NYCC 2019: Interview with the Cast of ABC’s Emergence

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Emergence
EMERGENCE – 10.3.19 – The cast of ABC’s character-driven genre thriller, “Emergence,” attend 2019 New York Comic-Con. (ABC/Lou Rocco)
ROBERT BAILEY JR., OWAIN YEOMAN, ALEXA SWINTON, ASHLEY AUFDERHEIDE, ALLISON TOLMAN, CLANCY BROWN, ZABRYNA GUEVARA, DONALD FAISON

The cast of ABC’s Emergence came to New York Comic Con on Thursday and talked about what we could expect from this new show. Emergence premiered on September 24 with its pilot episode. A young girl is found at the scene of a plane crash with no memory of who she is and strange powers that she cannot explain. 

The young girl (Alexa Swinton) is taken in by police chief Jo Evans (Allison Tolman) and the rest of her family. Evans starts to investigate the crash and soon realizes that things are not as they seem. The Evans family has an immediate attachment to the young girl and names her “Piper” until she can remember her name and where she came from. 

There is a large mystery as to who Piper is and why people claiming to be government officials are going after her. Each time Piper gets in a situation with these people, her fear produces some type of magnetic power that affects the metal around her. 

In the first episode of Emergence, Piper is abducted and taken away from Jo. As they are speeding away in an SUV, the front of the vehicle folds in on itself and kills her abductors. Piper is left unschathed and has an understanding that she can manipulate metal around her. 

Emergence
Photo Credit: ABC/Virginia Sherwood

When Jo returns to the SUV at a tow site, there are small metal objects that are floating around in the vehicle and metal objects stuck to the outside of the SUV. 

Even the cast of Emergence doesn’t know the mysterious surrounding the show. Alexa Swinton says she knows the “biggest secret” of the series but doesn’t get a script for each episode until a week before filming. 

Swinton says that Piper is an observant person even though she may not necessarily understand what Jo is going through. There is a certain way in which Piper is oblivious enough to what’s going on that leads one to speculate if she grew up in some sort of facility rather than a home. 

Piper’s flashbacks hint at experimentations and bright white rooms. There is also a possibility that she may have killed a few people in this facility. At one point, Piper begins to question if she was the one responsible for the plane crash at the beginning of the series. 

Photo Credit: ABC/Eric Liebowitz

Benny Gallagher (Owain Yeoman), an investigative reporter, also has an interest in the mysterious plane crash. Jo and Benny have to work together in order to figure out what really happened and pool both of their sources to solve the mystery. 

This collaboration between Benny and Jo requires trust from both sides. Benny’s charm and quick wit causes Jo to hesitate with her trust and is reluctant to accept his help. 

“He’s clearly someone who knows a little more than he should,” says Yeoman about Benny. How Benny has the sources he does to get information before Jo does is a mystery. There is an untrustworthy air about him because of the information he has. 

But Benny’s untrustworthy character was not something Yeoman was intentional about. 

“I think there is a nice grey area about him,” says Yeoman. “We are in a funny time with media and journalism… so there is this mistrust of journalists.”

Yeoman also says that he leans into this mistrust with the media to further cultivate Benny’s character. 

“As the episodes go on, I think we’ll begin to see both the personal and professional side of Benny that might make people think a little differently about him,” says Yeoman. 

Photo Credit: ABC/Scott Gries

One of the unique aspects of Emergence is how the family dynamic is set up. Jo Evans is a single mom who is taking care of her daughter, Mia Evans (Ashley Aufderheide), and her ill father, Ed Sawyer (Clancy Brown). Evans’ ex husband, Alex Evans (Donald Faison), still maintains a  friendly relationship with her and makes sure that he is still a father to Mia. Of course, when Piper joins the picture, Alex has a hard time trusting the situation around him but that doesn’t stop him from helping out and making sure his family is protected. 

For Donald Faison, the role of Alex Evans is something that he’s never done before. Faison has a history of comedic roles from the beloved series of Scrubs to the top racer of the Aces in Star Wars Resistance but Faison was ready to do something different. 

“I wanted to do this because I knew it would be different,” said Faison about playing Alex Evans. “Maybe it will make people look at me differently.” 

Of course, Faison enjoys working in comedies and would have jumped at the chance for a comedy show if Emergence wasn’t on the table but he says he enjoys the challenge of this new role. 

Photo Credit: ABC/Eric Liebowitz

The big issue in these episodes so far is trusting Jo. She’s taking a big risk by harboring Piper and dealing with people who have the resources to make people disappear. 

“Jo is asking all the people around her to take a big leap of faith,” says Yeoman. “I think that speaks volumes as to who Jo is and how beloved she is in this community.” 

Speaking of beloved, it is clear in the series that there are still feelings between Jo and Alex Evans. “There’s still some love and there’s still some tension between these two exes,” says Allison Tolman. “As Jo spends more and more time with Benny during this investigation, I will say some jealousy comes in to play.”  

“Seldom does the path of true love run smoothly,” jokes Yeoman. 

A potential love triangle in the middle of government cover up in a small town mixed with some mystery is the perfect concoction for a good drama and it seems that Emergence is balancing that mix well. 

Emergence
Photo Credit: ABC/Giovanni Rufino

It’s obvious that the entire cast is absolutely pumped for the third episode of the series. Titled “2 MG CU BID”, everyone at the roundtable has promised that we will get answers to some of the lingering questions that the first two episodes has given us.

“The answers you get in episode three, you will see what I mean when I tell you that we are delivering quickly on our promises,” says Yeoman. “You’re going to get critical answers and I think that’s the success and the key of the show.” 

There’s a clear direction of this show and the writers know how events are going to play out long past the first season. Although there is character building, the pace in which Emergence moves is a bit faster than traditional tv shows. It’s not based on instant gratification but trusting that the audience can catch on quickly. 

Emergence aires every Tuesday night at 10pm EDT on ABC. Episodes can also be viewed the next day on ABC.com, the ABC app and Hulu.