When walking onto the main set of 12 Monkeys season 2, just through a set of double doors etched with the initials “EH” is a grand foyer with a clock in the center of the lobby. The “EH” stands for the Emerson Hotel, which will inhabit several time periods in the coming season and serve as a base of operations in the past relative to James Cole’s 2043 point of origin. Terry Matalas, who serves as co-showrunner with fellow executive producer, Travis Fickett, was happy to talk about this new setting during a recent set tour.
“It’s sort of like the Grand Budapest Hotel throughout this century,” explained Matalas. “In the 1940’s it was like this is the hotel; this is the place you wanted to be. But in 2016 it has ATMs and hookers and crack. So it kind of shows the passage of time like the deterioration that happens throughout. It’s pretty spectacular.”
It really is spectacular! With a bar off to one side, and a grand staircase flanking the checkout desk, it’s easy to feel transported in time to the 1940s. Matalas also pointed out Suite 607, which he says Cole will find in present day with the help of Jennifer Goines. “She seems to be able to see some of the changes that our time travelers are making throughout time, and so we really kind of open that up this season,” Matalas mentioned. “And so she brings them here to this suite, and when he gets here there are passports from the 1960s, information about the Berlin Wall; there are some dossiers from the 1970s… it’s all these little hints.”
Why Cole must travel decades deeper back into the twentieth century remains unknown, but the differences should really set season 2 apart. “I think the theme of this season is that time is on our side, but there may be somebody who is against time,” Matalas said.
Is he referring to the twelve white-faced men who infiltrated Dr. Jones’ lab at the end of season 1 or someone else? “At the end of last season, the time machine was taken over by those 12 hooded men, and there’s only one reason to get yourself a time machine: you want to use it,” Matalas insisted. “So that is very much — right from the get-go, right from the first fifteen minutes of this next season — they have an agenda, and we’re going to start seeing that.”
Matalas has high hopes for season 2 even outdoing the tightly-written and entertaining season 1 of 12 Monkeys, and he attributes that to the phenomenal cast, which includes Amanda Schull, Aaron Stanford, and Emily Hampshire. “They are so fantastic,” Matalas gushed. “I think this season is better than last season, mostly because they have the history of last season. So they have a lot more to say to each other and a lot more disagreements to get into. And that brings a lot of drama and that just brings some phenomenal performances.”
When asked to characterize season 2 and what made it different from season 1, Matalas put it this way: “Last season was about in a lot of ways fatherhood. It was Jennifer Goines dealing with the fact that her father hated her. It was the fact that Ramse was a father and didn’t know how to have a mission that conflicted with that. Cole witnessed the death of his father. This season is all about mothers. Motherhood and what that means, from our villains to our heroes.”
But when it comes to time travel, Matalas makes his own rules that might even confuse Dr. Jones. “Jones is very much a scientist and relies on Hawking and Goedel and Schrodinger and all the quantum physics that are involved with time travel,” explained Matalas, “and she will learn she has to throw all of that away and look at it in another way. So time and what time wants and how time works and how time and human beings may work together plays a big part in this season.”
To see the Emerson Hotel in all of its glory, be sure to tune in to season 2 of 12 Monkeys when it premieres on Syfy April 18 at 9pm ET.