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SYFY WIRE The Continental

The Continental Director Reveals the Films that Influenced Night 2 of the John Wick Prequel

Go inside The Continental's second episode, "Loyalty to the Master," with director Charlotte Brändström. 

By Tara Bennett

When last we left Winston Scott (Colin Woodell) at the end of Night 1 of Peacock's new prequel series, The Continental: From the World of John Wick, he was reeling from the death of his brother, Frankie (Ben Robson), with audiences assuming there would be major hell to pay for those responsible. With Night 2, "Loyalty to the Master," now streaming, we got a chance to find out.

For the second movie-length episode, director Charlotte Brändström (The Rings of Power) grabs the storytelling baton from Albert Hughes to tell the chapter revolving around how Winston collects the weapons and mercenaries to unleash his revenge. NBC Insider caught up with Brändström for an inside look.

Charlotte Brändström on directing The Continental's second episode, "Loyalty to the Master"

A veteran director of many large scale series, Brändström says she signed up to this action heavy adventure because she loves the John Wick universe. "I love everything that is cinematic, that has scope and has style," she said. "And then I heard it was in New York in the '70s. I love shooting in New York. It's such a cinematic city. Obviously, we were not in New York. We were in very cold Budapest, but that also really cool."

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Brändström got to reunite with her former The Man in the High Castle production designer, Drew Boughton, to show the seedier side of New York City, specifically referencing Martin Scorsese's aesthetic in Taxi Driver. "It's funny, I think that the shot is cut now, but when the twins are searching the trailer, they even found the cover of Taxi Driver," the director shared. "We wanted to show a New York that was different from today."

Night 2 is also very much an ensemble piece picking right up from where Winston is despondent about his brother's fate. "I was on set the night Albert shot the ending," she said of how they handed off the episodes. "I saw Winston come in with Yen (Nhung Kate) so I saw in what state he was in. At the beginning of Night 2, I was picking that up in the morgue."

Always wanting to lean into character, Brändström said she spoke with Woodell about how to react to Frankie's body. "Because he had a very strong emotional reaction at the end of Night 1, where he was crying in the helicopter, I said, 'I think you should be quite unemotional in the morgue. It's over, that emotion.'"

How Mystic River influenced Night 2 of The Continental: From the World of John Wick

Brändström said she pointed Woodell to Clint Eastwood's Mystic River. "In that movie, Sean Penn identifies his daughter's body in the morgue," she explained. "It was such a strong moment because he's had his crisis before. He just walks in and says, 'That's her.' And then he leaves. Colin and I looked at that scene, and discussed it. I just thought that would be a good reference because that's also the moment when Winston becomes much harder, and when he loses something inside him. He's 100% revenge and doesn't care anymore. He just wants to go for it."

For the action beats, Brändström said she worked with Hughes' director of photography, Pål Ulvik Rokseth, to carry through the look and motion of the first episode. "He knew everything that Albert liked and wanted for the style and the look, so he was able to continue that," she said. "And then we had this amazing second unit director Larnell Stovall, who choreographed the action. He came from the John Wick world. He was hired by the John Wick producers, so he obviously knew what they wanted and the way it's supposed to look too."

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Brändström also spent a lot of time landing emotional beats inside the action, one of which was her very favorite scenes of the episode. "It's the moment when Yen walks in, sees Frankie's urn, and she realizes what they did without telling her which is pretty shocking," she said. "There was a big action scene that she was fighting them, and I said, 'No, no. It has to be from her perspective.' The action scene was really well choreographed. Everything was great. But it was too much. So I said, 'Let's just keep it down. Let's just do it from her perspective. Nobody would fight her back because all this comes out of grief.' Then I told Colin Woodell, 'Try not to fight back unless she's about to kill you.'"

Asked what she takes with her from her The Continental: From the World of John Wick experience, she said, "I learned a lot from Pål by sitting down and going through the script. We were shortlisting, not just to see what the important moments were, but we were trying to draw out some really interesting long shots. He was very, very cinematic and someone that I will take with me. And then also, there was Albert's use of music. It's not something that would have come naturally to me, to have so many needle drops. But I thought that was really interesting to cut it that way."

The first two nights of The Continental: From the World of John Wick are streaming now on Peacock, with Night 3 dropping on Fridays, October 6.