NOS4A2 season two came to a close on Sunday night, leaving a door open to what happens next. AMC hooked up Geek Girl Authority with an interview with executive producer and writer Jami O’Brien to talk about the journey and possible storylines for season three. At this time, AMC has not renewed NOS4A2, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
SPOILERS! Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) won the war for her son’s soul and the souls of many other children. Even though Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) is no longer among the living, his spirit is alive and well in Millie Manx (Mattea Conforti) and the children of Christmasland, including Wayne McQueen (Jason David). Millie is in the real world and making it her own. And Maggie (Jahkara Smith) embarked an new journey into the unknown.
A self-proclaimed theater kid, O’Brien studied theater in college and went on to grad school for playwriting. She had several friends moving to Los Angeles to write for television. They encouraged O’Brien to join them. Through the theater, O’Brien transitioned into television, working in an assistant role at first. And then eventually working her way to staff writer and now showrunner. O’Brien’s work includes writing and producing on Flesh and Bone, Hell on Wheels and Fear the Walking Dead.
NOETTA HARJO: Hi Jami! How are you?
JAMI O’BRIEN: Hi! Good.
NH: First of all, congratulations on great season two of NOS4A2.
JB: Thank you so much.
NH: So let’s jump into it. What attracted you to NOS4A2?
JB: Vic McQueen. You know I had been working for AMC for a while when Emma Miller, who’s one of the executives over there, approached me and asked me if I had ever read NOS4A2, and I had not. But I read Locke and Key by Joe Hill and really loved it. So I said, “Let me take a look at it.” And when I first started reading it, I immediately saw that Vic McQueen was from a town called Haverhill, Massachusetts, which is right down the street from where I grew up. I immediately felt like I could identify with her and her family.
The first time Vic encounters Charlie Manx in the novel, there’s a kid in the back of the Wraith. A kid that she has never met before, a total stranger to her. Without thinking she puts her life at risk to save this kid. Unfortunately she doesn’t save him, but I think at that moment, when she is trying to get him out of the Wraith no matter what happens to her, without even a thought… that kind of courage and heart in that character just made me fall in love with her.
NH: For anyone who hasn’t read the book, how would you compare the book to the show?
JB: I’m a huge fan of the book. What we strive to do in the adaptation is stay as close as we can to the spirit of the novel, while making the changes that, frankly are necessary for making a television show. It is a different medium. Even though Joe Hill writes very cinematically, he also in big portions of the novel writes a lot of interior stuff for Vic and what’s going on in her mind. It’s sometimes tough to dramatize on a television show without other characters for her to talk to. The adjustments we made were in service of trying to dramatize Vic’s story.
NH: One of the things that stands out to me is getting to see both Vic and Charlie’s childhoods. In a way, they are kindred spirits. They both had a rough upbringing. And now they are both parents. How important was it to show that parallel between Vic and Charlie?
JB: They both grew up without a lot of means, kind of in economically depressed circumstances. They both grew up without a lot of attention from their parents. And they both experienced pretty traumatic childhoods. I think it’s interesting that they went very different ways. I thought that was important to explore.
Last season I heard a lot from fans saying things like: “We think Charlie is actually good. He’s saving a lot of kids from bad homes. That’s a good thing, right?” And I just thought, “Wow! You guys are really believing his story of himself, a lot.” It was always our plan to explore Charlie’s backstory in season two, but after that reaction from season one, I thought it was particularly important to really interrogate whether or not Charlie’s story of himself was the truth. Whether or not he believes his story, I believe there’s another point of view there. So I thought it was important to flesh that out.
There are differences between him and Vic. Most of Charlie’s decisions are ultimately selfish. And Vic’s decisions ultimately– though they can be self destructive, and though she makes a lot of mistakes– they are not coming from the same kind of self-centered selfish place that Charlie’s are.
NH: Charlie is very selfish, especially when it comes to Millie. I had heard that the writers and producers kind of extended Millie’s story a bit for season two. How did that come about?
JB: Millie Manx appears in the novel, and she appears in Wraith, the graphic novel that Joe Hill wrote with additional material about Charlie Manx. She has a larger role in Wraith than she does in the novel. In both source materials, she’s a soulless demon. She’s not as introspective as our Millie on the show. And she doesn’t really go on much of a character journey.
Millie is a character that we’ve always been fascinated with. We always knew we wanted to tell a bigger story with her in season two. We cast Mattea Conforti, who is amazing! When we saw her work in season one, and her ability to go toe to toe with Zach Quinto, it really excited us even more to explore her depth. What I love about our story with Millie in season two is she really saves herself in the end. She’s influenced by meeting the ghost of her mother. But ultimately, in episode nine, she’s the person jumping through that wall. She does it on her own.
NH: Mattea and Jason David, who plays Wayne, were terrific to watch. Their characters are dealing with some heavy content. What was it like working with them in this story?
JB: All the kids who worked on the show have been very professional. Jason and Mattea in particular came ready to have a good time. They were amazing. Each of them had a real sense of their character. They always came super prepared and blew us away in every scene. I think they were amazing.
NH: This season, we were introduced to the World of Thought when Charlie made a pit stop at Parnassus and then Maggie met The Hourglass. How important was it to show this supernatural world and its part in the story?
JB: Joe Hill hints around that there are more strong creatives and endscapes than you see the novel. That’s such a tremendous gift for an ongoing television series. It was always something we knew we wanted to dig into. That was what was behind the decision in season one to create the Parnassus bar, which is where villainous strong creatives hang out. It allowed us to show the audience that Vic, Manx, and Maggie aren’t the only strong creatives. There are a bunch of them out there. Some of them are good, and some are like the folks we meet at Parnassus: not so good. Any time you can open up a world is a great opportunity for a show. I would be excited to meet more of these people.
NH: Oh, really. Well, then. Is there any word on season three?
JB: Well, no word yet. Whether or not there’s a season three of NOS4A2 really depends on how well season two of NOS4A2 does.
NH: If there is a season three, where would you like to see the story go?
JB: I am really excited to explore Millie Manx’s story now that she’s in the real world. I’m really excited to find out where Maggie is going when she gets off that elevator. And to see her spend some more time in the World of Thought. I’d like to find out how Wayne and the McQueens move forward after Charlie Manx. When we leave Wayne and Vic, they are in an okay place, but Wayne is still having flashbacks to Christmasland.
At the end of episode nine, when Vic is trying to take Wayne out of Christmasland, one of the things he says to her is, “If you take me away, I’ll hate you forever and I’ll never forgive you,” and Vic says “I don’t care,” basically saying “I’m here for you no matter what.” I would like to see that promise challenged.
NH: That would be awesome to see where we go from here. Is there anything else you’re working on right now that you’d like to mention?
JB: There’s a few things that I’m noodling around.
NH: Oh yeah. With AMC?
JB: We’ll see what happens.
NH: Okay, okay. LOL. Well thank you for your time Jami!
JB: Thank you so much, Noetta!
NOS4A2 opened up a whole new world of supernatural beings and gave us unique characters, good and evil, that we care about. It would be a shame to not continue this story with a season three. If you have watched the show, you can read all of the NOS4A2 recaps here on Geek Girl Authority.
AMC provided a deleted scene that presents another possible story involving Bing Partridge (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and The Hourglass (Paul Schneider). Talk about an unlikely pair. You can watch the scene below.
NOS4A2 season two is currently streaming on the AMC app.
NOS4A2 Images provided by AMC