Extant creator Mickey Fisher and his co-executive producer Craig Shapiro sat down with press at Comic Con to talk the CBS thriller’s reboot for Season 2, what’s in store for Molly — and her love life — and what exactly is going on with Julie this season.
The pair said that their star and fellow EP Halle Berry very much took the lead on the storytelling and new direction for Molly in Season 2.
“She came in really passionate about a couple big ideas for the character, where she would like to see it go and the things she would like to explore that were different than last season,” said Shapiro. “Our job is how do we take that and what is the story we can tell using that? How do we give her all the stuff that she wants to play? She’s an Academy award-winning actress for a reason and so you want to listen to that person. She very intuitively pushes the story in the right direction — really good character sense.”
“I like having some creative involvement — not just being the dancing bear,” Berry joked during the Comic Con panel for the new season.
Shapiro says Season 2 takes Molly far from the “mom mode” of the first season that saw her trying to juggle her marriage, her career and raising her children.
“We like to say that Mollie is in warrior mode,” he explained. “She comes out of the box basically fists flying. She has the entire fate of the human race resting on her shoulders and if she can’t solve the problem, we’re doomed. So this season, she’s got this energy that’s kind of electric and pouring out of her. We’ve have scenes where — without telling you too much — she’s involved in gun battles.The season ends with a big knockdown a fight that would not have been last season and we’re trying to explore that side of her as she tries to save the human race from extinction.”
“It’s this fight for survival,” Fisher added. “And there are these three entities there — there’s the artificial intelligence, the Humanichs, there are the aliens and then there are the humans in the middle. And at any one time, the rise of one of those things can mean the extinction of the other. So she’s really in that red-blooded fight for survival.
“When we meet her, she’s this woman with nothing left to lose,” Fisher continued. “And she becomes aware that there’s this string of mysterious murderous murders, some that might be tied to what happened in space — but because she is in this somewhat questionable space no one will believe her. So part of her arc is taking that on her shoulders.”
And doing so in the middle of some major changes herself. Including her personal life, thanks to the introduction of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s ex-military rogue cop JD Richter.
“Another element that’s a big one of the season is the two sides of the kind of man you’d be attracted to — and a lot of women have this. They’re attracted to the bad boy but they want to be with the one who will be nice to them — and that fight is a thing that floats through this season,” says Shapiro. “Because Jeffrey Dean really does play Mr. Outsider. He’s a bad boy. He doesn’t follow the rules ever and he is generally a man who lives outside the system. And Shepherd, played by David Morrissey, really is a guy of the system and a guy who has had a thing for Molly for a long time. Those two things are both appealing to her and are both drawing her, and part of the fun of the season is to see which way is she going to go.”
Asked about fans’ strong reaction to Grace Gummer’s Julie Gelineau’s new story arc, Shapiro insisted that Julie isn’t a “moustache-twirling bad guy.”
“Grace came to me during the first episode and said, ‘Ooooh, I get to play the bad guy! I’m so excited!’ And I said to her, ‘I don’t view you as a bad guy. We don’t have a world on this show of bad guys in that same way. She’s a person who is in a very difficult challenging situation. And she makes some bad choices. But she didn’t do them because she’s evil. She did them because she couldn’t see a better way through the thicket at the time.’ And I think Grace appreciated that because it allowed her to find the reality of it — the real person who any of us might become in a situation that has no good moves. You’ve got to make a move, so you do the best you can.”
Extant airs Wednesdays at 10/9CT on CBS.