Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
“I think you want the secrets, but you don’t really want the answers to the secrets,” Remi Aubuchon, executive producer of TNT’s Falling Skies, said as he joined cast members Drew Roy, Sarah Sanguin Carter and Seychelle Gabriel to talk with reporters about the upcoming third season of the hit sci-fi drama.
The series, which chronicles the lives of a group of survivors in the wake of an alien invasion and subsequent occupation, continues to garner audience interest in its multitude of twist and turns. As a veteran of mystery-shrouded shows like Battlestar Galactica, Aubuchon knows anticipation is part of the fun. “My job is to tease it out, so everybody watches it,” he said.
One aspect he could tease is the Volm, the series’ new alien species. “These aliens already appear different than the aliens that invaded our planet, and we have to hope that there is some help on the way,” he said. Will they really be of help to the survivors, led by Noah Wyle’s Tom Mason? In the season premiere, we will learn their stated intent, but Aubuchon warns, “That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll trust that information.”
The producer noted that creating a new alien is always a challenge. On a personal level, it’s “even a bigger challenge for me to pitch new aliens to Steven Spielberg, who is the expert on all aliens.” Each alien has to feel unique; in the case of the Volm, their culture will be in distinct contrast with the Espheni.
The new alien, as played by Hellboy veteran Doug Jones, may also signal an understanding in why the Espheni came to Earth in the first place. Returning to his initial point, Aubuchon said, “As a fan, I always want answers, but I don’t want them spoon-fed to me. I want to discover them along with the characters.” He compared the alternative to a long Star Wars-style text crawl of exposition. “I don’t think that’s what fans really want.”
Premiering June 9, the third season picks up some seven months after the events of Season 2. “In a fun way, we have to catch up to everything that’s happened,” the producer said. “It’s always fun to do a time-jump, both from a writing point of view and from a viewer point of view.” It allowed the writers to put the characters into new situations without a lot of initial set-up. “You can go from there and backtrack,” he said.
From a production standpoint, it also allowed them to skip the bulk of Anne’s pregnancy, a plot point they didn’t want to wait an entire season to resolve. Over the course of the season, the audience will learn more about what went on in that time-jump. “Hopefully, we’ll be processing it the way our characters are processing it,” Aubuchon said.
One element to process is the change in Hal, played by Roy. During the seven-month gap, he and Carter’s character Margaret began living together. “We’ve come along and we’re more of a married couple,” Roy revealed. “But because of the thing growing in his ear, he has some issues and some troubles. He needs some help and Hal’s not the kind of guy to tell anybody that.”
Hal may appear solid, but Margaret can see the turmoil in him. “There’s curiosity as to why he’s having these extreme mood swings,” Carter said of how Margaret deals with Hal’s changing personality. “She finds it sexy at points.” That curiosity will lead her to intuit the nature of Hal’s true problem.
“Hal leads with his heart. He’s the first one into fight,” Aubuchon said. “He’s such a good boy scout and that just seems like a prime target to mess that up and invest some evil.”
For Gabriel, who plays Lourdes, the jump finds her taking Anne’s place in the hospital. Following the death of Jamil at the end of last season, Gabriel says the character has dealt with the tragedy, and “she’s rock-solid in the medical arena.” The season will see her becoming more of a doctor. As an actor, Gabriel enjoys that she gets to play against the bulk of the cast. “They all come to the hospital at some point,” she said. In the case of Hal, they get a chance to reconnect for the first time since the early part of the first season. “It’s almost like they have peace and quiet to see each other again.”.
Assuming the role of doctor means Lourdes will be examining alien material as well. “[There are] alien experiments that haven’t been introduced until this season and in the world of Falling Skies that haven’t been touched except for her.” The experiments may lead to “enhancements” for some characters.
Ultimately, as Aubuchon said, the answers will come at an agreeable pace when Falling Skies June 9 with a two-hour season premiere on TNT.