Almost Paradise showcased Kai’s backstory in Rise of the Kalangay, and Christian Kane weighs in on the Kai and Alex dynamic and their future.
This week Almost Paradise viewers saw a different side of several characters in the TV crime drama. While Alex Walker got jealous of a hotshot detective returning to Cebu, Kai Mendoza was forced to face her tragic past, including the murder of her mother.
“Rise of the Kalangay” was an emotional episode, with a lot to unpack for both Kai and Alex. In Precinct TV’s latest postmortem with Christian Kane, we discuss what was going on in Alex’s head during this episode, Samantha Richelle’s fantastic performance, and what’s next (or not) in Alex and Kai’s relationship.
Learn more about “Rise of the Kalangay” in our interview with Christian below, then tune in on Monday at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT to WGN America for Episode 7! If you haven’t seen Almost Paradise yet, watch episodes on Amazon Video or the Electric Now app.
Precinct TV: The beginning of this episode shows a jealous, almost petulant Alex. How was it for you to play yet one more side of him?
Christian Kane: It wasn’t that fun for me. I had a huge problem with it, because I was like, wait a minute. We know Alex likes Kai. We know Kai does not like Alex. And that was very important for me and Sam; we talked about that off the bat.
I said throughout the season, I’m probably going to have some stuff where I pine for you. Because she’s a beautiful girl. But you can’t play that back. You have to not like my character. We established that really early on. I thought it was a little early for him to be jealous, and be pining for her that much. And I kind of fought against it, to be honest with you.
But now that I’ve seen the first five episodes, I think it’s time for people to start seeing that he likes her. Now I’m like no, that does make sense. It’s time for people to see, for the fans to see, the fact that he does like her. Because he’s been so standoffish for so long. It was an awakening for me as well. It wasn’t that much fun to film. It was fun to watch. (laughs)
PTV: But there’s another layer to this as well. Almost Paradise establishes that Alex’s jealousy isn’t just personal; there’s a professional level here, too, feeling threatened by Rabara and not solely because he cares about Kai.
CK: That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to show a little professional jealousy. Because Alex is done with the game; he doesn’t want to do this [case]. But when somebody comes in and goes hey, I’ve got bigger nuts than you, he’s like well, we’ll see about that.
Alex is very much attracted to Kai. How could you not be? So is everyone else in the world, at this point. But it’s a professional thing. I don’t think Kai would let herself do that. Me and Sam had a huge conversation, and I talked to Dean Devlin about this quite a bit. It’s Moonlighting; it’s Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. The fact is, the ratings went way down once they finally hooked up. So we’re keeping that away.
Dean Devlin did such a great job on Leverage by not putting Parker and Hardison together right off the bat, and doing all this other stuff. It was a long time. Hardison pined for her, he longed for her, and when they did finally get together, it was a celebration—instead of just oh, this is how TV’s supposed to go.
I don’t see that happening anytime soon [on Almost Paradise]. There’s too much animosity between the two characters. Alex, all he does is bug her. He’s literally a kid on the playground. He’s pulling her pigtails, and she hates it, and he loves it. He realizes the more he pulls on her pigtails, the more frustrated she gets. And so he gets more attention by pulling her pigtails, instead of telling her that he likes her. I think he’s going to continue to pull her pigtails for a long time.
PTV: Which brings us to their confrontation in the gym, which is also multi-layered. It’s not just a fight; it’s also like a therapy session, or an attempt at one, on his part. How did you two make that scene work so well?
CK: I told everyone on set, and I called Dean, and I said, I’m choreographing this fight. I don’t want anyone else stepping in. I don’t want anyone else to have to do with this fight, at all. I choreographed all the fights on Leverage that had to do with me, and I said, I’m taking this one. So I talked Sam into coming in on a Saturday, which is our only day off. I wanted to choreograph it, and I wanted it to just be me and her.
I said, this is not a fight. This is a dance. And more importantly, this is an acting scene. It’s very important what we say. So instead of just beating each other up, let’s take our time and find out what we want to do with the words. We walked it through with the words, and then we put the fight together.
Wth what I do, I’m not in a ring. I’m not in MMA, I’m not in the UFC. I do a dance. It looks really good. It looks rough and brutal, but it’s just a dance. And I knew that she had a dance background. So I was like, let’s do this dance. And I said, the most important things are the words we’re saying, not the punches we’re throwing. The punches we’re throwing are with words. And so that’s what we did.
She’s game for anything, and that’s why I really loved working with her. Her and the whole cast. Any time that I said we need to do something on our day off, we need to go over this, they were all game for it. Now, there might’ve been some alcohol involved, but that’s how you entice people. (laughs) And it was really good. And that’s why the series works, is because even when we were not working, we were working.
PTV: Another aspect of the episode that stands out are the scenes between Ernesto (Arthur Acuña) and Ocampo (Nonie Buencamino). It’s like Almost Paradise showing that there’s this tension or something missing in the police department, and then Alex comes in and fills that void.
CK: Instead of the seriousness of work, when Alex shows up, they’ve got to worry about Alex. It takes their mind off of the monotony that is police work, especially in that department, and so it’s kind of fun to see him come in there and mix stuff up. I think, in a way, he’s lightened up what’s going on.
Ocampo is a good cop; he’s just very political. He’s trying to run a race right now. Nonie’s an unbelievable actor, and it’s so fun to watch him and see what he’s doing. But he’s still a good cop, and it’s really fun to see that. And it was really fun to see Art’s character shine in this one. Ernesto’s very much known for [being the] by-the-book guy; it was fun to see him swing for the fences.
PTV: Ernesto and Alex have that very awkward interview with the murder suspect’s widow. Was Almost Paradise intentionally making that funny, or did Alex just blow the interview that badly?
CK: We were looking for the comedy on that. The script was a serious script when we got it. I was like, we’ve got to find the lightness of it and I said for once, it’s going to be my character that does that. I really wanted Sam’s character Kai to shine, because this was her episode.
And that’s the beauty of this cast—whenever the light is directly on someone else, we all back up and take second fiddle. It’s really important in the show to do that, and not a lot of people will allow themselves to do that. I’ve been fortunate to work with actors that can, but sometimes I’ve worked with actors that can’t. We all do that, and this was Sam’s time to shine.
So I said okay, let’s make the lighter side of this me and Ernesto’s parts for this episode. Usually the darker part is me; Sam’s got the darker part [here], so let’s make this light. It was very important for that girl. I just said, just don’t like me. And she did an amazing job as an actor, but it was very fun.
SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this interview spoils the ending of this Almost Paradise episode. If you haven’t seen Episode 6 yet, watch here and come back when you’ve seen it!
PTV: You’re missing from another scene in this week’s Almost Paradise as well?
CK: I was written into the last scene, where I show up with Sam. And I told the writers no, this is Sam’s time to shine. I don’t want to be in the scene, and I asked to be taken out. And they did, and it was so much more powerful because Sam was sitting there with the widow, instead of me there.
This guy doesn’t want to be here. This guy’s not a cop. He doesn’t want anything to do with being a cop. If you put him in this situation, it looks like he’s coming back, and he’s definitely not coming back to be a cop. And I thought you have to let Sam shine in this situation. But because I’m quote-unquote the lead guy, they always feel like that I have to be in the scene.
You’ll see for the rest of the season, it’s time to let these people shine, because they’re good enough to do it on their own. And that scene was way more powerful [without Alex].
PTV: Equally important is before that, when Alex talks Kai out of murdering Rabara by putting himself out there emotionally and telling her not to become him. What went into that moment, and do you think it’s a turning point in their relationship?
CK: We struggled with that scene for a long time. Dean came in and rewrote the scene, and Dean was having a problem with it too. finally Dean sat down and really studied the scene, and he rewrote it and I felt like well, he’s making it all about Alex. If you’ll notice in that scene, I don’t know if Sam’s character heard what I was saying. She listened to it, but I don’t know if she heard it. It was more almost Alex talking to himself.
And it was a very smart play Dean made, to make it about Alex and say, do you want to become me? Kai, she dislikes Alex so much that it was like if you do this, you’re going to be me—and she was like, there’s no way I’m being you. And I think that did talk her off a ledge.
PTV: She says earlier that the thing she’s angriest about is that Rabara proved Alex right.
CK: I absolutely loved that. When I read it, it was just the greatest thing in the world. The worst thing about this [is] not killing someone, not killing her mom, it’s that it made me right. And that shows the animosity that Kai has towards me, and I think it’s very important.
Which goes back to your earlier question—are they going to become a couple? I don’t think so. I don’t see it. And that’s what’s nice. Nobody wants to watch the grab; they want to see the chase.
PTV: This Almost Paradise episode shot in another unique location, in a cemetery. What’s the most fun place you got to film during this season?
CK: I’ve filmed in cemeteries before, and I always feel bad about filming in cemeteries. There’s an aura. There’s a weight that’s there and I just can’t stand it. These are where people go to rest. We were actually in a real cemetery, and it’s always really tough for me, because it really weighs everyone down, even the crew. I’m pretty happy that we got away with that, in a way that we got our job done, because it does weigh down on that stuff.
But the best place, if I’m honest, was to film at the resort. I’m fortunate. The Lord has blessed me. There are very few people in this world to get to do what I do. Now if you take the one percent of the Screen Actors Guild that actually works, it’s probably one percent of that one percent that gets to film on an Island in a resort. I get to literally wake up in a resort, walk down to the beach, and film something, and that’s an actor’s dream.