‘Dickinson’: Hailee Steinfeld on Setting Sail for Emily’s Next Chapter in the Finale

Dickinson Season 3 Finale Hailee Steinfeld
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Apple TV+

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Dickinson, Season 3, Episode 9, “This was a Poet-.”]

How does one commemorate a finale? With a final dance, of course. At least, that’s what Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) does in the closing episode of Apple TV+‘s bold comedy Dickinson. Reencountering Death (Wiz Khalifa) once more, the old friends share a dance among Emily’s flowerbeds in the shining sun of a brilliant Amherst day.

Signing off after its three-season run, Dickinson‘s last entry is a special one, indeed. Helmed by showrunner Alena Smith who makes her directorial debut with the installment, “This was a Poet-,” makes way for the next chapter of Emily’s poem-filled life even if we don’t get to tag along past the half-hour.

Dickinson Season 3 Alena Smith Hailee Steinfeld Behind the Scenes

(Credit: Courtesy of Apple)

While the prior episode set up some celebratory moments between Emily, her family, and closest friends, the finale is almost a full-on solo adventure for the protagonist whose main interactions are with Betty (Amanda Warren) who helps Emily come up with a design for her ideal writing dress.

An executive producer herself alongside Smith, Steinfeld shares, “It was so cool to have that moment with Alena,” referring to the writer’s directorial debut. “Alena has been so connected to each and every [episode], to all of us actors, and to the writing. In a way, as the creator, as the showrunner, and writer, she’s sort of directed us in these unofficial, directorial ways.”

Even with Smith’s hands-on approach, Steinfeld says, “to have her in the director’s chair for our season finale was such a full-circle moment.” And that full-circle experience can certainly be compared to Emily’s journey in the series as the show closes out on a beach scene.

Dickinson Season 3 Hailee Steinfeld

(Credit: Apple TV+)

Donning her white dress, Emily rows towards a rocky shore where mermaids beckon her, ready to explore the unknown through a medium she knows so well: writing. “I loved the way that Alena chose to end this,” muses Steinfeld. “I remember feeling like, ‘okay, how is this thing going to end? What’s the ending moment going to be?'”

Rather than feeling like a book is being closed, it’s as if a new one is opening, and that’s something Steinfeld admires. “Our season finales [for 1 and 2] felt like quite the last hurrah,” the actress recalls. “This feels incredibly hopeful. We end this show on Emily looking out into the future, looking onto the horizon at all the poems she hasn’t written yet, and at that person that she has yet to become.”

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Plus, the actress explains why the penultimate episode feels like a finale.

It’s a high note that Steinfeld is happy to leave her character on as she shares of Emily, “to know that at the end of all of this, she still has so much to give, so much life inside of her and so many thoughts and ideas and experiences now… [you know] her imagination will never stop turning. It’s definitely very hopeful.”

After a season filled with the horrors of Civil War at home and on the battlefield, we’ll follow Emily into this much sunnier horizon.

Dickinson, Seasons 1-3, Streaming Now, Apple TV+