Summer Glau has been making a splash on Syfy's Alphas lately as a mechanically talented genius who can build anything, but things are about to get a whole lot bigger in the show's season-two finale, said the actress.
Glau plays Skylar, an Alpha who is great with machines but not so good with people. That includes her relationship with her daughter, Zoe, who is a budding Alpha herself. In the finale, "God's Eye," Skylar joins the Alpha team to try and save the world from Stanton Parish, who is plotting to use one of Skylar's machines to do something very bad.
"She definitely integrates into the team more than she has in the past," said Glau during an conference call with journalists. "Where Skylar left off in this last episode, I think it was a humbling and scary experience for her to realize that she's not always in control and she was taken advantage of and she needed help."
Last week, Skylar was kidnapped by Parish and tricked into building a machine that would enhance abilities in Alphas but kill normal humans.
"That she got that help from the other Alphas is a vulnerable position for her. But I think it's a transition because now she sees that she does need help and that it can be beneficial to her to be a part of a team," said Glau. "And I really, really enjoy, in the finale, you're going to get to see her, very awkwardly at times, become part of a team, which is something that I've been wanting her to do for a while."
The finale is "incredibly surprising and unpredictable," said executive producer Bruce Miller. "It really takes everything that we set up for the year and actually takes it on and pulls it ahead and sets up [for] an amazing season three."
While he's thrilled with the resulting finale, writing it felt like he was "writing the last act to 12 other episodes. You're not really writing an episode. It's hard to find something that holds it together," said Miller. "And having the characters that we have, you really want those character stories to be completed, or at least put away for a few months, until we get to come back to them in a satisfying way."
Miller said he is especially happy to have Glau back for the end of the season. "Getting to see a someone who has played many tough characters, to get to see a different side of that actress, was great. I think it was really one of the coolest relationships in the whole series, was the idea of someone like Skylar trying to raise a child in that dynamic," said Miller.
Glau was thrilled to return to the series for the ending story arc, because Skylar is different from any other she's played.
"One of the most challenging things about Skylar is that she is a mother, but it doesn't come naturally to her. She, in my mind, in the backstory that I've created, she's been on her own for a long time. And she's used to just fending for herself," said Glau. "And then when it comes to her child, she's very conflicted because she has all of these new feelings that she's probably never experienced before about loving something so much more than she loves herself. And caring for something and protecting someone else and making unselfish decisions. And for me as an actor, it just was a very, very fertile story line for me creatively."
But after Firefly, The 4400, The Cape and even playing a Terminator in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, why return to another sci-fi series?
"I've always found in sci-fi that the roles for women are really exciting and dynamic and outside the box. And the finale of Alphas is a perfect example. ... We were sitting and discussing a scene that involved all the girls. ... Bruce was there too," she said.
The girls are Azita Ghanizada, who plays Rachel, Lauren Mennell, who plays Nina, and Erin Way, who plays Kat.
"And I was sitting there looking at the girls, and it was so cool to get to do a scene that involved all of us. We were all four different, and our characters are, I feel, complicated and fleshed out and dynamic, and just it made me realize, 'I'm really happy to be here.' I'm really happy to be in a story that creates this opportunity for all four of us actresses. ... That's why I keep coming back to it. I just, I go for the character that I like."
"Being able to bring Skylar back and being able to have the scene that she's talking about where the women are talking and kind of bringing the human element into what could have just been a big action-fest made it a lot more interesting and also a lot more fun to write" the finale, said Miller.
Whether Skylar survives the finale remains to be seen. But if she does, could we see Glau return next season?
Glau admits she'd like to do more Alphas if she gets the chance. "I love doing TV, and I really like sticking with a character and getting to watch them evolve and contribute to a storyline that continues week after week," she said. "I would be very excited to come back again next season."
That despite the fact that Skylar isn't one of the physical characters she often plays.
"Coming from being a dancer, it was a great way for me to transition into being an actress, where I got to really be expressive through my physical self. And it was just a comfortable way for me to start experimenting with how to get my character across," said Glau.
"I started in Firefly first, and actually the character had a very hard time communicating with the rest of the cast, and so I found it really interesting playing with her physicality. And then, you know, over the years I have been fortunate to get to play a lot of really kick-ass girls," she said.
"It's hard for me. I do get jealous sometimes when I don't get to throw any punches, but it's been a good practice for me, because Skylar's a badass in a different way. So I enjoy it and it's good for me and, who knows, maybe next season she can throw down a little bit. But she always has a good spot on the team because she can build stuff."
In fact, Skylar's talent makes her realize what a good actress she really is, said Glau.
"I can barely program my garage remote. I'm very gadget-challenged. So it's really fun for me when I put on my Skylar clothes and I go on set, I really pretend like I'm in control and like I know what I'm talking about," said Glau. "It's funny. The man who puts together most of my props is named Skylar too. And I spend a lot of time under his supervision and guidance so that he can help me get really comfortable with my inventions so that I can really feel like I have a relationship with them," she said.
"Because they're always amazing, but it doesn't always come naturally to me. I'm always amazed. Like I'm on set and they hand it to me and say, 'So this is what you built.' And then I always take it apart so I know how to put it together, and then we're practicing that over and over again."
"I think kind of being gadgety would take that away from her" character, said Miller. "I think that Summer's natural curiosity allows her to be a better Skylar."
While Glau might not be able to program her garage door opener, she will be doing a Live Tweet on Monday at 8 p.m. ET during the finale. You can follow Glau on Twitter @AlphasSyfy.
Here's a look at the season-two Alphas finale:
Did you like Summer Glau on Alphas this season?