when you first came on board in the first season versus your journey up the mountain becoming aware of these events?

FS: I think the fans reactions were kind of what I, and the writers, have hoped for, which you’re so excited to see her downfall. She is such the bad guy. You really feel like she’s had it coming all of season one and most of season two, you’re excited for her to get her due. Then, you don’t quite get the emotional payoff you expect, because right at the last minute, you have to feel for her and say ‘well, maybe she’s not as bad as I thought she was.’ So, I think it was interesting to see. I think the fans had that reaction of ‘you’re excited to see her get what’s coming to her’ and then, ‘oh, right before she does… oh my. Maybe she wasn’t such a bad guy after all.’ She certainly did some things that were horrendous, but I do think that she drew the line at poisoning people.

NR: What impact do you feel Haylie’s death will bring to the coal people? The mountain people? Or even Wade?

FS: I think, honestly, the most impact and interesting reaction will be from Wade. I think with the Farrells, she kind of did what the Farrells needed to do. She brought word back down. It didn’t get spread as widely I think they would have liked. But, I think the interesting thing about Haylie and Wade is, even though she is going to be beyond the grave, they are finally working on the same team now. He’s going to help hopefully solve the mystery of her death and what’s going on. He’s her only hope of what the coal company did coming to light. So, it’s another interesting move to me to see, after all the back and forth between them, being on the same team. Maybe it took this to get them on the same side. [laugh]

NR: My biggest complaint about Haylie getting taken is that she’s not the big man in charge. She was the community liaison manager. They should have taken Matt. What was your reaction when you found out Haylie was going to be taken up the mountain?

FS: Well, I think that storywise, that’s accurate. Really, Matt comes in at the beginning of the second season, and the interactions that Hasil has the most with Haylie – of all the Farrells with the coal company. She’s the person he knows. So really, I think in the Farrells mind, that is as high up as they know exists. They haven’t met Matt yet, so I thought it was kind of interesting to put that in there and have to explain ‘Oh well, we’ll change that.’ There is a whole other level of complexity and level of decisions being made well above Haylie’s pay grade. I think that sets an interesting dynamic for a potential season three – the powers that be and where did that come from.

NR: What revenge would Haylie, or Francie, want for Matt Meyers?

FS: I think Haylie would really like for him to have to face up, kinda the way she did. She had to pay the piper and look in the face at all the decisions she made and the ramifications of those. I think that’s exactly what she would want for Matt as well. I think that’s what she’s hoping the sheriff would get before.

NR: What I really appreciate from Haylie is that she was a strong businesswoman and she had to deal with sexism. She’s the strong woman who is trying to do her job and is treated differently than a man doing the same thing. For me, Haylie was a great character gave up her life for her job and now she’s getting slack from the men in the company. I really appreciated this character who is just trying to do her job. How do you feel about this storyline issue and overall with Outsiders stories reflecting real life?

FS: I feel like in a lot of ways, it seems to dovetail in these magic ways with things that are happening in the world. About the time an episode will air, something on the news that seems like it was written because of a news item, but it was actually written six months before that happened. I feel like it takes issues that we are really dealing with in our everyday lives and cast them through these lenses of a really interesting kind of fantasy world. I love that we have to grapple with the real issues in that guise.

NR: I was really hoping for more from the character seeing a bit of a change in the beginning of season two, but they ultimately get rid of her. When you read that, did you feel like her death was necessary?

FS: I feel like this is more life real life. The other story is to have Haylie be like Erin Brockovich. I think that [Haylie’s death] brings up more interesting, perhaps some uncomfortable questions. I think it makes for a better story and a more realistic story. As sad it is for me to say goodbye to the show, I do think that was the right writing choice. I do think it’s really interesting and rare to take somebody that bad and change them around to somebody that the audience empathizes with. I think the only way to really keep that going and it’ll be easier to do that when she’s gone.

NR: I know a lot cast and creatives interact with fans through social media, how do you interact with your fans?

FS: I’m not as involved with social media as some of my colleagues are. I’m always open to it certainly. I guess I’m just not that active in the social media world. I guess interviews like this that I do one-on-one interactions.

NR: Many of us, including us at Nerd Reactor, live-tweet along with the episode of Outsiders and have commented on Haylie’s growth as a character. 

FS: I do watch it sometimes. I don’t often participate, but after the last episode, I was very curious to see. I was watching some of the Twitter feeds to see how they react. I was curious. I wanted to see the moment it changed from ‘that blonde lady is going to get what she deserves’ to ‘oh my gosh, maybe she’s not so bad.’ I was curious to see when exactly that would happen.

NR: The show is known for kind of bringing people back – either through flashbacks or as ghosts because the mountain has magical properties. Is there any chance we may see Haylie as a flashback or a ghost of the mountain – since she’s connected to it now?

FS: I don’t know. I think that would be interesting. Never say never when Shay Mountain is involved. A lot of people have, if you look back, who have died, you do see again and because of her mountain connection, maybe so.

NR: So… is that a yes?

FS: [laughs] That’s an ‘I’m not sure.’ It’s a maybe.

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