[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the first two episodes of Rabbit Hole, “Pilot” and “At Any Given Moment.”]
Kiefer Sutherland’s new Paramount+ thriller is a trip. And we’re only two episodes in.
So far: John (Sutherland) suspects there’s more to a woman he meets in a bar, Hailey (Meta Golding), than she’s saying. (There is.) His old partner, Valence (Jason Butler Harner), hires him to kill a U.S. Treasury officer, Edward (Rob Yang). (He doesn’t.) Valence shocks him by falling to his death right in front of him. John’s office explodes, with his team inside. The Intern (Walt Klink) fights him for a key fob. (John wins.) Oh, and John’s father, who supposedly died when he was a kid? He’s alive, now played by Charles Dance.
Executive producers, writers, and directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra tease when we’ll get answers to our series premiere burning questions.
John’s father is alive. Was the man dead in the study who John saw in there in the Episode 1 flashback? Or was he at the funeral?
John Requa: It’s cleared up in Episode 3.
Glenn Ficarra: John grew up having witnessed his father’s suicide, or so he thought.
Requa: In Episode 3, we explore the effect that it had on him as a kid. We spend a lot of time with him as a kid and how the unanswered questions of that mysterious suicide and the event surrounding it led him into the life that he has now.
Ficarra: Made him the man he is.
What can you say about John and Ben’s relationship in the present?
Ficarra: We spend the third episode looking back at John’s life and the effects of that event and how his father comes back into his life and we learn about the big forces that are at play and how those two got back into each other’s lives.
I had a feeling there was more to The Intern than we were maybe supposed to think simply because he’s listed on the press site under the cast.
Ficarra: Yeah, you’d think, right? He’s not just an intern.
Requa: We love this character because when we were developing the show, we just had this idea, if you were a 20-something member of the gig economy who’s delivering Uber Eats and stuff, it would be the best cover for an assassin. You could get into any building, you just waltz in. People let you in, and you’re like a non-person in people’s eyes. You come and go without being noticed.
Is the person watching the camera feed of Valence’s office his boss?
Requa: That’s cleared up in Episode 3. [Both laugh]
Ficarra: One of the big things is that everybody’s being watched at all times and it’s kind of a little microcosm of the world we’re in. It’s obvious that somebody was interested in what was going on and the question is, was Valence working for them or was Valence being spied on? That all gets answered eventually as John looks deeper into it.
Madi (Enid Graham) witnessed that fight between John and The Intern. Is she now possibly thinking maybe John isn’t as paranoid as she thought he was?
Ficarra: She definitely knows something’s up and it’s very odd and it gets her to start digging deeper. She’s single-minded. She’s obsessed with John and getting him, and the fact that it’s developing even more just motivates her to go deeper. The fact that the investigation that’s being run is so traditional just drives her crazy because she knows he’s got much more going on than that.
Should we have been paying close attention to or remembering the woman arguing with the officer at the desk when John was sneaking into the police station?
Ficarra: No, but good question.
Requa: That was something actually that came up. … People were like, “well, is she on his team or not on his team?” We always viewed that as he’s taking advantage of a circumstance. It’s not that she’s working for him.
Ficarra: But part of the show is you never know where there’s going to be some sort of clue or Easter egg, and I think your instinct is definitely right to listen and pay attention because part of the fun of the show will be revisiting episodes after and seeing there’s little things that are talked about hiding in plain sight.
Whatever was in that message that Hailey received told her to stay with John, right?
How much should John trust her?
Requa: She’s not telling the truth.
Ficarra: John doesn’t trust anybody.
Requa: She’s hiding something. That’ll be cleared up in Episode 4. We like to say the only people who tell the truth in this show are Jo Madi and Edward Homm, and Edward Homm is dead.
Ficarra: Or so we thought.
Could Hailey be caught in her own web of conspiracy not necessarily tied to John?
Requa: She is, and I don’t want to get into the details obviously, but why she’s there and why she is in trouble is the spoiler of larger plans that we’ll come to learn about that have been set in place long ago with the father and everything. These two stories intersect and throw each of them off track if that makes sense. And almost the inciting incident of the season is her story and John’s story.
Is John’s team dead? Because Madi did say to run the DNA on the bodies…
Ficarra: Yeah, she’s right to be suspicious.
Requa: Cleared up in Episode 5.
Ficarra: She is right to suspect that because she knows John Weir, and she knows that nothing is what it seems. You’re right to feel suspicious of that because of her asking.
There’s very much a question of what John is doing behind the scenes that we don’t know, like the reveals that Edward is alive and he was supposed to kill him. Was he telling the truth about not knowing his team set up that account for him on the dating app?
Ficarra: He’s genuinely surprised that they felt sorry for him because he seemed like a lonely dude.
Requa: His skill set, which is his ability to see the multiple permutations of any given scenario and knowing which is the best route to take on one of his jobs or whatever he is doing, has made him lonely because it’s made him not trusting of people. They’re his friends, and I think it’s believable and it’s instantly believable to Hailey that he’s this lonely guy who can’t go on a date. It’s not that he can’t get a date, it’s just human interaction and trust is almost more than he can bear.
What can you say about how much more John has done or is doing behind the scenes that we don’t know and how much more in control he might be than it appears?
Ficarra: Sometimes he’s ahead of us, and sometimes he’s with us in finding stuff out. It’s part of the fun of the show. He is a great tactician. Obviously he was thinking ahead in regards to Edward, but stuff definitely went wrong on that first day, and in that first episode and Episode 2 is him trying to figure out what happened. We are going to revisit that day a few times going forward and learn more. We’re going to learn what John knew and what he didn’t know. Episode 3 will start to explore that pretty deeply about how much he knew going in.
Requa: The interesting thing about this season is actually kind of not a lot of story. We have a lot of mystery in those first two episodes really, and we spend a lot of time unpacking that and revisiting and retelling and seeing it from different perspectives. I think it makes it fun for the audience, and it keeps the story contained as opposed to just this sort of freewheeling roaming all over the place sort of story.
Will we have all the answers about that day by the end of the season?
Requa: We promise. We said to the studio we want eight episodes because we want this to be an eight-part movie that feels absolutely satisfying, and we want people to want more so we can do a second season, but we don’t want them to feel unsatisfied. We don’t want a giant cliffhanger. We want them to feel like they’re satisfied. Hopefully, we achieve that.
John not only saves Edward but is also keeping him with him. Is that just to get answers?
Ficarra: He needs information from him, but he also needs to maintain Edward’s status, which we will come to find out why.
Requa: Yeah, you find out in Episode 3 that he’s a pivotal character, and there’s something about him that was absolutely vital that he kept him alive. The fact that somebody wanted him dead was almost like an alarm in John Weir’s mind, like, there’s something here. He has value to the story that’s going to be revealed in Episode 3.
The opening sequence is so trippy, and I love it. Are there any clues in it? I saw “At Any Given Moment” in the letters and numbers…
Ficarra: The titles of each episode are hidden in that title sequence all the time. There’s little audio clues too.
Requa: Yeah, there’s some text clues, just things like the names of the show, and then there’s also audio clues, so that’s like an audio montage, and we put all sorts of things in there if you can pick it apart.
Requa: Also, there’s a Jaws reference because we like to put Jaws references in things.
What can you say about John tapping his finger and how that will continue to be used?
Ficarra: He has developed a little bit of a tic, [with] the past that he [has]. Also, that thumb tapping is woven into the music as well.
Requa: Which is great. That was something we found after the fact. We wanted him to have a little tic and Kiefer did [that] and then we got it to the composer and he made it part of the music.
It seems things may have been out of Valence’s hand, so maybe he didn’t turn on John of his own accord?
Ficarra: That’s one of the things John’s trying to get answers to: Did his friend betray him, or was his friend being manipulated? Because manipulation’s the theme of the whole show.
What else is coming up?
Ficarra: We’re going to get a good look into the history of [John] and Valence, the history of [John] and his father, and we’re going to learn more about the big bad that they’re up against.
Requa: From my selfish point of view, you get to spend some real time with Ben and watch Charles Dance really dig into these scenes. He’s such a wonderful actor. We were so lucky to have him, and he has so much fun with the dialogue that we wrote. When Charles Dance does your scenes, you feel so talented as a writer because he’s just so wonderful.
Just that last scene in Episode 2, the presence of that character.
Requa: Both he and Kiefer have spent so much time in front of the lens; their knowledge of how to use the camera and collaborate with the camera department is pretty breathtaking.
That’s why I can’t wait to see more scenes with the two of them.
Requa: [Episode] 3 is full of them.
Rabbit Hole, Sundays, Paramount+
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