[This story contains spoilers from the finale of Reacher‘s second season.]
Viewers of Reacher have now had one week to decompress, perhaps rewind, and think about how archvillain Shane Langston (Robert Patrick) finally got his in the season two finale.
More from The Hollywood Reporter
After saving love interest Karla Dixon (Serinda Swan) from dropping mid-air out of a helicopter, Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) — while strapped to a gurney and with a knife stuck in his arm — goes to retrieve Langston and deliver him the same fate that had been handed to many of our series hero’s friends: being thrown out of a flying aircraft.
The scene was rewarding to viewers of Prime Video’s action-packed hit series. And it turns out that scene was also one of the highlights for Reacher showrunner Nick Santora. Santora doesn’t make light of how much he is a fan of both author Lee Child’s books (the source material for the series) and his lead actor, Ritchson. The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Santora after the season two ending to unpack the finale and share some thoughts about what lanes Reacher might travel down in season three.
After our interview, the Amazon platform confirmed that next season’s Reacher will be based on Persuader, the seventh book in Child’s series, and that Maria Sten will return to the show, reprising the role of Frances Neagley alongside Ritchson. In the season three plot, Reacher will go undercover to rescue an informant held by a haunting foe from his past. Neagley doesn’t appear in Persuader, making her presence in the series a departure from the books. The next season is already in production.
Below, Santora shares with THR some of his fondest memories of working on season two and the tidbits he felt comfortable with sharing about next season.
First, a quick question: Did Lee Child make a cameo appearance in season two (like Stan Lee did in the Marvel movies)?
Lee Child had a wonderful cameo in season one in the final episode, where he bumps into Reacher in the Margrave diner and says, “Excuse me,” which is really cool, because it’s kind of like Dr. Frankenstein meeting the Frankenstein monster. Although, I’m not comparing Alan Ritchson to the Frankenstein monster — he’s way cooler and too good looking for that. But, in following seasons, it really all depends on Mr. Child’s availability. He’s a busy guy. But if he’s ever around in Toronto and he wants to pop into an episode, I’m sure we can figure something out, because none of us would have our jobs if it wasn’t for him.
Before I ask you to wrap up season two, let’s talk about the upcoming season a little bit. My understanding is that the books, which the series is based on, are not in chronological order. So, how do you go about choosing which book or storyline you are going to focus on next?
It’s always a group decision. The studio has a lot of thoughts and ideas on it, as does Amazon, as they should because they know what they are doing. Alan will always have thoughts as well, because Alan is a really smart guy, and he has certain stories that are his favorites. And I also discussed it a lot with my writing team. They are great writers and we all have instincts, for lack of a better word, as to which books might lend themselves to the screen a little bit better than others. And then we all collectively come to a decision, and then we all hope for the best!
So, can you tell us what we are going to see in season three?
I can tell you Reacher is going to kick the crap out of people; he’s going to be incredibly smart and deductive in figuring things out; he’s going to be a hero and he is going to help save the day! He’s going to be Jack Reacher.
Is he going to go back to being a loner, or might we see some cameos from season two, like we did with the Finlay character from season one (Michael Goodwin)?
What I can say is the spirit of Reacher is that he is a loner and a drifting hobo, to use Reacher’s terminology. So, Reacher is never going to have a band of merry folks that travel along with him and help him solve crimes, and have adventures. The DNA of Reacher is that he moves about on his own and teams up with good people when there’s bad lurking about, and then he says goodbye to those people and goes on his way. And that’s what we’re always trying to stay true to.
Going back to season two, did you enjoy working with this ensemble and group of actors in scenes that would normally just focus on Reacher?
I enjoyed it and I know all the writers enjoyed it, because more characters mean more fun stuff to write. It also allows for more conflict, more humor between the characters. And I think what draws people to Reacher is that Reacher is a great character, and his family from the 110 are also great characters. Lee Child provided this great pseudo-family for Reacher, and it was fun to explore that. The book that we used in season two is different than most of the other books because Reacher does team up with people that he’s worked with before. But overall, to answer your question, it wasn’t any harder. And in ways, it was quite delightful because we also got to work with amazing actors! The actors that embody the members of the 110, that embodied some of the other characters throughout the season like Langston (Robert Patrick) and Detective Russo (Domenick Lombardozzi), these are some of the best actors in the world and it’s just fun to write for them.
What was the most rewarding episode or scene for you in season two?
I would say the helicopter sequence in the finale was very challenging from a production standpoint, but we have such an incredible production team, and our stunt team is so phenomenal. The writers, producers can just sleep easy knowing that at the end of the day, it’s going to look great. I really enjoyed the moment Langston got what was coming to him on the helicopter. It’s nice to see the bad guys get their due.
Speaking of Langston, the reference to the movie Terminator 2 didn’t escape many viewers. (Patrick played killer Terminator T-1000 in the 1991 film, trying to take out the mother of future machine killer, Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton.)
The truth is I would love to take credit for that, and pretend that I or other writers in that room were that clever. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Several months before filming, we were getting ready to make a little show and we had Langston cast. And unfortunately, we had to make some changes because of scheduling conflicts and things like that arise. So, we took a little bit of a pause and had to find a new actor, and I instantly thought of Robert Patrick, who I had worked with before on Scorpion. He is such an amazing actor and so talented. I reached out to him and he said, “Yeah I would love to do this,” and he jumped right in and hit it out of the park!
After he was in the role, I realized that we had that Sarah Connor line in the script. I had forgotten completely that the line had been written months earlier! The scripts had been done months earlier. And now I’m watching dailies and he is saying this line. And I went, “Oh no, am I going to have to cut this line? Is this too meta? Is this too cute?” And I thought about it and I left it in there, and everyone seemed to like it. It’s just something fun for the audience. And the truth is that, in the Reacher world, Robert Patrick the actor who was in Terminator, doesn’t exist. He’s a different guy. He’s Langston in our show, right?
My understanding is that you’re from New York, but you filmed in Toronto. How was that experience for a native New Yorker, having a city in another country represent yours?
I was born in Queens and I know what Queens looks like. I know what Brooklyn looks like — Staten Island, Bronx, Long Island and Manhattan. They all have very different looks. People that aren’t from New York might think it’s all skyscrapers or what have you, but it’s not. It’s quite a diverse in its look and feel. A long time ago, I created and ran a show with Matt Olmstead called Breakout Kings. We filmed Brooklyn and Queens, Atlantic City and Staten Island in Toronto. It surprised me how well it matched.
As an Italian American, I can say I think a lot of it might have to do with the fact that there are a lot of Italian Americans in New York, and there are a ton of Italian Canadians in Toronto. A lot of those Italians, when they immigrated to America from Italy, brought the type of brick laying and iron work trades with them, so that a lot of the houses and neighborhoods look the same. I’ve driven through neighborhoods in Toronto that could be Inwood, Long Island, which has a lot of Italians in it. You get the same wrought iron handrails going up the slate steps to the neat little brick house and it looks just like certain areas of New York. So, I think Toronto can pass for New York pretty darn well. And then if you need to do skyscrapers and big buildings, Toronto is flush with that, too.
How is the experience of being showrunner for Reacher different, coming from shows such as Prison Break and Scorpion?
The difference is just in the tone of the show. There’s still humor in Reacher. Reacher has some very funny moments and Alan has wonderful comedic instincts. I, and the writers I work with, put a little bit of humor in the shows. But it is a darker and more viscerally violent show, because it is streaming and we can show more. Where it’s similar is that Prison Break was four years, Scorpion was four years. And I hope Reacher is at least four years. And during all of those shows, I got to honestly work with the most wonderful people. They’ve become some of my best friends in the world: the writers, the producers, some of the performers, directors, crew. They just become your great friends because they’re the people you work with. And in a perfect world, you can carry them on from show to show. You get to keep working together, and so in that sense they’re all the same. I’ve just been very fortunate where I have gotten to work with wonderful human beings. In that sense, it’s been a blessed life.
Reacher season two is now streaming on Prime.
Best of The Hollywood Reporter