By Samantha Highfill
May 17, 2021 at 01:00 AM EDT
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Warning: This post contains spoilers from the May 16 midseason finale of The Nevers.

When The Nevers returns for the back half of its first season, things are going to be very different, and that has everything to do with what we learned in episode 6.

The series' midseason finale jumped into the future — roughly a century from present day — to introduce us to Stripe (Claudia Black), a.k.a. Amalia. As we'd come to learn, the event that kicked off the series and gave certain individuals "turns" was also the moment that Stripe, whose real name is Zephyr, jumped into the body of Amalia True, who used to go by Molly. Confused? It's a complicated puzzle, but one that launches the show into brand new territory. (And did we mention everyone's powers came from aliens called the Galanthi?!)

EW hopped on a Zoom with stars Laura Donnelly (who plays Amalia), Ann Skelly (who plays Penance), and Amy Manson (who plays Maladie) to talk about the final episodes.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I remember Laura and Ann telling me that the whole arc of these six episodes was laid out for them at the beginning. Amy, did you have a similar experience?

AMY MANSON: Not really. Backstory was a thing I kept pushing from [creator] Joss [Whedon], which actually in the end became slightly irrelevant for some parts of her mission. But we would all get nuggets from Joss and then as a collective come together and share what we knew and piece the puzzle together.

LAURA DONNELLY: There was never any like, "Don't tell anybody else this." None of us were told to keep stuff from each other, but I think after a while a lot of us stopped really digging because we realized we didn't have to know it all. We were happy to let it unfold as the scripts would come.

I really loved the idea that Penance knew, that Amalia had let her in on her big secret.

ANN SKELLY: We see a glimpse of the conversation where they talk about the mission a bit and Penance's reaction and I love how slightly unfazed she is. She's just this trusting person and thank God I suppose that Amalia, for Penance, is the right person to trust. I love the fact that Penance is a part of it and she's not duped or fooled. She's actively working alongside Amalia. The level of understanding she has for her is kind of incredible too.

DONNELLY: I think she had to find somebody who believed in God, there was not going to be any other explanation.

SKELLY: The Irish!

DONNELLY: [Laughs] Yeah.

You're also coming off potentially their biggest fight in episode 5, in which they kind of agreed to disagree, which I thought said a lot about their friendship.

DONNELLY: It's respectful. They really do trust each other to go ahead and make their own decisions. It's like family, isn't it? You don't necessarily get along, but you can look at each other and go: There's a baseline here which is I love you and, other than that, I need to have the respect to step back and let you be your own person. I think it shows the depth of their relationship.

SKELLY: One thing I was very interested in when we read that scene is: How many times have they had similar arguments? I think that this is the biggest one possibly they'd had. It's amazing that they were able to go, "Look, we're both set in our sights and I'm going to trust you to do your thing."

The Nevers
Amy Manson as Sarah, Laura Donnelly as Amalia, and Denis O'Hare as Dr. Hague in 'The Nevers.'
| Credit: Keith Bernstein/HBO

Amy, what was it like for you to play Sarah after all this time as Maladie?

MANSON: It was weird because Maladie is an accumulation of everything that she hated about herself as Sarah, so she mocks her and that's why she's so big. To finally get into her shoes and understand the innocence but also that she's this sweet, feeble Victorian woman, it was nice to understand how the relationship [with Amalia] was formed or what Sarah perceived the relationship to be. Because I query what could've happened had Amalia not thrown Maladie under the bus. Could she have been Penance? I think Maladie's so distraught with jealousy and that tears her apart. Maladie doesn't want to feel or else she'll become a victim and she doesn't see herself as a victim. So to go full circle and play this innocent victim was a bit of a challenge. Almost the doing nothing was the challenge.

Laura, you also got to step into the shoes of Molly. What was that like?

DONNELLY: Molly had a very sad and deteriorating life. When I first read that, it was really heartbreaking. That's kind of the whole point of Molly's story is that we get to see how miserable and how hopeless it was for her. I essentially got to play three different people in one body because there's Molly, then there's Stripe in Amalia's body, and then there's the amalgamation of the two, which is Amalia as we know her now. With Stripe, I had to take on somebody else's characterization. I didn't invent that voice or accent or way of moving, so I got to do a lot of study of Claudia Black's performance. That was a case of studying her voice, studying her way of using her face and all of that. Then there was Molly, which meant I got to create something entirely out of my own mind and invent somebody. Then finding out about how they blend together to create Amalia, it's an actor's dream that kind of stuff.

SKELLY: I'm so jealous of the two of yous, you both got to play three different characters within six episodes. It's amazing.

DONNELLY: Maybe in episode 7 we'll get Penance's backstory where in fact she was a boy raised in Australia.

SKELLY: [Laughs] I would love that!

The Nevers
Zackary Momoh as Horatio Cousens and Laura Donnelly as Amalia True in 'The Nevers.'
| Credit: Keith Bernstein/HBO

Laura, you mentioned watching Claudia. Did you get to sit down and talk about all of this with her at any point?

DONNELLY: We did a little bit. Claudia was very generous, she came in at the start saying, "Show me what you do and I'll adapt to that." I said to her, "No, I'd rather you did your own thing." I really wanted her to make Stripe her own, so we did get to sit and run through the backstory a little bit. I really wanted her to be doing the Stripe thing as natural to her as possible. Claudia's Australian, so she had to give me recordings of the lines in her American accent. She has a very specific way of talking, so then it was a case of trying to get into that. It was kind of weird because it was all filmed out of sequence so she didn't film her Stripe stuff until after I had filmed my Stripe stuff, so it was me going through YouTube finding videos of Claudia in other sci-fi things. I watched her audition tapes and things like that to see what her facial expressions were like and what her movement was like. The key with that one was definitely not just the accent but the voice quality that Claudia has.

The Nevers
Claudia Black as Stripe in 'The Nevers.'
| Credit: Keith Bernstein/HBO

What were you acting with in the scene where Amalia is talking to the Galanthi egg?

DONNELLY: The whole cave is all real, everything else apart from the Galanthi egg itself was real, and then for the Galanthi egg we just had a big white tent type upside down thing hanging from the ceiling. Because it needed to be low enough that I'd be able to reach it. It was a glowing light so it was the closest thing they could get to what they would then put in in FX after. But it is funny because in this show we haven't done a lot of acting with FX, we've not had to act to tennis balls or whatever so with this one, yeah, trying to deliver an incredibly heartfelt monologue to a big white sheet was one of the more challenging aspects of this one. [Laughs]

What is your biggest question going into the rest of the season? What do you all want to see explored?

SKELLY: I want to know more about the Galanthi. I love that little guy, I think he's so cute. I think it's like just everything I need in my real life and I just want to know more about it. I want it to be my pet, friend, and life guru. I'd love to see how the Galanthi story plays out because seeing the creature in the videos with the scientists when it's walking around it's like, "God, that thing is cute."

DONNELLY: There are a few characters we've kind of only been able to scratch the surface of and we still don't really know what their motives are — Hugo [James Norton] being one. I'm really interested to find out what his deal is. There are hints of things to do with his father and his brother and stuff in his past and whatever that relationship is with Massen [Pip Torrens] and why it's so heated. And, obviously, the relationship with Mundi [Ben Chaplin]. So there's a lot still there with Hugo. And also what Amalia's going to think when she walks into the Ferryman's Club for the first time because there's part of Amalia that would like to join in and then there's another part of Amalia that would like to slit Hugo's throat for that. And I'm really fascinated to find out what on earth Maladie's plan is for after this because now nobody knows she's alive, so what's the plan there?!

MANSON: I would also like to know more about the Beggar King and his underworld and his plans. Beggar King and Massen and what they're up to as a government and who the Beggar King truly is. I think that's still such a mystery, who the driving forces are.

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