From creator Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and showrunner Chris Black, the Cinemax suspense-horror series Outcast is back for a 10-episode second season that continues to explore the mystery of what lies beneath the supernatural manifestations in the town of Rome and why they are drawn to Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit). While Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) believes that they are in a holy war against the forces of evil, Kyle just wants to protect those he loves, as he learns just how much greater in scope this otherworldly threat truly is.
At a press day for the new season, Collider participated in a small roundtable interview with Robert Kirkman and Chris Black, who talked about the faster pace of Season 2, going bigger and scarier with the story, breaking new ground outside of the comics, their concern about the long break since Season 1 (the series debuted in May 2016), whether anyone on Outcast is safe from possession, what keeps driving Kyle as a character, the tremendous work Reg E. Cathey did on this series before his passing, and just how many seasons they could see telling this story for.
Collider: What can you tease about the direction of the series, for Season 2?
ROBERT KIRKMAN: Well, overall, it’s a little bit faster-paced. The characters have been built and the world has been established. There are not as many introductions to get to, although we are introducing some new characters. More than anything, I think we established the problem of demonic possession, in the first season, and what’s going on in West Virginia. In Season 2, we get deeper into just how widespread the threat is, how entrenched within the community it is, and just how many people are involved, which hopefully will be somewhat of a shock.
How much of what you wanted to do in Season 2 did you actually get to do in Season 2?
KIRKMAN: All of it.
CHRIS BLACK: I think so. I don’t feel like we left anything on the field.
KIRKMAN: I wanted that giant gorilla in there, and you wouldn’t let me do it.
BLACK: We can do that in Season 3. Well no, I don’t know what the expectations really were from us, creatively, for the second season. For the first season, the template had really been set. We knew what the first dozen issues or so of the comic were, we knew what the set up was, and we knew the characters we needed to introduce. I won’t say it was easy, but we really knew what the parameters of that season were. For the second season, all we really knew was that it needs to get bigger and scarier. There wasn’t a sense of having to accomplish this, that and this, and, “Oh, we didn’t get to that.” To me, at least, everything was new. That was the fun of discovery, going into the writers’ room. By the end of the first season, we had caught up to where Robert was, in writing the comics. There was much more parity, so we felt like, in partnership with Robert, we were venturing more into uncharted waters, which was what was exciting about.
Did you step up the fear and scares for Season 2?
KIRKMAN: I hope so! Part of the intent was to do a show that was actually scarier. As much as I love The Walking Dead, I feel like it’s more of a survival show. It’s more of an adventure thing. There are some great intense moments in Season 1, and I think we’ve got more of the same coming in Season 2, and possibly a little bit more.
BLACK: It’s hard, sometimes, when you’re so inside of it. You’re there for the genesis of the stories and you know where they came from. You were there for the whole birthing process, and then through production. Sometimes you get wrapped up in the frustrations of producing a TV show, like how hard it is, how they don’t have the money to do something you wanted to do, or you’re just running hour to hour in the day. So, it’s refreshing when people see it, for the first time, and they go, “Wow, that was scary!,” ‘cause I forgot that it was supposed to be scary. We certainly hope so, but it’s up to [the audience] to let us know if we succeeded.
Because you’re so locked in when you’re making this show, what do you do to cleanse your palette and come back to it, and look at it through new eyes?
BLACK: It’s very intense, the process of getting into it. Sitting down with the writers and dealing with all of the players, not only creatively, from a storytelling point of view, but collaborating with Robert, running things by the studio and the network, getting everyone on board and bringing the actors up to speed, and then just the mechanics of the production. It’s exhausting. It’s running a marathon. Just being able to take a break from it, at the end, is my palette cleanser.
KIRKMAN: For me, everything evolves from getting the script, and then the actors do it a certain way, and then the director comes in, and then, in the edit, you’re doing different things. You’re almost experiencing different iterations of the story, every single time. You’re like, “Oh, this is new to me, how this is. I’d forgotten that. I didn’t expect the actor to say that. That shot is really not what I pictured. It’s way better.” That’s my side of things, sitting back and watching it come together and going, “Look at that! That’s neat!”
BLACK: Sometimes you have your own set of expectations for what you want it to be, and then you’re disappointed ‘cause it wasn’t exactly what you had in your head, when it was first pitched, conceived, designed, planned and executed. Sometimes you see something, and all you can see is what it wasn’t. And then, someone who doesn’t know all of that stuff watches it and goes, “That was great!”
KIRKMAN: Season 2 has a lot of different subplots and different side characters. There’s a lot of new stuff with Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and with Megan (Wrenn Schmidt). We didn’t kill Mark (David Denman) in the comic book series. He was just handicapped. There’s a huge arc for Megan in the second season that’s completely original from the comics. There’s a lot of new ground broken, which is great. I love the fact that people can read the comic book series and get a general sense of what the world is, and they know Kyle Barnes, and they know what’s going on, but they get the same level of surprise from the comic, as they do from the show. You never really know what to expect, or what direction we’re gonna go in.