By the end of the first season of "Hemlock Grove," Netflix's Eli Roth-produced original horror series, one major mystery was solved -- who (or what) was responsible for the series of grisly murders that shocked the seemingly sleepy Pennsylvania town? Still, while one question was answered, even more were raised; only this time, impatient fans no longer had Brian McGreevy's book to turn to, since the show's original source material only covered the first season.
So as fans get ready to head back to "Hemlock Grove" for Season 2, which premieres on Netflix on July 11, they should know that they can't take anything for granted, not even characters who were left for dead after last season's cliffhanger.
HuffPost Canada TV visited the show's Toronto set last October, and while the cast made sure to keep most of the season's big surprises under wraps, there were still a few tidbits we were able to uncover to help prepare "Hemlock" fans for the Season 2 premiere.
They've got a lot to explain
Last we saw the townsfolk of Hemlock Grove, they were reeling from a season that wrapped up with its fair share of body bags. Peter (Landon Liboiron) and his mom (Lili Taylor) skipped town, Roman (Bill Skarsgård) took up the family legacy, and we're still not entirely sure what happened to Famke Janssen's Olivia, or what matter of creepiness was in that box in the basement of the White Tower.
But not to worry, because according to Joel de la Fuente, who plays the show's mad scientist Dr. Johann Pryce, a lot gets resolved early on. "There are so many more surprises and mysteries so far in Season 2, but one of the awesome things that happens is a lot of questions from the first season are answered pretty quickly and clearly right off the bat," he promised. "It picks up, starts moving, answers a lot of things that you might have on your minds so we can get onto the next things."
The cast and crew were reluctant to give away much, but as Chic Eglee, who's taking over for McGreevy as the showrunner this season, explained, some plot points are harder than others to keep a secret. "Peter leaving Hemlock Grove, never to come back ... you see through that, because in fact, you don't have a show if Peter doesn't come back to Hemlock Grove," he admitted. "So the question really is, well, how do we get him back? And what story are we telling that inevitably leads him back into this place and then to some sort of a relationship with Roman?"
Liboiron wasn't about to spill that much, but said that the events of Season 1 linger. "The loss of some very important characters last season creates a haunting effect for Season 2," he explained.
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There's a brand-new bad guy
Liboiron also said to look out for a new villain to keep Hemlock Grove on edge, now that the vargulf is out of the picture. "The driving force in this season is that there's a new looming big bad. I can't really go into what it is, but there's a dark cloud descending upon Hemlock Grove again and that will be a big part of Season 2," the actor teased.
"While last season was this murder-mystery, this season has different elements to it," explained Madeline Brewer, one of the new cast members added this year. "This one's really just kind of twisted. It takes turns that you wouldn't expect."
Famke Janssen's back, we just don't know how
"When we saw Olivia's character at the end of last season, she was being zipped into a body bag. Well, obviously, Olivia is the star of the show and an actress of Famke's magnitude, the audience is going to know coming into the season that she didn't die," admitted Eglee. "So we play with that. And her introduction, we wink at that notion that she was left for dead."
After watching Janssen share an emotional scene with Skarsgård's Roman in his giant new office in the White Tower, we can confirm that Olivia's looking very much alive these days, albeit walking with a slight limp. But while she does come back, Olivia's relationships have changed this year, especially with her son (attempted matricide will do that) and her lover/brother-in-law Norman (Dougray Scott). "Regardless of her actions and what she's done, they're both in love with each other," explained Scott, but Norman is no longer quite so naïve or innocent following the death of his daughter. "That relationship goes through a metamorphosis."
"His eyes begin to be opened to a lot of things that have been going in the town," he continued. "And he demands to be part of it as opposed to being an observer, or being fobbed off."
There's a few new faces behind-the-scenes
"The biggest difference this year is we're bringing in a new creative team," said Liboiron. "We have Chic Eglee working as our showrunner this year and David Straiton, our directing producer, has been bringing in a lot of really interesting, risky choices for directors as well. Most of the directors are film-based or they work on music videos, so I think that just cinematically, it's going to be a different looking show."
Eglee is still working alongside the series creator McGreevy, according to Liboiron, but having a new set of eyes only helps the show, as far as the actor's concerned. "It's creating a freshness, so that we're not becoming stale or anything like that," he explained. "We're still using the ideas of Brian McGreevy, but we're filtering them out through Chic Eglee."
De la Fuente agreed, saying of Eglee's involvement: "He has such a wonderful body of work and he has such a similar dark, fantastic sensibility for things. I think he's really wonderful for the show."
There are new faces in front of the camera too
Also new to "Hemlock Grove" this year is Madeleine Martin, who'll be taking over the part of Shelley Godfrey in Season 2 and getting her own distinct storyline. "Shelley's character is very much in her own world and quite apart from Hemlock Grove," teased Eglee.
Martin said that only helped her get into character. "That was actually one thing that I liked about being on set and being the newcomer, you do feel like a little bit of an outcast, and I think Shelley feels that way in society. So I was like, this is perfect!" she laughed. "That aided any character preparation. Especially when you're meeting everyone wearing prosthetics and looking like a monster. Good first impressions."
Joining Martin is her fellow newcomer Madeline Brewer, who binge-watchers will likely recognize from her breakout role as tattooed, corn-rowed Tricia in Netflix's "Orange is the New Black." Brewer's playing a graphic novelist named Miranda Cates who's ostensibly just passing through Hemlock Grove at first, but ends up sticking around and stirring up trouble. "She's got this mysterious thing going on and later in the season, it kind of captivates the two boys," Brewer explains. "Because who doesn't like a woman of mystery, really?"
Madeline Brewer signed on because of "Degrassi"
Well, not entirely because of it, but it certainly didn't hurt, Brewer admitted about her new co-star Liboiron's "Degrassi" connection (he played Declan on the seminal Canadian series). "I was obsessed with 'Degrassi,' " she laughed. "I told him, 'Yeah, yeah, I really liked it,' but I was obsessed with it. I watched it all the time."
But Brewer said that once she got around to catching up on "Hemlock Grove," she liked it (almost as much) too. "It's a really well-written show, and I think it keeps you on the edge of your seat. You just can't get enough of it; that was my experience with it. So even after two episodes of watching it, I was like, 'Wow, there's something here that I want to be a part of,' " she gushed. "The fact that it's Netflix also just makes my day, because they were just so great to me on 'Orange.' "
And as far as Liboiron's concerned, he's happy if more "Degrassi" fans start tuning into "Hemlock," saying, "There's still some really hardcore Declan fans out there, which I appreciate, and hopefully they're watching 'Hemlock Grove.' " Little does he know there's one working with him on it too.
Roman and Peter may be grown up, but they've still got drama
For Roman and Peter, this season is all about the boys becoming men (one of whom who can also become a wolf), according to the actors. "They're not kids anymore. They're out of high school and they're thrown into adult life with the heavy weight of adult responsibilities," explained Liboiron.
"He's different. He's all grown up," Skarsgård said of Roman's evolution, who's not only become an "upir" (like Olivia) since we saw him last, but also the CEO of Godfrey Industries. "He's the head of the company now, and he takes it really seriously, the responsibility that comes along with being the CEO of a billion-dollar company," the actor continued.
"He's going through a lot of changes from Season 1 to 2," Skarsgård said, which makes Roman and Peter's eventual reunion this season fraught with drama. "That scene was crazy powerful to do. Not only because we're very close friends, but just the characters and the journey they went through in Season 1," the actor explained.
Still, there's at least a few things that haven't changed. Roman may be grown up, but he hasn't filled out any more. "I like the character to be skinny-looking," said Skarsgård. Why? "Because he's hungry a lot of the time in this upcoming season," the actor laughed. Peter's signature long hair is back too, after Liboiron shaved it for the season finale. ("Spoiler!" he joked.)
We're going to spend more time inside the White Tower
Roman inheriting control of Godfrey Industries means the show will take us inside the mysterious White Tower more this year, which it really only teased last season. "We will spend so much time in the White Tower this season that you will be able to find your way to the bathroom at night without a flashlight," promised Eglee.
And while Roman is running the business upstairs, Dr. Pryce will be continuing his secretive experiments down below. "He has this fascination with life and death," de la Fuente said of his character. "That's going to manifest itself a lot more." Judging from the creepy tour we received of Pryce's basement lab, that might be putting it mildly.
The writers are on their own now
"Season 1 ends pretty much just when Brian's book ends. So we're moving into deep water now," explained de la Fuente. For Eglee and the cast, that's when things start to get exciting.
"I think that the folks last year, and Brian McGreevy especially and in particular, set the table so compellingly with such rich characters and such rich storytelling, that there was an embarrassment of riches, frankly, of where to pick and choose, and where to focus our energies," Eglee said of expanding the world of "Hemlock Grove" in Season 2.
"We wanted to laser in on our core characters, our principals, and excavate a little bit more of what was going on with each of them," he continued. De la Fuente elaborated, saying, "We left many of the characters at the end of Season 1 in these pretty crazy positions, a lot of crazy things happened, so they're all moving into the next phase of their lives."
The trick has just been making sure that any new additions are in keeping with the mythology already in place from Season 1, which meant Eglee had to learn the term "retcon" (short for retroactive continuity) this season. "You massage the mythology in a way that allows you to tell the stories you want to tell in the foreground moving forward, without violating any of the fundamental precepts of the mythology that were established previously," explained Eglee. "That was really the job this season. And a fun one at that."
And in order to do so, Eglee and his writers looked to the actors for help. "Chic is extremely open to Bill's and my input," said Liboiron. "Because we had the experience of last season, we lived in our characters long enough to be able to know certain aspects about them. So it's been a very collaborative group of people working on this show."
"Now moving beyond the novel, you don't know where you're going from there. So you know you all have to create it together," agreed de la Fuente.
They listened to the fans (and the critics too)
"I've never seen people react to a show in the way that I have," said Scott. "It's strange how much Peter and Roman mean to so many people. Especially younger people going through these sorts of growing pains," agreed Liboiron, referring to the connection as a "camaraderie of outsidership."
As for Tiio Horn, who plays Peter's scene-stealing "gypsy/witch/prostitute" cousin Destiny? "All I kept getting was, 'We want more of you.' So I was like, 'That's the sweetest thing to say,' " she laughed. "I was like, 'I want more of me too.' "
And while Destiny fans will be happy to know the producers listened, that wasn't the only feedback they listened to. "I think the beginning of any show, the first season always has its kinks that you work out," explained Liboiron, "We found our way a little bit through Season 1, and Season 2, we're going headstrong."
"There was nothing haphazard about it," de la Fuente said of the approach to Season 2. "What do we think worked? What do we think didn't work? What do we think could be better? And right off the bat you could see there were choices being made to address many things. And that made me excited."
"We're just trying to keep the story as honest as possible and as exciting as possible," explained Liboiron. "The writers are taking risks, the actors are taking risks. And when we succeed, something really wonderful can happen," said de la Fuente. "We're not aiming for middle of the road stuff, we're trying to create something different."
"We're very excited about the show this year," agreed Eglee. "Coming into such a wonderful cast and such a compelling world, it was really a great honour to get to play in the 'Hemlock Grove' sandbox."