Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) traveled to Beacon, New York, in season 1 of People of Earth to research “StarCrossed,” a support group for alien experiencers. Over the course of the first season, Ozzie learned he was an experiencer himself and learned much of his life was tied up in this alien conspiracy.
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead… details from Monday’s episode to follow!]
In Monday’s episode, after meeting his former boss Jonathan Walsh (Michael Cassidy) out in the woods, Ozzie died. Yes, really. He jumped in front of an alien gun and saved Walsh’s life. But seeing as Kurt (Drew Nelson), who died in season 1, came back to life last week — we’re not sure how to handle this shocker. So we caught up with executive producers Norm Hiscock and David Jenkins to get details.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First question — is Ozzie really dead?
NORM HISCOCK: Yes, he’s really dead.
Does that mean Wyatt Cenac is leaving the show?
HISCOCK: No, I mean, Kurt was really dead. We’re playing with the sci-fi element, so we’re just playing with the idea that he may or may not come back, but there’s a possibility. We certainly open the door to that.
DAVID JENKINS: The great thing about a sci-fi show is you have the undead function available to you. We play fast and loose with that on the show sometimes.
It’s pretty major to kill a main character like Ozzie!
HISCOCK: When I met David, he talked about the show being an anthology series, with the possibility of people coming and going. I remember reading the second script, where we had killed off Kurt. So I knew there was a potential that people could come and go. You could add cast members and more people can jump on and some people can be killed or be gone or disappear.
JENKINS: I like the idea that this was a world where people could die. It’s an interesting note in the show because the show is very warm — it’s very weird, but it’s very warm. And to me, to have Kurt die in the first season, end of that second episode was a little bit like, “Oh, s– can get real on the show.”
What was your thinking behind killing off Ozzie?
JENKINS: It’s hard to maintain the attitude of a skeptic character for multiple seasons. So it’s kind of liberating to be like, oh, we don’t have to make Ozzie a skeptic every season for five seasons (if we’re lucky enough to get that). [We wanted to ask] what happens if a guy just finds out the truth and pays the ultimate price? That excited all of us.
How did Wyatt Cenac respond when you told him you were going to kill Ozzie?
HISCOCK: I think he was okay with it.
JENKINS: He’s a busy guy. He’s got a lot of irons in the fire, so I think he was all right with it.
You said he’s not leaving the show, but that sounds like…
HISCOCK: We’re just keeping it open. Like I was saying, we just chase stories and whatever the story needs — we have individual characters but also the greater arc. Whatever that arc is, you chase both story and arc and you think, “It’s going to go here,” but ideas come up and you go, “Oh, it could go here” based on whatever we need. Most certainly, if we think bringing him back would be great, then you do it.
How will the group go on without him?
HISCOCK: They’re shaken. They lost their friend. They have to deal.
JENKINS: A great thing about a support group is, you really want to throw things at them that make them have to support each other and they have to deal with the ramifications of what happened to their friend.
HISCOCK: And they’re part of an alien support group — some people think the aliens are the ones who are responsible; others don’t.
Now, let’s talk about Agent Foster.
JENKINS: We’ve got an incredibly deep bench of great characters and great actors playing those characters, so the ability to take the show in a different direction at any given time is kind of great. We’re really lucky to have Nasim [Pedrad] on the show this year, and I think it will be fun to ask, how do people in the group respond to this person?
It seems like she was likely an abductee herself. How long is it going to take for her to come around to the truth?
HISCOCK: Our time of people being skeptics has to shorten a little bit. With Ozzie, we played it out as much as we could. You can’t do that the same way and for as long.
JENKINS: I think we’ve seen this trope so much now that we kind of fast-forwarded through it. We don’t have to worry about making this character uncertain for an entire season. I think that will open that show up quite a bit.
It feels like Phase 2 of the alien takeover is unavoidable at this point. Is there anything this little group of experiencers can do?
HISCOCK: It’s not looking good. That’s why we brought in Agent Alex. They were dealing with their emotions, [so we needed] to have someone who is an investigator … and make them a team. And then you have the aliens, too, who are deciding what they want to do and how they want to proceed.
JENKINS: It’s kind of an interesting challenge to not let this show become a full-blown action show where we’re doing Independence Day all of a sudden. To me there’s a sweet spot to this show. I guess it’s a little bit like The Americans in a way. There’s an invasion theoretically happening on The Americans, but really you want to see what’s the family life like. Just like, how are they dealing with it? How are these aliens working in a mid-level management job for the invasion? How are they feeling about these things? I think that’s the charm of the show, where you have this big blockbuster conceit, but you’re telling really small stories within it.
Speaking of small stories, can you tell us what’s going to happen with Kelly and Don?
HISCOCK: Well, no, we can’t do that, can we? Things get complicated. How about that?
That works! What else can you tell us about the rest of season 2?
HISCOCK: Jerry’s been used a little bit and he doesn’t know that, so that’s going to play out. And then the dealing with Ozzie’s death is kind of good in that everybody finds a way to help themselves and sort of move forward in their lives.
JENKINS: We also don’t know much about Alex’s backstory and odds are good that those goods are odd when you get to look at it. We’ll learn more about where she comes from and how she maybe ended up with these folks.
People of Earth airs Mondays at 10:30 p.m. ET on TBS.