[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
With this week’s episode we’re just past the halfway point in Season 2 of From, and let me tell you, it’s a wild ride from here on out. On the heels of the trauma and heartbreak surfaced by Sara’s return and Victor’s memories, and the newly revealed intel on Tilly and Marielle, things get a little more frenetic.
For starters, Boyd’s long-overdue conversation with Tian-Chen takes a turn when that ballerina in the box that’s been plaguing him is made corporeal. Up at Colony House, Donna’s trying to keep the impending food shortage on the DL, but the residents aren’t as unaware as she thinks, and Ellis and Fatima bear the brunt of their ire.
When an emergency situation presents itself after dark, it’s all hands on deck to get the wounded down the hill and to Kristi, and then the most likely scenario to do the most good means making somewhat of a deal with the devil. Surprisingly, it’s Kenny who throws the most swagger at demanding that happen, no matter the consequences, until Boyd has an ingenious idea.
Over at Tian-Chen’s, she’s hosting an impromptu canning party with Donna and the Matthews to shore up food and buy everyone some time before the new crops come in. The bonus is we’re treated to a Donna and Ethan heart-to-heart chat (again, this show delivers with the lovely, unlikely pairings).
Kristi is at the heart of much of the action of the episode, carefully balancing literal life and death while the truth of what’s been going on with Marielle is revealed. This week, I caught up with Chloe Van Landschoot, who brings her own real-life experience as a nurse and frontline worker during the pandemic to playing the town doctor.
Van Landschoot agrees that Season 2 is a bit of a runaway train for Kristi so far. “[There’s been] a lot of internal insanity, and external. It’s all happening for her. I knew that they were gonna have Marielle come back, they did tell me that before we started shooting,” she recalls.
“I thought I was going to have some sort of say in who they picked and I thought, ‘I hope they do a chemistry read.’ They didn’t, but it’s fine. Kaelen [Ohm] is wonderful and super present and super dedicated, so that’s no problem there. But it was definitely nerve wracking, not knowing until like a week and a half before we were shooting who they were going to pick as my fiance. I just feel like there was so much to talk about.”
“But also it’s also kind of interesting when you don’t have all of that time because neither do these characters. We get the episodes a couple weeks before we start shooting, so you don’t have a lot of time to ruminate too much, which I like because I like just working off an instinct versus if I sit with it for too long.”
The confluence of personal and professional turmoils. and gaining Marielle and losing Kenny reveals more of Kristi’s identity as the season goes along. “I think we really get to see a lot of Kristi’s humanity this season in a way that we didn’t in season one. We saw this calm, cool, controlled doctor who cares a lot about her duty in town and has a heavy sense of responsibility and that’s what propels her day to day,” Van Landschoot explains.
“And she’s put a lot of her own feelings away because she has to in order to do her job. I think if she started to let Marielle in in season one, she wouldn’t be able to do her job. She’d be too overwhelmed. So in season two, having her face to face just brings up everything for her. Now Kristi is internally battling with all of these feelings that want to come to the surface while she has so much to do in that town medically.”
“We kind of see that push and pull with her all season long between her heart and her duty and her responsibility and her guilt and wanting to have all the answers, but fundamentally just having no idea about a lot of things a lot of the time, especially when it comes to relationships. So we get to see her try to navigate her kind of immature emotional processing.”
The facade of keeping it all together starts to crack a bit, too, and with the next batch of episodes, we watch Kristi put through some pretty extreme tests. “It’s one thing after the other. And I think that’s the theme for Kristi. Things are kind of constantly coming to the surface, since the beginning of the season. And then [as the season progresses], we see a bit of a release … of that frustration and anger and guilt and everything,” she shares.
“I work as a nurse in real life, too. So a lot of those choices and actions are reflective of going from one thing to the next, of having to turn on and turn off and then come home to a partner who doesn’t know what to do with you, and collapsing into them once in a while.”
“It’s all kind of reflective of my own experiences and that’s what’s required of the job. But eventually, it is too much. You burn out, you collapse, you are no longer able to function. And I feel like if there’s a season three, that’s what we’re gonna start to see with Kristi. Because you can only do so much before you realize, ‘I’m done. I need therapy.'”
Van Landschoot has shared some of her personal experiences and perspectives with series creator John Griffin to help inform Kristi’s character. “John’s amazing. He’s so open and receptive to anything that we bring up for him. We’ve had a few conversations about the demeanor of a healthcare worker and the focus that’s required,” she explains.
“And that in order to focus like that, you have to put a lot of yourself away. But what are the consequences when you put so much of yourself away for your job? What happens then? And what we’ve been exploring with Kristi in season two is, ‘Who is she? Who are you?'”
“I remember being so burnt out, peak pandemic nursing, that I had no sense of identity anymore. I had left, I had evaporated. So, it took time for me to figure out who I was again. And I think that’s what Kristi’s figuring out, too.”
“The arrival of Marielle is forcing her to look at that, but also at the same time there’s been no time for her to sit in that way [and process]. So it’s interesting and I got to bring a lot of who I was and my own instincts and reactions to things into Kristi as well, but she’s also taking on a life of her own, which is exciting.”
“That’s the cool thing about playing a character for a couple years. I’ve never done that before. They have your heartbeat. They have your lungs, but they start to have their own soul. They start to make their own decisions. And trying to keep it as authentic as possible, but ultimately they turn into somebody else who stems from you.”
One particularly revealing scene for Van Landschoot about who her character is came in the second episode this season. “The storeroom scene with Marielle, where she’s really, really angry at Kristi and Kristi’s just kind of frozen, not saying much, letting Marielle have the floor. I really learned about how Kristi processes emotion when it’s getting fired at her,” she says.
“And she’s a total freezer. She freezes. Her problem response is to freeze. She’s not a fight, she’s not a flight, she’s not running away, she’s frozen. I thought that was really interesting, and then I watched some of season one again and started to see that this is a thing she does.”
“And I thought, ‘Is that also me?’ I always think it’s interesting when you watch something back and you learn something about your own humanity, too, which is really cool. That wasn’t a conscious choice. It just evolved out of the scene in the moment, but it’s part of Kristi coming to life.”
Another vision Van Landschoot brought to life is the short film, Tidal, which has been working its way around the world on the festival circuit and is now streaming on Reel Women’s Network. “Tidal was my art baby [born] of my own grief, insanity, trauma, joy, burnout of nursing,” she explains. “It externalizes the internal life of a nurse using movement and dance as she tries to find her way home, obviously inspired by my experiences working on the front lines and in Canada.”
New episodes of From start streaming at 3:01 am ET Sundays on MGM+ online and via the app and on Prime Video, where you can watch the first five episodes this season so far. New episodes air linearly on MGM+ Sundays at 9 pm/8c. All ten episodes of Season 1 are streaming online on MGM+ for free here.
In Canada, you can stream Season 1 and the latest episodes on Paramount+ via Prime Video subscription channels. If you missed any of our conversations for Season 1 and my new chats for Season 2, they’re all here. Here’s a sneak peek of “Pas De Deux.”
Photos and video courtesy of Metro-Goldwun-Mayer.
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