If you've been watching The Gates, you know it's about a community full of secrets. There are vampires, werewolves, succubi and witches. Newcomers Sarah (Marisol Nichols) and cop Nick (Frank Grillo) are still in the dark, but their family has a secret of it's own. In Sunday's episode, 'The Monster Within,' Nick reveals why he's been so tense and what really happened back in Chicago, while Sarah deals with her son's (Travis Caldwell) new girlfriend (Skyler Samuels). Newsarama got to chat with Nichols and Grillo about where their characters are heading, why sci-fi/fantasy shows are so popular and why this episode is a game changer. Nichols also reveals her inner fangirl. By the way, you can't miss the last five minutes! The Gates airs Sunday nights at 10/9c on ABC.
Newsarama: Tell us a bit about this week's episode.
Marisol Nichols: Frank just pointed to me. This is an episode that I think is very pivotal. It's one of my favorites. It's called 'The Monster Within' and it's basically going to reveal a bit of the backstory that the Monohans go through, and why they're actually...how they sort of ended up in The Gates in the first place. What they were dealing with was sort of hinted at in the pilot.
Frank Grillo: I agree with Marisol in that it's pivotal. I think the think the show kind of turns on it's axis with this episode. There are a couple of things that are learned from some of the characters that don't know very much that kind of changes the direction of the show. And for me and for Marisol and for all of us, it's exciting because it's the show...in this episode, becomes what it really is supposed to be.
Nrama: Can you tell us a bit about the secret Nick is carrying?
Grillo: He used to be a woman. [laughs] No, Nick, though he's trying to be a virtuous father and cop and husband, has something in his past. He was involved in a shooting. In a killing, actually, and I can't give away much, but Nick is finally going to be able to rid himself of some baggage that he's been carrying for the past year, that's basically been dictating his behavior up until this point. And I think it's going to change the relationships.
Nrama: Your characters have an interesting relationship. Nick is really intense and Sarah is sweet and calm. Talk a bit about how it all works.
Nichols: I think Sarah, she's a cop's wife, so if you're going to have two intense people, it's going to be loud and crazy, which is great. But I think Sarah balances him out. Her whole driving force is, okay, you go out and you deal with the horrible side of life, but when you come home, it's about the family. And they made those agreements a long, long time ago, which is why their relationship works. He does one thing, she does the other. They've been best friends for a very, very long time. So what is revealed in this episode is in some ways a shock for Sarah, but at the same time, at least she has some answers about what's been happening with her husband. Why he was so different. Why he was so distant.
Grillo: And you know, also, the fact that we now live in The Gates, which is this very safe planned community, the antithesis of what Chicago was, we were expecting to live our lives like a couple of retired people, and I'm no longer living the life of a cop...the life of a cop that you see on television...it's really kind of living in a retirement community.
Nichols: So we think and so we hope, and that's why Sarah is really counting on this place. To calm her husband down, start anew, bring her family back together, save their marriage...everything is riding on this move.
Nrama: One of the funnier moments in this episode is when Sarah finds out her son has a girlfriend. Now, he's dating a succubus and she doesn't know that, but talk a bit about dealing with that.
Nichols: I have a little girl. I'm a mom. I'm going to start freaking out when she goes to preschool. Just putting myself in the position of having a son and he's dating...it's like, oh my god, where did the time go?
Grillo: I have a thirteen-year-old son who is just starting the curiosity phase of his life and I find it quite endearing. He's a New York City kid who was born and raised in Manhattan, so he's a bit sophisticated. But you've got to let them do their thing and see when you need to interject and help and make sure they understand that although it's part of life, it's also a serious thing. And I think we as a TV couple kind of face the same dilemmas with our kids.
Nichols: At the same time, trying to be as much she can, be a friend to her son. Saying, 'Oh, well, tell me...' [laughs]
Grillo: And we beat them. We beat the kids on television. [laughs]
Nichols: Can you tell? [laughs]
Nrama: [laughs] Now, one of my favorite relationships on the show is between Nick and Dylan the vampire (Luke Mably). And they're sort of forced to bond this week during a Daddy/Daughter Dance. Can you talk a bit about where that might be going?
Grillo: Well, I think for me as an audience member for films and television, I always like when the antagonist and the protagonist kind of come together to fight a mutual evil force. But it is a relationship that...these are meant to be two guys that want the same thing out of life. They have the same objectives. To raise their families and be safe and so forth. So although it's a forced relationship, I think they have mutual respect for each other. They have a mutual goal. I don't know that they're going to be best friends, but they do find themselves helping each other along the way.
Nrama: So what do you think it is about supernatural shows that are so popular right now?
Nichols: For me, I'm a science fiction freak. I love science fiction. I read it all the time. Star Wars was such an amazing phenomenon. For me, getting involved in that genre, I just think it's an escape. I think that's why people go to the movies. I think that's why people want good stories on television. They want an escape. Escape from their regular lives. Me personally, I don't want to see a movie about my life. I want to see something different. I want to know that there is something else out there. And I think that is what is intriguing. And that theme plays all the time, whether it's Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica or a vampire film. But it's something bigger than ourselves.
Grillo: Yeah, I think people are fascinated by sub-cultures as well. Those shows on TV like Sons of Anarchy or The Sopranos and The Shield or Twilight, it's all about the sub-cultures of humanity. Whether you're a biker gang or in the mafia or lives of vampires, you know, living beyond the law and outside of society. There is something sexy and romantic about it. When the Three Musketeers came on the scene...I mean, it's always been a fascination of human beings who live conventional lives with people outside convention.
Nrama: Well, it's nice to know I'm in the presence of another geek girl.
Grillo: [laughs] She is! She is!
Nichols: I am! Total geek girl!
Nrama: Do you play video games?
Nichols: I do! My husband actually gets mad at me because I won't stop playing them on my phone. But I'm a book girl. I'm not kidding...Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Tim Powers...these guys are heroes to me.
Nrama: You always hear stories from the sets of supernatural shows...has anything really creepy happened there yet?
Grillo: No...well, it's Louisiana. We worked last night in a swamp. When I say 'swamp,' I don't mean it in a negative way. It was the most majestic, prehistoric thing I've ever seen.
Grillo: It was like what the planet might have looked like when it was first evolved. And it's not really as spooky as you think it would be, but it's really...there are a lot of creatures. Snakes and gigantic frogs and they make a lot of noise...
Nichols: There are bugs here that, I am telling you, date back to the prehistoric age. I don't think they've discovered this species yet. [laughs] I was in awe...this planet is so not ours!
Grillo: Yeah, it's beautiful in a freaky way.
Nrama: I've seen the episode, and I'm telling everyone...don't miss the last five minutes! Now I know you can't say why, but are there any hints you can drop for the rest of the season?
Grillo: Well, I can say this. Once it's revealed to Nick that The Gates isn't what they thought it was going to be, it's kind of like all bets are off after that. Because once there is a little hole in the dam, the hole just starts to get bigger and bigger. And that's basically what happens with the discoveries as we go along. For my character anyway. And there is an interesting balance between when Marisol's character kind of learns what's going on, and how The Gates...you really see the evolution of The Gates, and how they're not just supernatural people who are existing separately. They're all connected. And so it just builds and builds and builds until...we were out filming our second to last episode and I hope the show sticks around and people watch it long enough to see how it plays out. I think it's really great TV.