MIDNIGHT, TEXAS Season 2 Set Visit

TV

NBC’s MIDNIGHT, TEXAS returns for a second season this Friday. If you missed season one last summer, there’s still time to catch up on all ten episodes through Hulu. Or you can just jump in when it returns. But assuming you caught the show, based on the books by Charlaine Harris (True Blood), here’s a bit of a preview for season two, cobbled together from interviews during a recent set visit.

And yes, there will be spoilers. This is a preview, after all.

Season two picks up basically where the first year left off. A hotel has opened in sleepy Midnight, founded by new characters Patience (Jaime Ray Newman, The Punisher) and Kai Lucero (Nestor Carbonell, Bates Motel). They are gypsies who have been going from town to town healing people. They’ve faced some skeptics, and they found some believers. Now they’re ready to settle down and open up a more permanent shop. And they’ve chosen Midnight as the location, an invading presence in a town still trying to settle down from the last big event.

Carbonell, whom you may recognize from Lost, and who was sought after because the new show-runners worked with him on Ringer, looked to Reiki as a way to ground the character. He says the cast is made up of the nicest people, all so welcoming and willing to take big swings, and open to trying things in new ways. He’s very happy to have joined the ensemble. Carbonell learned to trust the moment and the director on Lost, especially during his 13-day shoot (a normal episode takes about eight days) on his character’s backstory episode, which was far different than he had imagined. Now, he brings those skills and experience to MIDNIGHT, TEXAS.

The hotel itself is a sprawling, impressive, versatile set, featuring a pool in the lobby that will definitely get some use. It’s a big of a departure for sleepy, lived-in Midnight. The building is also apparently “so much worse than just being haunted; you’ll wish that was the only problem.”

The hotel isn’t the only thing new that has come to MIDNIGHT, TEXAS. With showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen having left to oversee the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot (which the cast universally insists she will ‘slay’), writer duo Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder (Supernatural), who worked on season one, have stepped into her shoes.

Nicole and Eric said their instructions for season two were clear: make it soapier, sexier, and scarier – essentially, like True Blood, but for network television. (Though not with the obvious move, bringing in Quinn, the weretiger character who appears in both book series. He’s still MIA this year.) With much of the material of the trilogy of books having been covered in the first two seasons, they also had a goal to set up the world for a much longer, larger, more dynamic story.

Everyone involved in the production seems to agree that they have succeeded in this. The action is more sprawling, no longer confined to Midnight, and more serialized. The cast claims the two-hour finale, which they were shooting during the set visit, and which involved a lot of night shooting, will blow your mind. Nothing has been spared.

Oh, and the great Jaime Murray (Defiance, Warehouse 13) has also come on board in an ‘integral’ role, though details about her part were not revealed.

Of course, not everything is about the new cast and sets. Fan favorite characters are well-served, too, with blossoming relationships explored and a threat coming from within, leaving you to wonder who is friend and who is foe.

Manfred (Francois Arnaud) still has to deal with the black ooze coming out of his ear at the end of season one. Plagued by “demon cancer,” he’s not quite himself as the story gets back underway. And he is beset by nightmares that aren’t just nightmares. Can he vanquish demons not just from the outside world, but from within himself, too?

At least it’ll be easy to hide the illness from his squeeze, Creek (Sarah Ramos), who is away at school, and so not around to catch him behaving badly. (Although Ramos is no longer a series lead, she will appear in season two of MIDNIGHT, TEXAS.)

Bobo (Dylan Bruce) has a few different things to contend with. For one, he’s bought the Cartoon Saloon, giving the place a Merlot’s-like feel. Second, he is enjoying his new relationship with Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley), his best friend.

Though, things will not necessarily go swimmingly for them. Haunted by past mistakes, Fiji has a lot about herself to figure out. Not to mention, being with her is going to endanger Bobo with a Final Destination-esque plot. So let’s hope the couple can get through that and come out the other side alive.

Perhaps a bit less dramatic is the wedded bliss of Olivia (Arielle Kebbel) and Lem (Peter Mensah). The couple has a few things to work on, such as re-decorating their shared living space into something suitable for them both, and the psychic connection they now have after Lem drank Olivia’s blood. But those aren’t deadly issues. Just fun.

Olivia has had a lot of emotional pain in her life, and this season will provide some healing. Not that she’s stopped being a badass assassin; quite the opposite. But she needs to learn how to embrace the wonderful parts of life, too, and to figure out how to be strong enough to be vulnerable.

Kebbel also promises satisfying, big resolution between Olivia and Madonna (Kellee Stewart), who was revealed to be working for Olivia’s father at the end of last season.

Then there’s Joe (Jason Lewis), whom after a millennia of hiding, is trying to figure out what his life is now. This will lead to some fresh temptations for the angel, and Joe will be forced to confront the person he was.

Which is not to say that season two of MIDNIGHT, TEXAS is backwards-looking. While the past does play into character development, it’s used to inform how the characters grow moving forward, not driving the plot as it sometimes did in season one.

It’s been said that Friday nights are a great night for genre television on the broadcast networks, and with MIDNIGHT, TEXAS moving into the regular season – albeit for a nine-episode run this fall, rather than trying to complete a full twenty-some episodes – let’s hope that stays true. The new and expanded sets look great, the story teased is intriguing, and the cast and crew seem to be having a lot of fun. I look forward to going along for the ride with them.

MIDNIGHT, TEXAS begins its second season this Friday on NBC.

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