Written by Amanda Gurall
Some of the cast of USA's The Purge: Season Two joined NYCC today to screen the first episode and talk about production. We were joined by creator James DeMarco and actors Derek Luke, Rochelle Aytes, Joel Allen and Paola Nunez. Executive Producers and Writers Krystal Houghton Ziv and James Roland also contributed to the discussion. We got to watch the first episode so while there are no true spoilers ahead, be cautioned that themes and characters are discussed.
Fifteen years after the first Purge on Staten Island we find ourselves in the last hours of the purge following the stories of an agent in the FAA Surveillance center, a group of bank robbers, fraternity brothers and a couple whose secure life is unexpectedly threatened. This season will be about this world on the other 364 days a year when people are not allowed to murder with impunity.
Creator of both the movies and the television series, James DeMarco, told the NYCC panel audience that this season was inspired by fans constantly asking him, " What happens the day after?". In fact if you spend time on Purge Reddit your ideas might end up on the show since the creators spend time reading fan theories and questions and using those ideas in the script.
One aspect to this world that we will be learning about in detail is that the FFA uses constant surveillance including the ability to scan the inside of people's homes and backpacks every day of the year and keeps a very tight hold on crime. It is one stop short of a "Minority Report" scenario however the government has the opportunity to record and prosecute crime with exacting measure and speed. The organization is also staffed by true believers dedicated to morality and the greater good though which side that leads some of them down remains to be seen.
As usual with this franchise there are some fun moral questions to play around with. This season we get to consider the difference between a random purge and a targeted hit. When people survive a purge attempt does it matter if it was personal or not? How might a failed purge effect a character's life- paranoia and obsession surely set in and their life may be turned upside down until the next year's purge when they have to decide to exact revenge or not.
Season two will be bookended between two purge dates so we might get a chance to have some of these ideas play out. There are a lot of fun dystopian nightmare scenarios that are great world building like the happy family who returns home in their mini van, adults and teens covered in blood to sleep off the long purge night. Thieves steal from thieves, people have scavenger hunts where they must take photos of particular corpses and there is now a generation of young adults who have never known life outside of the FFA rule and purging- how different is their morality and response?
"You're nobody in America unless somebody wants to purge you", a character in a big hat greedily exclaims in the teasers for the show. That this is a life aspiration for certain people in this world actually feels too familiar in this country today. Actor Joel Allen who plays fraternity brother Ben said that, "Digging into something like that (a character possibly enjoying violence) and dancing with the devil is terrifying and you have to wrestle with whether or not the beast is inside yourself. Sometimes there are sparks of it and you find out that maybe this whole purge alternate universe is not so far off."
DeMarco likes to say that violence is a virus, and its one that we have learned cannot be contained. We may see characters that are inspired by the purge to continue killing throughout the year or who perhaps become consumed with purge plans or revenge. After all, the purge ends and groceries need to be stocked, mail delivered and children fed but the effects of the night must loom large over everything for some characters.
The Purge season two starts October 15 on USA and DeMarco is writing the fifth movie with hopes to continue the television series even if the movies stop production. There will be easter eggs from the first season as well as the films including a call back to an important visual element that will be of consequence. The first episode did a nice job of building suspense and terror among the concurrent story lines and from what I saw fans will have as many questions answered as they will be asking themselves.
Masks from the production will be on display in the Hammerstein Ballroom lobby throughout the convention.