Finn Jones and Pico Alexander star as newspaperman Samuel Bowles and entrepreneur Henry 'Ship' Shipley on Dickinson, respectively.
We had a chance to catch up with them before the Dickinson Season 2 finale on Friday, Feb. 26.
Read on to find out what Finn had to say about his complicated relationships with Emily and Sue, Ship's engagement with Lavinia, and whether they'll be back for season 3.
What was the process of joining the show in its second season?
Pico: So I heard about the project. I went in to meet with Alena to speak about it a little bit. I had been recommended to her by Anna Baryshnikov [who plays Lavinia]. We had worked together on something before.
Anna had great things to say about Alena, and I had some other friends that had also worked on the show's first season. They had had a great time. They needed a job. So it worked out perfectly.
Finn: I mean, it was a really wonderful experience, joining a show that had already been established for a season. And I guess everyone was just super, very welcoming. And it felt like myself and Pico had been there from the very beginning. Just a really welcoming cast and crew, which is wonderful. It's pretty nice.
So, Finn, you play Sam. Can you talk about his relationship with Emily? He keeps reiterating to her that their relationship is strictly professional, but there's a lot of subtext there.
It's very complex. And I think, ultimately, in these last three episodes, Sam Bowles really reveals himself and his intentions. Ultimately, when he knows what he's doing; he's not an idiot. He's probably doing what he's doing with Emily to several women around the country.
He's trying to build his media empire, and he wants fresh talent for his pages. And also, he wants to have some fun along the way. And, you know, that's, that's just his MO. It's kind of reprehensible, to be honest.
Sam has this way of flirting with Emily and leading her on, and then he pulls back and plays the victim.
He knows exactly what he's doing. He's also about 10 years older than Emily, right? So he has experience, and he knows how to play these girls. He knows their weaknesses. He preys on them, you know, for his own for his own needs.
I think he does really admire Emily's work for sure. I think he does see someone that is incredibly talented, but he wants to poach that talent for his own profit.
How have you gone about playing Sam? It’s so hard to tell what his motivations are at any given time.
Yeah, I think for me, I just played the truth in every moment. Right, like what was the character's truth at that moment? I think for me, it was always that he does really care about Emily's work. And he does.
He does admire her as an artist, and he definitely does want her to grow into this amazing, powerful writer. I think he does genuinely care about that, but then also, you know, he's someone that has his own urges and his own selfish intentions.
And he doesn't really restrain those intentions because he doesn't need to. So he kind of just does what he wants and does as he pleases. And he can get away with it because he is a man of power.
When you say he cares about Emily, do you mean he cares about her as a person, or he cares about what she can contribute to the paper?
It's hard. I think it's a mixture of both things. I think like all great characters, and like all real human beings, it's complex, and … there’s a gray area.
I think for him, he does see someone that has a lot of potential, and he really wants to see her grow as an artist, but he also is very selfish, and he wants to grow his media empire.
He knows that Emily's voice is going to be fantastic for him. And so he's constantly balancing the tightrope.
What can you say about Sam’s relationship with Sue?
Yeah, it’s super complex and complicated. I think that Sue does see Sam as someone that can help both herself and Emily strategically, professionally. And then also, you know, they have this intimate side of their relationship.
Sue is in a situation with Austin where she feels like she needs some more intimacy or whatever, and Sam is there also. Sam travels around a lot. He's probably very lonely and is looking for some kind of intimacy as well. I think that's how they fall in with each other.
I think it's just very animalistic, and they're both using each other for their own sexual desires and needs. That's what it is.
Can you talk about your reaction to the reveal that they’re having an affair?
I thought it was really interesting. I received the first 10 episodes at the beginning of the season. So it was really important to have that information so that when I was playing the full arc that I understood that is who Sam was. But yeah, it's shocking.
It's shocking, especially for the audience. Because, you know, you always teeter, ‘Is Sam a good guy? Does he really care?’ Then this information comes out, and you start to see him in a completely new light.
I think ultimately, he is just someone that is very selfish. He only really cares about his needs and growing his empire. I think that's ultimately who he is.
So, Pico, you play Ship, and he's in this weird on-again, off-again relationship with Lavinia, but he doesn't seem to get the kind of woman he wants to marry? Can you talk about that a little?
Yeah, no, he doesn't have a clue what's going on. He wants her to be one way; she is another way. And the more time they seem to spend with one another, the more they realize how incompatible they really are.
There have been points where Ship seems to understand who Lavinia truly is, but then he reverts back to his idealized version of her.
Yeah, there's this big battle going on inside of him. I think the moments where he does seem to get it; he's looking a little more inward and trusting his own gut. And the times when he loses it again is when he starts worrying about what other people are thinking and what society will think.
I think that's where we lose Ship is when he worries about how he will appear to everybody else. When he has time to just be with Lavinia one on one, then they get along better, and he sees her for who she really is, I think.
We know from history that Lavinia never marries, but at this point in time, she's kind to engaged to Ship. What do both characters get out of this relationship?
I mean, I think they really help each other see what is missing from their lives in some way. We know Ship isn't really good for Lavinia, but truthfully, I think she might be better for him than he is for her. Although, I don't know. I don't know what the deal is with that relationship.
We know that they do not work out. Maybe they can be better at friends. That's what I would hope for.
Any idea what causes that inevitable breakup?
It's a mismanagement of expectations. He goes into the situation expecting her to be one thing; she goes into the situation expecting him to be another thing. Their communication is really what gets worked on over the course of the season, right?
So they at least get better at communicating what the problems are. But if you don't see somebody for who they really are, and you see somebody for who you want them to be, I think that just spells disaster.
Lavinia has been pretty upfront about who she is, but Ship hasn’t been that interested in listening.
Yes, that's true. He doesn't really listen. I guess it's like he thinks that she doesn't know what she wants, right? Which isn't good, but probably what he's thinking, that Lavinia doesn't know what she wants. So it's not so much that he doesn't hear her.
He just kind of says, 'OK, yeah, sure.' And then you're just saying this stuff you don't know. Yeah. It's a totally condescending, misogynistic worldview.
You haven’t had as many scenes with Adrian Enscoe, who plays Austin, but can you talk about their relationship?
Yeah, they’re old friends. It's probably like if you run into someone from high school, you were best friends at the time, and then you kind of just sort of drifted apart, and you're not really quite sure why.
You're just two different adults, and you just don't have that thing in common that you used to. That's probably a bit like Ship and Austin. They had great times when they were kids, but now, they're just on slightly different wavelengths, and they don't they don't click like that.
They are in each other’s lives, though. Ship and Lavinia are engaged for the time being.
Yeah, I think they get along. I don't think there's tension or conflict between them. I think it's easy, but they’re not particularly close.
Do either of you have any idea if you’ll be back for Dickinson Season 3?
Pico: I don't know. We've been asked, but I don't have any information, unfortunately.
Finn: Yeah, we're not sure. Yeah. I mean, it's certainly possible, but who knows? We'll see.
The Dickinson Season 2 Premiere airs Friday, February 26 only on Apple TV+.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.