In advance of the Kung Fu mid-season premiere, we caught up with showrunners Christina M. Kim and Robert Berens to discuss the events of season 3, including their goal to take Nicky Shen to a much darker place than we’d previously anticipated.
Kung Fu season 3 has already packed in a lot, and in our extensive interview with Kung Fu creator Christina M. Kim and her co-showrunner Robert Berens, we touched on the story so far for most of the show’s major characters, with topics not limited to Mei-Li’s struggles with capitalism, Henry’s magic as a vehicle for his emotional trajectory, the inspiration for (and cost of) Jin’s political idealism, and naturally, Nicky’s dark night of the soul regarding all things Bo and Xiao. The Kung Fu showrunners had plenty to say about how they developed each of these arcs and a little to tease about what’s coming up in season 3’s final five episodes.
“I think the thing that we’re proudest about this season is the dynamic ensemble, and the fluidity between those who are participating in the myth and those who are not, it just feels really lively and in a way more experimental,” Berens said. “I think season 2 had a really rigid road map and there’s a little bit more freedom and riffing in this season. Because the nature of the villain’s plan is not the architecture of the whole season — it’s a little more mysterious and thematic and charactery.”
As we rehash exactly where we left that dynamic ensemble ten long weeks ago, here’s what the Kung Fu showrunners had to say about a variety of the stories they’re telling in season 3.
In the first part of season 3, Jin dipped his toes into a new career in politics, working for Anthony Chen before deciding he had to run for office himself. Jin’s campaign has had its ups and down, and he is learning some hard truths about politics. “I do think we wanted to show that his idealism comes at a cost and we witness him losing ground as a result of that and realize he’s involved in a process that doesn’t just reward, you know, the truest heart. So I think there’s some moments to come where we dig into that a little bit,” Berens said.
Jin still refuses to use the dirt he discovered on Anthony, but Anthony is about to unleash a smear campaign on Nicky. When we brought up our concerns about Jin’s political career — namely, what would actually happen if he wins — Kim confirms that this is exactly what they’re wanting us to feel right now.
“We like hearing that you’re stressed and you’re worried. We’re doing our job. But we have these conversations too. It’s like, well, what is it? Is Jin going to fully become a politician? Is this the story we’re telling? There’s twists and turns to come.”
The idea for Jin’s storyline this season came to the Kung Fu showrunners in part because of actor Tzi Ma’s real life activism, and in part as a way of tapping into the real political landscape of the city where the series is set.
“I have my politics and even when they align with what we’re generating from story, it’s always coming from a place of character and story and the bottom line is you need adversaries and you need forces that are bigger than your characters that they have to go up against, in a sort of pop-genre show, right?” Berens pointed out. “Not to mention it’s also the location. It takes place in San Francisco and look, we shoot in Vancouver, I think if you live in San Francisco we’re not fooling you, but in terms of the history of the city, and things that are going on in the city right now — funnily, the story of episode 9, we’ve been building that out for a long period of time, and as we were, I think scripting or shooting it, the San Francisco City Council was voting whether or not to allow robot dogs to shoot on sight, and I was like… ‘Okay.’”
“There’s even a line in episode 9 where he’s like ‘the nominally liberal electorate of San Francisco,’ and I was shocked to see that little hiccup on the City Council. It was ultimately repealed, but it’s sort of organic to the place and even the history of the place. This became more about an old story about an old friend and community, but even the Frank character from Jin, there’s a really rich history that we’ve really only touched on, of Asian American activism in San Francisco. The communities there, you know, in the late 60s and early 70s were really the birthplace of a lot of Asian American identity and overturning the white tilt of the cannon. That was all going on in San Francisco in the 70s, so it’s in the water of the city we’re telling a story about too.”
“Over the break, before we started on season 3, we were inspired by Tzi Ma too because we like to have conversations with our actors, we touch base with them periodically and definitely at the end of each season and before each season, just to check in and see what they’re thinking about, what’s going on in their lives?” Kim added. “And Tzi is an activist. He’s doing all kinds of things to bring more money into Chinatowns. He’s working on the ones in Vancouver because he’s living there currently, but all over the States too. Him being an activist inspired his whole storyline and when we had dinner with him, he was so animated, so passionate about politics and what needs to happen, and what’s happened in his lifetime and how he can’t believe certain things are still a certain way, and it feels like we’re going backwards. So it was like, ‘Oh, this is Jin. This is Jin’s storyline for season 3.’ We need for him to not be Baba who’s in the background in the kitchen filling the bags with food, but to be Baba at the forefront and to actually take on this role so that also was kind of an organic thing just from conversations.”
Since the earthquake, Mei-Li has sacrificed complete control of Harmony Dumplings for financial security for her and her staff, but high tensions between Sebastian and the corporate figurehead Carrie, played by Kim Rhodes, led to Sebastian being forced to quit in order to protect Mei-Li. While Mei-Li seems to be finding some balance in the new arrangement, there is no doubt that the lingering resentment between her and Carrie is an issue.
Berens, who worked with Rhodes extensively on Supernatural, did not write the Carrie role with her in mind, and he mentioned that despite an ongoing fear of “Supernatural cronyism,” his partner Spencer was actually the person to suggest Rhodes read for the role. Ultimately, the strength of her audition at an open casting cinched it, but Berens was happy to discuss the development of Carrie and how important it was to create a character whose professional point of view had merit, even if we as viewers struggle with the corporate ownership of Harmony Dumplings.
“I think that was the most fun me and Christina had, probably, in the generative part of this season. Just spitballing who this woman was,” he claims. “It started with the character. One thing that we wanted [this season] was particularly for the characters who were not episodically involved in the mythology. The parents are more involved in the overall story than they ever have been, I think there’s been a real progression bringing them in, but their lives are more determined by their work lives, Jin’s new venture in politics. So we were looking for those foil characters, whether they were villains or allies and friends, and I think it really came out of a conversation of who did we want to see Mei-Li go up against.”
“And really, it was about finding this really great foil for her in the sense that we could do straight up corporate evil, right? Or we could do, you know, Mei-Li has proven herself as a businesswoman and has proven herself as an artist, as a creator, she’s really come into her own as a chef and really embraced her talents and her vision. And to come up against a situation where she’s up against someone who is looking at things from a very different lens and is looking at things really from a bottom line way that’s very separate from the way Mei-Li has had to deal with that in the past, it just felt really rich.”
Berens went on to make points in Carrie’s defense regarding her perspective as the avatar of corporate capitalist control and the reality of business (“The bottom line is you’ve accepted the handcuffs, right? If you are outside of the system, and outside of taking money from Aspire Restaurant Group, then you’re in a position to do things your own way, but the bottom line is they sold out by necessity, and from that vantage, Carrie has a job.”) but in terms of how things went down with Sebastian, Carrie’s motive may or may not be a little more personal.
“There’s a lot of ambiguity there, truthfully, and some of our intentions in the writing and how it’s received, it’s designed to be a little ambiguous in terms of what’s driving her,” Berens admitted. “But in terms of the Sebastian of it all, there’s a little bit of emotion there that we wanted to play, which is that Carrie sincerely believed this was going to be a great partnership with a woman she respected and admired, and I think there were genuine sort of feelings of butthurt, realizing that they had an artistic bond that would supersede anything that she would develop with Mei-Li. But in terms of Sebastian I don’t think that Carrie’s 100% wrong, that if the vision of corporate is to sell Mei-Li as the face of this restaurant, the hotshot chef is interfering with corporate’s intentions for that. So I think it manifested in some really interesting cultural conversations, and with Carrie putting her foot in it in ways that you know — I saw the response on social media — was definitely by design, but I don’t think her viewpoint is entirely null, and I think that’s what I found interesting about her when we were breaking the story.”
As for the Shen kids, Althea and Dennis were forced to move back in with Althea’s parents when Dennis was cut off from his family wealth for confronting his father over shady business practices. Althea avoided going to prison over the security breach in her app, but she’s had to learn to live an offline life, as her punishment included complete exclusion from the internet. She is currently living that flip-phone life with her new colleague Evan doing all their needed internet hacking as she instructs him. When pressed on the absurdity of Althea’s punishment, Berens surprised us by saying, “Now I’m blaming the room, but we got excited because someone had found an actual example of this as an actual punishment.”
Kim said they also thought it was unrealistic at first, but, “then we read the articles, like, oh wait, that’s a real thing.” Berens chimed in, “It exists, therefore we can do it, yeah.”
Ryan has continued to dabble in magical theory while carrying on his residency. He moved in with Sebastian, they had their first real fight and made up after some advice from love-guru Pei-Ling. Sebastian lost his job and moped around the house until Ryan convinced him to come help the gang on an ill-fated case. After Sebastian spent episode 7 possessed by Xiao, he unexpectedly told Ryan he had to get away after feeling deeply traumatized by being forced to revisit the kind of violence that led to his manslaughter conviction. Ryan is pinning for him, but trying to be patient and give him space. Ryan’s just like us for real.
Evan started his own law office and a new romantic relationship with Nadia. The business seems to be doing well, especially since he hired Althea, but we’re still not sure how he finds time to help his clients when being Nicky’s ex-boyfriend is a full time job. Nadia continues to be a perfect cupcake with a side of ‘Oh my god, stop breaking the law, I don’t want you to go to prison.’
And after Henry ran off around the world to chase down his dead father’s secrets, he ended up coming back home with mysterious new powers. We’ve seen hints of what his powers are, but they still seem mostly dormant. And while it’s clear he still has feelings for Nicky, he has put that aside to be a good friend and ally.
We asked Berens and Kim about their specific goals with Henry’s arc this season and it’s no surprise that they were drawn to the “juicy” aspect of Henry’s daddy issues.
“I think the thing that excited us was the idea of Henry going on this quest to find out the truth of why,” Berens said. “Why was his relationship with his father so complicated? Why didn’t his father deal him into the myth earlier in his life? Whatever leftover questions [he had] and I think it was the irony of the exact thing that his father was trying to keep from happening is what happens — like that Pandora’s box moment — once we landed on that, and it’s also like ‘Oh wait, he got exactly what he wanted,’ which is to find out that everything his dad did was actually an act of love and protection. And so being the flaky dad, keeping [him at] an arm’s length through his difficult adolescence, like, ‘Holy shit, he was doing that of love. Well, I just undid all his protection.’ I don’t think we were motivated by magic powers. I think the magic came out of the desire for Henry to reach that point.”
Excessive magic use is actually not something that the Kung Fu showrunners are keen to include just for the sake of it, but in this case, it was too powerful, from an emotional perspective, not to use.
“My taste for and comfort with magic is higher than Christina’s,” Berens explained, “but at the same time, we’re both constantly trying to steer the show towards less magic. The problem is that we fall in love with emotional effects that are dependent on magic. There are some shows that don’t have to explain their magic, but for various reasons, we kind of do and so we have to build to it. So there’s complex moments, and I don’t even remember who generated it in the room, but the moment where Henry has to find Nicky in episode 6, once we realized that we could use that as a way to surface that Henry’s still in love with Nicky, that that part of him hasn’t died, but it’s not necessarily something that Nicky’s going to know right away in that scene. It’s going to be something that he has to deal with himself and actually something he’s been working to tamp down and Pei-Ling has to be like ‘No, you’ve got to do it.’ Well, OK, we’ve got all of this magic. We’ve basically gotten this whole traveler, metaphysic plot up in an episode. So the episode becomes more magic than we plan to. It’s just about — is the emotional effect worth the amount of explaining? The setting it up and earning it, the narrative architecture to get that, that is some of the hardest work that we have to do in the room, but it’s not that we love [magic,] it’s that it can get us something that we’re sort of chasing.”
All that being said, when asked if we’d see more about the ramifications of Henry’s powers, Berens told us “Yes, absolutely. It’s a big part of the endrun.”
And, then, of course, there’s Nicky. Nicky regained her shifu, mourned her lost love, got a job at the Community Center, pulled a frenemy out of an alternate universe, and fell for a suspiciously perfect guy who turned around and stabbed her in the back, causing her to lose her shifu again and leading her to betray her own values in a moment of anger and frustration. This has been a growing season for Nicky, if not in the most linear way.
Kim has relished the opportunity to show a new side to Nicky. “We’re in the third season of the show that [meant] we could take more risks. I think in season 1 there’s so many eyes on you, there’s so many notes being given to you, and when you have a lead character like Nicky, you have to be very careful that she’s likable, that she’s relatable, you know, and so we had all of that — and she is, I mean, just by nature of who she is, she’s helping people in the community and we had that whole storyline. But season 3, as you’ve seen so far in the episodes that have aired, Nicky goes dark, and you know, Nicky’s not so perfect, and Nicky’s not so fresh from the monastery. So […] you know, forget season 1 Kung Fu, this is a different, evolved, mature Nicky who makes mistakes.”
It would be fair to say that Bo — everything to do with him — is a pretty massive mistake for Nicky in season 3. Nicky’s relationship with Bo began while Henry was out of the picture, and this brand new, shiny love interest went from being the perfect man who was probably hiding something but seemed good for Nicky, to being Nicky’s worst mistake. At the end of episode 8, faced with Bo’s betrayal as a tool of Xiao’s, and unaware of the extenuating circumstances, Nicky snapped and violently attacked Bo in his apartment. Whether Bo lives and whether Nicky can live with what she’s done are big questions for the mid-season premiere. Given our disagreements about Bo’s character, we couldn’t help but ask if Kim and Berens knew how divisive Bo and his backstory might be.
“He was designed to be a Rorschach character in that way,” Berens confirms. “There was a lot of narrative architecture that we had to figure out in terms of how you met him. Honestly I think our biggest concern, when we generated the character and generated the big twist that was a big tentpole for the season, was the moment when we realized who he is. I think our biggest concern was that it would be so obvious. Like, a new character comes… I remember people thinking that we were going to go dark with Sebastian as soon as we met him. Like ‘Oh, he’s gonna be evil. He’s gonna be this or that.’ So I’m like, ‘The second Bo shows up…’ So we wanted to cover our tracks, but we also didn’t want to cover our tracks so much that it felt dishonest or misleading. I think it all came about from really what we would get from Nicky from it, and what we’re talking about, the goal to take Nicky to a darker place, it’s like, well, how do you get her there? It has to be a painful betrayal.”
“And a lot of it, too, what we’re talking about, okay, Nicky — we now are in season 3, so she’s more grown up, and she’s really only had her high school boyfriend Evan and then Henry, who’s just like the sweetest, dimply, always-there-for-her guy,” Kim reminded us. “And what happens in your 20s normally is you have this relationship that just guts you or makes you have to grow up. So we wanted her to go through that, and casting him too, it was so deliberate — we wanted somebody who, I think everyone’s reaction is like ‘Oh my God who’s this hot new guy, yes go for it, Nicky, go, go!’ Which made it even more fun when you find out.”
It’s safe to say finding out was not very fun for Nicky. The Kung Fu season 3 mid season finale ended on the horror of Nicky giving in to true aggression and brutality as she takes out her feelings on Bo’s face. Nicky’s day-to-day heroism is tied up in, to put it bluntly, acts of violence — a controlled, protective violence that she exhibits to protect the city and the people she loves, but the incident with Bo was uncontrolled, passionate violence that came from a dark place inside of her. It’s clear to viewers that Nicky has tipped over into not-great territory, to say the least, but Berens explained that the framing of Nicky’s use of potential near-fatal force as a catastrophic event is not so much a narrative condemnation as character-based one.
“The reason Nicky crossed a line is not because we as writers said this was wrong and bad [of her.] I mean, the truth is, under the circumstances, the level of violation and the level of pressure, what Bo did, and the fact that she lost her shifu as a result of it. The fact that it was intimate, there was an intimate betrayal involved in it. We don’t really cast judgment on Nicky there, but the bottom line is that Nicky casts judgment on Nicky. It’s a dark night of the soul because Nicky, to her that was a line that she didn’t think she had in her. That was a violation of her Shaolin code and everything she thought she was still believing and embodying. So I think we will explore that in the end run, what does it mean for Nicky and the whole question of how she nearly took a life. She nearly killed someone, someone who was on some level, if not an innocent, at least not, you know, a monster.”
When asked what the most important element the showrunners wanted to capture, in the moment of Nicky snapping and lashing out, Kim said that the main aim is to show her inherent humanity.
“Two and a half seasons in, she’s a human being, she’s a late 20s girl who’s been betrayed, who also doesn’t have the full picture but is ruled by emotion which I think everybody can relate to,” she said. “For us, that was what we really wanted the audience to feel and to empathize with her, not so much from a manipulative standpoint of like ‘We’re only going to show this so that she’s forgivable,’ but that we need to show that this is Nicky whose whole life is about finding peace.”
Kim went on to explain that a big change was made very early on in order to set the tone for Nicky’s future actions. “In the pilot, when she’s fighting the guy on the roof, Tony Kang? Initially, originally in the script, he went over. Splat, dead and it was like ‘Wait, is that the story you want to tell?’ To go to your question earlier — who dies? Who doesn’t die? For Nicky’s street justice, what are the rules? But that was a very good change that we made from the script as we watched the cut, that was like ‘Hang on a second, that’s actually not the lesson that she learned in China, that she is coming back to America with,’ and so we’ve maintained that she beats people up but she holds back, and that’s a conversation we have with our stunt coordinator because he’s like, ‘Hang on, she doesn’t want to hurt them, but she doesn’t want to get hurt, she just wants to be able to get through them and go save someone,’ so we never really show her brutally… I mean yes, she beats people up, she’s awesome at kung fu, so we’re careful about that. But here it was like no, we need to show Nicky when your emotions overtake your mind, overtake your logic, overtake your training even. So let’s just go crazy here. And hopefully the audience will be uncomfortable, ‘I don’t like this.’”
We’ve learned that Xiao, the alchemist who created the Warrior and Guardian bloodlines, and the main mythological villain of Kung Fu season 3, is a traveler — someone who can walk between realms, or layers of the universe. So is Bo, and Xiao has been Bo’s traveler mentor since childhood — this is how she was able to use his loyalty to her to gain her freedom. In spite of their long history, at the end of episode 8, Xiao has a body back and is willing to drop Bo like a hot penny as soon as he stops being useful. Before she finally got her hands on one for good, we saw Xiao as a spirit in her original body, and we saw her possess not only Pei-Ling but also Sebastian.
The genesis for the Xiao story came about in the first place as a way to resurrect Pei-Ling, the real Pei-Ling rather than a ghost shifu, Berens explained, and the fact that Xiao would be hopping around a number of bodies was an incidental factor of that plot point.
“The Pei-Ling who speaks to Nicky in the series is Nicky’s consciousness, her memories. So in a sense, as wonderful as she is, as much as you get this taste of who Pei-Ling was, the bottom line is there’s an artifice to Pei-Ling as the sort of shifu — a ton of emotion, but… So the chance to liberate her, to bring her into the narrative was really the genesis of that, and then it really wasn’t a conscious decision of, ‘Oh, we’ll split and have her played by two people,’ it was just the narrative logic of our own mythology that Xiao didn’t look like Pei-Ling, she assumed Pei-Ling’s form before she sort of hijacked her to hop over to our world between these seasons. And so it became this very math-like thing about when we were seeing which, and Christina and I were like ‘Oh, right, and now we’ve got to cast the new actress!’ We brought Jennifer Khoe in, who has been wonderful and excellent as our sort of OG Xiao, and there’s even more layering and criss-crossing of who you’re seeing when to come in the next few episodes, and I think that we really stick to landing in terms of that character and that trajectory. “
We also asked Berens and Kim about Xiao’s motivations, which so far have been fairly difficult for us to predict. We’re particularly curious about what kind of things were going on back when the emperor hired and then caged her, and it seems the final few episodes of Kung Fu season 3 will reveal some of Xiao’s story.
“I think you’ll get some answers about her original motivations and where she’s coming from. But I’ll say that she’s also, there is a little wicked witch aspect to her, and because we have so many characters to service and even a character like Pei-Ling, like the psychology of it… I think there’s some answers in the end run. It’s very dark, but it’s very simple in a lot of ways. I think you’ll get some resolution there,” Berens promised.
And do the Kung Fu showrunners have an aim to always make sure there’s a little bit of sympathy in a villain story?
“When we were talking about Zhilan, it was very easy just to make her a villain and it would still be delicious and fun because also Yvonne Chapman is amazing and she is just strangely likable even when she does bad things,” Kim admits, “but when we were coming up with her backstory, to really understand the villain is to understand why they’re that way, and that’s more interesting. And you know, you’re always the hero of your own story, right? So it’s like something happened, you really believe in something and it’s not like you set out to be an evil person hurting others. It’s like you’re trying to achieve something, so it’s kind of the same with Xiao where yes, we’ll find out some stuff in her backstory, and I think that was important to us because at the end of the day, I feel like when I watch something and you see a villain and they’re fun and scary, if there’s no [history] there, it’s kind of like they’re less scary, in a weird way. It’s almost scarier if you know a little bit more of where it came from and how things can go very wrong.”
“Zhilan we’ve told three seasons of story about her starting from a place of really sinister malicious evil and then peeling back the layers and what motivates her,” Berens added. “I think there’s not so much room on the show for Xiao to be another sympathetic character, and also, because her actual backstory is so magic, right? That’s the bottom line, we’re always trying to minimize magic on our show, but our storytelling keeps sort of throwing gallons of magic on top of everything, and in the case of Xiao, it’s a case where she’s, you know, an almost two thousand year old spirit and has been existing in a state of limbo, mentally connected to every member of the Warrior and Guardian bloodline that she helped generate and create, and she hasn’t been able to lift a finger or influence anything. So for me, the psychological key for Xiao is how sinister would you be if you’ve had that little power over your creation for that long, literally a witness stuck in a kind of limbo hearing every thought, experiencing all their experiences, but virtually none of the plans you had in mind for the world, and the betrayal that you experienced in the past. You’re able to do jack shit. The question of power is often the generic villain thing, the ability to manipulate and control circumstances, it’s a very generic villain motive, but in her case it feels very apt and right down the middle of what was her psychological experience in the past two thousand years, and now that she’s got a window and a chance to exercise her power is she gonna give a shit? Is she gonna be like a very layered, sympathetic or kindly type person, or the wicked witch?”
Only time will tell. Right now she’s on the run with Pei-Ling’s body as her vessel once again. Pei-Ling, this season, came back from the dead, was possessed, was not possessed, was possessed, was not possessed, then possessed again. The question we don’t yet have an answer to is can Pei-Ling cheat death long term, or do the rules of the Kung Fu universe mean that some sort of balance must be restored? While we were unable to get a conclusive answer out of the Kung Fu showrunners, Berens told us, “We will explore a little bit what is the cost of her existence in this world, and that will be addressed in one of the later episodes.”
Pei-Ling’s sister and murderer Zhilan, our beloved anti-hero, who was left behind in the collapsing Source Realm, spent some time this season repenting in an alternate universe with her guide, K-pop sensation, Zhilan murder-victim, and fan-favorite — the one, the only Simon Lau. Kim explained the choice to revisit the character for season 3.
“Simon, for us, he was so good and we’ve had a lot of actors who’ve been on the show who are so good and we killed them and we’re like “Oh, what a waste,” and not everybody can come back. I mean a lot of people obviously come back from the dead on our show, so we always just tell our actors, and it’s not just put on, we tell them they’re dying, but dead is not really dead on Kung Fu, you may come back, so we were excited like “Oh, we can actually bring him back and it makes sense and how great for Zhilan to face the guy that she had the whole Vegas adventure with in her darkest dark days and have to see him and now be in a position where he’s kind of got the upper hand and knows the lay of the land, and she’s all alone. And he’s so good, because he’s really funny and it felt like we needed a bit of levity in this dark landscape that we started the season with. It just kind of seemed perfect, the reckoning aspect of it. We love the actor [Mike Bow] too. So we were excited to bring him back.”
Simon’s spirit may have been reaped by Bo, but there’s still a chance we may see him again if the Shoobies are able to settle all the Warrior and Guardian spirits Xiao has been storing up into a new restful realm. But with the help of Nicky, Henry and Pei-Ling, Zhilan is pulled back, alive and whole, into our world, where she has been subjected to the mortifying ordeal of being known, but has yet to receive any waffles. In fact, in relation to the infamous family dinner Zhilan almost got to attend, Berens said, “I was not letting Zhilan anywhere near that dinner. I wanted her with her heartbreaking bottle of wine in her hand.” Maybe the real villain of season 3 is in fact Bob Berens.
Kung Fu has not yet been renewed for season 4 and given recent ownership changes, many of the CW’s shows seem to be in more jeopardy than usual, so we asked Kim and Berens if the end of season 3 is a satisfying ending for the series. For both of them it was a bit of yes and no. Kim said, “Yes, but no. Yes in that I think there is a satisfying sort of [ending] but it’s not really an ending, it’s more of a resolution to the mythology, which, as we’ve talked about, that’s not my comfort zone in terms of our show. It’s like math for me. I’m not very good at math, so I have to try the hardest at coming up with that part of the stuff. So there’s a resolution that for me as a viewer, and if you’re a viewer that is not super heavy into magic, I think it will feel good.”
Berens elaborated, saying that he liked every season ending to feel potentially like a series ending, however that doesn’t mean they are done with Kung Fu. “We went into season 3 feeling relatively bullish, and now there’s a lot more uncertainty. It is a big open question. We already felt like — we’re not done with these characters or this world or these actors or our crew, I think the show has so much more to do, there’s so much story left to tell — but I think there was a desire to kind of like, ‘let’s bring this full circle to the pilot’ in a lot of ways. We were already endeavoring to create a bookend for the stories we started, so I think it is very resolved in that sense, on the myth front, it is a very resolved ending and hopefully a very emotionally satisfying resolution. But my ethos has always been that I like every season finale to feel potentially like a series finale,” Berens revealed, noting that Supernatural, his last project, very much did not follow this pattern. “You can leave a little whisper of a cliffhanger, but I think that’s satisfying. You can always generate more stories.”
On crafting the finale to be both an ending and not an ending, Berens said, “It was definitely a dance that we did when we were breaking the finale. How do we do it in a way that doesn’t feel so resolved that no one wants to come back? But the truth is, I think people will — those have been watching — will want to come back because it’s these people. It’s these characters. Their life goes on. These stories go on.”
This season, Nicky’s Shaolin values have been tested and she’s discovered what she is capable of. Many of our beloved heroes and villains and reformed villains are at a turning point. We can’t wait to find out what is in store for the rest of the season.
Our complete interview with Christina Kim and Robert Berens will be available soon in audio form. You can catch up on all our conversation reviews of Kung Fu season 3 now.
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