*When EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with “Outsiders” stars Christina Jackson and Kyle Gallner last month during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, we reflected on where their onscreen relationship left off last season, and what viewers can expect from Hasil and Sally-Ann this season.
“Outsiders” centers on the Farrells, a family who have lived by their own laws and traditions in rural Kentucky for more than 200 years — outside of society. Now, in the rugged, mysterious hills of modern-day Appalachia, there’s a battle brewing between those trying to take the Farrells’ land and key family members who vow to protect their home and defend their way of life, no matter the cost.
Season 2 kicked off Jan. 24, and the struggle for power and control continues as the conflict between the clan and the town escalates with the Farrells becoming more isolated than ever before.
“It picks up exactly where season one left off — Sally-Ann’s been discovered on the mountain and Hasil is up with his family, and they’re both trying to figure out what they need to do and put their lives back together,” Gallner said of this new season.
“What’s more likely, her going up to the mountain or him coming down to the town indefinitely?,” said Jackson.
“It’s a big sacrifice,” Gallner noted of their on-screen dynamic, with Jackson adding, “Because whoever’s giving up is giving up a lifestyle. It’s literally giving up everything that you’ve ever known.”
“He would also probably be disowned by his family. If he were to choose this officially, there’s a chance that they won’t let her up and not be allowed back and forth. It’s a huge sacrifice,” Gallner said.
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“I think that season two is definitely a culmination of how could we have ever thought this was going to work,” Jackson said, with Gallner agreeing that this season, Hasil and Sally-Ann are “forced to ask themselves that question.”
The uneasy truce that had generally existed between the townspeople and the Farrell clan came to an end last season as Big Coal interests headed up the mountain and Hasil had to choose his family over love at the end of season one. When asked if he regrets that decision, Gallner replied: “I don’t think he’s even had time to really think about that yet. I think right now his choice was his choice and he’s still dealing with that. He’s still dealing with the family that needs him.”
He continued: “He’s obviously thinking about Sally-Ann but I don’t think he can really put his focus on that yet because I think he does stand firm by his decision of his family needs him because I don’t know if he can totally keep it together if he knew that everybody was still in trouble. So he’s really torn right now.”
“I think with Sally-Ann, she grew up hearing about the Farrells and how bad they are and I think that once meeting Hasil and seeing the earnest…. wanting to get to know her — from the minute they have that conversation and she smiles at him, she was his,” Jackson explained. “So when you have somebody who goes to the lengths to be with somebody like Hasil does for Sally-Ann, how could you not wanna be with him and wanna make this the best thing that it could possibly be. I think that’s what’s so different between Hasil and Sally-Ann, is that usually the girl is the one that’s fawning over the guy but it’s the other way around.”
When we caught up with the actors last year, Gallner noted that Hasil’s #1 priority is to help the rebels figure out how to stop Big Foster. So what type of future is he hoping to have with Sally-Ann at this point?
“I don’t think he knows,” Gallner said. “Right now, I don’t think he’s expecting a future. I think he knows what he has to do up on the mountain and he can’t really tackle or figure out this Sally-Ann thing until he’s in a place where he feels the family is a little more stable or doesn’t really need him as much because in the opening of season 2, Gwen comes to him and pretty much (says) I need your help.
He’s being given responsibility and these jobs and things to do that he was not given before. So I think that puts even more pressure on him because it really does feel like the family is counting on him even more than before. So as far as the Sally-Ann thing goes, I think his main concern is just, is she safe, is she okay? I think he’s really just torn.”
The stakes are also high this season for Sally-Ann and her controlling brother, James.
“James is the only family that she has, and you have to assume that to some level he raised her, and I don’t think James is a nice guy,” said Jackson. “I don’t think that he’s this person that you’re routing for, but I do think that he loves Sally-Ann and cares for her the best way he probably knows how, and it’s probably inadequate and he could do a better job at it but you also have to look at the character of James, who’s out of work but as a result of that frustration from being out of work and drinking comes the abuse. So there’s all of these other layers to him that you can see why Sally-Ann would hold on to her brother because she knows him in a way that nobody else does,” she explained.
“But definitely in season two the stakes are raised and she’s kinda at a point now where she can’t just make decisions for her and James anymore, and he puts her in a place where if this is what you’re going to go do, then don’t come back. So now what do I do? She’s kinda right back where she left off in season one.”
Viewers have certainly come to appreciate how Sally-Ann and Hasil’s relationship is playing out without their race being a boundary or even a reoccurring discussion on the series.
“It’s never ever been about race,” Gallner stressed. “We’re a family that’s lived up here for two hundred years and we’ve survived because there’s rules. And if we start breaking those rules our structure starts to break… things start to fall apart. So it’s never been she’s black, we’re white, she’s gotta get out of here. It’s always just been about she is not one of us and it puts us a risk. Having her up here puts us in danger. And that’s really all it’s come down to. The rules are, no outsiders — she can’t be here.”
“I also think, on the subject of James, it’s more so about Sally-Ann being involved with a Farrell than it is with a white man. I feel like when you have a people like the Farrells, nobody wants their sister to date them,” Jackson added. “I think there’s a conscious effort by the writers to not make it about race, which is quite unexpected at a time like this because there are so many interracial relationships on television and it’s always issue, or it’s always a talking point. On Sally-Ann’s part it’s very much, I’m black and you’re weird.”
Tune in to “Outsiders” on WGN Tuesdays at 9/8 c.