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Set in a near-future where the discovery of the "soulmate particle" has led to the development of a scientific test that allows people to find their match anywhere on the globe — provided they've taken the test themselves — the series doesn't shy away from the less rosy side of relationships. From people discovering that their special someone might not be the gender they'd expected, to others having to cope with the revelation that their soulmates have long since passed, the anthology series has explored the often less-considered aspects of a world where finding your "perfect match" is possible.
The final episode of the first season, "The (Power) Ballad of Caitlin Jones," continues in this vein as it follows the story of the titular Caitlin (Betsy Brandt) as she finally connects with her soulmate. But just as she begins to get closer to Dr. Nathan (JJ Feild), who on paper seems practically perfect, she discovers his deep, dark secret. Not only is he a serial killer who goes after women, but worse, he wants her to join him. However, that's not the only twist in the hour, as it's soon revealed that Caitlin's anxieties stem not just from her past experiences with men, but from the fact that she's been hiding her own murderous urges — something she decides she's not going to do any longer. So she embraces her true self and acts on her feelings, murdering both her ex-boyfriend and Nathan himself. As the episode closes, a more confident Caitlin emerges, one who seems to have found her next possible victim.
SYFY WIRE caught up with Brandt to discuss the episode and the journey Caitlin went on.
How did you feel about Caitlin having the soulmate that no one ever wants: a serial killer?
Well, it's complicated, right? Because in the beginning, she's like, "Oh my God. I won the lottery. He's a dreamboat. He's a doctor. I couldn't have dreamed up anyone better." [But] then, when he discloses who he really is. It's disappointing, to say the least, and shocking. It really makes her face what she's been hiding all these years. Whatever feelings she's had to push down and fight because she'd made up her mind that [she] was going to be a good person and do what good people do. [But] she really comes into her own. When we meet her in the end, she's a different woman.
And we get to witness those steps along the way, which was incredibly fun to do. Like when she tells her boyfriend he has to leave. Caitlin before Nathan would never do that, but then, [she's] able to find some backbone. It's certainly not a fairytale ending, but she ends up being really true to herself... The whole thing is complicated and I'd be lying if I said that wasn't part of the reason I loved it.
Yeah. She's so conflicted throughout the entire episode. I'm sure that was a ton of fun to play.
Oh God, yeah. I've cried on camera plenty, but what's more interesting is trying not to cry... When you just let it go, that has to be a choice, and you play that card few and far between... for her, I think the struggle was such a great part of that ride. I wanted Caitlin to get there in an honest way. Again, it's far from a fairytale ending, but I love it, and I think it's perfect for that story, and for that show.
Yeah! I kind of saw it as, she may not have found her soulmate, but she kind of found a weird sense of self-love almost?
Exactly! I have a 15-year-old and when I was pregnant [with] her, someone asked me, "What do you wish most for your child?" And I said, "I just want them to feel like they're enough." And I think that Caitlin struggled with that, and then, she finally does. It may be partly at the expense of other people, but in her mind, it's like she's a righter of wrongs. It's like when she ends up killing her soulmate because basically, it's really shady the way he treats and targets women. So what she did she balances that. [But] that poor doctor that she's having a drink with at the bar at the end, it's going to be, bloodier than, any surgery he's ever seen, or on TV or anything.
Do you know if the audience is meant to think that this guy is clearly not a good person either? Because at least two of the guys we've seen her take down aren't the best.
Well, it's all relative. Her boyfriend [Doug] is not great, I don't know that he deserved [to be stabbed]. I don't know that she would have done that. That was really more of Nathan's choice. I don't think Caitlin would have killed him. Nathan wanted that. Caitlin's not going to lose sleep over it, but she still wants to be a good person. [Laughs.] It's all relative, right? When I go into a character I don't ever judge them. I love them. And I really did love Caitlin. There were so many moments in this story where I am just unabashedly and ridiculously proud of her and happy for her... It was such a great ride to play that role.
Going back to the moment where she actually does stab Doug and then Nathan, what do you think happened in that moment that made her finally give in and embrace who she is?
It's funny. We talked about that. I think in Caitlin's mind, she really does love Nathan, but she can't just sit there and know that he targets women and kills them. Women who, I don't think have done anything to him. So in her mind, she's still trying to be a good person, even though she's murdering people. I truly believe she's pure in that way, which was also really interesting to play juxtaposed to the plot.
There are so many moments in the episode where she goes to the police or comes so close to telling someone about Nathan, but then she just doesn't.
She gets so close. When she makes a phone call, it's never too far that it's not believable, but it was. When you do a story like [this], that's so heightened, that's so important, otherwise, it's ridiculous. But he's so good. He talks her out of [it]. He is really smooth and she loves him. She genuinely loves him. And there's fear, [because] she doesn't want him to kill her. She wants to survive too. But he thinks their fairytale ending is going to happen, that they're going to run off and kill people together and help one another. But she's just like, "I'm sorry, I just don't like the way you treat women."
That was one of the things I was wondering about. Because when Nathan first meets her and takes her to that alley, you do get nervous that he's going to hurt her and there's this kind of looming threat the whole time, but thankfully he doesn't do anything like that. Did you and JJ discuss how much you were going to lean into that or not?
I don't want to talk about JJ's choices because they were great and that's what he did. But [Nathan] does everything right. He says everything right. But there's just a little bit of danger there. Caitlin is so aware of that. And it's like, they're on a date and then he brings her to this alley. That's never good. You know, don't let him take you to the second location. Don't go to the dark alley... But she goes and she trusts him. I love that scene where he really helps her find some strength in herself. It's not expected. She's really fearful, and then she does that. There are changes that happen along the way to get her, where she is. It's quick, but it's not instant.
Do you think she falls for him after that? Or has it already been happening since she discovers that she even has a soulmate, and that he's a doctor and seems so charming?
It's another layer. There's kind of a dependency there that gets her to the next level with him and gets her so invested. I mean, look at him... Yes, he kills women, but he's so dreamy when he shows up, she's like, "There's no way I could look like this." Her life is so not glamorous. That's the nicest thing I can say. You have to look at where she works and even there everybody's got it better than she does. People ask her to cover and she never says no and then, life with Doug, it's not great. [But] then she meets her match.
That kind of ties back to the general theme of the series: what people are willing to do to just to find any kind of comfort or companionship. It's like she just doesn't want to be lonely anymore.
She doesn't want to be lonely. And it's the [internal] fight. Like when she asks her best friend, 'I'm a good person, right?' When she realizes who he is and that she's paired up with him... I like to think if that was my soulmate, there clearly [would have been] a mistake, where Caitlin doesn't because all the right things she does are to push down what we see at the end... She's not aware, and then she figures it out clearly. It's so funny. I love the way it's titled "The (Power) Ballad" because she finds her power, but it is not a happy story. It is not a romcom.
Soulmates has been renewed for a second season.