[Warning: Spoilers for the Season 2 finale.]
Well, that was certainly an intense couple of hours. In the next part of my chat with Travelers creator and showrunner Brad Wright, we talk about that Season 2 finale and what he hopes to do in Season 3.
[Seriously: Warning: Spoilers for the Season 2 finale.]
We ended the episode with the team’s relationships with their various loved ones in tatters, and the two that were most painful (to me, anyway) were Kat and Grant and David and Marcy. Wright says all is not lost for them if the show gets a third season. “Don’t give up. I promise you I have a plan. Always have hope for those characters,” he says. “Our writers have spent some time and energy on Season 3. We know where we’re going. It’s not a question of, ‘Oh my God, we’ve painted ourselves into a corner, how do we get out of this?’ We know what we’re doing.”
The structure of Episode 12, “001,” teed off of a similar episode last year. “The Vincent arc that I had planned, I said, ‘We need to do a last episode of our loved ones getting treated the way [the team] was treated in 105 without the vicious chairs and getting tied and strapped down,'” he explains. “We had a discussion of, ‘Who are the loved ones?’ It’s sort of a sad statement on Philip that Ray is his person.”
The finale opened the door for Amanda Tapping to return next year, and Wright said her role grew from that one-off appearance in the Season 2 premiere, which itself came about when he thought of her for Perrow after hiring her to direct. “We do two [episodes] at a time. We actually block shot the first three this year and I think that’s too much. Two is quite manageable — it allows you to achieve more in a location and saves money. Our cast is so good. They can go back and forth between both episodes nicely,” he says.
“[Amanda] did such a good job in the finale on Season 1, so I said, ‘OK, we’re going to do two blocks with Amanda next year.’ That’s an enormous amount of work for a director. Fun, but taxing. I was quite reticent to ask her to act, but I knew she’d be available because she would be in [directing] prep. She had to lose a day of prep to do a day as Perrow.”
“As I’m writing the part, I’m thinking, ‘You know who would be really good for this …’ I asked her really gently and she said, ‘Oh! I’d love to. Thank you for thinking of me.’ And then I said, ‘OK, I have [another] idea [for the finale],’ and she said, ‘Love it. Absolutely. I’m all aboard.’ I’m lucky she was available. She’s so sought after as a director. She’s so good, and I know that because I’ve been working with her for 20 years.”
Dialing back a few weeks, Wright says that fantastic morning after scene between Kat and Grant arose from a conversation he had with Eric McCormack. “The core of that scene was Eric’s. He said, ‘I think it’s important for the audience to see the moment after, that they obviously slept together.’ That was not in the original script,” he recalls. “So I thought, ‘How do I sell that?’ I said, ‘How about you’re in the kitchen and you just burst out laughing, and that will tell the whole story without having to say anything?’ He loved it, and they nailed it.”
Looking ahead to Season 3, which has not been greenlit yet, Wright already knows where he wants to go. “In Season 3, and we bloody well better get one … I think Season 2 is a really good season and surpasses Season 1 and I want to keep that momentum,” he shares. “The theme of Season 3 is AI. There’s a lot of discussion of free will and AI and all of those things that we teed up in Season 2. We have an arc that introduces a new character, a woman, who is going to be a challenge to MacLaren. I want to give him a foil. We’re going to dial up the temperature a little more.”
As for showing that future world, Wright says we’ll get glimpses. “We’re providing little windows. The fact that Simon did those sketches this year was to show a little window, and I have a bit of a plan in Season 3,” he says. “Obviously building a set of that magnitude would require a major commitment.”
“I honestly never intended to go to the future because the characters are trapped in the here and now and so should the audience be, in a sense. Thematically, as much as it’s about people from the future, it’s really about the here and now, and we’ve got to get our shit together, because look what could happen.”
Last week, Travelers made the top 10 Netflix binge list for 2017, and Wright was thrilled to get that news. “I love hearing that, especially before they’re ether going to pick us up or not. We’re a bit of a sleeper show. I don’t think Season 1 is on Rotten Tomatoes [because] there weren’t enough reviews,” he points out.
“It’s the nature of Netflix — they put it up and leave it [for people to find it] and people started finding it, which is fabulous. When people watch our show, they don’t watch one or two. I know people who’ve watched it all in one day.”
Wright has been showrunning for a couple of decades, and in the current climate of “Me, too,” the conversation turned to how a showrunner can protect an extended cast and crew that number in the hundreds. “It goes back to how you want your family unit, your show, to be. We had people on Stargate who spent the whole run with us. There were so many kids born,” he recalls.
“When Eric and I met in LA after several years [to discuss Travelers], I said, ‘We have a no assholes policy,’ and he said, ‘We have a no assholes policy on Will & Grace.’ People know that. When that line has been crossed, we’ve acted very swiftly … and replaced those people. When you have power over someone and then you behave that way, that is the most senseless thing. This show is produced by myself and Carrie Mudd, who is my partner, and she’s a very strong woman in the business, and we have zero tolerance for this stuff.”
In Canada, you can catch up on the entire Season 2 of Travelers starting Tuesday on Showcase’s website. Season 1 is running now in the U.S. on Netflix, with Season 2 arriving on 12/26. Click here for all of our Season 2 previews and interviews. We’ll be back after the U.S. crowd has had a chance to check out Season 2 with a few more answers from Wright about the finale.
[Update 3/15/18]: Travelers has been renewed for Season 3, by all accounts, exclusive to Netflix. More info to follow.