George R. Olson, Tim Rozon, and Sarah Levy Talk the SurrealEstate S2 Finale
[Spoilers for the SurrealEstate Season 2 finale.]
How’s everyone doing after the finale? As we close out the second season of SurrealEstate, some of our merry band of misfits are scattering to the winds–Zooey to law school, Phil to the Vatican, and Augie back to his think tank with Rochelle, while Lomax stays on in the new Roman Ireland Agency. Where to, next? While we wait for definitive word on a Season 3 (or we riot), here’s what showrunner George R. Olson and series stars Tim Rozon and Sarah Levy had to say about the finale and where they hope the roads lead.
Phil deciding to take a researcher role at the Vatican might have felt wildly left field, but Olson explains it was simply an offer he could not refuse. “Phil has a lot of darkness. But as much as he talks about it, he leans into it. One of the things I’ve loved about Phil from the beginning is that he has this curiosity to him that is absolutely insatiable,” he says.
“And I’ve known some people like this who are just born researchers.They want to know the why behind everything. And they want to understand the origins of things, which is what makes him so perfect for our show. Phil has that curiosity that sometimes overwhelms his good sense.”
“I think it was the fact that he was gonna have access to records at the Vatican that he couldn’t even see, as he says, when he wore the uniform. And I think the things that he’ll find there and the things that he thinks that he can discover there, plus being in dad mode now, the thought of possessed children is something that hits very much home to him.”
As part of getting Susan back, her house got its own backstory about why it did what it did. That was a lovely surprise, as was finding a way to give it closure, and a new BFF actually forever in Elsa (Brenda Bazinet). “That was a fun thing. Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget to burn the house down. And that was something that I had in mind for Elsa all along because of the house itself,” shares Olson.
“As scary and as nasty as the house was, I didn’t wanna make it evil on its face. And that’s not to forgive evil, which is, of course, bad. I’d like to make that very clear right now, but so much of it comes from pain and longing and sorrow. And I just felt like it would be interesting to have this whole idea of grabbing something and holding it too tight because you’re so afraid that it’s gonna go away.”
“And I had a lot more empathy for the house than certainly our audience has had. But it is that thought that someone was so invested in it, and created it, and then disappeared and Rabbitfoot, Bill MacDonald, the actor, was so wonderful in filling in those blanks and explaining that nicely without doing a whiteboard up on the wall…but kind of hinting towards the sorrow and pain of the house and not just the ruthless, unmitigated evil.”
“I’m a very sentimental person about stuff like that. And the whole thing about our show that’s been fun for me is to be able to look at ghosts and hauntings and everything on an emotional level and say, ‘God, you know what, we know how we feel when we lose someone we love. And that sorrow is almost palpable. You can almost see it and feel it and everything. So why would it not be residual in these houses? And the whole unfinished business idea has been, for me, the most fun part of what’s been a very, very, very fun part of my life.”
With Susan firmly back, we can revisit the arc that put her on her path toward the house. Rozon agrees that Luke having his mojo reset at the end of last season sent him on a bit of a scorched earth journey. “Luke lost the thing that made him unique and kind of the best at his job. At least he thought so, and he’s pretty insecure about not being able to do it anymore. I think he realizes how good Susan is, in so many ways, without that gift. I don’t think he handles it the best,” he shares.
“I love playing the vulnerability, and just him trying to sell houses and deal with what we deal with without the gift. It’s kind of like, now I realize he was pretty much cheating in Season 1, because Season 2 made it so much more difficult.”
“I do like that we come full circle towards the end and make amends. That was very important for me to do, for us to do. I asked that he at least apologizes at some point. Just because I felt we needed it. Even though by the time we get to that point, you don’t really need the words to be said.”
“A lot of the time, you don’t, between those two characters, we kind of understand what’s going on without saying it, but I needed to say it, because it was still hard for me to be kind of a dick to Susan. I have so much respect for Sarah and for Susan, it was just harder for me to be not nice.”
Levy says that change in Luke was jarring for Susan, who’d already been there, done that with her past trauma, and then in the finale, she gives as good as she gets. “I don’t think at the beginning of the season Susan was expecting Luke to behave the way he behaved. When he came back, I think she thought that he would’ve handled it a little bit more gracefully, a little bit better. That was quite a surprise for her because they were so simpatico up until that point,” she shares.
“But going through what she goes through in the season and then coming back to the office was so much fun. I generally am such a people pleaser that saying things out loud to people that are so mean or passive-aggressive or just aggressive, without feeling any type of remorse, is a very interesting feeling. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever been able to do, where you’re basically out to kill everyone. And it becomes very exciting. Getting to do that was very fun.”
Levy also enjoyed getting to flex her acting muscles doing several scenes on her own. “You’re working with an inanimate object. It was challenging for sure. But on the other hand, it’s kind of why we want to act in the first place. You’re just constantly using your imagination, something I feel like we lose so much [of] as we get older,” she explains.
“Going into this house [where we used] a lot of green screen or [effects were being added] later, it gets to be exciting because you can just let loose and really kind of go nuts with what you’re seeing. And especially with this house, it really kind of crushes her soul towards the end. You really see how broken Susan is trapped inside this house. So playing the ups and downs, the thrill of attaining the house and then the friendship that she makes with the house. And then ultimately, the extreme level of vulnerability that she has as it traps her, was really interesting.”
“It is remarkable, because it was kind of like a two-hander, but it’s an actor by themselves,” adds Rozon. “And then how do you play that person when they become taken over by the evil house? We saw a glimpse of it just for a second between August and Zooey. But imagine it hasn’t snapped out for Susan. Susan was in it the whole time. The stakes have definitely been raised in Season 2 in so many ways. And it’s interesting the way they did it [with us], one by taking away and then the other one by giving.”
Levy was also delighted to explore the friendship between Zooey and Susan, and filling in the gaps on all the characters. “I love that we are seeing all of these backstories of everyone’s history and little Easter eggs that were sort of planted in the first season that unfold and you get to hear more about in the second season,” she says.
“Zooey and Susan’s relationship is one that I love so much because of where they started and now, she’s the one [looking for Susan], really pressing the fact that Luke has worn her down. And I think that their relationship within the office outside of the cases is really wonderful and special, to see the support that they’re both giving each other as the women in the office.”
Rozon says that it was hard to play out disrupting that bond. “I think that’s why it was so difficult for me to play the Luke and Susan animosity because this team is just always there for each other. When Zooey tells Luke that she wants to be a salesperson, within two seconds he says it’s a great idea, and he accepts her because the rest of the world doesn’t accept us,” he explains.
“But within that one found family, [they do]. Augie comes along with the, ‘Oh, put this thing behind your ear and you’ll hear the voices.’ [And he does]. Everyone thinks we’re crazy. They make fun of us. So we’re the one safe place for each other. So that’s what made it kind of hard, that a part of that team just wasn’t clicking because it takes us all to make the team really work, and the level of trust ultimately that we all have with each other.”
Both actors loved having the whole crew together for the finale. “The last episode was something that really was my favorite to shoot because there was so much action, so much going on, so much that I was able to do with my character,” recalls Levy. “But also we were all there doing it. It’s just so much fun when we can all be there together. So having that culmination in the last episode of everyone working to save Susan, that was sort of the highlight for me.”
“Anytime you get us all together, we have a blast on set. We’re never really all together. Not this season for sure because there were a lot of little threads,” says Rozon. “There were so many great guest stars that just did beautiful work throughout the season. Savannah’s always incredible. Mo’s got so much stuff this year. The Adam stuff is beautiful. So there’s so much that happens.”
Levy was a bit startled by the separation that closes the finale, but she and Rozon have thoughts on how to bring them all together in a possible Season 3. “I was heartbroken when we were reading about what each character was going to be doing. It’s satisfying, but you’re like, ‘Wait, wait, wait, what does this mean?’ I would like to see something that shakes up the beginning of Season 3, where everyone leaves whatever they’re doing, and the gang gets back together and we’re on a mission all together this time to deal with something as a group. That’s what I wanna see,” she explains.
“The way we left it is open to a Season 3 for sure,” adds Rozon. “The simple way to do it is to put any of the people that are leaving or the people that stay behind in danger. That team will get back together to go help any one of those people that need them. And we realize that we’re stronger as a team, so we’ll have to get back together to help out whoever we need to help out. And that’s how we’ll get back together.”
Olson says fear not about everyone following a new path for now. “I went back and forth a lot about the stuff in the finale with everyone following their journey. At the last minute I changed the title of our finale to ‘Letting Go.’ As much as I think a lot of our fans would just love to see this group stay together forever and just solve haunted house after haunted house after haunted house, we grow, we change. But none of us, with the possible exception of Elsa Amaranth, are stuck in amber. We all kind of move on,” he shares.
“But for everybody who’s worried about our characters leaving or going away, I would encourage them to look back at Season 2 and how many times we heard the concept of home. ‘There’s something about home’ over and over and over again. I actually got ribbed about how often we were here having that idea of home.”
“In the very end, Luke says, ‘Just remember, there’s something special about home, and this is home. Home is where we come back to.’ Whenever, wherever our journeys take us, wherever our lives take us, we tend to come back home.’ I’ll make these episodes as long as they let me because there’s just so many stories to tell. As we say in the finale, ‘So many houses, so many spookies, so little time.’”
All of Season 1 and 2 will be streaming Thursday on Syfy in the US and CTV Sci-Fi and Crave in Canada. You can also purchase the two-volume Season 1 and Season 2 soundtracks from series composer Spencer Creaghan now on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon.
Photos courtesy of Duncan de Young/Blue Ice Pictures/Syfy; videos courtesy of Syfy.
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