[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “The Virgin Sacrifice,” the season finale of “Midnight, Texas.”]
In a surprisingly romantic season finale, “Midnight, Texas” took a significant departure from the books it’s based on by moving one love scene back behind closed doors. On the show, a demon wants to mate with Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley) because she’s a powerful virgin witch. Her plan is to go through with it but kill the demon in the act, since she’s accidentally killed someone once before when she was in the throes of passion. Her love interest Bobo (Dylan Bruce) has other ideas though, and realizes that if he sleeps with her, she will no longer be a virgin. Therefore, the budding couple move to the next level of intimacy while a war between good and evil is waged outside.
In the novels by Charlaine Harris that inspired the series, Fiji’s plan plays out more dramatically and in a far ickier way. She makes the ultimate sacrifice in a ritual that requires she has sex for the first time outside, in public, and on the ground at the town crossroads in order to defeat the demon. Her friends stand by and watch.
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“For many reasons, there’s nothing we could have shown [on broadcast TV],” showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen said about tweaking the sex scene in an interview with IndieWire. “I think one of the things that I felt is that it’s so much fun when you read that moment in the book, but it was also very passive for everyone else [in the scene]. It makes it really less romantic.”
The show also wanted to shift the focus to its hero Manfred Bernardo (Francois Arnaud), whose season-long journey is solidified when he is the focal point for saving the town, channeling various evil forces that were tethered to pawn shop items and turning them on Fiji’s demon admirer.
“We made the decision early on that Manfred was our way into the town, and that Manfred was the novice who becomes the hero,” said Owusu-Breen. ‘The guy who always runs; he commits. He actually becomes a Midnighter. It was his destiny.
“Also, when you’re thinking about a show with this group of characters, who are this specific and peculiar in this land that’s so isolated, it just felt like the Western is an archetype that made sense to me,” she added. “I love the Western story where the townspeople come together and protect their town. Everyone served their role, whether it was in the battle or in protecting each other’s lives.”
Midnighters in Love
In the end, this strange little world populated by white supremacists, bloodthirsty vampires, and demons around every corner ended its season as it began: with a message of optimism, love and community. In fact, beyond the hookup between Fiji and Bobo, “Midnight, Texas” celebrated three other couples in the finale, and Lem (Peter Mensah) and Olivia’s (Arielle Kebbel) romance even resulted in marriage.
As noted when the show first began, NBC used colorblind casting for most of its roles, although the character Bobo had to be played by a white man because he hailed from a white supremacist family. This casting process race-bended two main characters as black who were written as white, and this resulted in two interracial romances on the show: Fiji is a black witch who’s with white human male Bobo, while Lem is a black vampire partnered with white human woman Olivia. Both of those romances are presented as no big deal on the show, and are never referred to in terms of differences. But the relationship between Joe (Jason Lewis) and his husband Chuy (Bernardo Saracen) is a different matter.
In the books, the two are fallen angels who have a relationship that spans millennia. On the show, viewers are clued into Joe’s angel status from the first episode when he sprouts wings and flies. But Chuy never does, and mystery surrounds his character until near the end of the season, when it’s revealed that he’s actually a demon… but a nice one who just wants to live an uncomplicated life with his true love Joe. Even in the world of “Midnight, Texas,” a romance between an angel and demon is new territory, and the couple faces persecution from another angel who wants to exterminate all demons.
“With television, you need a little more conflict and incident [than in the books],” said Owusu-Breen. “As we began to break the stories, what became very clear is this tenderness between this couple and this fundamental love and it became like, ‘Okay, how can they serve as an example to the other couples of the ultimate obstacle?’ When someone in the room pitched, ‘Well, what if Chuy is a demon?’ The story suddenly fell into place. Then their love story became such a lovely example.”
The Twitter Love
Such “love is love” messaging is actually one of the reasons why the show is so appealing to its devoted fans. “Midnight, Texas” may deliver some creepy scares, but in the end, good triumphs over evil, and love is rewarded. This tiny Texas town is a safe haven on television. It’s basically the Hallmark Channel or “The Great British Baking Show” for the supernatural set.
Owusu-Breen has found this positivity and love reflected online with social media. Each Monday, she gets together with whoever from the show is available in Los Angeles and live-tweets while the show airs. Various groups of fans have been vocal about their love for the show, and it even inspired the #TexasTea hashtag for Black Twitter.
“The show itself kind of became the truth of the whole production,” she said. “There was a kindness at the center of it. We watch the show and we talk to fans. Then they found each other. It feels like this spirit is kind of contagious.
“There’s a general discord in the world, so much hostility and so much anger and rage. It’s so easy to get mired in that that you forget that there’s also a way to look at this world,” she continued. “There’s been just this loveliness in finding people who are positive, who want to fight for diversity, who believe that this country is made up of all sorts of people who work together well for the betterment of all. That is the story of the show and that’s the story of the production… I kind of feel like the experience has given me faith in Twitter, which I never thought I’d say.”
The Question of Season 2
Although the finale wrapped up all the loose ends from the season, it also introduced a new element: A company has bought the town’s old hotel and is going to renovate it to make Midnight a tourist destination. This is similar to the plot of the second book in Harris’ series, and thus sets up the show for a second season, if NBC grants it one.
“I know what [Season 2] is and it’s been cued up in multiple ways, whether it’s with Madonna (Kellee Stewart), whether it’s with Olivia and the effects of drinking vampire blood, or Manfred and having taken in the demons, and then who is behind the building of the motel. That’s a whole other story. So I kind of have an idea, especially with Charlaine’s second book as a guide — what that story can be and what are the character arcs that will advance the story of Midnight, Texas… and the town on the veil to hell as a whole. Whether or not we get that, I still think the finale is satisfying and fun.”
For fans of the series’ talking cat Mr. Snuggly (voiced by Joe Smith), she also joked, “The beginning, middle, and end [of Season 2] is Mr. Snuggly. I do think there’s something amusing to me just in the future about how he doesn’t want to be here anymore. I think there’s a story to be told about how Mr. Snuggly found his purpose with Mildred. The way he talks about his family in the books, there’s a lot to explore with him. [But] he is one of our more expensive characters.”
“Midnight, Texas” is currently available to stream on Hulu and NBC On Demand.