At New York Comic-Con The Purge cast and crew debuted the season two premiere to convention-goers and followed it up with a Q&A. Franchise creator, James DeMonaco, discussed how one specific fan question drove the narrative this season – “What happens after the Purge?”
Based on the film franchise, The Purge is an annual 12-hour period during which all criminal activity, including murder, is made legal. The films have tackled different Purges, but never what happens after.
Season two of The Purge will change that by bookending the season with two Purges and following four different stories in-between the two violent nights.
After the panel, I was able to sit down with Executive Producers Krystal Houghton Ziv and James Roland to discuss the upcoming season and what viewers and fans can expect from the latest season of The Purge.
“The Purge forces the issue of ‘what would you do’ and we get to play a lot with that in this season,” said Roland. “It’s not just people out for money or greed or whatever. There is a lot of things that could happen in life that might change where your world or apropos is depending on context.”
This season is bookmarked by a Purge at the beginning and one at the end. You evaluate what happens the morning after. How did you decide the journey to go down this path?
Roland – I think it was James DeMonaco’s idea. He always wanted to do something in between Purges, and we were tasked with figuring out what that would look like. The first thing you do is sit down and brainstorm all of the ideas. That’s essentially conversations between your friends, after seeing one of the movies, or if you look at Reddit threads and stuff like it. It’s people going, “Ooo, what if this happened or if this happened.”
Then you throw all of that on the table and you’re like how do we make stories out of this. It’s one thing to talk about it, but it is another to make something exciting out of it.
A lot of it is dealing with the psychological ramifications was the big thing that unlocked it for us. It’s so easy to say, “I just killed somebody I saw. I solved the problem.” Humans aren’t built that way. We have guilt and shame for a reason. We got to explore that a lot.
Ziv – At the end of The Purge movies when the sirens go off it’s such a relief, but for our show it has to be the opposite. Whatever was going on is now still terrible. Just because it is not Purge night you’re still dealing with it. We did initially talk about starting right after Purge ended, but ultimately we decided we wanted to see a little bit of this previous Purge and what everyone went through.
This season you’re telling four stories. How did you come up with each?
Ziv – We wanted people to relate and buy into our characters early on. There is always something about each of them. Ben doesn’t want to be out tonight and gets caught in the most horrific situation and you’re like “Yea, I wouldn’t want to be out tonight, but I have dumb friends that take me out to do dumb things.”
With Marcus, he’s living a regular life at home doing the things we all probably imagine doing. Just laying low and even he can’t escape it.
Ryan is really wish fulfillment.
Roland – Ryan is a lot of wish fulfillment because he’s not hurting anybody. You see him in the first episode not willing to kill the guards. He’s not an angel. We get into that in later episodes. He really is that wish fulfillment aspect.
Esme is someone that works for the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), but she’s not a bad person. If you think about politics and government, there has got to people higher up that know damn well what the ramifications of their actions are. Does that mean the mailman who is working for the government is evil? Does it mean every cop who is trying to do their job is evil? Not everyone can be. It became a study of that. Can someone do things really bad for the right reasons? The most interesting journey to take that character on is, “What if they started to realize what the ramifications of their actions were?” What would you do in that situation?
Is there redemption for a person who takes part in the Purge?
Roland – That is something we definitely play with this season. Whether they achieve or not is another question.
Ziv – When you do something, “can you go back,” is part of it too. Some people can, some people can’t.
Roland – Keep in mind with the characters you see in the first episode, there are ramifications to the Purge we saw in that episode. These are characters who lived a long time before this episode. There are other Purges in their past that we’ll get to delve into as well. There are darker secrets we haven’t seen yet.
When it comes to world-building how much room do you have to play with the Series’ Bible?
Ziv – A fair amount just because not a lot of rules have been set in stone. The things in the movies are the beginning of the Bible, but we realized that there is a lot stuff not. We get to call DeMonaco and be like, “Does this make sense to you? Is this how you think the NFFA would operate?” I do think we got to define a lot of parts.
Roland – That part was a lot of fun. That was weirdly the easiest part of the job because it was exciting and fun. Then you actually had to write the stories.
What lessons did you learn from the first season? Did this lead to changes in season two?
Ziv – We changed the look a lot.
Roland – We tried to make the Purge night scenes, and some of the scenes in the normal area, darker and a little bit scarier. Visually we changed the look a little bit. A lot more like Purge: Anarchy, which was the benchmark for the look of the movie franchise.
One thing we decided to play with earlier on was where in season one all of the flashbacks were off-Purge. Early on we said we’ll do the opposite. We have three episodes that follow that model where we really dig into the backstory of characters, but after that we felt like we were trying to push it. After we said screw it, lets not do that as much this season. We were not as beholden to a template if that makes sense. It opened up a lot of doors.
Ziv – We devoted one episode per character to a flashback, but the others are totally regular.
The Purge Season 2 premieres on USA October 15 at 9/8c.