The Gates: Why we're more than just Desperate Housewives + True Blood

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

Life's about to change bigtime for the characters on ABC's The Gates, as murder, mayhem and monsters abound on Sunday's pivotal episode, "The Monster Within." So far the series has had its share of twists and turns, but things are about to get much hotter, said stars Frank Grillo and Marisol Nichols in an exclusive interview.

"It is so bizarre what is happening right now. The strings are finally pulling up the puppet and it's coming to life. Its arms are starting to move, and you can really see life coming into the show. All these characters are being developed now," said Grillo, who plays The Gates' new police chief, Nick Monohan.

"And each one of those strings leads to its own thing, and who knows where that will go?" added Nichols, who plays his wife, Sarah Monohan. "It is just like the show really takes off here, especially the last five minutes" of the episode.

The supernatural series focuses its story on a gated community filled with vampires, werewolves, witches and a teen succubus. The new police chief and his family have been in the dark when it comes to the residents' secrets, but Nick has a secret of his own.

In the episode, Nick is suffering through the one-year anniversary of having shot and killed a criminal when he was a Chicago cop, while the fathers of The Gates prepare to take their daughters to The Gates Father/Daughter Dance. And then there's the missing hunter who at the top of the episode tangles with Brett and the pack in the woods while they are in their werewolf form.

"The episode is huge in many ways. Finally it is a bit of a reveal for Sarah and Nick," said Grillo. "It is funny, because you learn Nick killed somebody in Chicago and, The Gates being The Gates, that's not the last of it. That's not the end of it. That thing that has been haunting me emotionally, it doesn't just go away. Because this is The Gates. Anything can happen. And I think that is fascinating. Nick, once the floodgates open and once I understand that this is something other than what I thought it was, then I just keep learning more and more. It really becomes intense and fun and juicy and all the things I think people were waiting for. The payoff is coming. It is here," said Grillo.

When Sarah discovers that Nick's been keeping a secret from her, that impacts their relationship as well. "It's like finding out the person you are married to is not the person you were married to," said Nichols. "And then, fortunately getting past that, he then discovers a whole new set of secrets that he's now going to have to decide whether to tell Sarah or not. It's a whole thing, and it reveals why they moved there in the first place and what they were escaping from and what they went through, even though that was only hinted at in the first episode."

While Grillo admits that so far the series "has been a slow rollout," he promises that "it is kind of game on from here. We are happy, because we have a great core audience now, and we're hoping that from here, with the show being revealed, that we build from here."

"I think from here on, in all these characters, some of them we've been introduced to in small bits and some in greater doses, I think what happens now for this journey from episodes four through 13, not only do you realize that they are all aware and know of each other, but now we learn how they deal with each other. A couple of things happen where they are all forced to deal with each other, and it doesn't always end good for everybody. By the end of this thing you're biting your nails and you're sweating and you're always looking around the corner—you don't know who is coming and who is going," said Grillo.

"The whole show changes the tone. This episode is how we are not Desperate Housewives, we are not True Blood, and it is our own entity. The last five minutes of this show sets up the rest of this game, and it is game on," said Nichols.

The Gates airs on ABC on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Photo courtesy of ABC.