Alison Sweeney Talks About What’s Next for Hannah and Mike After Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery
[Warning: Spoilers for Carrot Cake Murder.]
Everybody OK after that Hannah Swensen Mystery twist? Thankfully, our favorite crime-solving couple is still on speaking term, even if they’re on a break (hopefully not that kind of break). Most importantly, we already know this isn’t the last film in the series. No Murder 101 door slam here. When I spoke with Alison Sweeney last week, she shared that they’re making another one that will air this summer, and that was key when the producer and actress began developing the arc for this installment and where it would leave Mike and Hannah.
The relationship fractures when Hannah suffers a betrayal after Mike seems to say one thing — it’s fine for Hannah to investigate the cold case — but do another in funneling intel to the sheriff. And that realization surfaces a world of emotions for Hannah about herself and their relationship. Sweeney can see both sides.
“You have to give Mike credit that his instinct was to be in on it with Hannah and help her. It’s what he wanted to do, and it is a cold case. And so, she really thought that was the plan and then it would be no problem because the police, aren’t even able to investigate. It’s a dead end for them and the door was wide open for her,” Sweeney explains.
“I think Mike thought that, too. And they were teaming up to do it and he’s helping her figure out how to investigate. But I think it gets tricky for Mike. The more involved she becomes and the more relevant, and certainly, now, in danger, that Hannah is … that changes the calculation for Mike that it’s not as safe as he thought it might be when it was the skeleton from 30 years ago.”
“And then, of course, his boss was coming down on him pretty hard and he has to react to that. And I think what’s wonderful about the way Melissa [Salmons] wrote the script. Both Mike and Hannah have totally legitimate points of view, from where they stand. I think the mistake Mike makes is that he doesn’t con he thinks he can.”
“And let’s be honest, we’ve all been there, where he thinks it’ll all work out if he can just keep [the sheriff and Hannah] from talking to each other. He thinks he can help Hannah have the experience she wants to have solving this mystery and also keep his boss happy with the information he needs. But what he didn’t need was for it to all come to a head where Hannah finds out that he was talking to his boss about it behind her back.”
Sweeney shares, too, that the moment of realization brings to light all of Hannah’s own self-doubts. “She feels really betrayed, but not just by the lie being caught. It’s embarrassing and in the moment that she’s finding out that he lied, the adrenaline from that moment, she’s also upset because they’re arresting someone who she feels like doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t feel right,” she explains.
“And now, that guy goes to jail and once again, she’s being shoved in the corner and no one’s listening to her. Then on top of it, I think she feels insecure and has always felt insecure. This is one of the wonderful things that Joanne [Fluke] writes in the book so clearly that I understand certainly from having played Sami Brady on Days for so long.”
“I think that Hannah does feel insecure about her relationship with Mike, too. Like does he really love her? I think it’s understandable that she doubts that he really loves her as much as she loves him, and so when little things happen and he teases her, she can take it, but I think she also secretly wonders, as she says in the argument, if he’s laughing at her behind her back? I think that’s something people could really relate to or sympathize with.”
And that that scene follows a scene where Hannah essentially pledges her troth makes the sting additionally tough to bear. “One of the scenes, for the story that we’re telling now moving forward, that was a little last minute thing, was when Hannah and Mike are looking at all the keys, trying to figure out which one that fits,” Sweeney recalls.
“There’s this one moment where Mike’s says,’It’s not safe. Someone might be trying to hurt you.’ And Hannah looks at him and says, ‘I know you would never let anything happen to me.’ She’s trying to charm him. There’s a reason she’s saying it, but also she really thinks it’s true. He’s her hero. She really looks at him like that.”
“She just has utter faith that he’ll be there, and I think that really strikes him, but of course worries him, and in a way that she doesn’t understand [the whole picture yet], and of course that’s what leads them towards the path that they end up on. But it’s so sincere when she says it. She really, she really means it.”
In setting the stage for the duo to hit an impasse, it was important for Sweeney to have the runway to continue their story and, of course, bring them back together. A Zest for Death, the next installment, will start navigating that. “We are gearing up to film it in soon actually. It’ll air later on this summer. It was really important to me that the fans know there is another one coming so that when they watch the end and they’re upset with me, I promise [there is] more to come,” she shares.
“And that was what we wanted from that last scene. For me, personally, that scene with Mike with the cat tower for Moishe, I love stuff like that. I love watching movies with moments like that. I love acting moments like that. I love developing stories where, as fun as it was for them to be together and they’re just crime-solving besties, this story of wanting to be together, of finding their way back to each other, and earning each other’s trust again, the tension and the romance and the grand gestures that they have to make to earn it back is, to be honest, my favorite part.”
“And that is a big part of the stories that Joanne writes. I have to remind everyone that we are the keepers of someone else’s characters. And Joanne cares very passionately about Hannah and everyone in Eden Lake. And these are the stories she tells.”
Photos courtesy of Hallmark Media.
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