When I first connected with Madison Walsh and Michael Musi, it was to chat about Season 1 of Something Undone.
The CBC Gem series was filmed during the first wave of COVID-19, meaning a stripped-down tale of Jo (Walsh), a foley artist and her partner, Farid (Musi), who are putting the finishing touches on a true-crime podcast about the murder of the Chaffey family. While Farid was in Newfoundland chasing down leads on the case, Jo was sequestered in her late mother’s home in Ontario, sorting through her things while working on the podcast. Season 1 of Something Undone is a psychological scare-fest full of odd sounds and intense feelings of loss and isolation.
Now, in Season 2, we get Farid’s side of the story. With production expanding to include guest cast and on-location filming, Something Undone goes all-in on the new six instalments. In Episode 1, we catch up with Farid, who is in Briddus, Newfoundland, investigating the Chaffey murders. There he uncovers shocking truths about the case, persevering despite threats from townsfolk and Jo’s stresses in Ontario. With an all-star cast consisting of Mary Walsh, Nicole Power, Shaun Majumder, Shawn Doyle and Tom Power, and directed by Hannah Cheesman, Something Undone is simply fabulous.
We spoke to Madison Walsh and Michael Musi about the second season.
Had you planned at telling Farid’s side of the story in Season 2?
Michael Musi: No. I know that when we did Season 1, we never thought really much past that while we were in production. But I do remember at some point while shooting, we said, ‘Is this good? Is this special?’ We couldn’t tell if we were onto something and then we started, while shooting, talking about other ideas. And I remember I said something like, ‘It’d be really cool to see what Farid is doing.’
And then CBC said, ‘Have you guys thought about Season 2?’ And said, ‘Of course, we’ve thought about it.’ We never dreamed the show would live on when we were creating the first season, but after winning an award over the summer we started secretly hoping they’d be interested in more.
Madison Walsh: So they came to us and they said, ‘Hey, if we did a Season 2, can you get started now?’ And we just smiled and said, ‘Yeah, for sure.’ And our producers obviously screamed and they got going. Tricky thing was, I was shooting a horror film in Calgary called Dark Nature and Mike was in Toronto but we weren’t going to pass this up so we ended up writing it almost entirely over the phone.
MM: We wrote the first draft of all six episodes of Season 2 over Zoom. And then I flew out to Calgary and we had about four days of eating and of finessing the scripts and interviewing directors.
MW: When we were writing Season 1, it was really important for us to flesh out what was happening to Farid on the other side even though it didn’t really play a huge storyline, it was important that it tracked. So not only were we writing the mystery of what happened in the house, but we also had to design what happened to the Chaffey’s so that was already kind of done, which was really helpful, and then it all came together. Even though we really loved what organically came of Season 1, that it was a psychological horror-thriller, we thought, ‘OK, let’s try not, with this short amount of time, to recreate the same kind of thing.’ Let’s give ourselves the flexible freedom to make this more of a detective mystery, more of noir. That freedom allowed us to work quickly rather than really trying to risk doing something bad that we had gotten right the first time.
And, unlike Season 1, you were juggling location shoots and other actors.
MM: Season 2 was really, really tricky. We had a ton of locations. We had a ton of actors. It was so much bigger. And we had the same time and we had a bigger budget, but it was nowhere near as much as we needed to feel really comfy. We really stretched ourselves out thin.
MW: But what really helped in Newfoundland was, miraculously, our second AD in Toronto, Liz, is actually from Petty Harbour, which was the tiny town that we chose, we had gone and scouted and found this amazing little town that was perfect for it. And it just so happened she was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m from there.’ So we flew her out and then we got together a small Newfoundland crew.
And also working with three hours of daylight in Newfoundland at the time. It was freezing. All the locals kept apologizing. They were like, ‘It’s never this cold.’ Yeah, it was wild.
Looking at the cast, Shawn Doyle, Nicole Power, Mary Walsh and Shaun Majumder. How did you land all of this talent?
MM: When we went into this, we said, ‘We keep shooting for the stars on so many different levels on this and things have been working out for us, we’re going to get the best Newfoundland actors out there.’ That was our dream list and everyone said yes. Nicole Power had no choice, she’s one of our best friends, but Shaun Majumder, Shawn Doyle, Mary Walsh, Tom Power, everyone said, ‘Absolutely.’ It was cuckoo.
MW: I think they are A), really great actors who I think are doing things not for the money but for the time. But also maybe part of it was because they’re Newfoundlanders who just are, ‘Why not?’ people. They’re so hospitable and so wonderful and so easygoing; they were OK to work on a small set, small budget, for one day. We tried to write each person a character that even though they were on screen for just a short amount of time, was meaningful. They all were ready to play and it was intense. Our days were really fast. It was hard for our director, Hannah Cheesman, to tell Mary Walsh, ‘I’m sorry, you get two takes.’ Which she didn’t need.
She aced it right off the bat. They had to come in and work on these sets where we were getting two giant scenes done in half a day. And it was really stressful. After we finish, every time we finish a shoot, when we’re in it, we’re like, ‘What are we doing? Why are we doing this?’ And then when you’re done and it comes together in some miracle way and you get to work with somebody like Mary Walsh, you say, ‘Oh God, I could do this forever.’
In the first season, the focus is on Jo. It’s different in Season 2. Michael, what was it like doing the heavy lifting when it came to the acting this time?
MM: It was really scary stepping into it because I got so comfortable with Maddie having to do it. And I remember a week before I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ I felt like, ‘Yeah, this is a horrible decision. I’m going to let people down.’ Season 1 was so good and I just started feeling really insecure about it. But when you have these incredible actors that you get to act with they just make you feel so comfortable.
Are you working on Season 3? And if so, can you give any details?
MM: I don’t think we can give you story details, but what we can say is that we don’t have a third season green-lit, but we definitely want to be prepared if that happens. We can certainly say that it would be a continuation of the story so we’re not going back in time. It would be after all this happened. It would be in a completely different part of Canada and it would be Jo and Farid together.
MW: Our goal from the beginning, we said it as a joke because obviously, we were like, ‘We’re not getting a Season 3,’ just like we thought we weren’t going to get a Season 2. Anything can happen, but we said, ‘We’re setting it in summer and it’s the Sunshine Coast.’ A setting so uniquely Canadian and I think it would be the perfect place for Farid and Jo to go to get better. But meanwhile, things are only going to get worse.
Watch Season 1 and 2 of Something Undone on CBC Gem now.
Images courtesy of the producers.