Executive Producer Phil Klemmer Talks THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, Where the Show Is Headed, Writing Towards an Uncertain Finale, and More

     March 5, 2014


The CW drama series The Tomorrow People follows a generation of humans born with paranormal abilities, who are the next evolutionary leap of mankind. Up until a year ago, Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell) was a “normal” teenager, but then he learned that he is part of a genetically advanced race that is being hunted down by a paramilitary group of scientists known as Ultra. In Episode 15, “Enemy of My Enemy,” Julian (James Mackay) is back and hell bent on revenge against Cara (Peyton List) and striking a deal with Ultra to help him get it, while Astrid (Madeleine Mantock) is plagued by nightmares after her near-death experience and turns to her new friend John (Luke Mitchell) for some comfort.

During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, executive producer/writer Phil Klemmer talked about where things are headed next, how challenging it’s going to be for John and Cara to keep this group of Tomorrow People together, his worry that they were throwing too many bad things at Cara, just how quickly the storyline regarding what really happened with Stephen’s father will ramp up, how the top will be blown off of the world of paranormals, that there will be all kinds of really surprising couplings and trysts, and the challenges of leading up to the finale without knowing whether they’ll get a Season 2, but his hopes that they will get one.  Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

the-tomorrow-people-3Collider:  What can you say to tease this next episode, “Enemy of My Enemy,” and how it will be setting things up for the remaining episodes, this season?

PHIL KLEMMER:  As you know, John and Cara have been somewhat estranged, recently.  I think we got tantalizing close to a reconciliation at the end of the last episode, until John rebuffed her for having put out a hit on Jedikiah and betraying their own species.  But in the next episode, the issue is going to be forced, as to whether John and Cara will make peace, not necessarily romantically, but as comrades in arms because there’s an existential crisis for the Tomorrow People.  When Julian returns, he comes back on the side of Jedikiah, and Jedikiah has every intention of returning the favor.  Cara tried to kill him, so it’s an eye for an eye.  The irony is that Stephen, who’s John’s romantic rival, is forced to broker this detente between John and Cara.  And he doesn’t want them together, but he recognizes that, unless the Tomorrow People can get on the same side, they’re not going to be able to survive.  By the end of the episode, we will have Ultra effectively knowing where the lair is.  There will be no place left for our people to hide.  So, John and Cara’s romantic reunion is upstaged by the idea of whether they’re going to be able to keep their people united and able to withstand this storming of their castle.

Did you always know that you wanted to bring in a character from Cara’s past, to really throw her off balance just when she should be gaining confidence in her own leadership?

KLEMMER:  I didn’t always know it.  We made her early leadership so perilous that there were times, along the way, where I had moments of doubt about whether we were just flinging too much shit towards her way.  It really sucks for her.  She wants to be with John and she wants to protect her people, but she’s basically like Obama in his first term, when he just inherited a big shit sandwich.  She has to deal with trying to keep people united.  And to have a guy like Julian crawl out of her past, and bring up her feelings of responsibility for having gotten this poor girl killed, and of inadequacy, I feel like you will get to see Cara triumphant and just owning her warrior queen crown.  The fact that we’ve made her suffer so much to get there, and the fact that we’ve made her suffer so much in John’s absence, by the time the sweet release comes, it will have been worth every ounce of pain. 

the-tomorrow-people-4It’s clear that John and Cara are very different leaders, and may have been stronger together than they are individually.  And showing how challenging it’s been for her, maybe gives them a new perspective and an appreciation for how difficult it might have been for John to lead them.  

KLEMMER:  Absolutely!  It allows her to forgive some of the things that he did that were certainly wrong to Cara, personally, because they were all for the sake of the Tomorrow People, as a group.  Once she’s in his shoes, she’ll be forced to make similarly morally grey decisions.  The idea that she sent a hitman to kill Jedikiah seems like something John would have done.  But if John had done it as leader, in the first half of the season, I feel like she would have criticized him.  It’s the burden of leadership.  It pushes them together in a spiritual way.  In a lot of people’s fantasizes, they would be a ruling king and queen, but unfortunately, the problem with monarchies is that there’s only one ruler. 

It seems as though most of the Tomorrow People are losing hope that they’ll ever find Stephen’s father, except for Stephen, who’s still holding out hope, no matter what.  Now that we’ve seen that Jedikiah is holding onto his own brother, when will we learn what that’s all about?

KLEMMER:  It’s going to start unfolding really quickly, and it’s going to cascade from there.  Fairly soon, Jedikiah will get to make his case for why he killed his brother for all the right reasons.  The problem is that you have a he said, he said with the Founder claiming the back history of Ultra, which ended in Stephen’s father taking a bullet in the heart.  Jedikiah says it went one way and the Founder says it went another way, and Stephen doesn’t trust either of these bastards, nor should he.  And the only person who can settle the tie is frozen in a cryo chamber with a bullet in his heart.  The fun about the end of this season is that Stephen is going to have to commit, and he’s got two really crappy people to follow, in the Founder and Jedikiah.  It really keeps his head spinning.  Once you figure out what everybody did and why, all of the complications of the past get restarted, in a moment.  The dark history of Ultra becomes a dark presence for humanity. 

the-tomorrow-people-1Up until this point, both Stephen and Jedikiah seem to be looking the other way, even though they’re suspicious of each other.  Will that come to a head, at some point?  Will they have to deal with the fact that neither one has the best intentions for the other?

KLEMMER:  Yeah.  Jedikiah is very much a need-to-know kind of guy.  He’s very deft at steering people to do what he wants them to do.  Fairly soon, he’ll try to turn Stephen into a killer.  He’s always manipulating people.  He always has an agenda beneath an agenda that’s hidden beneath an agenda.  But at a certain point, fairly soon, everybody’s cards will be on the table and there will be nowhere left to hide.  It’s too late for the world of hiding out in the lair and grabbing break-outs.  The top is blown off of our world of paranormals.  Literally, we have Tomorrow People fighting in the streets of Manhattan.  The stakes go behind the personal.  It’s no longer about Stephen finding his dad, and it’s no longer about trying to protect this little band of Tomorrow People.  It’s about which species – humans or paranormals – will survive.  The scope of our show promises a Season 2 that is unlike anything you could imagine. 

How difficult is it to lead up to that finale without knowing whether you’ll get that Season 2 pick-up? 

KLEMMER:  I don’t know.  The way we’ve conceived of it now, it seems impossible to me that it wouldn’t be answered by a Season 2.  So many things with the show are working, and I really feel like we’re honing in on the strength.  Our performances are getting stronger, and the storytelling is getting tighter.  The possibility of expanding that world is so tantalizing that I feel like it’s something that demands an Episode 201 to re-platform the show.  It’s much more akin to a cable show than a network show.  All of the building blocks that we introduced in the pilot are obliterated, and from the rubble heap, we assemble new blocks, which are much larger.  Our world is just so alluring.  I’m writing the thing, along with our staff, and I can’t wait to figure out what happens next.

the-tomorrow-people-6Did you know, from the beginning, that not only would Stephen have these abilities, but his brother would, as well, and that he’d find out that both of his parents did?

KLEMMER:  No, not at all.  In the beginning, it was just his father that he took after.  We almost came up with the idea of Marla, on the fly.  We were just trying to obfuscate that it was Luca on the camping trip.  The best way to fool fans is to fool ourselves.  Once the ending of Episode 113 was pitched, it felt like we had maybe been leading ourselves there subconsciously, all along.

You must determine the major plot points while also keeping your eye open for the little stuff, along the way, and it seems as though the chemistry between John and Astrid would have been one of those little things that you noticed.  How much will that dynamic develop, and have there been any other character dynamics that have caught your attention?

KLEMMER:  I love them together.  I know there are a lot of people rooting for John and Cara, as well there should be.  But one of the things that our show deals with, that’s very honest and mature, is the idea that love isn’t binary, all the time.  In a lot of ways, Cara loves Stephen and John.  There are different kinds of love.  When you’re not promised a Season 2, the upside to that is that you are obliged to try everything you’ve ever entertained, including your most surprising coupling.  By the end of the season, Stephen and Hillary, the once evil rival partner, will be in a really interesting place.  By the end of the season, we will have put people in all kinds of crazy extremity, which justifies all kinds of really surprising couplings and trysts and just old school romps in the hay.  I’m really excited about what we have in store.

the-tomorrow-people-2Are there any more upcoming break-outs that you can tease, that will have an impact on the characters? 

KLEMMER:  As the series winds down, it becomes much more contained.  The mythology starts driving it.  The character dynamics of people we already know really starts driving it.  We have a lot of recurring characters that maybe have faded from your mind.  We have Morgan, Jedikiah’s girlfriend, returning.  Irene, our spunky little scientist in the lair, returns.  The Founder’s daughter Cassie returns.  We have the introduction of one new character in the lair, named Natalie, who’s going to be destabilizing.  You don’t want to let your characters get too comfortable.  We see the Tomorrow People as being a little bit too clean-scrubbed, so we decided to mess it up a little bit and make it a little more grey.  So, she’s a really interesting character.  By the end of the season, it’s no longer going to be around Ultra vs. Tomorrow People.  It’s going to be a free-for-all, with Tomorrow People vs. humans, and humans vs. humans, and Tomorrow People vs. Tomorrow People.  It’s going to be open war on the streets of New York.  It’s a new incarnation of the show, which I think really sets us up, in an incredible way, for another season.

The Tomorrow People airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.

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