‘Shining Vale’ Season 2 Time Jump Blurs Courteney Cox’s State of Mind: ‘Is She Psychotic or Possessed?’

Cocreator Jeff Astrof talks with TheWrap about collaborating with “Bad Sisters” scribe Sharon Horgan on the Starz horror comedy

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Courteney Cox in "Shining Vale." (Starz)

Warning: This story contains spoilers from “Shining Vale” Season 2, Episode 1.

Courteney Cox’s Pat Phelps got out of a mental institution during the “Shining Vale” Season 2 premiere, but she’s clearly not out of the woods following her nervous breakdown (or demonic possession?) in Season 1.

The Starz horror comedy — created by Jeff Astrof (“Trial & Error”) and “Bad Sisters” scribe Sharon Horgan — followed up on the shocking events from the Season 1 finale, including Pat succumbing to the influence of demon Rosemary (Mira Sorvino) and axing her husband Terry (Greg Kinnear) in the head. The violence led to her children Gaynor (Gus Birney) and Jake (Dylan Gage) having her committed at the local asylum for a year.

But the premiere kicked off with a disheveled Pat being asked to leave treatment after only four months, once funds from her medical insurance ran out. Though she attempts to stay focused on her sanity, it isn’t long before returning to her family home leads her to see and experience supernatural things, including a visit from a woman who looks just like Rosemary in the final moments of the Season 2 premiere.

Pat’s troubles began at the start of the series, after the bestselling author was caught cheating on her husband, prompting the Phelps family to leave New York City for the town of Shining Vale, Connecticut. She began to experience strange encounters, including meeting Rosemary, the ghost of the home’s former owner, who would take over her body and help her write her next book. The connection began to overwhelm her, as truths about her family’s history with mental health and violence began to creep into the surface.

“The whole question [on the show] is, ‘Is she psychotic or possessed?’” Astrof told TheWrap ahead of the episode’s Friday the 13th release. “I love the notion of what happens when insurance runs out… [and] we thought that was the right amount of time to kind of scramble her brains, but maybe not put all the eggs back in the omelet.”

The series carefully treads the line between laughs and frights, a balance that was crafted into the DNA of the show by Astrof and Horgan’s collaboration. Astrof, who serves as showrunner, said that Horgan was heavily involved in the development of the pilot episode, but the pandemic kept her from visiting the set until Season 2. While she juggled the development of her hit Apple TV+ series “Bad Sisters,” he said the actress and writer was instrumental to crafting the action in Season 2.

“She’s a rock star,” Astrof said. “The only thing is she gives me notes sometimes, and the Irish accent helps to temper them when they’re harsh… They always hurt my feelings [but] always make it better.”

As she returned home from the asylum in Episode 201, Pat learned Terry survived her attack and had also just returned home after battling a brain injury. With no memory of what happened and working on rehabilitating his body, Terry welcomes Pat with open arms. Gaynor has dropped out of school to take care of the home and Jake traded video games for being the school mascot.

The premiere episode ended with a big cliffhanger, as a rattled Pat answered the door to find Rosemary — or at least a woman who looks like her — outside the front door with a pie in her hand. Alarmed, Pat refused to engage and slammed the door in her face.

“Shining Vale” airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz. Season 1 is available to stream now on the Starz app.

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