Showrunner Phil Klemmer Talks THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, the Season Finale, Fan Satisfaction, Living on the Network TV Bubble, and More

     May 5, 2014


The CW series The Tomorrow People has consistently gotten bigger, bolder and stronger in its storytelling, throughout the season.  In Episode 22, the season finale entitled “Son of Man,” Stephen (Robbie Amell) understands that he must be the one to stop The Machine and the extermination of humanity, but he fears he may be too late.  Meanwhile, Russell (Aaron Yoo) realizes his alliance with The Founder (Simon Merrells) was a mistake, and tries to make up for his decision by saving Cara (Peyton List) from an Ultra ambush and offering up a plan that’s going to need everyone’s help, if they are going to have any chance to survive.

During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, showrunner Phil Klemmer talked about what fans can expect from the season finale, whether he worries about what the viewers will thing about where things are left, whether fans will be satisfied, if the season finale ends up being the series finale, living on the network TV bubble, which characters ended up closest to what he envisioned for them and whose journey deviated the most, where things are at for John (Luke Mitchell) and Astrid (Madeleine Mantock), the ramifications of Jedikiah’s (Mark Pellegrino) newfound power, and whether Russell can ever come back from his betrayal.  Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

the-tomorrow-people-season-finaleWhat can you say to tease what viewers can expect from the season finale of The Tomorrow People?

PHIL KLEMMER:  Well, it certainly leaves things in a way where we’re not going to keep a lot of our standing sets.  I know that’s boring and production related, but people talk about blowing up their world, and I think we’re going to literally be blowing up our world and, with any luck, creating a new one for Season 2.

Obviously, you want to make big, bold choices for the storytelling, but do you also find yourself concerned about where that will leave the audience and what the fans of the show will think?

KLEMMER:  I don’t.  I feel like our characters are so strong and their dynamics are so compelling that you could just drop them on a desert island and want to see what they do.  For me, I think we’ve finished this story.  I want to create a second season that’s the same kind of ride.  I don’t want to go back through all the same beats again.  I’m so proud of Season 1.  As far as sci-fi coming-of-age stories go, I think it couldn’t be finer.  But for next season, I really want to allow Stephen and our other characters the chance to be adults.  I think he’s grown into a man over these 22 episodes, and I want to give him a whole new struggle.  I do want to drop all of our characters into a new world with new dynamics and new mythology and a new bad guy.  I think the fans are going to love it because what they love about our show is the characters.  Other than the ones that die in the finale, they’ll all be there in 201. 

If this show doesn’t get a second season, will fans feel somewhat satisfied with the finale, if it ends up being the last episode of the show?

KLEMMER:  I think they will feel satisfied with how we resolved Season 1, but there’s a fairly substantial promise, at the end of the episode.  With what we’ve talked about for Season 2, I feel like, if the fans could see 201, they would probably riot.  It’s like when Veronica Mars went off the air, we did this little 15-minute short about her life, five years in the future.  That’s very much akin to what we want to do with The Tomorrow People.

the-tomorrow-people-season-finale-1When you’re making a show that consistently gets bigger and better, every week, is it frustrating for you when you see certain outlets start predicting that the show won’t get picked up, before any announcement has been made?

KLEMMER:  You know, I really don’t pay a huge amount of attention to the prognostications.  This is my 11th year on the bubble.  Veronica Mars got picked up for three seasons, and Chuck got picked up for five.  Everybody predicted that they would get canceled, every year, and eventually every show does.  All the shows I love are bubble shows.  Unless it’s on HBO and it automatically gets picked up for eight seasons, or whatever, on network, we’re all on the bubble.  All you can really do is try to live like there’s no tomorrow.  That totally beats the alternative of playing it safe, like if they told me The Tomorrow People was picked up for 10 seasons right now.  Living with a gun to your head forces you to do your best work.

As far as this finale goes, which characters end up closest to what you envisioned for them, at the beginning of the season, and whose journey deviated the most?

KLEMMER:  Stephen’s course has always been fairly clear to me.  I always wanted him to be coming of age.  And I wanted him to find his family and lose his family.  I wanted him to master his powers, and then be forced to figure out how to use them.  That was clear for me.  But with John, I never imagined that it would be so fun to take your square-jawed, broad-shouldered guy, who’s already a hero in the pilot, to all of these soulful places of mourning.  There’s something so tragic and noble in him, and I never imagined that we would drag him through the mud, in the way we have.  I never expected that we would feel for him, the way that we have. 

As far as John having his powers taken from him, was that something you always knew would happen, or was that a storyline you were thinking about, but didn’t know who it would happen to?  How did that come about?

KLEMMER:  Well, I guess that came out of just seeing the chemistry that he and Astrid had together.  The idea that she would save his life, and then he would help her overcome her fear, I just think there’s something very sweet and poetic about that.  He teaches her about being one of the Tomorrow People, and she teaches him about being human.  The way of making that most poignant was to literally have him become like her, and at the same time, unlike Cara.  Taking away the connection that Cara and John had was a way of pushing him tragically closer to Astrid.

the-tomorrow-people-season-finale-3Where does that leave John and Astrid now, as far as stopping The Machine and saving the world, especially with them being human and so easy to hurt?

KLEMMER:  It forces them to do their version of a living will, very quickly.  They have to say all the things that they ever wanted to say because they’re certainly not going to be able to say them tomorrow.  To me, there’s something really interesting there.  John’s story for the finale is about who he is without his powers.  Everybody who’s come to love that character knows that there’s much more to him.  It’s a lesson that Stephen learned early on, that the powers do not make the man.  That’s something that John will have to figure out, and he’s not going to be able to do that with Astrid’s help.

Now that Jedikiah has powers, what will the ramifications of that be?  Will that change whose side he’s on, yet again?

KLEMMER:  Jedikiah’s side never really changes, at all.  That’s what I really love about him.  He is totally dependable.  Like all kind of kooky ideologues, he never wavers.  The flipside to that is that he’ll do anything to not waver from his course.  He’ll do all kinds of despicable shit, including taking Irene’s powers.  There’s a message in the series that there is a danger in playing God.  I believe that Jedikiah takes Irene’s powers for all the right reasons.  In an alternate version of our show, he is the hero.  But, Stephen is the actual hero.  Stephen was born a hero, and Jedikiah is flying on borrowed wings.  It doesn’t take long into the finale to see the consequences of Jedikiah’s stolen powers. 

And then, there’s Russell, who is headed down a path that has separated him from all of his friends.  Can he ever came back from such a huge betrayal?

KLEMMER:  I guess I should have added Russell to your question about characters who I never imagined where they would end up.  I certainly didn’t imagine that our comic relief would turn into our Judas.  I think he did make an unforgivable decision Episode 21, by betraying Roger, but I think he did it for totally understandable reasons.  For him, the finale will be an attempt to atone, but I think he could spend the rest of his life trying to make up for his mistake.  Russell, in Season 2, will have to shoulder a lot more responsibility than the happy-go-lucky Russell of Season 1.  It’s totally interesting to me to imagine a world with Russell as the leader of the Tomorrow People, in Season 2.  I’m not sure how we’ll get there, but I could see it.

The season finale of The Tomorrow People airs on The CW on Monday, May 5th.

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