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EXCLUSIVE TV Goodness Q&A: EP/Showrunner Rémi Aubuchon Previews Season 3 of Falling Skies [INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/TNT
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/TNT

Warning: Spoilers Discussed

I had a chance to sit down with EP/Showrunner Rémi Aubuchon at the ATX Television Festival to discuss the upcoming third season of TNT’s Falling Skies. We discussed what’s in store for Noah Wyle‘s Tom Mason and his family, the new (and uneasy) alliance with the Volm, and upcoming guest stars Gloria Reuben and Robert Sean Leonard.

TV GOODNESS: Where is the show going this season?

Rémi Aubuchon: “Well, I think that pretty much everything that you’ve seen in the [premiere] actually are the paths that we’re gonna be following for most of the season. Now, of course, because it’s Falling Skies there’s always gonna be some twists and turns on those paths.

TV GOODNESS: Which we like.

Rémi: “It’s not gonna be all of what you think it is at that time. But I’d primarily say that the theme of the show is Tom’s struggle to balance an ideal – which is that he might be able to free the world –  with the practical stuff of being a father, being a human being, maintaining his integrity. All of these things are going to be challenged throughout the season and likewise [Will Patton‘s] Dan Weaver is going to find himself having doubts about not only his role in what’s going to be happening with Tom’s plans but also he’ll be trying to figure out what is he following. And Hal will be struggling with this. The point I’m making is that all of our characters are suddenly going to be faced with the idea that this is the way life is now. No savior is gonna happen and pop us out of the horror that we’re living. We have to make lives for ourselves in the way this is. And that’s kind of what we’re [doing] throughout the season. Now, we’ve been introduced to these new aliens. Are they really as good as they say they are?

TV GOODNESS: I love that Doug Jones was cast as Cochise. Tom trusts him but no one else does. Can you talk about that?

Rémi: “One thing that makes Tom Mason a smart guy is that he has an instinct about people and he doesn’t really go out and articulate that. But I think, if you remember in the first season, Dan Weaver wasn’t the nicest guy in the world. In fact, he was downright mean and I think that Tom had an instinct about him and that relationship has now evolved into something strong. I think most people would have said, ‘You know, Tom, you want to  stay away from Weaver because he’s crazy.’ And I think it’s the same feeling he has with Cochise. The difference is, of course, that Cochise is an alien. But I think that  the experience with Red Eye last season has softened Tom in terms of his open-mindedness towards that and I think he sees a real kindred soul in Cochise. Now you mentioned Doug Jones and what’s always been fascinating to me about a character like an alien is that you have a vague idea of what it is, would you not want him to be as human? Doug’s such a wonderful actor that he found a character there that we started writing more towards because he suddenly is eloquent, he has a sense of humor that he’s trying out. Someone asked me about this. They said, ‘Where does his humor come from? What’s he doing there?’ I said, ‘Well. It’s like I worked for a year in Mexico and my Spanish was ok, but I was always trying out to see if I could do Mexican humor and sometimes it was successful but more often than not it wasn’t.’ And that’s sort of what Cochise is doing where he says, ‘I wonder if the humans would find this funny.’ And I think that throughout the course of the season they build a much closer relationship than either of them imagined. And it changes both of them in many respects.

TV GOODNESS: I like that Tom’s sons all have very different paths. What’s coming up for them this season?

Rémi: “The most noticeable thing is that Max Knight, who plays Matt suddenly showed up one day as a teenage boy. And we kind of went like, ‘Ok I don’t think we can have him play the mop-headed cute little boy that’s he’s been for the last couple seasons,’ so in a way that started sort of a really interesting character path for him because he’s the young kid that nobody has paid that much attention to. I remember someone saying to me – my daughter is sixteen, she was born in 1997 – and someone said she’ll have no memory of the 20th century and that’s turned out to be true in a weird way. And so we wanted to take that and kind of play with that with Matt. He’s gonna remember this life more than he’s going to remember what it was like before the invasion. And how does that affect a kid who’s kind of lost in the shuffle and what does it do to a kid? We’re gonna be following that this season. I always thought Max was a sweet and wonderful actor but he’s really stepped up to it. There’s some really deep things that he has to tackle this season. We focused a lot on Ben last season and while he’s still part of it, what I think is interesting is that he’s found his calling, who he is. And even though he’s found kinship and kindred spirits he still feels very much the loner and very much apart and that affects how he is. Hal, of course, we left the last season with a big worm going into his ear and we know there’s something going on. The one thing that I’ll just say as a little bit of a teaser to that is everything that it looks like is happening with him, it’s far worse. What his struggle will be will almost bring him to the brink of insanity.

TV GOODNESS: What’s going on with Tom and Anne’s daughter?

Rémi: “I was just about to say, ‘And then there’s yet another Mason to talk about.’ What we know right now is Anne, at least, perceives that there’s something not exactly right with this little child who at less than a day old stands up in her bassinet . And this is Falling Skies as I’ve said a couple times and so nothing is quite as it seems to be. What I will say right now is whether it’s all in Anne’s head or whether this is actually a precocious child, neither of those are good things. So however it lays out will obviously we affecting not only Anne, but Tom and the whole of Charleston. But I would say that we’re probably leaning closer to it being an alien child then anything else.

TV GOODNESS: I like it. We don’t know everything that Tom went through on that ship.

Rémi: “No. We don’t. We don’t know what happened to Tom. Or for that matter, the Volm are here. Or we’ve seen eye worms coming in and out of people. Who knows what happening with that.

TV GOODNESS: Are we going to see going to see any new aliens later this season or next season?

Rémi: “This season we’ll see some different aliens. We saw the crawlies last season, they were part of the Espheni and the Overlord’s objective in the war. I think we’ll see a few more of those.”

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/TNT
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/TNT

TV GOODNESS: We’re excited about Gloria Reuben and Robert Sean Leonard being on the show this season. How did you get them?

Rémi: “Well, I like to think that we wrote some really interesting characters that they read because they were pretty quickly on. They were cast just before we started shooting. But I think that first of all we were so lucky to get them. It helped that they were fans of the show. In my discussion with Gloria what I told her I wanted a prominent woman of color in the show, but I didn’t ever want to make it a story about a woman of color. And I think we accomplished that to a certain extent in that I just wanted to show a nice strong woman who could be Tom’s equal and I think that appealed to her quite honestly. as well it should. And she has some multi-cultural ethnicity back story that we talked about but really overall I’d say that it was more about her political acumen and what her objectives were. But I think there’s more to Marina than meets the eye in these first couple of episodes and while she seems to be Tom’s right hand person I think that there’s a lot of story she’ll be influencing because of that. Robert Sean Leonard is a slightly different thing because I was very excited that he wanted to do it. But when we first conceived the character – to be really honest – we were looking for something that had a little bit of comedy relief. I would say that our prototype was closer to Jeff Goldblum – sort of crazy, wild, unpredictable behavior. But Robert when he first talked to us about it – I think certainly he’s eccentric and certainly he’s got a different world view than other people do but he grounded that character in a way that I never really had anticipated and consequently made it very special. We had an opportunity throughout the course of the season to really have him be involved in parts of the story that we actually hadn’t really at first thought about. We had Uncle Scott in the first season. We had Jamil in the second season – one of our technical guys and we were thinking of a replacement for that, but he actually brought something to that character that made it more than just the guy who – I mean he does all that too – the guy figures out crazy stuff, but also there’s just more depth to him. I think where he goes in this season will be really interesting and I look forward to seeing him in the fourth season too.

TV GOODNESS: What are you allowed to share about the mole?

Rémi: “That’s a tough one. What I hope you can figure out right now in watching just [the premiere] is that there are many candidates for the mole.

TV GOODNESS: And that makes it exciting. You don’t want know yet.

Rémi: “You don’t want to know. You have ideas. You have theories as does everybody. Hal certainly looks like he would be the most obvious candidate but I think part of what we- I mean, we wanted to amp the tension up. That’s the technical reason for having a story like that but also I find it interesting that the enemy has our face on it sometimes. That’s what I think makes Karen so scary is that she was this kind of sweet motorcycle-driving girl that you never would imagine could actually not only be bad but be deliciously evil. Jessy Schram is great and she’s the sweetest person in the entire universe. And she is so evil and scary when she’s Karen. And [with] the mole we wanted more of that. The idea is, wait a second there is someone who is actually collaborating with the enemy? What’s that about? Or is it the Volm? We just don’t know and that level of anxiety and uncertainty heightens Tom’s dilemma throughout this whole season, which is who do I trust? What am I willing to do in order to – what if it is my son? What do I do about that?

TV GOODNESS: Anything else you can tease for us or any final things you want to say?

Rémi: “Well. Hmmm. I get that question asked a lot and it’s always a tough question because I don’t really want to give away too much.”

TV GOODNESS: Exactly. And it’s more fun if you  discover it yourself. But it’s also fun if you have a little…

Rémi: “A little window. I would say offhand that if we’ve done anything this season it’s really give Tom some unexpected – not only just blows – but unexpected turns in the journey of his character. It’s funny because Noah [Wyle], who I’ve had a great collaboration with and he’s been fun to work with – but there were a couple times saying, ‘Rémi, I don’t know. Should I be going there?’ And I said, ‘Look, and I know it’s easy for me to say trust me and here’s the idea I have but I think that this will work,’ and God bless him he embraced it and I think has done a terrific job. But there’s some stuff that’s gonna happen to Tom that nobody would be expecting even just from watching [the season premiere.] I believe that firmly.

TV GOODNESS: Good. I like it when you’re truly surprised.

Rémi: “I think you will be. And yet it’ll make sense.”

TV GOODNESS: I’m really excited about the rest of the season. I really like the show.

Rémi: “Good. I’m glad. I like it too.”

TV GOODNESS: I like that it’s about the human stories. It’s a world we might know nothing about, but we come back because we care about these characters.

Rémi: “At the end of the day I still believe that’s the most important thing. No matter what. And also it’s a very exaggerated story about stuff that we’re all struggling with now. It’s a crazy world. I have a 16 year-old daughter and I’m constantly wondering what kind of a world she’s going to inherit. How do I prepare her for that? And that’s all Tom’s doing. I’ve always said this and we’ve kind of followed it. Which is that what makes Tom Mason interesting is that he sees a light at the end of a very long tunnel. It’s a very dim light but he’s one of the few that actually sees it and believes that it’s there and is willing to go to any lengths to get it, which I think is awesome.

TV GOODNESS: You need people like that. 

Rémi: “You need them in this world.”

Falling Skies airs Sundays 10/9c on TNT.

Edited for space and content.

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