Beyond postmortem: Burkely Duffield on the series premiere's twists
EW caught up with the show's star to find out how Holden is grappling with everything, if he can trust Willa, and what's next.
Well, that was quite the jam-packed premiere. Freeform’s newest series, Beyond, kicked off the New Year and its debut season with more than a few twists and turns. In the two-hour series opener, we find our main character sent into a coma, miraculously wake up 12 years later, flex his new supernatural powers in a rainy showdown, set more than a couple places on fire, and be told by a mysterious girl that he lived a life during his coma.
That’s a busy and exhausting ride for Holden Matthews, so EW caught up with his portrayer, Burkeley Duffield, to find out how Holden is grappling with everything, if he can trust Willa (Dilan Gwyn), and what’s next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What does Holden think is happening to him? If this was happening to me, I don’t know what I’d think.
BURKELY DUFFIELD: Totally. I think at first it’s denial. As you referenced, if something weird had happened to me or without knowing, I moved something across the room, I would have thought that wasn’t me or it was some fluke chance or there was a gust of wind. So it’s really denial that these are really coming down to him doing these, let alone in his control. He thinks they’re something that he can’t even control at all. It’s definitely interesting and that’s one of the places where it’s not just a story of him saving the day with these miraculous powers. Our story is rooted in the fact of what if a regular boy in a regular town is given these powers and how would he come to terms with them? Our journey throughout the season is what he will now do with these.
How would you say he’s grappling with these issues?
I’d say it’s not an easy time for Holden, that’s for sure. He’s really almost trying to ignore what’s happening to him a lot of the time. Even in the pilot, when he saves his friend Kevin from those bad guys and is able to escape from that very perilous situation, as soon as Willa offers him those answers, he’s like, “No, that’s not me. I’m the kid from before, that’s all I want.” So he’s in denial of something happening to him and maybe his coma was something special that he’s not really looking into. But as things progress, he realizes that his denial is starting to put himself as well as his friends and other people in danger, so he’s going to have to go on a journey to really fess up to this new self that he is and learn how to control his abilities.
He’s keeping these abilities close to the vest for now — do you think he’s afraid to tell his family about what’s going on? Why do you think he’s keeping it so hidden from them?
I think there’s just so much going on in his life right now that he is trying to figure stuff out for himself. He’s back with his family and he loves it, and the one thing that he has at home at least is his mom, his dad, his brother, and to bring that kind of situation home, I think he knows it’s the straw that would change everything. Finally at home, when he’s starting to get back to knowing his family, they would never be the same. So I think that he’s trying to preserve that family that he just united and trying to keep his family safe. And he’s not really sure if he’s doing that good of a job.
At the end of the second hour, he’s reached his breaking point and finally shows up to meet Willa. Does he think he can trust her or is he just so desperate for answers that he would go anywhere?
The latter. I don’t think he trusts her quite yet. He’s learned that he can’t really trust anyone at this moment, but she is the one person who has been offering him some sort of explanation, seeming to be some person who isn’t shocked by those powers. She’s the one who seems to know about them and perhaps the limits of what he can do. I think he goes to her not as, “Let’s go talk to my new friend,” but very trepidatiously and trying to understand what’s going on with him, because he’s realizing that he could hurt himself, let alone everyone else, and he needs to try to get it under control at least a little bit, and she might have those answers.
What can you tease for the remainder of the season?
If you enjoyed the first two episodes, there’s a lot more twists and turns. We’ve got amazing characters that you’ve met and those relationships only get intensified, stronger in both love and hate. And if you liked some of the displays of Holden’s abilities, you’ll definitely look forward to some cool action and stunts, and times that put him in danger. Hopefully he’s able to get them under control to be able to save the day again.
For more on Beyond, go read our recap of the first two episodes. Also, the remaining eight episodes in the first season are now available to stream.