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Marja-Lewis Ryan Breaks Down That Huge 'L Word' Character Return

L Word Generation Q
Nicole Wilder/Showtime

L Word fans have been waiting for this character's return for 16 years, and it finally happened in the best way possible!

Editor's note: this post contains major spoilers for episode six of The L Word: Generation Q season three.

Season three of The L Word Generation Q has taken the franchise to heights I didn't know it could reach.

Generation Q just aired the sixth episode of the season (a brilliant musical episode), and only has four left.

It's been a season of big changes, with a time skip, a main character leaving, and major life turning points for the characters. Bette and Tina got married and moved to Canada, Shane and Tess are going through relationship troubles, Finley is back from rehab, and Micah and Maribel are getting more serious.

While it's been sad to see Bette leave the show, it was relieving to see her get a good sendoff, and it was a relief to see that in this universe people can grow and learn and have happy endings.

Her exit has also given other stars like Leisha Hailey, Rosanny Zayas, Arienne Mandi, and Jamie Clayton time to really shine, which they've been able to do a lot this season.

One of our favorite plots this year has been Micah and Maribel talking about having a baby together. Who knew that The L Word could bring back Max in a way that was gender-affirming and celebrated the character and trans parents in general?

It's also one of the sexiest seasons yet, with new characters like Roxy, Dre, Ivy, and Taylor bringing some spice to the season. There are also, of course, plenty of the sapphic sex scenes we love.

The chemistry between the cast is really clicking, and so is the chemistry in the writer's room. The comedy this year is on point, and the plots are running on all cylinders. It's a great season of TV so far.

This musical episode is the cap on top of this excellent first half of the season. It's emblematic of how good the show has become under showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan.

A big reason for the show's creative success is that Ryan is encouraging her team to show off this year. Now that they've worked together for a few years and found a rhythm, they can show us what they can really do and they can indulge.

That indulgence is clear in the latest musical episode, which featured something L Word fans have been wanting for 16 years: the return of fan-favorite character Dana Fairbanks.

When Alice is hallucinating that she's on a game show called "Name That Flaw," where she names the flaws of all of her exes and herself, she wins the grand prize: a musical number with Dana, the true love of her life.

Yes, Dana, played by Erin Daniels, comes back! And it's more beautiful than we could've ever hoped for! It's quite possibly the most beautiful scene in L Word history.

As Daniels has aged past the time when Dana died on the original L Word, so too has Dana in this fantasy. We actually get to see Alice and Dana grow older together! They have a house and a bed and laugh at each other's jokes and get to sing together! It's perfect!

Ryan had actually met with Daniels back in season one about returning somehow, but couldn't find a way to do it until now.

"One of the rules I have about people on this show is that if we say they're dead, they're dead," she says. "So if they're going to come back, it has to be as a ghost or in a fantasy way. And this just felt like the ultimate fantasy."

"And when I met Erin, I was like, 'She's just the loveliest person.' And I was like, 'Okay, this person's down.' She said she was down to do whatever," she adds. "She was really open two years ago. And so I just kept that with me. And I know we only get to do this once. You really do. You really only get one big swing at something like this."

Ryan emphasizes how happy and proud Daniels was to get to honor the character one more time.

"She knows what that character means to us and means to the community. And she was so excited to bring her back," she says. "And she and Leisha worked their asses off. They worked in their private time."

Ryan also knows that while the episode is full of joy, it will also make L Word fans sob.

"I am so deeply proud of the episode. I cannot wait for people to see just how fun. How much fun we can really have," she says. "And then, yeah, the episode's really sad though. My favorite part is the instrumental version of Dana's song at the end. When 'Nobody But You' starts to play over Tess and Shane, I was like, 'Oh shit, we did it.'"

If you've seen the episode, and you've heard Alice and Dana's love song instrumental play over Alice looking through a box that contains the flower she bought for Dana the day she died and Shane running to get Tess back, you know exactly what she's talking about.

"Yeah, it was an extra stab in the heart, I admit. I admit," Ryan laughs, "But story-wise, it felt like it's an important thing to link those worlds."

After a short break, season 3 of The L Word: Generation Q will be back for the final four episodes of the season. All episodes air and are streaming on Showtime.

RELATED | 40 Pics of 'The L Word: Generation Q' Cast Looking Hot AF

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Mey Rude

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.