(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Sunday’s “The Nevers.”)
The third episode of HBO’s sci-fi series “The Nevers” ends with several literal bangs that leave Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and the members of their “Touched” community reeling, as they mourn the loss of Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson), who was shot to death by a mysterious enemy while singing out her magical song in hopes of attracting more of their supernatural community.
And though Mary died a gruesome death, her mission was not in vain, as viewers see in the closing moments that many people did hear her special song and come to join Penance and Amalia’s team. But Penance and Amalia are at a loss for words in that moment, unable to truly enjoy the breakthrough while in such deep pain.
The scene is in stark contrast to the way the episode opened, which included an accidental opium hit for Penance — and then one on purpose for Amalia, as she didn’t want to miss out out on the serendipitous moment of joy her BFF was experiencing thanks to an otherwise fairly harmless explosion.
The ability to shift in tone so quickly is something Skelly cherishes about “The Nevers,” which was created by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” mastermind Joss Whedon, who left the show before its April debut.
“I mean, that’s what I really, really, really love about the show,” Skelly told TheWrap. “It’s so different to me, because I didn’t realize how challenging comedy actually is or trying to put in those funny beats in something that is actually — the mission and the world itself can be quite grave and quite serious. So I do think moments of lightness relieve those tensions really well. And just as equal to crying or upset moments, it’s a real relief, I think, because the show doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
She added: “That makes it so fun as an actor, because then you don’t have to take yourself too seriously and you can do anything and it could go anywhere. I love that. There’s so much humor in real life as well. And you know what? So many period things are quite stiff and stuffy. This show, I think, refreshes that genre in a way that has a touch of wackiness and fun and kind of [James] Bond jokes.”
With Penance being the ingenious inventor of all the amazing contraptions Amalia and the Touched use to fight their enemies, Skelly also gets to exercise her comedic chops while using the various tools. Or at least, while she tries to use them, because had Penance’s fire extinguisher worked better tonight, she might not have been hit so hard by the opium.
“I love how she names them. I love the fire extinguisher, she calls it her Snuffer,” Skelly said. “It’s so cute. Little things like that.”
“The Nevers” airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.