“The Cleaning Lady” bosses on Thony’s journey without Arman and how the season honors Adan Canto

Between Fiona stuck in the Philippines, Arman missing, and a new adversary in Ramona, Thony’s plate is overflowing on season 3 of "The Cleaning Lady."

Getting Fiona (Martha Millan) back from the Philippines is going to be much harder than Thony (Élodie Yung) thought — and that's just one of the many new complications Thony faces in The Cleaning Lady season 3 premiere. While things are getting more dangerous for Fiona while she’s stuck abroad, Thony loses Arman (the original character played by late actor Adan Canto) after a side deal of his goes wrong, gets tied up with cartel boss Ramona (Kate del Castillo), and gets a visit from CPS, who are worried about her son Luca’s (Sebastien and Valentino LaSalle) well-being.

EW spoke to showrunners Jeannine Renshaw and Miranda Kwok about how the season honors Adan and Arman, how new characters Ramona and Jorge (Santiago Cabrera) fit into the story, and how The Cleaning Lady is bigger than ever in season 3.

<p>Jeff Neumann/FOX</p> Élodie Yung

Jeff Neumann/FOX

Élodie Yung

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How much worse has Thony made things for herself and Fiona during the season premiere?

MIRANDA KWOK: She’s doing her best. That’s the whole dynamic with Thony. She’s so smart and resourceful that she figures out a way to get through a situation, but unfortunately circumstances tend to tumble against her. Fiona can’t just hop on a plane and come home. She has to go a route that is not above board, and that leads to challenging circumstances and unsavory characters.

JEANNINE RENSHAW: And to be fair, it exploded when Arman was doing a side deal that he didn’t tell her about, so she’s scrambling to catch up and doing what she has to do in order to get Fiona back. Then, of course, things get worse for Fiona in the Philippines.

How will the case worker for CPS complicate things for Thony?

RENSHAW: It complicates it hugely because she has to do crime in order to bring Fiona home. She has to be involved with these people, and yet in order to keep her child and to keep Children’s Services from taking Luca, she has to [walk] the straight and narrow.

KWOK: There’s always been a balancing act with Thony [dealing] with the criminal world and her family life. This is even more heightened and the stakes are higher this season because of CPS and the threat that brings throughout the season.

Can you share some ways things will be different for Thony dealing with Ramona and Jorge than when she was working for Arman?

KWOK: Ramona is more of an antagonist than any other we’ve had on the show before, especially because [Thony] doesn’t have Arman. [In] the first two seasons, almost immediately, Arman became her protector and the person she could go to for help who would do anything for her. She doesn’t have Arman or Garrett [Miller] [Oliver Hudson] or Fiona, who is her rock. As strong and powerful as this new crime lord is, Thony has to hold herself together and face off with her. You’ll see the dynamic between Kate and Élodie is really incredible.

Jorge is somebody who Thony’s trying to figure out if she can turn him into an ally. They’re relationship will evolve as well, but he’s tough to crack. There becomes this dance between them because they both don’t have someone like them in their lives. He’s an attorney who went to Ivy League schools, and Thony is a doctor that was very well respected in Philippines, so in the crime world they’re on a level with each other that is different than other people. They are intrigued by each other.

<p>Jeff Neumann/FOX</p> Kate Del Castillo, Élodie Yung, Santiago Cabrera

Jeff Neumann/FOX

Kate Del Castillo, Élodie Yung, Santiago Cabrera

Where does Nadia fit in this situation? She’s now forced to work with Thony.

RENSHAW: We love the dynamic that we’ve had to bring Thony and Nadia together more this season to look for Arman. They’re two people that probably would never be in each other’s orbits if it weren’t for Arman, and now he’s gone and they’re having to work together. Thony is always doing the right thing, but sometimes she’ll have to lie to Nadia. It’s always for the right reason, but it gets her into a lot of trouble once again even with Nadia, so they’ll come together and apart, but their relationship ends up paying off in a big way at the end of the season.

Will the mystery of what happened to Arman be something that lingers across the season? What can you tease about how his story will be wrapped up?

KWOK: It was a real challenge for us, but more so it was so heartbreaking to lose Adan. We had to figure out how to craft a season based on the circumstances that honors Adan as a human being and Arman as a character in the best way possible. We had to pivot a few times this season. We started crafting the season before we knew anything about what was happening and we were planning on digging into Arman’s backstory and his family. When we were first told that we may not have him [for the full season], we decided we still wanted to tell those stories and we wanted to leave an opening so he could come right back into the story. Unfortunately, when we lost him, we had to adjust. The search for Arman will continue for a little bit. We want to honor him, so Thony and Nadia will go on this emotional journey searching for him and what happens next is important to those character and to the show.

RENSHAW: We were crafting a season that we were hoping he would come back to, as Miranda said, so we wanted to leave the door open. As the actors are performing the scenes, they’re all about, 'will he come back? Will they find him?' and that was actually our truth. I’ve never been in this situation and I don’t think any of us have. Suddenly, we’re into it and we do lose him, so now we know we’re not going to find him. So it was juggling all of that in a way that would honor the man and the character.

We meet a lot of Arman’s family in this episode. Can you speak a little into how they will fit into the season and what we will learn about the character?

KWOK: A way to honor Arman is exploring his past and the challenges he faced. When his father refused to let him be in crime and he chose that path, there was a split between them. We’re further exploring that dynamic with Ramona and Jorge.

Kate and Santiago are really incredible actors who have fantastic dynamics with everyone on the show. The show itself is evolving through the introduction of their characters. [The Cleaning Lady] is on a new journey with these new relationships. Things are more dangerous for Thony and she doesn’t have Arman to lean on anymore. She’s left to her own devices and has to figure out crafting new alliances and turn Jorge into an ally.

<p>Jeff Neumann/FOX</p> JB Tadena, Martha Millan

Jeff Neumann/FOX

JB Tadena, Martha Millan

This season feels bigger in scope. How will this season be different from the first two?

KWOK: I’m so excited about the season because it gets The Cleaning Lady back to the root of what this was initially conceived as, which is to explore the journey of undocumented immigrants and the different paths in which they take to get here. Being able to dig into Fiona’s backstory really opens up the world. She gets to go home again and she never thought she’d be able to go home again. When she made the choice to leave, that was it, so being able to see her family again opens up wounds for her and allows her to reflect on her past choices she made. Then being able to throw Chris into that and open his eyes to the journey, sacrifices that his mom made for him is a storyline that can reach so many people. This cracks that all open in a way that allows for the relationship with Chris to continue to evolve.

RENSHAW: As far as scope, we have this whole new world of Ramona and Jorge, the upper echelon of the criminal world that we haven’t been in before. [Ramona] is a fine art dealer with a huge gallery of her own and she’s also a cartel leader. We’re witnessing a whole other world there and it’s exciting for Thony to have to navigate it.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Cleaning Lady airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

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