PERCEPTION’s Rachael Leigh Cook and Scott Wolf preview the two-part “High Octane Thrill Ride” S2 Finale

23263_010_0281_RThis season of PERCEPTION has found Kate and Daniel (Rachael Leigh Cook and Eric McCormack) dealing with a blast from Kate’s past: her ex-husband Donny (Scott Wolf).  The ex, it’s worth mentioning, that she has not quite gotten over yet.  With Season 2 coming to an exciting conclusion (the 2 part season finale starts tonight and finishes next week and TNT recently gave the show a S3 renewal), I spent some time talking with Rachael and Scott about what’s coming, why Scott wanted to be on the show in the first place, and what the future may hold for these two when the chips settle!

I’ve been a fan of both of yours for so long – it’s been exciting to see you working together on PERCEPTION this year, and I wondered if you could talk a bit about working together?
Rachael: Absolutely, Scott brings a different energy and it keeps it fresh.  Eric and I love working together, I feel like I didn’t know the show needed anything else, but when I look at the way this season went down, I can’t imagine not having the Donny character in it, and have it be as good.  I think it was a fantastic addition.

23263_010_0468_RScott, what was it about the show that you were initially interested in?
Scott:  It came to my attention that they were adding this character, and I got to read some of the material. Obviously knew of the show, and was a fan of Eric and Rachael for a long time, so luckily, I’d get to work with them, and reading the character, it was a fun kind of challenging, ambiguous character – you’re not quite sure if you like him or not, or what he’s about.  So it’s’ fun to play ambiguous characters like that.  So I jumped at the chance.  It was clear to me that the dynamic that I think this character was going to bring to the show was interesting, and that if the chemistry between the three of us really worked, then it could really fun.  It’s one of those things, from the first moment, before I had the job, I sat with these guys, and read with them – it felt easy, and fun, such a crystal clear understanding of who these characters were to each other that it just felt really effortless and fun.

PERCEPTIONI’ve loved how the show has played out this season – the finale two-parter is so exciting!  I wondered if you could tease a bit about what we can expect from the last two episodes of Season 2.
Rachael: Scott, are you better than explaining this than I am?  I imagine anyone is!
Scott: Obviously, being the two-part season finale, there is a ton that is at stake for every character.  The most intense part of these last couple episodes is Rachael’s character, seeing Kate push through, so deep and passionate into a case that it threatens her entire career and her life, and obviously, Daniel and Donny both in their own way care deeply about her, and so there’s this really incredible story just on the surface about navigating this situation that Kate has found herself in where her job and her life are on the line, and I think there will be some real great, surprising things.  In particular, I can say how Donny shows up in Kate’s life, and his attempt at redemption and proving himself to be someone that deserves her.  I think we explore a lot of that in these last couple of episodes.  There are kind of quiet scenes where everything is at stake for these characters personally, not just professionally.  It’s hard to say too much about it without giving too much away!  Rachael, you chime in!
Rachael: That was perfect!  Honestly, I’ve got nothing!

23263_010_0135_RWithout giving too much away, Rachael you get to play a different side of Kate where you have to rely on Daniel’s faith in you, which is playing opposite what we’ve seen where you are supporting him – was that interesting to explore the different dynamic?
Rachael: Absolutely!  That was a great thing – I’m so lucky that these writers gave me the storyline to work with.  They have a lot of possibly undeserved faith in me that they gave me this kind of heavy lifting for two whole episodes, and that they gave Kate this much story line.  It’s a huge honor and compliment.  The thing about Kate is that she’s always going to bat for Daniel and his ideas, and when she really has her back against the wall, he is there for her, but not without his signature Daniel Pierce typical style of analyzing things and questioning them from every angle.  Their friendship’s even in jeopardy for a moment, and that’s really interesting.  We’re always amazing at how willing the writers are to explore any which way that these characters and their dynamics can shift and evolve and that they’re not afraid that the structure of it is going to break.  They’re writing very confidently, and it’s amazing to be a part of.

23263_010_0013_RHas there been a discussion of what comes next for Season 3 [which was picked up two days after we chatted]?  Scott, would you return?
Scott: I mean, Rachael, I don’t know if you’ve had any kinds of conversations, but the short answer for me is absolutely yes, I would love to be involved in continuing on with the show and finish, you know, there is some ambiguity and some open-endedness as this season comes to an end.  We’re not sure if Donny and Kate will make it all the way back to each other or not.  There’s reason to believe that that’s as possible as it’s ever been –
Rachael: Mmhmm!
Scott: – or at least far more possible than at the beginning of this season.  Look, I’ve said, as often as anyone would listen, I’ve never had more fun going to work, and it has everything to do with Rachael and Eric, and everything to do with the writers and how much fun they make these characters.  Especially in a show where there is a huge character every week which is the case – for them to have such fully fleshed out human characters and stories for those characters week in and week out, it’s pretty remarkable.  If I get the call asking me to come back for a Season 3, I already have my answer ready.  And it’s a firm maybe [laughter all around]!

PERCEPTIONAre there any words or teases for what we may see in these last few episodes?
Rachael: Let’s see…second degree murder!
Scott: Yeah murder!
Rachael: Buzzwords…
Scott: [laughs] Free Money!!  People love that!  Probably, as intense and suspenseful and passionate an episode since I’ve been on the show!
Rachael: You’re the writer here, so help us out.  How’s “High Octane Thrill Ride?”
Scott: Yes, you have absolute liberty with our buzzwords!

Well, you heard them – they’re right.  High Octane Thrill Ride – with a quiet excitement that the show has been great at providing.  Eric McCormack has a story that involves Perry Reeves who gets better looking every time I see her.  Rachael and Scott have a beautifully written/acted/lit scene towards the end of next week’s episode that I grinned like an idiot all the way through.  In short, give the show a chance, and celebrate with friends that we’ll get to see more from these two as PERCEPTION continues!