Showrunner Peter Ocko tells IndieWire how artificial intelligence and a cynical view of the Earth are playing a big role now that the show is out of “Prologue.”
[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the ending of “Moonhaven” Season 1.]
With the first season of “Moonhaven” over, the entire community is on the line. A generations-long plan is beginning to unravel, a coup is underway, and some newcomers are making people in a self-contained lunar colony question pretty much everything.
Most other shows will tend to mess that up or fuel it. However, “Moonhaven” takes some time for ground pilot Bella (Emma MacDonald) to join Paul Sarno (Dominic Monaghan) and his family for a quiet meal as they all talk about what they value and what’s to come.
“We said it a lot in the writers room, to ‘think like a lifetime,’” said Peter Oko, the show’s show host. “You didn’t grow up in a harsh environment, and then you come to heaven. I was Boy in paradise. And so we built an imaginary version of a human being that really connects with himself, but not in an “I’m going to a yoga class” way. It’s actually in such a way that it feels like you’re living your full life every single day. Part of that is recognizing that when bad things happen, a moment of awakening is necessary. Otherwise, you will go into crisis mode, and you will pay for it in the future by not addressing what is happening.”
That kindness comes into play in the moments that surround him, too. Paul’s family (Josh Tedeco) bids farewell to Wish (Josh Tedeco) as he makes his final voyage to the ships of the first wave bound for Earth. As he was leaving, he passed through a series of open gates, reflecting the ones lit in the background of the series’ opening night sequence. Another in a long list of show’s entrances and exits, this farewell through those semi-outside circles is part of the design team’s tangible connection to a shared past.
“A lot of our work is done on the roads. How are we going to remind viewers that we are on the moon?” said production designer Philip Murphy. “We went out and did a little research, and I found in Chinese culture from the thirteenth century, that they have portals on the moon, which are basically holes in the walls or round windows that look out onto the world, or lead you down a path that asks you to modify what you see because you are going somewhere Beautiful. This design left China around the 15th century and ended up going to South America, where they appeared there in another form, and now you see them all over the world and modern sculpture. So that’s what we took.”
Szymon Lazewski / AMC +
Despite the calm and determined Paul and his family, the reason the danger continues to exist in this season’s finale is that the omniscient artificial intelligence IO is about to be under new control. Indira (Amara Karan), who arrives in Moonhaven under the cloak of being an emissary, ends the season in the midst of taking over IO along with Tomm (Joe Manganiello) and their other allies. To the extent that Indira’s role comes as a surprise, Ocko has made it clear that the season’s length of six episodes means she can’t be too shy about her intentions.
“She promised Amara that she had to play poker in season one, and she did a great job with that. But I think this character played a little bit with her ideology in this season. I hid it to tell a different story, but she’s that passionate person. So it’s not All lies.She just has her own sense of how the future works.There’s a really fun story to tell that doesn’t boil down to “she wants to be bad”.I think she has very rational plans to make things better the way she feels. he is Oko said.
Even as the curtain begins to resurface over Indira and Tom’s true intentions, “Moonhaven” approaches power and policy making on this community’s terms. One of the keys to keeping Indira a mysterious force throughout the season is that she’s not an easy match in the real world. Ocko said that he and the writing staff wanted to stay away from making anyone in this story a purely allegorical stance.
“This is not meant to be a lecture or presentation with an agenda or an answer. It’s really just asking this question, ‘How do we live?’ I think that’s a fair question, and the options we have to answer that question change with increasing desperation,” Oko said. “The idea that a group of people from the moon could come back and rebuild society with a new generation seems completely absurd to our ears nowadays. But if we really had no choice, and backed climate and greed against the wall, would our choices change? They are not supposed to be “I told you so. It’s really just meant to put these things into play and let the individual stories go through. There is no right answer.”
On top of the objective questions raised by this ending, there are plenty of logistical questions about how those on the Moon will adapt to the physical changes of their surroundings. Arlo (Kadeem Hardison) detached arm points the way to some answers. (This was Hardison’s actual arm at the end—Murphy said that for the other scenes in the season where Arlo broke off his limb, the model makers at Odyssey Studios made a bunch of Hardison’s arm and did full recreations, right down to “putting everything” hair in. It was like a perfect match.”)
Szymon Lazewski / AMC +
There is a reveal of a literal family tree that once stood in Fringe Land but is now part and parcel of the way these full moons see themselves. It’s one of the latest examples of the show’s ability to introduce an unfamiliar concept and instantly make both Bella and the audience on the outside realize the importance. The potential disintegration of the family system – based on each family raising other adopted children from society as their own – carries the weight it does because of such scenes as those surrounding Paul Sarno’s dining table. This uncertainty paves the way for the still-mysterious IO to become a more visible element of the show going forward.
“IO, we hid this card as much as we could in season one,” Ocko said. “I don’t think we can hide it. IO now has to reveal itself and they have to learn more about it and understand what it means to ‘It’s a kid now, but not forever?’ Arlo’s line is really important, and that’s definitely part of my thinking going forward.”
All of these swirling ideas make up what Ocko describes as a six-episode “introduction,” which manages to tackle basic philosophical ideas like death and destiny, while introducing other characters from another world like Wild Child, who was last seen disappearing into the same chimney gap in which Mighty is shown. Voss (Ayelet Zurier) herself.
Between the struggle for the moon, and the new dynamism for those who have safely reached their destination, the show’s revamp provides an opportunity to fill in more of the series’ full scope.
“We don’t want to pick up on the story exactly where it left off. I want to feel that when we’re in season 2, we’re with our characters that we like, but this is a new chapter,” Ocko said. Objectively speaking, the problems haven’t changed. We have a team back in The Earth is now stranded, but they have IO technology with them. It’s not about a group of weak people who will now beat the dead. It’s a group of technologically advanced humans who are back and still bent on pursuing this goal of making things better. The show is not sarcastic. I’m not cynical. I think it’s really important that we don’t give up on that, ‘We’re not human, we’re a target.’ That, to me, is the most important thing we do.”
“Moonhaven” is now available to stream on AMC+. The series has been renewed for season 2.