Big Foster Farrell is back. No surprises there since actor David Morse, who plays the would-be paterfamilias of the series’ modern-day Appalachian Mountains clan, did an interview to talk about season 2 of WGN’s Outsiders.
He was also on the show’s panel for the Television Critics Association. On the panel, Morse said the near-death experience made Big Foster realize his love for his son (Ryan Hurst as Lil Foster) and G’Winveer (Gillian Alexy). That’s a big change of heart toward the woman who tried to kill him.
Season 1 left Big Foster seemingly for dead, but it’ll take more than a gunshot to keep him down. He’s led his people to live off the grid and resist the local authorities, who want them to abandon their homestead and descend from the mountain to make way for a mining operation. The Farrells still had plenty of rules, their own culture full of betrayal, and mystical beliefs.
In season 2, Big Foster may not get to be the clan’s leader (or “Bren’in”), but he’ll have to find a way to get along among his people.
Here are 10 things Morse said about the upcoming season. Some spoilers follow, but Morse talked around the specifics.
Big Foster’s big comeback really isn’t until episode two of the season. Even though his return is now confirmed, the show still maintains a little suspense around how exactly he comes back. Morse said if you pay close attention, you may see a glimpse of him in the season premiere.
“I sort of was [in the episode],” Morse said. “You’re supposed to think he was dead, so they wanted to build a little suspense about what happened. I know they struggled with how to do the publicity his year, whether they should use my image or not. It’s tricky how to handle those things.”
When Big Foster shows up in episode two, he’s not exactly rescued. In fact, he finds himself in the care of some strangers who don’t want him to leave. Good intentions aside, that’s captivity and Big Foster doesn’t do captivity.
“He doesn’t handle it very well and the people who keep him captive, they regret that they kept him captive,” Morse said. “I think the one thing it did to him is it focused him on what was important to him. That was the people he loved and had to get back to. That’s really what it was about, how to get out of there and get back to those people.”
While plotting his escape in episode two, Big Foster endures some shocking trials. One captor, in particular, subjects him to the most torture. On screen, it is scary, but Morse said, behind the scenes, it was more difficult for his costar than him.
“What was really tense about it was the actress who did it,” Morse said. “She was so nervous about doing it. She has kids, and she was really nervous about her kids seeing her doing something like that. I really admire her a lot because she really went for it. It made me laugh, which wasn’t really appropriate for the scene. She just was so full bore into it. I really had to thank her for doing it.”
Little Foster and G’Winveer may be happy to learn that Big Foster has decided to come back to them out of deep love, but there are plenty on the mountain who would’ve rather seen him gone.
“You can imagine there are a few people who are happy to see him back, but not more than a few,” Morse concurred. “He’d done a lot of damage in his life. A lot of people fear his return.”
The Big Foster who returns is full of surprises. After his ordeal, Big Foster shows a bit of a soft side. He’s focused on his love for his Little Foster and G’Winveer, but how long can that last?
“You’ll see that he is still somebody to be feared, but he is confusing to them because he is not the same man when he returns,” Morse said. “They expect the worst. They expect him to come back and just wreak havoc. Instead he comes back with something else on his mind. It’s really a devotion that he’s never had in his life to somebody else.”
If Big Foster returns to the mountain in episode three, that means he’ll only enjoy two episodes of peace before it’s back to his old tricks. Morse said to watch out for episode five.
“I don’t think he’s going to make [peace] beyond the fourth episode,” Morse said. “I don’t think there’s ever going to be any peace for him. His devotion gets challenged, his devotion to G’Winveer gets challenged in a lot of ways. He has to fight his nature all the time. The only thing that keeps him from just going off is his love for her that he never expected he would have. He doesn’t want to lose her. It will end up not going well. Big Foster is Big Foster.”
Season 1 climaxed with the troops mounting for battle on the mountain as they conjured a lightning storm. Morse promised this season has an even bigger ending in store.
“I think we top that,” Morse said. “By the time we get to the end of the season, I think we top that.”
They’ve also got some big stunts planned for middle episodes, he said: “There’s a scene where the prison bus flips. That’s a great episode kind of halfway through the season.”
As Morse said in the panel and above, Big Foster’s driving force is to get back to G’Winveer and fulfill the love he himself is surprised he feels so deeply for her. Morse said he suggested this angle to the writers.
“WGN really love the idea of Big Foster being this really bad guy,” Morse said. “So the challenge was how do we still maintain him being this really bad, bad guy but also really in love. Like a knight, like Lancelot in a way to G’Winveer. I had suggested that.”
Big Foster’s done a lot of cold-blooded things in only one season, like drowning Lady Ray or throwing G’Winveer through a window. There’s even more coming, and Morse loves losing his inhibitions.
“I do them with great relish,” Morse said. “It really is the fun of the character. I think part of it is he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The first time where he thinks he’s killed his mother, he had no idea he was going to do that. He really is so impulsive, it’s fun to play somebody who — I’m going to compare him a little to our president-elect [now president] — who does things and then has to explain them later, or other people have to explain them later. It’s fun to see somebody who’s so impulsive.”
Outsiders offers a bit of a conundrum: All the great drama comes from living off the grid and opposing society’s rules, which many, including Morse, find appealing. Yet, in order to enjoy that drama, viewers need electricity and a television, not to mention a basic cable subscription or internet connection and credit card to watch on a streaming service.
“When we see people who actually do live that way, there’s a part of us that wonders, ‘Could we do that? How do they do that?’” Morse said. “Some guy who lives out in a cabin out in Alaska where he has to fly in and get dropped off and then you don’t see him for six months, and then the spring comes, he goes back out on the plane, and leaves. How does somebody do that? I think it’s really fascinating. That’s part of what attracted me to the series is: How do these people really live up there?”
When he goes feral, Morse said, it’s all about the wig: “Once we put all the wardrobe on, it’s a really good wardrobe, and put on tattoos, really good tattoos,” Morse said. “As soon as that wig went on, that’s it. That’s the man. It’s really a transformation that happens when the final pieces come together. I spent an hour and a half to two hours in a chair every morning I go to work between the wig and the makeup. A lot of that is tattoos and dirt.”
Outsiders returns January 24 on WGN America