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Interviews

Previewing SurrealEstate Season 2 Finale + Revisiting the Season with George R. Olson 

Previewing SurrealEstate Season 2 Finale + Revisiting the Season with George R. Olson

[Warning; General spoilers ahead.]

Strap in, SurrealEstate fam, because we’ve arrived at the Season 2 finale, and it’s a doozy.

As we saw in the closing moments of last week’s episode, Susan is back. But because we have one more episode left, it’s not as simple as all that, as the gang soon finds out in increasingly disturbing ways. Luke chases down the provenance on the house, and once they realize who (and what) they’re dealing with, it’s all hands (+ Rochelle and her big-money toys) on deck. 

The episode also buttons up several threads. The uneasiness Zooey has had about her path leads her to a decision, and Phil’s push-and-pull as a new dad and what he does all day leads him to one of his own. Lomax hasn’t forgotten about Elsa, as we follow that through, too, and Augie has a new appreciation for Rochelle and whether and where he fits in her world. And Luke attends to some unfinished family business.

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It’s a hugely satisfying finale, written by showrunner George R. Olson and directed by Melanie Scrofano  that plants several seeds for next season, which isn’t confirmed yet, so tag all your social accordingly with pleas for renewal. But first, join me as I revisit some of the season’s key moments with Olson – and come back after the finale for more with him and from my chat with Tim Rozon and Sarah Levy.

This season, while Susan was otherwise occupied by her house, Luke brought Lomax into the fold as a new agent to help tackle the workload, and Elena Juatco has been SUCH a good fit. Seamlessly bringing in someone who feels like they’ve always been there is very hard to do, and isn’t done successfully very often. Olson recognized that risk, and was thrilled with where they landed.

SurrealEstate George Olson

“The professional life of our characters is always interesting to me. We have our merry little band of misfits and the chemistry amongst them is so strong and so fun. And we’ve been able to gently craft those relationships over the last two seasons, and to suddenly bring someone into that was scary. We didn’t do it lightly,” he explains.

“But the Lomax character, we just liked her so much and loved her background and the voice that she brought to the agency. When we were talking about her to our partners at the network were asking, ‘Okay, well, but she’s not like Zooey, right? Or Susan, either?’ And said, ‘No, she really is her own person.’”

“And then we were fortunate enough to cast Elena Juatco. I say fortunate but I’d like to acknowledge it was a brilliant piece of casting. She stepped into our ensemble every bit as gracefully as Lomax stepped into the agency and just really made the character her own, and gave her an attitude and a backstory and a voice that was distinctively different from any of our other agency members. And it was just enormous fun.”

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The scene I love from her first episode is one that Olson loves, too. “One of my favorite moments of the whole season was at the funeral where Luke first talks to Lomax. I actually wrote that as an audition piece for the actors who were auditioning. And Elena just did it so beautifully. And what you saw in episode 207 is very close to [the way she auditioned and] just walked in and created that character,” he shares.

Olson was thrilled to have the fun Wynonna Earp nods in last week’s episode. “If you have Eric Clapton over, why play the piano? When we were fortunate enough to have Mel[anie] Scrofano come and direct our last couple of episodes and then have that character, which was just perfect for Varun [Saranga], why not lean into the whole Wynonna Earp milieu,” he says.

“And Mel was so helpful as far as securing the permissions to use some of the comics and posters to drop in because we knew a lot of Earpers would be watching that episode and we wanted to give them a little wink whenever possible. It’s always fun to do those. The trick is to not be so overt about it, that the people who aren’t familiar with the show feel left out. I always liken it to people who drive sports cars, and when they pass each other, they flash their lights at each other.”

This season, Augie [Maurice Dean Wint] has been given a lovely, rich backstory and romance, and Olson was excited to develop that. “It was so fun because after Season 1 of getting a feel for the show, probably the one person that most of us would think would be least likely to have a love interest is Augie, because we’ve only seen him in this very serious workman, artistic, above-it-all kind of mindset. And that was why it seemed so much more interesting,” he points out.

“And one of my real goals for this season was to peel back a little bit more of the onion and find out a little bit more about August, because at the end of Season 1, we had really gotten glimpses into all of our characters. But August has that reticence to him and doesn’t share things easily and lightly,” he explains.

“So the thought of him having a woman from his past was very, very fun [as was] creating that backstory that he had as a young man worked for this defense contractor and had finally decided that he could no longer be part of the war machine, stomped out, and she took a different path, and she’s running the place now. It catches him at a moment in the show where he’s kind of feeling like it would really be nice to have endless resources. The scope of what he’s doing is professionally satisfying, but like, I think all of us, he sometimes has those long nights of the soul where he lies back and asks, ‘What if?’” 

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“I just love Joy Tanner in that part [as Rochelle] and she was just a delight to work with. She and Mo knew each other from way back, so they had a little bit of history themselves as far as being friends. And so having them step into that just felt very graceful. And those scenes were very much fun.”

One standout moment of the computer waiting for Augie felt like a “Greetings, Professor Falken” wink to one of my pre-teen obsessions, WarGames, and Olson said it was. “We are absolutely shameless about stealing things from different shows and different movies and everything. It’s enormous fun,” he says. “And we giggle to ourselves and wonder if anybody else is gonna notice sometimes. So it’s always fun when the audience picks up on those things and has fun with them.”

In a pair of emotionally devastating scenes in “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie,” Luke finally meets and confronts his mother, again played by Jennifer Dale, who played her demon alternate in Season 1. “We did a lot of talking about that [first] scene in the writers room. First of all, I knew that I wanted Jennifer back after the scenes that she shot in Season 1. When we were shooting that last thing in [the finale] where she was so nasty, in between scenes, I sat down and talked to her a little bit and said, ‘Look, you’re so wonderful in this, here’s what I’m kind of thinking for Season 2.’ And she was completely on board with it, which made me so happy,” he recalls.

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“When we were in the writing room, we didn’t want, with all the history there, all the years, all the hurt on both sides, [that they would be] falling right into each other’s arms. There was some unfinished business there that really needed to be talked about. And our writer of that episode, Duana Taha, was absolutely adamant that the first meeting needed to be not very cordial. And then they would get together afterwards.”

“And it worked really well because it got them over that anger, particularly Luke, that he’s had inside him since he was three years old, and the hurt and everything else. He had his little conversation and he got to vent a little bit. Now what happens? And the thought of him not only acknowledging her pain, as well, but having that connection be what brought his abilities back, just felt like a really not-too-neat-and-tidy, but credible, solution to his restoration, his rebirth, and the rebirth of that relationship, too. 

“It’s just starting to reach that understanding of, ‘How about every Sunday we have a conversation, because she had said earlier that Sunday mornings were when she woke up and always thought that she would go back. And so there was a nice balance there. Watching Tim and Jennifer work together on those was terrific, too, because they just took the material and made it so much more.”

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While it’s up to the viewer to decide how that reawakening happened, Olson does share that he believes she had a degree of Luke’s abilities, but nowhere near the degree of his. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about that, and a lot of those things I like to not make real overt,” he says. “I’ve always kind of thought that maybe she had a glimmer of it. But then when she saw how much more intense and more vivid Luke’s experience was, it frightened her, it pushed her away even more, and when you add in postpartum depression [that] starts whispering bad things in her ear, and who knows what she’s gonna do…I think it’s an amalgam of those kinds of things.”

SurrealEstate airs Wednesdays at 10 pm/9c on Syfy in the US and CTV Sci-Fi and Crave in Canada. You can catch the first nine episodes now streaming on those platforms. ICYMI, our Season 1 and 2 coverage, including previews and interviews, is here. Here’s a sneak peek of the finale, and check back Wednesday night for more of my conversation with George R. Olson, Tim Rozon, and Sarah Levy.

Photos courtesy of Duncan de Young/Blue Ice Pictures/Syfy; videos courtesy of Syfy.

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