Season two of “Manhattan,” the Emmy-winning WGN America series, premieres Tuesday night, and executive producer Thomas Schlamme want fans to prepare for a plethora of strong stories.
“It is a much more powerful ensemble season,” Schlamme told TheWrap. “Every character has a rather powerful story that is not an episode but an arc that will take us to the end of the season.”
Series creator Sam Shaw also gave TheWrap a preview of what issues the series will tackle in its sophomore season. “There are stories that deal with secret prisons, extraordinary rendition and faked military intelligence. It’s not accidental that these are stories that resonate today,” he said.
“Since its inception, this has been really a contemporary story,” Shaw continued. “It just happens to be set in 1944. It’s very much an origin story of the 21st century.”
Two men who are battling to be architects of that century are Charlie Issacs and Frank Winter, played by Ashley Zukerman and John Benjamin Hickey respectively. The brilliant duo’s conflicting personalities were a major part of Season 1, with the two eventually realizing they could only finish the atomic bomb together.
But when the project was in jeopardy, Winter sacrificed himself by confessing to crimes he did not commit in order to put Issacs in charge of the implosion group.
“Somewhere deep down was the hope that what [Frank] did care about was the success of the project and that maybe he believed that Charlie could take it across the finish line better than he could,” Schlamme said.
Shaw agreed and said that Winter’s sacrifice comes from his deep desire to end world conflict. “I think part of it at a really fundamental level is we tell a story over the course of a season about a guy who is incredibly driven by this one idea that he can deliver this bomb that will maybe end all war,” Shaw said. “And if he doesn’t deliver it first, the Germans will. So once you accept that idea almost any sacrifice becomes acceptable.”
But even Frank Winter has his limits.
“I think if Frank Winter lived in the world of Twitter, his head would probably explode,” Shaw said.
“Manhattan” season two premieres at 9 p.m. on WGN America.