Chris Sheridan Interview: Resident Alien Season 2
The SyFy channel’s hit series Resident Alien has told a heartfelt tale of an alien visitor discovering what it means to be human, with the humans he meets also learning as much from him. Adapted from the Dark Horse Comics title, Resident Alien’s season 2 finale is finally here, with the way it concludes the season having big ramifications for the whole show and most directly for its central alien protagonist Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk). In his role as Resident Alien’s showrunner, Chris Sheridan is right at the center of crafting Harry’s journey on a new world.
On Resident Alien, the titular alien’s mission to eliminate the human race has him assume the identity of a human doctor named Harry Vanderspeigle. However, as he develops relationships with the people of Earth such as Asta Twelvetrees (Sara Tomko), his mindset begins to change as Harry himself takes on more elements of being human. Resident Alien season 2 takes a deeper dive in Harry gradually being humanized in the connections he’s developed with the characters on the show.
RELTED: Resident Alien’s Octopus Voice: Why He Sounds So Familiar
We speak to Chris Sheridan on the making of Resident Alien, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the show’s general development, and what fans can expect from season 2’s finale, along with a tiny bit of where the show might head in season 3.
Talking Resident Alien With Chris Sheridan
Screen Rant: Without going into spoilers on the ending of Resident Alien season 2, what can you share about what viewers can expect from the show’s third season?
Chris Sheridan: It’s really hard to say anything about season 3, because season 2 really launches all the characters into new and exciting places in season 3. We’re just now starting season 3, so I’m just figuring it out myself, and it’s also hard to talk about season 3 without spoiling too much of season 2. I will say, for a lot of it, we’re always trying to mix things up, we’re not trying to repeat ourselves ever. Harry will continue on his path of gaining human emotions and trying to push them aside, because the last thing he wants to do is become human. So, there are elements to the show that are working very well that we want to continue, but we also want to evolve and have a different feel. I know that’s not saying much, but it’s really hard to delve into it without ruining season 2!
With Harry’s arc on Resident Alien of trying to avoid humanity and suppress the human connection inside himself, between seasons 1 and 2, what have been some of the big influences you brought into Resident Alien as far as telling that story?
Chris Sheridan: Well, we always try to attach it to something relatable, and here we have an alien who doesn’t know what emotions are and realizes that he’s got this virus, as he thinks of it, which are the human emotions growing inside of him. What we’re playing at with him is trying to push them away, the pain, the fear, the things that feel bad and not wanting to feel them and pushing them away. The biggest thing that we draw upon for that is real human experience. The thing that makes it so relatable is that very aspect of this alien coming in and not wanting to feel things is how a lot of humans deal with their lives. So, we’re able to sort of explore that human condition through this alien where it’s all new, and as he’s learning, maybe we can learn a little bit, as well.
We came into season 2 with Harry having the closest brush with mortality he’s ever had. On his planet, they don’t have feelings or emotions, so fear and fear of death doesn’t exist. You just die, you become part of the planet, you come out again, you know. So, it’s never been an issue, but now that he has these human emotions in him, and he faces his own mortality, it suddenly becomes a big problem, and his answer is to not think about it. All he wants to do is watch Law & Order and not think about it, but you can’t just push your emotions aside, because they never go away. So, this is a lesson for Harry the alien, who’s trying to not deal with pain, but it’s also a lesson for all of us. It’s a lesson for anyone who has gone through something difficult and doesn’t know how to process it and might make the decision to ‘not deal with it’. The problem is those emotions are always in you, and the only way to sort of get through them is to go through them. That’s how Harry is able to finally put the idea of death in perspective and realize that it’s about appreciation, and if you appreciate life more, death doesn’t seem so scary. Him going through the process of learning that is really just us as writers taking the human experience and putting it in an alien. It’s very relatable, because it’s something that everybody goes through.
The production timeline for Resident Alien also began right as the pandemic was first taking hold. Since then, movies and TV shows have really begun to adapt to working through COVID. Was there a big contrast from season one to season two in terms of acclimating to the pandemic, with Resident Alien being a show that was getting underway right at the beginning of the pandemic?
Chris Sheridan: There really was a big difference with the way we shot the show when the pandemic hit. When we were shooting season one, we were about two or three weeks from finishing, and the pandemic hit and we had to go home, and we didn’t know how long that was going to be for. As it turned out, it was seven or eight months before we came back to finish season one. Really, it delayed our air cycle, we couldn’t air for another year after that, but mostly what it did was it adjusted our schedule. We were shooting eight days per episode, 12 hours a day, and then in season 2, we first went down to 10 days per episode at 10 hours a day, and then nine days shooting 11 hours a day, so it really did change the production schedule. We had testing several days a week, depending on what the surge was in Vancouver. All of that gets in the way a little bit, and it takes some of the fun out of the process, because it’s just another layer you have to deal with.
There’s also a fear factor in there, because no one wants to get it, but you do slide into a routine with it, and you realize that these things we have in place do keep people safe, taking your temperature every morning before you come to work, getting tested every day or every other day will tell the COVID team that someone has COVID and can be pulled out of the rotation before anyone else gets sick. So, we were really lucky, we really didn’t shut down at all, which was great. We had some incidences of COVID like everybody in the world had, but we were able to keep pushing forward with the production, and we keep hoping that we’re going to go into a season where we don’t have to deal with it anymore, but it seems like this is around for a while. We’re sort of sliding into what we know now, which is that if we’re careful and we mask up on set and get tested and stay in front of it, that we can at least shoot the show safely. Right now, we’re in the writer’s room for season 3, and we’re doing what we did there for season 2, which is doing it all remotely on Zoom. I prefer to be in a writer’s room, I think that’s better energy, but with technology, we’re able to keep moving forward regardless and it’s working out pretty well.
That’s good to hear! With Resident Alien following an alien who is taking on elements of humanity despite his desire not to, what has been your favorite theme or aspect of the show’s story so far?
Chris Sheridan: I think one of the bigger themes we have through season one and season two is when humans forget their differences and come together, we’re stronger. I think what we try to show on Resident Alien is no matter what’s going on, characters are always there for each other. When things are bad and you have someone in your life that you love, it makes your life better. We always wanted to put out a theme of inclusiveness and including people in your lives even if they’re different. I think we’ve gotten very exclusionary these days in the world. Harry’s this outsider who comes to this town, and because he acts differently and has a different way of looking at the world and he’s an alien, he could just as easily be the guy who steps off the bus from another country or praises a different God. He’s just someone who is different from everyone who’s there, and I think it’s the group that’s celebrating all of their differences and Harry coming in and being accepted is really the thing that opens him up to humanity and allows a lot of that to come in.
The fact that Asta’s able to pull down her walls a little bit and share things with him even though he’s a stranger opens him up to want to share some things with her, and it’s the thing that creates their friendship. The biggest thing that Harry notices when he first gets there is that when these people are together, they’re stronger, and it’s one of the biggest themes that we’re pushing on the show, that that person who lives down the street who seems different is still human, and because of that, isn’t that different from you, and you should welcome them into your life, and if you do, your life will be richer and all of our communities will be stronger if we accept each other.
Based on the Dark Horse comics, SYFY’s “Resident Alien” follows a crash-landed alien named Harry (Alan Tudyk) whose secret mission is to kill all humans. In season two, Harry is once again stranded on Earth where he must confront the consequences of having failed his people’s mission to destroy the human race. On his new quest to protect the people of Earth, Harry struggles to hold on to his alien identity as his human emotions grow stronger by the day. In an adventure that takes Harry and Asta (Sara Tomko) all the way to New York City, Asta brings Harry into the arms of someone he can call family. While back in Patience, Sheriff Mike (Corey Reynolds) and Deputy Liv (Elizabeth Bowen) find themselves closer to unraveling the mystery of Sam Hodges’s murder.
Check out our other Resident Alien interview with star Alan Tudyk.
Resident Alien’s season 2 finale airs tonight on the SyFy channel at 7 pm PST/10 pm EST