It was clear from the first scene, Dominion Season 2 Episode 1 was a different beast.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Vaun Wilmott – creator and executive producer of Dominion – yesterday, and he was kind enough to discuss the new season and share some insight into tonight's episode "Mouth of the Damned." We will finally be visiting New Delphi and things are about to get crazy.
Hope you guys enjoy this exclusive interview with the creative genius behind the world of Dominion.
TV Fanatic: The Dominion Season 2 Premiere had a "Legion" kind of feel to it, which was fantastic. Was the plan always for the series to become more hard-core as it went along? The material is pretty dark this year.
Vaun Wilmott: Yeah, it was definitely the plan to make the world feel more grounded, more realistic and more dangerous. The first season was very much isolated. Not claustrophobic, but it was very insular to Vega. It worked, because we had to really set up all these characters, all the mythology and the stories. But it was definitely always the plan to just expand in the second season. Get out to new cities, get outside Vega and get darker, grittier, more rounded, more realistic. That was always the plan for Season 2.
TVF: Michael and Gabriel swapped roles toward the end of last season. Is it safe to say Gabe's our big bad again, while Michael's working through his disillusionment in mankind?
VW: To me, the best characters are those whose actions don't always define who they are. They are complicated and the good guy can be bad and the bad guy can be good. For our show, Michael and Gabriel represent that very well.
You know, the seemingly good one, Michael, can do bad things. His journey this season is very much about disillusionment, redemption and finding his purpose. Gabriel is complicated, he's heinous in every way. He wiped out billions of people and carried out this extermination war. And yet at the heart of him, he has wounds that are very relatable. I think in many ways he's a sympathetic character, acting out from the loss of his father. There's an interesting dynamic between the two of them that shines a light on what it means to be good and what it means to be bad.
TVF: The Mallory storyline is incredibly engaging, but I have a feeling God's presence is not what it seems. Without spoiling too much, is it possible something or someone else is involved?
VW: There's definitely a supernatural presence, and we don't know if it's God or not. There's certainly something going on there, some power in the world that we haven't yet encountered. The big secret of course is whether or not is it God? Is it something else?
It's a big part of the story and it was an exciting thing to do, which was to really get us out. You saw the stuff that Deran Sarafian directed and Chris Baffa, our cinematographer, filmed. It's just so beautiful. It's like an old western, right? It's like this town in the middle of nowhere that has this kind of strange thing happening. These odd beliefs that no one else seemingly in the world has. It's an interesting place, and I think as we dig in deeper and go forward in the season, I think people are going to be really fascinated.
TVF: Alex has really come into his own this season. We learned his mother, Charlie, was killed but what of his biological father? Will that mystery be tackled this year at all?
VW: I'm not sure that we'll hit it this year. We are going to learn more about his heritage and where he's from. But who his actual dad is, I think as we go along in the series – if we're lucky enough to have a third and a fourth season – I think we will learn more about him. But it is one of the great mysteries of the show and the mythology.
TVF: I love this stronger Claire, but she's clearly in over her head when it comes to David Whele. She just doesn't have Riesen's experience to play the "Game of Thrones." What can you share about her journey this season?
VW: Claire has a cool journey this season, because it's very much where the idealist meets reality. And in this world, reality is very dangerous. So the fact that she has high hopes, these lofty goals for the city and she wants to do the right thing, she's going to meet reality and the forces that oppose that; David Whele being a primary antagonist and a dangerous one. It's a really great arc for her character, because can she stay who she is? Or will she have to become something else? Becoming something more like her father? That again plays on the themes that I love, of fathers and daughters and fathers and sons. So it's an interesting character arc for her.
TVF: It's phenomenal they've given you 13 hours to tell your story this season. The finale last year felt really rushed. How closely does Season 2 follow the show Bible you used for your pitch to Syfy?
VW: There's actually quite a bit in there that was in the original Bible; I would say half. Then the other half is the input, the creativity and the talents of all the writers that were part of the team that imagined the second season. Once you get all those great minds together, people start pitching out ideas and the great ideas pop up and you grab them. But I would say as a season, it very much tracks with what was planned.
TVF: The characters have grown so much since Season 1. I realize they're all your babies, but do you have a favorite to write for? David Whele must be a total blast!
VW: You know, they're all different. I wouldn't say I have a favorite. I think every character's voice is a unique opportunity when you sit down to write a script, a scene or dialog. Now in the second season, the actors have really given the characters such a unique voice and point of view, so each character kind of just comes to life on their own.
When you're writing them you have an idea of what their point of view would be on a given situation. They really do start speaking for themselves. The interesting thing is that so many of them are who they were right in the pilot, but as you say, have evolved and grown. A large part of that is due to stories, and a large part of that is due to the actors just really bringing subtlety and nuance and interesting details and behaviors. As I said at Comic-Con, it really is the Dominion family working in unison to bring it all to life.
TVF: Flashbacks were used brilliantly last year. You tweeted an image of Michael in a period costume. What can you share about the upcoming flashbacks?
VW: The flashbacks are going to be a big part of the storytelling of this season. Last season, we just did it a tiny bit. This season, we actually do whole episodes almost like in a LOST model, where a third of the episode is in flashbacks. Our production designer, our cinematographer, our costume designer really dug in. I think people are going to be surprised by the flashbacks.
TVF: What can you tease about tonight's second episode, "Mouth of the Damned"? Maybe a little something about Julian?
VW: New Delphi is a new world in Dominion that we're exploring in Season 2. I think people are going to be surprised by Julian, who is played by Simon Merrells. Also the culture of the city is going to be fascinating and unlike anything we've seen anywhere else in the world of Dominion. The way they're living is going to surprise people. Wait until you see the city, it is crazy!
TVF: Thank you so much for chatting with me Vaun. Fingers crossed for Season 3!
VW: No thank you Hank, this was really fun. I'd love to do another season.
Dominion Season 2 Episode 2 is titled “Mouth of the Damned” and airs Tonight at 10/9c on Syfy.