The second season of The Purge returns this week, bringing with it a very different take on the franchise as the season explores the world after Purge. After the first season brought the Purge concept of the movies to the small screen, in a format that allowed the stories of Purge Night to be explored in more depth, season two is going to introduce a new cast of main characters - who have some very different approaches to Purge.
The main cast includes Joel Allen as Ben, a young man experiencing his first Purge as an adult, where everything goes wrong after an initiation dare to go outside during the final hours of the annual event. Post-purge, he'll be coping with the emotional response to being caught in the violence, in a very dark and disturbing way. Rochelle Aytes and Derek Luke join the cast as Michelle and Marcus, a couple who tried to avoid the Purge, but discovered that Marcus was an unsuspecting target, and Paola Nuñez as Esme, a woman working for the NFFA to control the chaos of Purge Night. Screenrant sat down with these actors as well as EPs Krystal Houghton Ziv and James Roland at NYCC to talk about how the show will be taking The Purge to somewhere completely new.
Talking to the EPs, it's clear that this season will really focus in on the minutia of how the Purge world differs from our own - in the way that pop culture is affected, as well as the way that the Purge is run and regulated.
Krystal Houghton Ziv: I really liked something that's in this episode that shows how the bodies get cleaned up the next day, and the maids you can hire, and then the corpse trucks that come around and pick them up with body bags. It's just like trash day but in Purge world.
James Roland: How to deal with clean up, for sure. How it affects culture and pop culture was a big one. So how it would affect advertising, children's programming, we get into that a little bit, which gets pretty dark. Because you gotta have the hard talk with your kids at some point about what the purge is and stuff. So what we did early in the writers room was just sit around with the writers and go "What would you want to know", and like, reading Reddit threads about what the fans like and were interested in, and ask all the same questions. And then the trick was to find ways to incorporate them into an interesting story, which is always the harder task.
KHZ: Sometimes it was just background, like the art department made some cool posters for our college dorm room and one of them was 'Space Purge', which is my all-time favorite It was a movie about purge in space and had an astronaut poking the flag into the other guys mask. So funny! And even just the general posters where it's like, 'We Buy Purged Houses' you know, instead of 'We Buy Houses'?.
Screen Rant: Were there other topics that you looked at, like the idea of children [that was brought up in the panel]? Anything that was too boring, or too dark?
JR: We actually had a thing get cut out of one of the later episodes.
KHZ: Oh, yeah. I suppose we can talk about it a little bit. For people that are having a hard time not purging, it might exist, that there would be some slaughterhouse somewhere where you could like, kill an animal in the off-purge time.We talked about a pop-up restaurant where they serve like endangered species or something but we didn't, we never went there.
JR: Oh yeah on Purge night, have a pop-up restaurant where we can eat human, but yeah, it never made it in.
Screen Rant: Did you have a lot of difficulty coming up with how to deal with things like a heist, they're now in possession of stolen goods? And how like how much of what was legal on purge carries over?
KHZ: Yeah, we decided it has to carry over. Like, if you can prove it was stolen on purge night, then it's yours the rest of the year. Because otherwise, how could you ever steal anything, you know what I mean?
JR: We deal with the fallout of that in Episode Two. But yeah, that was a big question with us. And ultimately, you have to decide. You could debate for hours amongst your friends. But eventually, you just have to choose because you have to tell a story, say "this works best for us". So that's what the world does.
KHZ: And in their world they probably have some version of the supreme court where they debate these things. And they have gray areas, too.
Paola Nuñez, who plays Esme, will be the face of the NFFA for part of the season, as she deals with monitoring Purge Night - however, her character soon discovers that the government hasn't been entirely honest about how effective the Purge actually is with bringing down crime rates. Interestingly, Esme will also be a representation of how good people can be drawn into the machine of the Purge, and how they would deal with seeing so much violence through their screens on one night of the year.
The good thing about this season, is that it's original and set apart from the other movies or TV, the fact that we get to see for the first time, what happens between purges.We get to see that world. And those characters, what happens to the character psyche; after purging someone or being there, or noticing that you're on someone's list, after that dramatic experience? How can you go and have a normal life? Or are you capable of doing that? When I saw the first Purge movie and I came out of the theater, those were my questions, how the world continues like normal for the rest of the year. So the fun part about this is that we get to ask them. I mean, we get to answer all those questions.
I guess Esme, my character, has seen everything. So yeah, she doesn't get shocked as easily. But, you know, she believes in the system, she believes that this is a good way to maintain the crime rates really low throughout the rest of the year. I think she believes that the system works, that it's a good measure, that people behave better during the rest of the year, because that's how it works. And she firmly believes that and that's what what I found so deeply interesting, she actually believes that she's doing the right thing.
Joel Allen spoke about how the season allows characters to have more of an arc, and how the experience Ben has during his first Purge will affect him for the rest of the year. From the premiere and teasers for the rest of the season, it's clear that this is going to be a darker journey into an addiction to the violence of the Purge, and fans of the movies are really going to be able to see the fallout of that night through one person's journey.
I love being able to follow an arc of a character for an entire year. Because the things that kind of surface over that time frame, they all surface in different ways. And you can really dig into things and chew on the implications and the fallout of the purge prior. And then also building towards another one. You know... if I live.
I think the writers and James DeMonaco are good about helping us out with any of those questions [about the details of the world]. My character had almost very little to do with the Purge itself and more with this one person's journey through kind of, being torn between, he basically ends up having to compartmentalize his life. And it is the PTSD aspect, and potential addiction, and harboring a secret.
Rochelle Aytes brought up how the new season will delve into some other aspects of the Purge world - including social media and Purge tourism, something that has been brought up in The Purge: Election Night, but not yet explored in great depth. It looks like this murder tourism will be a bigger part of The Purge season 2, however.
A few things were fascinating, one the guy who was robbing the bank, and he just, he's caught because it was like a second [between him exiting the bank and the end of official Purge]. It's so interesting, how minute, how very specific they are. And they allow this craziness to happen. I also found that fascinating, the social media part of it, like when the guy saw the people hanging [in the first episode], and he took a picture. It's so crazy to me that they're so desensitized, and this whole world is so normal, and people take vacations, right? They come from other countries? Well, you haven't seen that yet. But they take vacations, they come from other countries so that they can purge, and that's pretty insane.
Aytes wasn't the only one to mention how the rest of the world sees the Purge in this world. When asked about one of the final hints of the first season, where a newsreel showed other countries considering incorporating the Purge into their countries, Roland confirmed that this won't be a part of the new season... but that the show will be exploring some of the world outside the US.
That's something we talked about early in the room, and we ended up getting away from it. We do have a whole scene that takes place in Brazil. And it's kind of the Brazilian viewpoint of us, too. So that's something that we've toyed with. And so we've talked about it, might other countries look at America and try it, you know, their governments try the same thing? So it's something that we've talked about, but nothing set in stone.
So while fans hoping that that final season one moment would mean the new season saw the Purge spreading worldwide will be disappointed, it seems that this is going to be the season that pleases anyone who has been tearing their hair out trying to understand the practicalities of the Purge world. However, that doesn't mean that it's going to be all about government control and the drama of the aftermath. With a heist team, a mystery target on Marcus' back, Esme's discovery of the NFFA's lies, and Ben's descent into a violence addiction, as well as the next Purge on the way, this season promises to be refreshingly original... and just as likely to keep you up at night.
The Purge season 2 premieres Tuesday, October 15 @9pm on USA.