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Unpacking the "Hardcore" Haunted Houses & Heartbreak in SurrealEstate Season 2
Executive producer Danishka Esterhazy walks us through the horror and heartbreak of the Season 2 premiere.
This story contains spoilers for SurrealEstate Season 2, Episode 1, "Trust the Process."
There's a lot to unpack in the SurrealEstate Season 2 premiere, "Trust the Process," which brings Luke Roman (Tim Rozon) back into The Roman Agency fold, introduces two gnarly demons, and reveals some tension in the ranks.
So, we look to series producer/director Danishka Esterhazy, who works closely with series creator George Olson to bring his vision to the screen. As an expert on all things SurrealEstate — and as the director of the first four episodes of Season 2 — Esterhazy walks us through some of the stories behind the biggest moments of the premiere.
The Bigger Stakes of Season 2
Like all television shows that survive their first season, the second year allows the creatives to reassess what worked and what can be punched up going forward. Esterhazy told SYFY WIRE that Olson, his writers, and the show's rotating directors all talked through what they learned and audiences will see that in Season 2.
"We brought back the things we love from Season 1, and we leaned more into some things that we thought we could developing further," she shared. "One of them was the amazing comedy. We also leaned into our horror sequences a little more this season, trying to make it really terrifying for those brief moments in every episode."
After clearing The Donovan House of its demons in the Season 1 finale, Esterhazy said audiences can look forward to a "bunch of random houses" as episode settings. "In the first half of the season, what's really great is that the houses we meet in Season 2 really have teeth," she said. "The ghosts that inhabit those houses are pretty hardcore so there's high stakes. They're very dangerous, so the team is really challenged with those houses."
Thinking About the Luke Roman Empire
Even though Luke is back in the premiere, Esterhazy said don't expect his reentry into the office to be an easy one for anyone. "It's an interesting journey for Luke because he's in pain," she said of his emotional state. "He went through this really tragic family experience in Season 1, and his abilities — which he's always been kind of conflicted about — were taken away. He's been emotionally isolated, partly because of his strange abilities, so they've made it difficult for him to truly connect with people on a deep level."
Now, Luke's got to rebuild who he is without those abilities in Season 2. "He has to learn to trust his team and let them hold him and support him when he needs them," she explained. "It is humbling and it's a great journey of growth that he goes through in this season."
But let's face it, he screws up pretty bad with The Canterville House, almost getting himself wiped out by the serial killer ghost. Esterhazy agreed: "Yeah, there's Luke getting himself into trouble partly just because he doesn't know how to listen. It's so funny, that he's someone who could hear ghosts, but he doesn't know how to listen to his team. And that gets him into a lot of trouble in the first episode."
One of the more quiet moments of the premiere finds Luke and Megan (Tennille Read) accidentally connecting before she leaves town for a new residency program. These two danced around each other romantically in Season 1, with things looking like they might work out ... but looks like he checked out on them too after losing his powers. Megan gives him a very warm and wistful hug before she walks away, so what should we take from that? Esterhazy cryptically shared, "We've set up some things and we certainly hope to see Megan in Season 3."
Luke's vibes with women don't get any better back at The Roman Agency. For pretty much the whole episode, he's insulting Susan (Sarah Levy) and talking down to her as he ham-handedly tries to acclimate back amongst his staff. Esterhazy said she loved directing those moments because of their onscreen charisma.
"Tim and Sarah are such an amazing team together," she said. "But I think it was a little hard for them to do those scenes of conflict because Tim and Sarah love each other. They're very close and to have to bring all this tension, they were a little worried about it. It was out of their comfort zone in a away because they love to support each other. But we dove into it and it's just such a great arc to follow."
Cue the Creepy Music
The creepy child luring song gave us hard core The Innocents-style shivers, which pleased Esterhazy very much — because that was the intention.
"The Innocents was actually one of our inspirations for Season 1 as well," she shared. "We're all big fans of that [movie] and the whole Turn of the Screw genre of bringing children into ghost stories. That's always fun and interesting. But for this tune, we actually did write it ourselves. George, our showrunner, wrote the lyrics and our composer wrote the tune. It's certainly a nod to those horror stories with the evocative children's singing. But there's some misdirection and misunderstanding inside this wonderful, weird house."
Tune into new SurrealEstate Season 2 episodes every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SYFY.