Let’s start with the series’ final moments. Is Jackie dead? Alive? What are you even comfortable saying?

Clyde Phillips: What I want — which is evident in the fact that you’re even asking the question — I want a question mark there. I want the show to live on in conversation. I want it to live on in conversation in the audience’s mind, because Jackie lived such a morally ambiguous life, that I think that the show and the audience deserves to be able to ask questions and make up their own minds. It’s interesting you even ask that question, because what it brings me to is the talent of Edie Falco. Imagine, you’ve got a crew of 60 people standing around, you’ve got a camera in your face, and you can move your lips a millimeter to form a question mark that then goes through the camera and into the audience’s mind. I personally think she’s alive — alive and in a lot of trouble. However, I can see how any viewer could think that she didn’t make it.

When you came into the show midway through the run, I don’t know what kind of communication you had with (co-creators) Liz (Brixius) and Linda (Wallem), but did they convey to you any idea of how they wanted the show to end?

Clyde Phillips: I had no communication with them at all. I just took over the show.

Because you’ve been on the other side of this with “Dexter,” where you had other people ending a show that you had been running for so long.

Clyde Phillips:That’s true, although I left the show voluntarily, to come back and be on the East Coast with my wife and daughter. Then watched “Dexter” go in a direction I never would have taken it. The finale came under a lot of criticism. I feel some criticism about it as well.

But having been on the other side of that, was there any part of you that wondered, “What would they have wanted the ending to be?” Or can you not think like that when you’re running a show?

Clyde Phillips: You can’t think like that when you’re running a show. No part of me thought about, “What would Liz and Linda think about the show?”

You came onto the show at a time when Jackie had just experienced some of the consequences of her drug-seeking behavior. One of the running themes of the show is that Jackie gets into trouble and then gets herself out of it. As the man in charge of the show in its later years, how did you approach that so that it wouldn’t feel repetitive or like she was getting off too cleanly for the various things she had done?

Clyde Phillips: One of the things was, we wanted more consequences. We wanted the consequences to run deeper and to affect her — it had affected her home life, but it wasn’t affecting her that much at work. The most important relationship she has in the show, even more important, or equally as important as the one with her daughters, is the one she has with Zoe. We wanted to play that to the fullest extent we could. Buried in your question is another question, which is, did we end the show at the right time? And I think we did. It was a constant struggle to keep going up and back with her. To have her be sober, and have her not be sober, have the audience thinks she’s sober and find out that she isn’t. I think had we gone any further with the show, we would be doing a disservice to the loyal viewers. Because after a while, they would lose trust in us as storytellers in the same way Zoe lost trust in Jackie.

This final year was one where the consequences really hit her at work, to the point where Zoe feels she has to move on, and Akalitus doesn’t want anything to do with her. I take it that was a conscious part of this year’s design.

Clyde Phillips: It was a conscious design.  Akalitus is the one who is the healthiest for Jackie, who won’t let go of how dangerous Jackie is for herself and potentially to other people. Zoe in the road trip episode, where they take Grace to college, let Jackie back a little bit. She worked out her anger — she actually laid into Grace with a speech that was meant for Jackie — and by the end, they’re dancing on the sidewalk. Which led to her being able to have the conversation (in the finale) on a friendly basis, not an accusatory basis. And then, of course, Jackie lets her down.

Jackie has only screwed up at work a couple of times. Usually, she’s able to do the job while high, and at times it seems like she’s actually better at it while high. When did you feel like you had to go to that place where she’s endangering people, and how often?

Clyde Phillips: I think we needed to go to that place because she’s not Superwoman. She’s in the grips of a ferocious disease. In deepening the consequences, we had to start taking away from her one thing that she could rely on the most, which is her skill as a nurse. She started making mistakes.

Sometimes, shows end with the sense that life goes on, if not for the main character, then for the world they occupied. In this case, not only does Jackie collapse at the end, but All Saints closes. Why did you decide to do that?

Clyde Phillips: All Saints is representative of a hospital, like St. Vincent’s, that’s been there forever, that defined healthcare in the communities and offered healthcare to the indigent. As the life of our lead character was declining, I think the symbol of her strength was the hospital, and that was leaving her as well. I don’t want to get too into the weeds of symbolism, but we think that if the audience wants to see that, it’s there for them.