Henry Coles' world just got a whole lot bigger. In Impulse Season 1, Henry struggled to settle down with her mother Cleo in Reston, New York. That only got worse after she was sexually assaulted by the local basketball champ, which led her to discover a terrifying truth about herself: she can teleport. However, she didn't know how to control it, at least at first. Now, as she heads into Season 2, Henry has found herself a mentor -- but he may or may not be the ally she's looking for.
Speaking to CBR, Impulse showrunner Lauren LeFranc offered some insight into Season 2's direction. She described her approach to the upcoming season, weighed in on how Henry's powers will continue to grow alongside her character and explained how Henry's search for her father will tie into her discovery of self. She also provided a few updates on supporting characters like Cleo, Jenna, Townes and the Boone boys and teased her favorite moment from Season 2.
CBR: The full Season 2 trailer released last month, and it really felt like a paradigm shift for the series. How would you describe your approach to this season?
LeFranc: My approach to Season 2 is similar to Season 1, where we always plan everything with characters first. Obviously, it's really important to me to tell a grounded character drama with some drama elements, but never to lead with -- for instance, in our show -- teleportation... We think of them from an emotional perspective. So it's about a continuation of the journey that we've put Henry on from Season 1, where she's grappling with her sexual assault, but it's evolving in that conversation. So we don't make it something gratuitous. Something that many people who have experienced something like that have... an ongoing sense of, like, what is next for them, and them just grappling with trauma in general. So that's what we're leading with in Season 2.
Season 1 focused a lot on Henry's trauma and how it impacted her in her everyday life. How does that continue into Season 2?
You know, in a lot of different specific ways. So I don't want to give too much away, but I think, for me, it's about trying to continue that conversation. I think what happens sometimes, when people depict something like sexual assault, and that traumatic of an experience... I think I would liken it, I guess, to something tragic that happened in the world, and that people sort of start to forget after a period of time. I think this thing that is really important that I've heard when we've done a lot of research and spoken to survivors of assault, is this never goes away. So I think it's about how to depict that in a way that is not hammering something that we've already portrayed, and I think handled well, but evolving it into what a lot of women, in particular, experience as they move forward.
So we always link it to her teleportation powers, meaning that if she's grappling with something regarding her assault, it's something that she's also grappling with, with regard to her powers. So Season 1 dealt a lot with denial, denial of this assault that took place, denial of this crazy power that she suddenly realized she had. Season 2 deals a lot more with just the evolution of that, of taking control or trying to take control in an uncontrollable situation.
So will Henry's evolving powers impact her growth as a character?
Yes, of course.
We got a fleeting tease that Henry's dad is not just alive, but also a teleporter. How does that information affect Henry in Season 2?
I mean, I think Henry is trying to explore herself on a deeper level. I think, when you are someone who didn't grow up with one of your parents, there's sort of a void that you have in yourself and a desire to understand this other half that you're not quite sure about. I think, when we talk about her relationship with Cleo, her mom, it's always like... in Season 1, you have this flawed parent, and it's easy to put all of the garbage that you feel on that person who's there, but that person is there. Her father's always been absent, and she doesn't fully know why. So you start to put aspirations on a figure like that and you imagine, you know, the best about them, potentially. You're just so curious, because they're just in your imagination. I think that's something that we explore, and we try to keep in a grounded way with Henry in Season 2. She will be pursuing, trying to find her father and figure out who he is, and see if he has anything to do with her powers in any way.
I'm going to be honest with you: I'm really, really worried about Cleo. Do you have any reassuring words about that situation?
I'll be honest with you too: you should be worried about Cleo. She was put in a very bad situation where we left Season 1. I can say that Henry inadvertently has a mess, that she has a lot to clean up. Obviously, Nikolai has come into her life in a way that she did not anticipate, which is going to complicate things. We leave Henry in Season 1 not knowing what happened to her mom, and a large reason why she doesn't stay in the location that she accidentally and inadvertently teleports to is because she is reminded that her mom is still back home and she needs to know what happened to her. So we are with Henry, right out of the gate in Season 2, and we're going to quickly find out what happened to Cleo.
Nikolai is a major part of the Season 2 trailer. How quickly do we learn more about him and his mission?
I think Nikolai is a mysterious figure, for sure. One thing that's always important to me in terms of storytelling is largely to stay with Henry, in terms of what she knows about him. So we're confused by him and his presence and what he's there to do. I think we have suggested in Season 1 that he works for people that might not want the best for Henry, but we don't know a lot about him. So what I'm most excited about in Season 2 is to have a character that's introduced in such a way in Season 1 where we think of him purely as a villain. Then, what he experiences by what happened to Dominic and Dominic's son Tristan in episode four of Season 1 really changes him. We start to get deeper into why specifically that affected him in such a way -- outside of just the surface level that it would affect anybody -- and dig deep into him as a character and just get to know him.
So my favorite thing about Impulse is that we are telling complicated character stories. No person is necessarily very likable. Henry is our heroine, and yet she makes really bad decisions and is oftentimes very unlikable, but she's complicated and real. So we do that across the board with all our characters, and we'll do that with Nikolai as well.
We saw so little of him in Season 1, so I'm curious to know what three words you would use to describe him as a character.
Three words? Well, complicated is one of my favorite words I use to describe every character, so he's complicated... I would just say there's more to him than what there seems to be. I think we know from Season 1, he's not purely an ally and maybe he's not purely an antagonist. I think he falls somewhere in between.
Townes and Jenna got an ominous threat in the Season 1 finale. Just how dangerous is this as-yet unseen force on the other side of Townes' computer?
We're definitely going to explore that. I call Jenna and Townes Jownes now. That's my combined name for them, that I use with deep affection. They are definitely going to be more prominent in Season 2. And I love them as characters. And I'm so excited to get to spend more time with them personally, and you know, them along with Henry is this little trio trying to figure things out. So we're definitely pursuing that thread. That's something that's going to be picked up in Season 2 right away as well. We're going to learn a lot more along with Townes and Jenna about who or what is this person or entity that's contacted them.
Jenna started to really explore her sexual identity last season. Will we continue to see that in Season 2?
We're going to definitely continue to explore that. I think the thing that was really important to me and to our writers, was to explore that in what felt like an organic way for her as a character, to not have her know herself that well, because as a character she doesn't know herself that well. She's a bit of a follower, not as much of a leader. I think she's always envied Henry for how direct Henry is and how blunt she is. It bothers her too, but I think she wishes she could be that bold in her own life. Henry is who she is, and she seems to not apologize for it. Jenna is a character who tends to apologize for who she is. I think what's exciting about Season 2 is we're going to see her journey evolve, where she starts to realize more about herself and starts to embrace it, and I'm personally very excited about that.
I feel like it's pretty rare to see a character like Townes take such a central role on a TV show. What was behind your decision to include an artistic character, and how does he become important to Season 2?
It's really important for me, in general, to write a show that deals with more than something like teleportation. I'm not interested in writing a show about a girl who just teleports around the world. I'm interested in writing a character drama and depicting young people, who are complicated and imperfect, and just doing the best that they can, given the tools that they have. That's what I understand and that's how I understood growing up for me.
So, when it comes to Townes, it was important to me personally to depict someone who's autistic, but not to make it the central focus of who they are, and to depict someone who's autistic who is a very loyal, great friend. When I was doing research and I spoke to a lot of specialists in the field, the thing that they always said is that a lot of people on TV depict people with autism as total loners who don't want to actually have friends or interact. That's just so much further from the truth, than what reality is. They're such loyal, great friends.
So Townes and the way he depicts himself as the sidekick for Henry was really important to me, and to just have it be an attribute of him, but not everything he's about. Just across the board with every character, making sure that someone doesn't feel one note or that we're giving After School Special type lessons in our show, that we are aware of what we're doing, and we're trying to do them well. We're not leading with that. We're not trying to hit you over the head with that.
How will the Boones continue to influence the town and the show?
Well, Bill's fate is left a little bit up in the air at the end of Season 1. I think it was important for me to depict these young men, in terms of Clay and Lucas in particular, in such a way that -- when you come from a household that's a bit abusive, and you have a father who's well-intentioned, but very difficult, as a person -- to try to figure out for themselves, how to navigate that as young men. So it was really important with Clay in particular for me, to go home with him, to not just have him be someone who assaults a young girl, and then becomes this nameless, faceless person. To see where he comes from, to try to understand why a young man thinks he can do that to a young woman, to show that he's not purely a villain, but he's certainly not a good person.
Then for Lucas to show that he has a similar upbringing, and yet, he constantly gets in his own way. But there's goodness in him, or glimpses of it. He is a different person than Clay. To try to depict young men that are in a difficult situation, but differently. So we're going to see more of them in a very different way than we saw them in Season 2. Lucas' fate is very up in the air at the end of Season 1 as well. Clay will always be someone who exists for Henry, in this way that he haunts her emotionally, based on what he did to her. We try to make stylistic choices and creative choices to show that, without it feeling like we're being redundant in what we explored in Season 1.
Can you tease your favorite scene or moment so far from Season 2?
Honestly, I'm so proud of what we've done with Season 2. I love what we did with Season 1. I think Season 2 is a big evolution of it. I think what we do with Henry and how we kind of emotionally continue her journey, while keeping it grounded, I'm most proud of... I will say, though, the opener of Season 2, Doug Liman directed it. The opening of it, in particular, makes me smile every time, which -- once you see it -- you'll realize is a weird thing and kind of a messed up thing to say, because crazy stuff goes down in the first couple minutes.
If you could pin down one major theme for Season 2, what would it be?
I don't have a great one-word theme, but I do think what we're trying to show a lot in Season 2 is that moment when you're experiencing a lot of darkness, and you're not really sure how to get out of it, and that you realize like life's really complicated and hard. But there's hope. You see a glimpse of hope at the end of the tunnel. I think that's what we're trying to do and explore in Season 2, is to not remove complications from Henry's life, but to give her glimpses that it can be okay, that -- if she's willing to do a little bit of work and to open herself up more -- good things can happen to her.
Returning Wednesday, October 16 on YouTube, Impulse Season 2 stars Maddie Hasson, Missi Pyle, Sarah Desjardin, Enuka Okuma, David James Elliott, Daniel Maslany, Tanner Stine and Craig Arnold.