In episode 3 of Treadstone, we travel to India – and also learn that no two Cicadas are alike. This week, we talked to Treadstone co-executive producer Dave Kalstein about the biggest surprises in “The Berlin Proposal,” including the introduction of Nira, the next move for Tara, and what motivates Soyun.
What stands out to you as the biggest surprise from Episode 3?
Shooting in India (Dharmsala and Delhi) were huge surprises for me as a writer. Most other series would either try to fake India on a backlot -- or simply set this storyline somewhere more accessible -- but that’s not Treadstone. We were committed to bringing audiences into environments they’d never seen before and really using those locations as part of the story. We avoided “postcard” settings in favor of places and action that felt more real, raw, and undiscovered. Being welcomed by the locals and allowed access to sacred sites like a Buddhist monastery during an actual religious ceremony was something I’ll never forget.
One of the most memorable moments of the episode comes when Edwards and Dr. Wells attempt to break into Haynes’ buried memories using hypnosis. What can you share about the backstory and reasoning behind this interrogation?
First of all, Patrick Fugit’s performance as Haynes blew everyone away. Patrick’s intensity and commitment to a role that was so different from his iconic screen debut in Almost Famous was inspiring to everyone.
In terms of the interrogation, something Ben Smith and I discussed frequently was how the Cicadas weren’t just brainwashed assassins -- they're human beings who made the choice to volunteer for this CIA program. It was a patriotic choice that (in Haynes’s case) had terrible results. The Treadstone program was about conditioning human behavior but it was important for us to show that there is still a person in there, someone who feels love and has emotional connections that the training has suppressed. Hypnosis is a method of activating the subconscious. But as you see in this interrogation, accessing the subconscious isn’t the same thing as controlling it. No two Cicadas are alike. In Haynes’s case, there’s always a monster lurking -- be careful how deep you pry.
We meet a new character named Nira Patel in a shocking scene in India. Who is this woman and how is she connected to the rest of our story?
Without giving away too many details, Nira is an example of a Cicada who is operating at optimum capacity. Unlike the others we’ve met thus far like Doug or Soyun, Nira knows exactly who she is and what she’s capable of doing. She is on mission and is fully empowered by her skill sets -- which means she’s carrying out orders and following chain-of-command, just like Treadstone trained her to do. As the season continues, more will be revealed about who she’s working for and why. But for now, trust me when I say that whomever Nira crosses paths with is in for a very bad day.
What do we learn in this episode about where Tara is headed to next, and why?
We learn that Tara is headed to Ghana, of all places! There’s someone out there that’s a figure from her past -- an extremely important figure -- who could also help her track down the truth about Stiletto Six. A trip to Africa is a long way to go, but unlike Matt Edwards, Tara is a normal person without CIA connections and access to a crisis suite. She’s a hard-nosed journalist who thrives on face-to-face energy with her sources. And she’s got a fearless inner drive that’s taken her into dangerous places with dangerous people -- war zones, arms dealers -- her whole adult life. The question Tara must answer in Ghana isn’t how much she’s willing to risk herself… it’s how much she’s willing to put those around her at risk, too.
Soyun is finding herself pulled in a number of different directions -- give us some insight into her thought process and motivations as she finds herself increasingly backed into a corner.
Right now, Soyun is in survival mode. She knows she’s got secret talents that she can’t quite comprehend, she’s killed a high-ranking military general, and as a result her family is at risk. Soyun’s backed into a corner because she’s trying to be all things to all people: a wife, a mother, a spy… and unless she figures out a way to regain control and start making decisions for herself, she’s going to break. How long can she keep taking orders from the men in her life? Like many strong people, Soyun just might need to be pushed far beyond the limits of what she thought was possible in order to start making changes. The question is whether she’ll survive long enough to make the shift from prey to predator.
The first three episodes of Treadstone are streaming on USANetwork.com and the USA App!