NOS4A2 Showrunner Jami O'Brien Talks Season 2's Faster Pace, What's to Come

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NOS4A2 continues to be one of the best dramas on TV in its second season. 

NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 5 was a pulse-pounding installment that delivered twists, turns, and everything in between. 

We had the pleasure of chatting with series showrunner Jami O'Brien about the hit AMC drama, and what's on tap for the rest of NOS4A2 Season 2.

Jami O'Brien

TV Fanatic: What drew you to NOS4A2?

Jami O'Brien: The novel. Yeah. I'll tell you really quickly the story of how I came to adapt it.

I had been working for AMC for a long time, mostly working on a show called Hell on Wheels.

That was a Western that ran for five seasons on AMC. And towards the end of it, one of the executives from hell on wheels, a woman named Emma Miller, approached me and asked me if I had ever read NOS4A2.

I had not, but I had read Lock and Key, Joe Hill's other work, and I really liked it, and she said, 'well, take a look at this. We have the rights to it. Let us know if you want to adapt it.'

Vic Cut Up - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 5

I read it like in a weekend, and I guess the simple answer to your question, what drew me to it, really was Vic McQueen.

Right off the bat, I realized, first of all, that the novel set in Haverhill, Massachusetts, which is right down the street from where I grew up.

I grew up in a town called Billerica, Massachusetts and I felt like I know this kid. I know her family. How weird is it that there's a novel about it?

And then Charlie Manx I thought was a really compelling villain. I had never seen a vampire character drawn in quite that way before.

And so, I guess the place,  and the family drama and ultimately Vic and Charlie.

Charlie Searches - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 5

The second season has been considerably different to the first. What has the fan reaction been like?

This is purely anecdotal judging from, social media, most people I think like it, yeah.

Because it's kind of harder, faster, a more intense season.

There have been a couple of folks who I think were big fans of the first season were like, 'we miss season one, which I'm sympathetic to.

I liked season one as well. I liked that kind of slow-burn storytelling, but I think overall, the response has been pretty positive.

Tabitha Strikes - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 4

I think folks have appreciated the kind of higher octane, faster pace of it.

NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 5 played with structure very well. Can you tell me a bit about the thought process behind the decision to follow the action from different perspectives?

Sure. You know, it's funny that that sequence. Sunday night's episode  follows a very iconic sequence in the book.

I remember the attack at the lakehouse. It was one of my favorite sequences in the novel, and it both excited me and terrified me about putting it to the screen, just because I was like, how the heck are we gonna shoot all this?

In the novel. Joe actually plays with perspective and does a similar thing to what we're doing with the show.

Save Your Son - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 4

He tells part of it from Wayne's point of view, and then he kind of backs up and tells it through Vic's point of view. And you're kind of seeing the abduction from all different sides.

I thought that was really cool. What, what it did for me, the viewer, is it put me on the edge of my seat.

And it also really made me realize that this happens really fast. The amount of time that elapses in the episode is less. Less story time elapses than minutes on television elapse.

It makes getting Wayne into that car is such a big deal. We wanted to honor it with its own episode.

And we also wanted to honor how dangerous Charlie Manx is and how quickly it all actually goes down. 

Who's In Trouble? - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 4

We only met Jonathan, but his power of compulsion is worrying. What can you tease about NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 6?

I'll tell you this, we see him again, and this is a bit of a tease too.

I think Maggie is very interested in learning Who is this new strong creative, and how can I take him off the board? Because he is problematic.

And speaking of Maggie, are you able to tease anything about her struggle with using the tiles?

I think that in season one, we see the idea that these gifts are amazing and powerful, but they all come with a cost.

Maggie Makes a Call - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 1

For Maggie, the cost has gotten steeper and steeper over the years. She's a character, you know, when we meet her, she's on her own.

She has a friendship with sheriff Bly, but really she's without her parents. And she's kind of a character that we think of a lot as an orphan.

I think that she has a deep-seated longing for family, which she has established with Tabitha.

And when Tabitha realizes that Maggie's gift is taking this physical toll on her because she loves her, she wants to see her set it aside.

Maggie's Mission - NOS4A2

So for Maggie, I think the choice about whether or not to use her tiles and how she's going to use them really comes down to how is she going to relate to Tabitha?

Can she, you know, quote-unquote kind of have it all.

We talked about her in the writers room, and I said this to Jakhara, who plays Maggie, early on, you know, in season one, we saw Maggie is really kind of what we call an outdoor cat.

When we come to her and season two, she's become an indoor cat, but I think that fundamentally as a person, you don't really change, and outdoor cats kind of stay outdoor cats.

I think that this season is about seeing her wrestle with that.

Lou and Chris - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 5

How can I respect my partner and take care of myself, but also honor this gift that I have, that not everybody has and is fundamental to who I am?

And if we circle back to Vic, she kept a lot bottled up during her teenage years, and it seems like her parents were skeptical of what happened to her.

Now that they are starting to witness the horrors of Charlie, will they come together?

Chris McQueen saw some pretty outrageous things. He saw that Charlie Manx is, in fact, alive.

In the next few episodes, I think one of the things that you'll see is Vic's parents grappling with the supernatural.

The HourGlass Man - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 5

So, we're halfway through the second season and every episode so far could have served as a season finale. The pace has been great! What can you tell us about the rest of the season?

The rest of the season, I think,  kind of follows along the first half of the season.

You'll see a lot of big action sequences, and you'll see a lot of character moments. We go to Charlie's back story again.

We'll see some more about Charlie Manx. Yeah. I think our goal with the show all along and the balance has kind of shifted one way and then the other, but has always been to make an supernatural exciting show that is grounded in character.

Thinking - NOS4A2 Season 2 Episode 5

And that's what we're always doing with every episode and depending on where they are, some episodes move more like an episode five, as you saw there, they move more towards the action hero accident episodes, and some episodes are more character-driven episodes. Um, like episode three and four, I think of as that way.

Remember you can watch NOS4A2 online right here via TV Fanatic.

Catch new episodes Sundays at 10/9c on AMC and BBC America.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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NOS4A2 Quotes

Bing: You know, I tried to play nice. I told you I was an enthusiast.
Henchmen: Well, let's do this. Help me get it in.

You be good. I love you.