Unconventional neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) checked himself into a medical facility to get his paranoid schizophrenia under control in the Season 1 finale of “Perception.” But can a Daniel on meds still be in touch with the unique gift that the FBI calls upon to help them solve complex crimes?
Also, will he be able to pursue a real-life romance with his former doctor, Caroline Newsome (Kelly Rowan), or will he miss his imaginary friendship with Natalie Vincent (also played by Rowan) too much to stay on his meds?
All will be revealed when the second season of “Perception” returns Tuesday night on TNT.
xfinityTV caught up with McCormack and his co-star Rachael Leigh Cook, who plays Kate Moretti, a former student of Daniel’s and now an FBI agent, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for an exclusive interview.
Here are five things they revealed about Season 2 of “Perception”:
No. 1: When the season starts, Daniel is taking his medication, and is on an even keel. In the classroom, Daniel seems too cool for school. As always, his lectures are intriguing and he has his students hanging on his every word. But when Kate comes to him with a new case, things start to unravel — even more so when he seems to have side effects from the prescriptions.
“He absolutely on paper does need to [do the drugs],” McCormack says. “It is a physician-heal-thy-self situation where he does not take his own advice. He would certainly tell anybody else living with schizophrenia to be on their meds. But for him, and for a lot of people living with the disorder, they don’t feel like themselves when they are on drugs. They feel relief for a while and then they miss that sense of who I am. He fights very fiercely for that. We certainly don’t trumpet this is the way to go. For him though, and the series, this is who this guy is. I don’t think he lives on the edge but that is the result of the choice.”
No. 2: Scott Wolf joins the cast in a recurring role this season and his character has a hidden agenda. Wolf plays Donnie Ryan, a charismatic, fast-rising Assistant U.S. Attorney recently transferred back to Chicago from D.C. — and, oh yeah, Kate is his soon-to-be ex-wife.
“His character comes onto the show with something already of a dark reputation,” Cook says. “We spoke in Season 1 about how he really did my character wrong. He slept with my character’s best friend, which as offenses go, is pretty, pretty high on the list.”
No. 3: This season is jam packed with great guest stars, including CCH Pounder, Ray Wise, DJ Qualls, Kevin Weisman and JoBeth Williams.
Pounder will play Dr. Sabina Callen, the therapist assigned to work with Moretti after she is involved in a shooting. Weisman will play Todd Erlich, an AUSA official from the New York office sent to handle the investigation into a shooting that involved Moretti. Wise will play Martin Sullivan, the CEO of Brooksville Chemical, who finds himself at the center of an investigation when his business stands accused of being behind the chemical poisoning of a small town. Qualls plays a co-worker of Kate’s at the FBI, who heads up the tech unit, and Williams comes onboard as Daniel’s mother.
“It is great material and that brings great people,” McCormack says. “It is not necessarily the most famous names in the world, but it brings the great actors. Particularly, because Daniel has these hallucinations, and [those roles] can be the most fun part in the script.”
No. 4: Kelly Rowan is playing dual roles. Natalie Vincent is imaginary; Caroline Newsome is real. Is she going to do both all season? We learned at the end of Season 1 that Natalie was created by Daniel after having seen Caroline once a long time ago at an event, which is why the two women appear identical. Despite never having spoken to her, Daniel created her as the love of his life and named her Natalie.
“Basically, what I loved at the end of Season 1 is what the writers dared to do,” McCormack says. “They took this woman I had been hallucinating about for 25 years and put a real face on her. When I finally meet her, I am faced with: What do you want? The dream or the reality? They look the same, but they are not the same. It is not going to last forever.”
No. 5: This season’s cases have some interesting psychological backgrounds to them. There is a case in which a woman does not recognize her husband and believes he was abducted by aliens; and another which takes place in a small town where there is a collective hysteria happening, with four girls all developing the same symptoms.
For Kate, there is the aforementioned episode in which she shoots someone that sends her to a shrink. “It was scary for me,” Cook says. “Usually, when I shoot bad guys, they don’t shoot back. I didn’t like it when they shot at me.”
“We do a very big two-parter that will end the summer,” McCormack says. “It starts with a military rape and we get very ambitious. There is some amazing footage shot in Afghanistan as the backdrop.”
“Perception” returns for its Season 2 premiere on Tuesday, June 25 at 10/9c on TNT.