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Credit: James Dittiger/History Channel

History Channel’s Navy SEAL drama Six ended its first season with one heck of a cliffhanger. Now, the show is coming back for season 2 to — hopefully — answer questions (is Rip okay?!) and take viewers on new, intense, and perilous adventures.

In the season one finale, the guys were temporarily back on U.S. soil, where they were faced with addressing the lives they’d left behind and processing all they’d endured on the ultimately successful mission. Sadly, the nature of being a SEAL means there’s not a ton of time for reflection as the second season picks up right where they left off and the team heads out on a new covert operation in a very different landscape.

Ahead of the premiere on Monday, May 28, EW caught up with Barry Sloane who plays Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Joe “Bear” Graves on the series to hear all about breaking the rules in season two, ‘oh f–k’ moments during SEAL training, and raising the bar for other copy-cat military dramas.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Season one obviously ended in a huge cliffhanger moment with Rip (Walton Goggins) being shot. Where do we pick back up?
BARRY SLOANE: We go right from the gunshots effectively, so we’re right back in the mix. I’m was happy when the writers came back to me and said that we’d pick up there. We could’ve jumped ahead, but this is better because the viewers are going to be right back with us, where we were.

Good. It bugs me when there’s a three-month time-lapse and you have to piece things together.
Yeah! It’s like, “I deserve those three months!” We’re right back in the thick of it. This season we’re on a completely different battlefield; we were in Africa last season and now we’re in eastern Europe, so it’s a very different feel, the enemy looks very different. One thing I’ll say about this season, it almost feels like watching last season but if you were to follow the characters around the corner after the scene ended. We get further into the mind of each of them this year. It feels like season 1 was introducing you to that world, opening the door a little bit and saying come in and take a look at what we’re doing.

And now we get a closer look?
Exactly. What’s been interesting for us is that with the slew of new shows of a similar genre [SEAL Team, the recently canceled The Brave and Valor] that are kind of doing what we’re doing, we’ve taken what we’ve done already and done something very different with it. So even for people who have been watching shows of a similar nature, this year it’s like, Oh s—, those are the rules now. So we’re very proud to have raised the bar even higher.

In what ways is season two different?
The perspective is different. There’s a story with Bear in the first two episodes in which we are deeply inside his head. When I read it on the page I was like, “Wow, this is risky for the genre and the way we’ve been telling the story thus far,” but it’s been a lot of fun. We were kind of walking a tightrope to make those scenes work within the context of the season, but having seen what I’ve seen, we pulled it off and I’m immensely proud of it. There’s a lot more alone time for the characters this year which is nice because we didn’t really get that last year; we were sort of paired up to establish the brotherhood. But there are huge rips in the brotherhood this year so you’ll see a lot more conflict in there. There’s a lot of conflict and pushback.

How are things for Bear and Lena after their separation at the end of last season?
Not great. What happens with Rip brings them together so, in one of the first scenes of the new season, they’re together in more ways than one — there’s something to look forward to [laughs] — but it’s a very complicated relationship and nothing ever goes quite right. They have a real journey this season; it’s huge for that couple. Particularly in episode 1 and 2, there are some huge moments between the two of them.

How does that affect Bear and his work with the unit?
Lena, the Seals, and the church were what was keeping his mind straight and towards the mid part of this new season, the church isn’t providing what he needs and the SEALs are breaking up in front of him. He’s having to find new ways to lead and he’s finding that it’s lonely at the top and in order to lead these men, he’s not going to be able to be their friend. That reveals more of the mid-level of management the SEALs operate at; somebody comes in and says this is your job and they don’t get to say, “I don’t think that makes sense for an operation,” they just have to go do it. They’re not as high up the chain that a lot of people would like to think. If you need someone to go and do a certain task, they’re the best in the world at doing it, they just don’t get to choose what task it is.

Speaking of world-class skills, was training for season 2 as intense as season 1 when you had to go through actual SEAL training?
It was different. They did the same thing where they stuck us in a van, but this time they drove us up into the mountains of British Columbia. There were snowshoes on our packs and I was just like “Oh, f—.” We got out the van and started walking and we just didn’t stop for four days. We hiked and camped in the snow. It was just one foot in front of the other the whole time. But this time, we were treated more as SEALs that were going on a training exercise, so it was kind of what you do after you’re qualified. They had us jump in glacial water with all the gear on and part of it was just to show you how quick the clothes dry. I was like, “We couldn’t just put some clothes in the water that we didn’t have on our bodies and watch?” No. The main difference between season 1 and season 2 was this time when they’re like, get in the water, we’re like, “F—ing yes,” no questions asked. You just do it, get it done, no questions.

But I bet that training is super helpful to get into the mindset of these characters.
Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of beyond the show; it’s something I’ll have with me forever. With the History Channel, not to be disrespectful to the other shows that are out there, but I think what has set us apart is that we know we’ve done all that’s possible on that side of things. We can’t spend all this money on extravagantly blowing up various objects, so we do it slightly differently; we double down on authenticity and I think it’s paid off.

Season 2 of Six premieres Monday, May 28 at 10 p.m. ET on the History Channel.

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