(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the season finale of “Ghosts” on CBS.)
Season 1 of “Ghosts” came to an end on Thursday night with a touching finale, which offered some resolutions and also opened the floodgates for more mayhem in Season 2.
One of the characters who finally got some closure was Brandon Scott Jones’ Isaac, a Revolutionary War soldier who died over 250 years ago. Fans of the show will remember earlier in the season, when a flashback revealed that he had accidentally shot his “enemy” Nigel Chessum (John Hartman) across the battlefield while observing him through the scope on his rifle.
While their connection seems quite obvious, and Samantha (Rose McIver) encourages Isaac to tell Nigel how he truly feels, it doesn’t exactly go as planned. But their happy ending comes in due time when Isaac finally reveals his feelings for Nigel in the season finale.
Jones spoke with TheWrap about what Isaac’s coming out story meant for him as a queer person and as an actor, as well as how he hopes to see the character grow going forward.
Earlier in the season, it seemed like Isaac might get some closure, but instead of confessing his true feelings he only confessed to killing Nigel. How did you feel when you found out that his story would finally be coming full circle?
I was definitely excited, because the thing that always interested me the most about playing Isaac was that he’s been in the closet for 250 years. As a queer person myself, I know what that feeling is like, and that was only for 20 years. So to have to live that long not truly being yourself, I thought, ‘Oh, what a fun, exciting moment to be able to start to explore that.’ When I knew that he finally came out of the closet, I remember talking with [showrunners] Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, and they really wanted that moment to feel as authentic to the character but also as cathartic as it possibly could feel. So I liked how understated it is, because I think that step forward is so challenging for a lot of people and certainly, like I said, was for me. So I was excited to get a chance to play that out on screen.
All of the ghosts have such distinct personalities. How did you go about developing who Isaac was going to be?
So much of it was on the page, to begin with. The thing that I really held through the most of the time was this idea of Isaac wanting to be somebody he wasn’t, or wanting to be remembered as somebody he wasn’t. And I think that’s also — that’s a very queer narrative, but it’s also a very funny narrative in the sense of, he’s always been one step to the side of history. So from an acting perspective, more than doing actual research in that time period, I tried to look at what we all colloquially know of those people from that time period. So like, there’s the “Hamilton” musical. There’s the “1776” musical. There’s “The Patriot” with Heath Ledger, and that John Adams miniseries. I tried to check out those things, but then as I kept going, there’s also all these like cartoons and stories we learn from a very young age, almost treating our founding fathers like mythical creatures. I always felt like the place I wanted to start with was, Isaac doesn’t know that that’s how everybody reveres [the founding fathers]. He’s constantly being reminded that he wasn’t actually at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He wasn’t at the Boston Tea Party. He was at a tea party in Boston, but it was at his aunt’s house.
I love that he has such a grudge against Alexander Hamilton, too.
I know, the idea that he is really enamored by the demise of this man is so funny to me.
There are eight ghosts, which always makes for an interesting and fun dynamic. It’s sometimes just total chaos, but in the best way. How did you curate that dynamic on set?
The biggest blessing of the show has been one of the challenges too. In the middle of a pandemic, we had to move to another country — to Montreal. We don’t really have lives up there. So, really, our entire lives became each other. Not only were we hanging out at work, but we were also the people that would hang out outside of work. And I think just that general feeling of being isolated in one place with just each other naturally lends itself to the dynamic of all the ghosts who were trapped in this house. And we didn’t know how long we were going to be there. There was a moment where we were like, “I think we’re going to end it.” And then they gave us more episodes, which is awesome. So I think we’ve been on that journey, physically and interpersonally outside of the show as much as we have been inside the show. It feels so cheesy to say, because I feel like this is the most common thing of like, “Oh, we’re like a family,” but we all dig each other and we all really enjoy spending time together. So it’s been this career anomaly for all of us where it feels so special. I get excited every single time I see them.
The series has gained some high praise, even from big names like Mark Hamill. When did you realize that people were so receptive to the show?
Oh, man, it’s hard to pin down like an actual moment. I remember the week of the premiere, we just had no idea how it was going to be received. We had no clue what people were gonna think of it. We knew that there was a source material show that it was born out of that people really love. And I would say within that first month, we really started to notice a lot of really kind things were being said on the internet, which is, you know, not known for being a kind forum. The thing that we started to see the most was how people intergenerationally watch the show within their own families and units. It’s a show about intergenerational characters coming together, and that sort of elicits that in the audience.
Well, and also the characters do feel so humanized. With someone like Isaac, it’s usually hard to think of a person from that long ago as human.
There’s something kind of comforting about it. It’s this grand question that we all have: What happens after we die? There’s not a single person on the planet that doesn’t wonder about that. And in this weird way, this idea that your life could kind of continue or at least your growth could continue after you pass away is inherently interesting. To get to see these characters who have died finally start to live is really cathartic. And it kind of gives you an idea that a lot of the things that we see coming up in the news, specifically with Isaac’s character, which is about queer identity, and so forth — these are not new things. These are things that people for centuries have been dealing with. I think we sometimes forget about that, because, going back to what I was saying earlier about, like at least his time period, the way we mythologize people from that era, and revere them in such a way as if they weren’t a reflection of the world that we have today.
So what are you hoping for Isaac in Season 2?
I would love to see him really try to solidify his history — try to get Sam to write that book and potentially that musical about him so he can finally stick it to Alexander Hamilton. Also, with characters that are stuck in one place, the way you move forward is by understanding a little bit more of their past. So maybe getting more flashbacks, not just for Isaac, but for all of our characters where we kind of see who they really were and understand their truths a little bit more. But then on a more personal side, I think there’s a storyline about accepting who you are and coming into your own and choosing to love yourself that a lot of times, for great reason, in pop culture is a story dedicated to a little bit younger people and people in high school or college. I think [it would be interesting to explore] what does it mean for somebody in his mid-30s to start to feel like, ‘Okay, this is who I am now. I’ve come out of the closet. I’m a new person.’ There’s that really great line that the writers gave us in the episode that I really resonated with, which is: After pretending to not be who you are for so long, you start to feel like everything you’ve ever said was a lie, and it’s not true. It’s just that he couldn’t come out. So I’m interested to see what that process is going to be in that journey for him to love himself.
“Ghosts” has some great guest stars. Anyone you’d like to see in Season 2?
Oh my gosh. We’ve all talked about the idea of Lin-Manuel Miranda actually playing Hamilton. My best friend is D’Arcy Carden, she played Janet on “The Good Place.” We all always try to find a way to work together, and if we could get her on the show, that would be an absolute dream come true. Then there’s so many icons that I wish could be a part of it, like Julia Louis Dreyfuss is my idol. So I’m like, ‘Oh, God, let’s try something for her.’ I don’t know, as long as whoever does it, as long as they’re enthusiastic about doing it and they have fun, I think we’re going to be excited.
Lin as Hamilton would truly be iconic.
I know, it absolutely has. We’re gonna put it into print, and that’s gonna be like the secret [to getting him on the show].