[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we know before the season finale airs that we will have another one. I didn’t know when I screened it a few weeks ago but I was super optimistic that we’d have one, so I’m going to take a teensy bit of credit for willing it into being.
First up, there’s an IG live happening with the cast right after the episode over on the show’s feed, so check that out and then come back over here for the rest of my conversations with series creator John Griffin and star Harold Perrineau.
In the finale, we had the boogedy mixed in with declarations of love (and a whole lot of like). First, the boogedy. Perrineau says Boyd was walking a tightrope in trusting Sara, and she proved that he could, but it was a test of Boyd challenging his baser instincts.
“That’s where Boyd is questionable as a person, because he might be able to kill her and just walk away. You eliminate the threat, she’s a threat, so goodbye. I’m not going to deal with her because I have other threats to deal with,” he says.
“But I think Boyd’s trusting of her is twofold. He even says, ‘I’ve seen this place do terrible things to people,’ and so he really gets that, but he also gets exactly what Father Khatri said. She may be the link, and because his goal is to get them out there, he has to put himself on the chopping block, as it were, when he takes off the handcuffs. He lets her take that knife out of his hand. Those are all really tricky moments.”
“When I was thinking about playing it, achieving his goal has to be something just under the surface that she can’t see that he’s trying to use her because he needs something from her. Something is clearly happening to her and he needs to know what that is.”
“And it may be a key to helping them get out. He has real empathy for that because it happened to Abby and he didn’t get a chance to address it. He’s going to try to address it here. And then spiders bite him and he loses my mind. And then, you know…”
The flip side of that angst is the love stories that sprang up in the middle of a horror-themed drama. The finale gave us not only Ellis’s proposal to Fatima but also Kenny and Kristi coming clean that they are on the same page about how they feel about each other. Griffin says it was important to ground the series in the humanity of the characters, regardless of the outside influences of the town and its monsters.
“One of the goals of the show was to really remind people that even in the worst of circumstances, people find a way to live, not just survive, but to live. And that goes to the core of what the show is about… the idea of, ‘When you have had everything torn away from you, when your reality that you have used to identify yourself and understand yourself has fractured and disappeared, who do you become? What do you hold onto? And what do you discover about yourself?’ And the idea that there is no black and white in life. We live in a constant gradation of gray,” he explains.
“In the midst of that, you’re still a person, you’re still a human being. You still have your own life, your own pain, your own past, your own regret, to deal with. It was always very important to us to never get so focused on the mythology and the bigger picture that we lose sight of the nuance and the details.”
“So the irony of, only in your worst nightmare, do you meet the love of your life, was something that was very appealing about the themes and the ideas that we were really excited to explore and address because at the end of the day, we didn’t want to create a show that was depressing.”
“Challenging, yes, and sometimes sad. Life is often about counterpoints and balance and that was a really important note that we strived for throughout the season and will be striving for throughout the show. Life is always a mixed blessing.”
“It was always very important to us to explore this show through the lens of, ‘What if something like this really happened?’ and just to bring everything down to a very grounded, very visceral level and every facet of the show is done through that lens of trying to keep the experience of the show as grounded and real as possible. Everything that seems out of place, everything that seems odd, there’s a reason for it. There’s a reason for all of it.”
The show has also been threaded with lovely moments of unlikely pairings and real conversations, and Griffin looks forward to exploring different character pairings as the series continues. “Among the moments that I enjoy are the unlikely moments. The moments that you don’t necessarily expect to find,” he says.
“For example, the scene with Victor and Ethan sitting at the table in the diner and Victor presents the picture and Ethan says, ‘Who drew this?’ And Victor says, ‘I did.’ And he’s like, ‘It’s in crayon.’ And Victor says, ‘So.’ And Ethan says, ‘You’re a grown up.’
“One of the relationships that really developed in an unlikely way was the familial relationship between Tian Chen and Jade. What began from a storytelling perspective as, ‘All right, we’re going to have Jade live here once the choosing ceremony is over…you can never anticipate the chemistry that certain actors will show and have through their characters.”
“So whether it was Tian Chen and Jade and Kenny, or Boyd and Donna or Jim and Jade, or Ethan and Victor, I think those are the moments that I look at very fondly. With a show like this, you can have all the big scares, all the white-knuckle scares, all the jump scares and the mystery and the most unlikely, unexpected, non-Patrick Duffy satisfying conclusion you can imagine, but none of them will matter if you don’t care about the characters.”
One fun fact about the characters is that who Jade is now is not who Jade initially was on the page. “Jade was born in the writer’s room. Jade was originally an 18-year-old girl. It was one of those things where we realized it’s the one character in our show that we really don’t feel like we have a handle on, and it feels like there’s something kind of missing,” Griffin recalls.
“And so that was a character who came to life in the pre-production process and just continued to bloom over the course of the season. I remember in particular both writing and then seeing David [Alpay] perform at the choosing ceremony. That was where I felt [it click into place], ‘Oh, that’s Jade!’ That for me was the moment when Jade was really born.”
“One of the best results of having the kind of cast that we have is that the possibilities really are endless. Jeff said in our previous interview that we have been gifted in the sense that there really is no place we can’t go, emotionally or because of the level of talent that we’re working with. We really feel like all avenues and all doors are open to us. There are some pairings and relationships and perhaps even conflicts that we will explore in season two that we are really excited about.”
“Some of the moments that really speak to me in the season are those smaller moments [like] Kenny and Boyd having a catch outside and all those moments that really touch on the humanity of the characters and their struggle.”
Perrnneau also loved those moments. “I just think it’s really great writing, so I had a good time all season. I really enjoyed all the scripts as each one came in,” he explains. “The writing is fun. I’m really having a great time. And [I’d tell John], ‘Thank you for trusting me.’”
“When Boyd goes to the grave to see his wife and talk to her, that was a really good scene. I think Boyd’s relationship with all of the younger people is really fun, with Kenny, with Kristi, and Ellis, and Fatima. And I really loved working with Shaun Majumder. When they killed Father Khatri, I was heartbroken because I actually just liked working with him.”
Following on what Griffin shared in part one of our conversation, he loved the process of getting the show made, and what it became with the care and feeding he and his co-producing team of Jeff Pinkner and Jack Bender were able to provide. “It continuously became a richer version of what it had begun as. We’ve all very much been on the same page about the type of show that we want to make, the type of ideas we want to explore, and the type of journey that we want to take,” he says.
“The show was always designed to kind of be a canvas that we could keep layering things on and keep enriching and finding ways to flesh it out more and to make the experience richer. Jeff and I developed together for a while. And then when Jack came on board, that introduced a whole other level, because Jack then began designing the visual tone and feel for the show.”
“To use a football analogy, it felt like we were just marching down the field, getting closer and closer to the end zone. It never really felt like we changed direction or like stopped playing football and started playing baseball.”
“This was not an easy show to get made because people always worry. [They would ask], ‘Do you have it figured out, do you know where it’s going or is the audience going to be upset? Is our audience going to want to get on board with a show like this?’”
“We don’t take for granted the time that people invest in this show. And we don’t take for granted the fact that we are lucky enough to have our audience taking this journey with us, but cheering us on as we go. And that means a lot to us. And that’s a responsibility that we don’t take lightly. One of the most rewarding things about the live tweeting and the commentary from people watching the show is to see people getting invested in the characters and have favorites and have characters that drive them crazy.”
“We couldn’t have gotten this show made if we didn’t know where it was going and didn’t understand the end point as well as we do the beginning. As fans of television, we wanted to know where we were going and also leave enough room for us to surprise ourselves. And you can do that when you know the shape of the journey. You can’t make things up as you go and expect to end up somewhere satisfying. But if you know exactly where you’re going and you have all those milestones set, then you have the luxury of allowing yourself to be surprised every now and then.”
You can catch the whole season of From online at EPIX’s website, through the EPIX app, and through EPIX on Prime Video. Click here for all of our From coverage this season, including episode previews and eight cast interviews and producer interviews. Here’s that season 2 teaser!
[Updated 09/26/22: From will be available in Canada on Paramount+ beginning 09/27/22.]
Photos courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
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