Van Helsing Showrunner Q&A: Season 1, Episode 3

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 23:00

Julius goes from diminutive junkie to vampire overlord, John's wife gets tortured and shot, Flesh preaches the Gospel of Vanessa and Doc gets her humanity back ... what an episode!

We spoke with Neil LaBute about the many memorable characters and moments from Z Nation Season 1, Episode 3: "Stay Inside."

Okay, so Julius is amazing. So pathetic pre-Rising, and so powerful from the second The Rising starts. What inspired his creation?

I don't remember who or what exactly gave birth to the idea of Julius but I know very early on we were interested in various levels of vampires in the series: the lowly ferals who were feeding off animals and birds and therefore degenerating into something akin to those creatures, along with a violent tribe led by Julius and an older, more mindful and devious group led by Dmitri, his sister Antanasia and the dangerous and lethal Rebecca. Somewhere in the crazy and wonderful world that is the writers’ room, Julius and these other vampires were born and then we simply followed our instincts to create stories to flesh out their details, backstories and futures.

The torturing of John's wife Wendy is especially harrowing. Were there any previous incarnations of this scene that were either a little bit or radically different?

That was a scene that was always going to be a bit tricky. It had to be there to make John as a character work but torture porn isn't really my thing, either, so I didn't want to focus or dwell on it. Always better to leave things to the imagination anyway and so we did a bit of both — shot it only from the distance that John would've watched it from (or through Axel's scope on his weapon) and then in quick flashes that made us fill in the blanks. I think it was the right choice but a hundred different directors or showrunners would've done it a hundred different ways.

Axel needing to go underwater to get a part for the generator was very tense, even more so because we stayed on dry land with Vanessa the entire time. Was there ever the consideration of doing underwater photography with Axel, or was the idea to always stay with Vanessa during this moment?

Once again, what you don't see is often more frightening than what you do see — very Hitchcock to focus on the little tugs on the rope and a few air bubbles rather than go underwater and see exactly what's happening (which not even Vanessa gets to see). Better to hang with her and push her buttons, put her to the test and rachet up the anxiety as best we could. Again, others would do it differently but i think it was the right choice — director Michael Nankin is brilliant at taking a situation like that, which could be a real time-killer and money pit as far as a scene goes and making not just the best of it but the most of it (all while remaining cool and collected on the set). Very admirable traits ...

Flesh is an interesting creature. Without giving too much away, can you let us know if we're right in our assumptions that he's not to be trusted?

I don't really want to make you feel one way or the other about Flesh as he's one of my favorite characters on the show and played by one of my favorite actors. Vincent Gale has a kind of an Alec Guinness ability to disappear into a role and I love the work he does on the series as Flesh returns back to being human but with many difficult transitions along the way. I think you'll be surprised where he ends up by the time we reach the final episode of Season One.

Doc turning human again was incredible! Rukiya Bernard nailed that moment and then some. What more can you tell us about that scene?

You said it first — the moment and scene says it all. The look on her face at the end of the episode, the utter sense of transformation and transcendence, is a thing of beauty (coupled with a fantastic musical choice by the director and our amazing music supervisor, Natasha Duprey). For an episode filled with running around and vampires and lots of blood and anger, this quiet moment at the end of the episode is a real thing of beauty.

What was your favorite scene in this episode, and why? 

Right up there would have to be Doc's return to life as a human but a number of moments by actor David Cubitt stand out for me. It's hard to pick favorites in this cast as they are all so great and specific, but the character of John is one I really enjoyed watching come to life. He could've easily been a garden-variety asshole (which I can write very easily) but in David's hands he became a desperate, sad and angry man who lashes out at many people but slowly, steadily grows a heart while reaching out for a little human contact. I think audiences will find that David's John is something special and well worth keeping an eye on throughout the first season.