AE: It’s very 2010. I really like the character.
JE: It is a concern we had. I mean, Sam’s a killer, Clarice is a terrorist, and they’re our two most sexually diverse characters. Are we doing more harm than good? But I kept coming back to they’re complex, real people who we aren’t bending them around to accommodate their preference. They’re the most interesting people for our world and our stories, and making the sexuality incidental. It’s time to start doing that.
Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz
AE: What can you tell me about Sam and Joseph’s relationship?
JE: Sam and Joseph! I love their relationship. They are good supportive brothers. We’re going to find out more about their childhood history. We have a whole episode coming up well into the second half where we see what they went through as children on Tauron during the war. We’re actually going to go Tauron and see that, and we’re going to learn a lot more about how they see each other.
They support each other. As much as they might fight and argue and yell, they’re trying to save each other, protect each other. They are a good team. There’s a scene where Sam is angry at Larry, and Joseph says, "I don’t have a spouse anymore. Value what you have."
It’s a beautiful scene. I hope it made the final cut. I haven’t seen the final cut of that one yet to see if it’s there. We write more and film more than we have time for, so some stuff falls away, and unfortunately, Sam and Larry’s stuff — the home life of a character that’s not one of our four leads — is stuff that can get cut. We don’t see as much of Larry as I would have liked.
AE: What about Sam and Willy’s relationship? That seems interesting and confusing, in that I don’t really know what Sam’s motivations are, or that Joseph would approve of what’s going on with what Sam is teaching him.
JE: Sam has to step up when his brother is distracted from raising his one remaining child. Joseph is very much caught up in the loss of Tamara, his daughter, and so Willy is sort of getting ignored and Sam steps into the breach.
No, it’s not what Joseph would want for his kid. Joseph is a Halatha lawyer, but he finds it hard to justify what Sam has to do. Sam is doing the best he can. A lot of the show is people doing the best they can. I think it’s really telling that everything Sam does for Willy is done with the exact right motivations. Ultimately, I think Joseph understand that.
AE: It seems like Sam is exposing Willy to his life and work, teaching him some, um, interesting lessons that I’m not sure Joseph would agree with. But you think ultimately he will see that it’s all for the good?
JE: I think he’ll understands that Sam’s coming at it with the right motivations. I don’t think he sees it as all for the good. I don’t think he approves of the kid hanging out at Goldie’s and making all those mob friends, but he knows Sam’s heart is in the right place. He sees that someone has to be taking care of Willy.
And Joseph is Halatha himself. It’s hard for him to take the moral high ground. It’s complicated. That’s what I like about it. It’s complicated and very real.
AE: In just a couple sentences, how would you describe Sam’s journey this season?
JE: Sam is motivated by his need to take care of his brother, to do things he never thought he’d do, but he stays very, very true to himself. We’re very conscious that Sam is a fascinating character and he’s caught all of our imaginations. We try to give him a lot to do that obviously doesn’t have to do with his sexuality. We didn’t want it to be he’s there to “be gay.” He’s there to be Sam.
He actually has an adventure with Daniel and Amanda later in the year, where we’re sort of crossing those characters, getting them involved in a project together even after stuff happens earlier in the year where you might think those are the last character to ever come together. We really worked hard to integrate Sam into the show with as many characters as possible. It really lets us learn more about him and his moral code: what he will do, what he won’t do.