Nobody wants to hear screaming in a hospital. It's never a good sign and sitting in "Saving Hope"'s Hope Zion Hospital cafeteria set, the loud howls are coming in rapid, short bursts. The supernatural medical drama has seen pain, loss and sorrow, but not this time.
Down the hallway in the show's morgue, Dr. Charlie Harris [Michael Shanks] is helping his latest spirit case move on. Today's scene involves the skilled doctor persuading a teenage girl to recall some joyous memories and expressing some buried emotions by yelling. Rolling her eyes, she gives a half-hearted attempt before going another round and triumphantly belting out a cathartic scream. That's the breakthrough.
"Scream as loud as you can," encourages Charlie. "Let it all out."
At this point, Charlie lifts his arms and screams at the top of his lungs along with the girl. A few seconds later, she runs out of the room, so that with some masterful editing, it will appear she disappeared on camera. Once again, Charlie is alone. Then… Cut!
As the cast and crew reset for another take, leading lady Erica Durance, who plays Dr. Alex Reid, sat down with HuffPost TV to discuss "Saving Hope"'s third season, her character Alex's death and that kiss with Dr. Joel Goran [Daniel Gillies].
Huff Post Canada: In the jaw-dropping season-two finale, Alex was fatally stabbed by a patient, passed away and then shared a moment with Charlie in her ghostly state. What was your reaction when you received the script and the implications it could mean for Alex and the show?
Erica Durance: I was very excited. I remember it was like big fist pump. 'Yes!' For me, I knew anything could be a possibility now. To allow my character to be in jeopardy, it shifts the paradigm of the show. Then there's the revelation in season two, but it's so much more poignant when you’re the one in the experience of it. The fact that she's outside of her body looking at herself, and he sees her, is fantastic. It gave us a great launching point for this season, to come up with new surprises for the audience and a new direction to take the show in. The writers are constantly coming up with creative ideas. I'm really impressed by the writing think tank.
Do they tackle that development head-on in the season premiere? What does that mean for Alex and Charlie moving forward?
It allows Alex to be in a different place. It's kind of a painful experience for the two of them to go through. It keeps the theme of our show strong going forward, which is not only keeping your hope alive, but for this couple in love, is it going to see them through all these different things? It's done an interesting mirror image of each other between the first and third season. In the first season, it's Charlie dealing with the tragedy in the sense it's him that's going through it. In the second season, he gets to experience what really happens to somebody. Are you irrevocably changed? Now, this gives Alex the chance to experience that as well. What happens to you when you are victimized in that way? How and when do you recover? It will completely cause a ripple effect. It will create a lot of interest, and make some fans happy, or some fans sad. And it allows me to move and explore all my relationships.
Obviously, you aren't going to stay in a dead-state long. One point that needs addressing was that smooch between Joel and Alex last year. He still has strong feelings for her. What have you enjoyed about how the writers have handed that romantic tension because they could have just had Alex cheat on Charlie?
It's something that, we as a group, as an entity, decided that's not going to happen. It's not right for the situation. It's not right given where we started with our characters. It's been in the mix for a long time, but how to execute it is the trick. It's always interesting to showcase the different faces and sides of love.
You can love both people passionately because it brings out something different in you. There are different ways that you click. We got a little bit of that in the second season. In the third, what's interesting is because of all the things that happened, because of what she's been through, you see another side to Joel. It's the Joel she would have fallen in love with, instead of the Joel that has all the baggage attached. He was originally introduced as this ex-boyfriend that broke her heart, which is fine, but this allows another window into their relationship. We get to explore that a little bit more this year. I think we're going to end up having people with different t-shirts that say "team this" or "team that." Is one wrong or not? Who knows. It’s just where you end up.
Besides the personal turmoil, there's the professional side of her life. How is Alex going to be tested this year?There's a lot of second guessing of herself and her abilities because of what she's been through. There's a little bit of trauma that she experiences going back into this world, where you see so many physical problems. It causes a little bit of a PTSD
One tricky bit is Dawn [Michelle Nolden] has to supervise Alex on a shift. That's a really interesting relationship so far this season. You get to see the humanity in Dawn. You get to see all these great levels. Dawn is incredibly compassionate and supportive and actually quite soft.
Once again, Alex does the thing she always does. You dive into work to let it be your anchor, except this time it's not quite an anchor for her. She's not as sure of her abilities. There's talk that she's getting ready for the surgical board, so it's also about trying to get to that next stage in deciding what kind of fellowship she wants to be in, or what kind of surgeon she really wants to be.
There are some new faces in the hospital. How much interaction does Alex have with them?
I don't have massive interaction with all of them as of yet. We have a psychologist that is coming in that is new. I have to go head-to-head against him on a specific case that's going on. He has a whole different flavour. We have a new resident general surgeon that comes in. You get to see what he does and the mistakes he makes.
They are juicing up the pot really. Of course, Maggie [Julia Taylor Ross] has more of a storyline and there's Dr. Katz [Stacey Farber]. She's basically a genius doctor, kind of like a Doogie Howser. She's really smart and an OB/GYN.
The season is being split up again. There are six episodes and then a winter break. Is there an arc for the first block?
They've done their best to do that. They've done their best to create a mini-series. It gives the audience a first part and something to get really invested in and also set up for the last half.
Looking back, have you given much thought to where this series started and where it is now? "Saving Hope" could have been the medical version of "Ghost Whisperer", but somehow it's managed to grow every season.
It doesn't just follow what everybody assumes it's going to do. They've been very creative in bringing in that otherworldly element, which I love. They always use it to tell the heart of the show, which when all is said and done – the medicine, the relationships and the otherworldly part – they tie it into the idea of 'What happens when tragedy strikes? Is there a need for forgiveness and how do you let go?' It's all these things that actually drew me to the project in the first place, which I believe also draws people to the show. I really admire that as our theme, this sense of hope.
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