Touch kicks off its oft-delayed second season Friday, with a two-hour premiere that provides answers to a few questions, and raises a slew of others. The action-packed premiere, which airs at 9/8c on Fox, kicks off a season that promises higher stakes and added danger for Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland) and his son Jake (David Mazouz), according to showrunners Tim Kring and Carol Barbee.
It's been nearly 17 months since the show went off the air, so let's first recap: Though Jake doesn't speak, he has the ability to notice random connections among numbers and has identified something known as the Amelia Sequence, which brings seemingly unconnected people together. At the end of Season 1, Martin discovers that a mysterious corporation called Aster Corps is trying to track Jake down for reasons unknown. In the season finale, Martin kidnaps Jake from a board-and-care facility where he's being cared for and goes on the run with him, winding up in Los Angeles. There, the two connect with a woman named Lucy (Mario Bello), who's searching for her daughter Amelia, the namesake of the sequence who possesses the same gift as Jake and who is connected to him in an as-yet-undetermined way.
While the first season mostly hinged on the warm, feel-good aspects of interconnectivity, Kring and Barbee say this season will adopt a darker tone and explore what might happen if knowledge of those connections falls into the wrong hands. So, in addition to a literal change in location (moving the setting from New York to Los Angeles), what can fans expect from the show's sophomore season? Kring and Barbee teased the major developments in a recent interview with TVGuide.com. Warning: Mild spoilers ahead!
1. More Information About Amelia and Aster CorpsThe premiere picks up on the Santa Monica Pier, where Martin and Jake first meet Lucy, and it becomes clear that Jake has led his father to Los Angeles for one reason and one reason only. "This season is about finding Amelia," Kring tells TVGuide.com. "The show is more distilled this year, down to the central story of finding Amelia and trying to deal with the threats that are out there for people like Jake and Amelia. ... This is very much what the arc of the season is about, digging into the mythology of that, who's after them and why." Saxon Sharbino has joined the cast this season to play Amelia, whom viewers meet in the first hour of the premiere. As for Aster Corps, the season premiere reveals more about the company than viewers learned throughout the entire first season, and finally starts to hint at why its executives are so obsessed with the Amelia Sequence.
Page 2 of 4 - 2. "Mama Bear" Maria BelloThough Bello's character, Lucy, is only introduced in the final seconds of Season 1, she factors prominently in the first part of Season 2. Still, while she and Martin share an end goal of finding Amelia, their reasons for doing so are entirely different - which leads to tension between the two. "[Martin] obviously has the motivation of, 'I need to find out who is after Amelia, because if I find out who's after Amelia, I'll be able to protect my son from these people,'" Kring notes. "[Lucy's] is only primal. She is all id. She's all about surviving. It's mother bear. She's the mother that lifts the car to get her kid out."
Kring and Barbee confirmed reports that Bello will be leaving the series after this season, though both say the parting of ways was amicable. "I think we had always intended that she was sort of a one-season character because this season is about finding Amelia, and we knew we were going to find Amelia," Barbee says. "So we knew that and she knew that." Adds Kring: "The story really dictated that she burns very bright and then she's gone. When we started realizing that her character was going to exit the show, we came to her and pitched this and she was like, 'Cool. Let's do it.'"
3. New ThreatsSeason 2 introduces two new antagonists, each representing a threat to Amelia and Jake. On the Aster Corps side, we meet Calvin Norburg (Lukas Haas), a numbers genius who has a direct connection to Amelia and who has arrived at the Amelia Sequence in a completely mathematical way (and earned billions of dollars for Aster Corps in the process). But, as soon as Calvin realizes the significance of the sequence, he understands the danger of handing it over to the corporation. Though the premiere hints that the character is an antagonist, his motivations remain unclear. "He's not just a straight-up bad guy," Barbee cautions. "He has reasons for doing what he's doing, very emotional reasons for doing what he's doing. But because he has such a strong personal drive to complete this Amelia Sequence, he's doing some fairly ruthless things to get that done."
The second threat comes in the form of Guillermo Ortiz (Said Taghmaoui), a dangerously pious man who is seeking out the 36 people around the world who have Jake and Amelia's gift one by one to kill them. Unlike Calvin, however, there's no doubt that Guillermo is a character to be feared - as evidenced by his violent, ruthless behavior in the premiere. "He's driven by an almost religious zeal," Kring explains. "In the first season we explored the kind of upside of interconnectivity. This sort of explores a bit of the downside of it. ... He represents that very dark side of, what if you could actually find the connections in all things, and instead of doing something positive with it, you decided to kill somebody?"
Page 3 of 4 - 4. More Action/Higher StakesIn Season 2, Martin's in full protection mode, willing to do anything to keep his son safe from very real threats. The new villains, along with the central storyline of the search for Amelia, contribute to the show feeling more like an action series now, at least based on the premiere. "One of the things I love about the second season is how we have these three stories that are all sort of barreling towards one another through the whole season," Barbee says. "And when they intersect, the stakes are really, really high and everything comes to a head." The action has ramped up so much that viewers might occasionally think they've accidently stumbled onto an episode of Sutherland's previous television gig, 24. Jack Bauer fans will undoubtedly appreciate seeing Martin - whom Kring says has transformed into an "everyman action hero" - step up his game in Season 2.
5. Jake CommunicatingThe mute, typically unresponsive Jake is slowly developing other ways of communicating, as seen at the end of Season 1, when he holds his father's hand. As the second season progresses, Kring and Barbee promise that the character will become more communicative. "I think the audience is going to find they're not quite as frustrated with the inability for Martin and Jake to communicate with one another," Kring promises. "That definitely gets easier." Also contributing to his development are the connections Jake forms with Lucy, who acts as a mother figure to him, and Amelia. "Jake is evolving and the closer proximity he is to Amelia, he evolves even more," Barbee says. "They have some very interesting ways of communicating."
6. Quick AnswersThough Kring and Barbee both say that Martin, Jake and Lucy's search for Amelia will contain no shortage of "so close, yet so far away" moments and will encompass the first several episodes, they promise it will be resolved in a timely manner. "There are near-misses," Kring says. "It's a needle in a haystack." The end of the premiere finds them closer than ever - at least physically speaking. In addition to bringing Jake and Amelia together, the showrunners say viewers will also find out the significance of the numbers in the Amelia Sequence. "There is a kind of storytelling that you'll notice that we do on this show," says Kring, "where the intention is to not stall a lot of story, [but] to really be very aggressive with the storytelling. In other words, you put 50 pounds of story into a 10-pound bag. Just really move it on, so that the audience doesn't feel like they're just doing 'the art of the stall' all the time."