‘Fire Country’: Kevin Alejandro Says Manny’s ‘Searching for Where He Belongs’ With Job Change

TV Shows

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Fire Country Season 2 Episode 2 “Like Breathing Again.”]

“It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Fire Country star Kevin Alejandro admits when it came to directing a scene in the latest episode: His character’s daughter, Gabriela (Stephanie Arcila), took on a dangerous cave rescue.

Gabriela saved the victim and was fine … meaning she can now focus on what her father had to tell her after. Manny said that her mother didn’t abandon them, but rather, he was never there for her. And so he encourages her to invite her to her upcoming wedding to Diego (Rafael De La Fuente).

Below, Alejandro takes us inside directing the episode, talks Manny’s new role at 42, relationships with Gabriela, Bode (Max Thieriot), and Sharon (Diane Farr), and more.

Talk about directing Gabriela’s cave rescue.

Kevin Alejandro: It was an adrenaline rush. I’d never directed anything like that specifically underwater. Stephanie was a genuine rockstar because she did probably 90 percent of her own stunts, swimming and holding her breath. She got trained. We did one day with our stunt team, and then the next day, Stephanie came in and was able to do everything. We were like, let’s just shoot it again. [Laughs] It was awesome. As an actor, I kind of stay inside the head of the character, so it was really interesting to direct her, not only as a director, but also in my head as my daughter. It really helped to kind of feed that adrenaline and the heartbeat and the danger for me, and I thought it turned out just absolutely beautiful. Our show hasn’t seen underwater like that, so I’m really stoked.

Then you have Manny as both the concerned father and the firefighter who’s getting orders from Vince (Billy Burke) when she’s not coming back up. Talk about playing and directing yourself for that.

It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, two people doing something. I got lucky this season because my wife [Leslie Alejandro], who’s also my directing partner, was approved to shadow direct me, so I had her by my side. Last year when I directed, I had to run back and forth between the monitors to check to make sure that we had everything, but it was really comforting to know that she was there on the other side of the monitor giving me notes, and we prepped the whole thing together, so it worked out a lot smoother than people would anticipate. I trust her, we finish each other’s sentences. It was good to have her by my side. So it’s definitely a Los Alejandros perspective, if you will, when it comes to me being onscreen.

Stephanie Arcila as Gabriela Perez — 'Fire Country' Season 2 Episode 2

Sergei Bachlakov/CBS

Manny seems to be adjusting to being at 42 and not in command pretty well. How is he feeling about that transition?

I think he’s still struggling with how to make it work. He has to catch himself every now and again where a question will be asked to the Cap, and then he’ll be like, “I have an answer, but I’m not Captain anymore.” So he’s having to catch himself and step back and remember what it’s like to just take orders. I think it’s really good for his character to step back and analyze his choices and how to acclimate within the world of a team as opposed to trying to lead it. And I’m really interested to see how much further they take it throughout the season. Manny is flawed, and that’s what I love about him, so watching him trying to decipher which line to walk has been pretty awesome.

Manny encourages Gabriela to invite her mother to the wedding. Things seem to be going well for him. But is he in the right state of mind to see his ex now, if she does show up?

We’ll see. I think it might be jarring in any situation to see your ex, especially in real life if you haven’t seen each other for years. So I’m certain that if they introduce her character, there’s definitely going to be flashes to what was good and flashes to what was bad in his mind. They’re kind of secretive with the amount of information they give us, I think so that we’re pleasantly surprised as well when it comes through. So I don’t know that Manny will be 100 percent strong enough to handle seeing her again, but I’m looking forward to seeing what’s down on paper and how those past emotions are going to affect his future choices.

I want a Perez family reunion. I feel like that would just be so good.

Me too.

Will what Manny told Gabriela affect their relationship?

No, I think the beauty of the relationship that’s been created between Gabriela and Manny is it’s probably the strongest relationship that a father-daughter could have. I know that she knows that Manny has nothing but her best and strongest intentions for her. So I think there will be a moment of her self-doubt; however, she trusts her dad. And whether it’s the right choice or the wrong choice, I think she’s going to listen to it and hope for the best. Then whatever happens later, Manny will also be faced with, should I or should I not have told her to invite her mom?

How is Manny and Bode’s relationship? We saw Bode’s reaction when Manny visited him in prison. He was not happy.

He was not happy. There’s definitely a respect still between the two guys. I think Bode’s decision not to want to see Manny could be based on Bode’s own self-doubt and questioning his choices. And the last thing he needs in a place like prison is this little “angel on his shoulder” trying to spout wisdom when really what he’s trying to do is survive in an environment like that. I’m looking forward to seeing how that affects their relationship outside of that.

Right now, we’re separated. We all have different worlds now. We all have different responsibilities, different relationships that are popping up that we’re trying to deal with, but I know that—and the audience may not see this right off the bat until they watch it two or three times—whenever Bode and Manny are around, there’s always a connection. There’s always a mutual sort of respect, even if it’s just through the eyes. If we’re passing each other, there’s never, I’m just going to walk past you. They’re always some sort of sign, some sort of signal that, “Hey, I still got your back,” from both perspectives.

When it comes to Gabriela/Diego and Gabriela/Bode, does Manny have a preference beyond what makes his daughter happy?

Manny thrives on his daughter’s happiness, so he’s going to support whatever decisions she makes as long as he genuinely feels a sense of truth behind what she’s feeling. There’s no rationalizations, there’s no excuses for moving one direction or another, but I think he’s very keen to that, to her sensitivities, to her emotions, which is why they listen to each other. But I think if Manny had to choose, at the end of Season 1, Manny was already at the point in his sort of acceptance of who Bode is and seeing similarities between he and Manny that he was ready to call him mijo, to embrace him. If he had a choice, I think Bode would be the perfect son-in-law.

Eve (Jules Latimer) has a very different way of commanding at Three Rock. What does Manny think of her approach?

Manny’s very prideful in the way that he handles his responsibilities because it’s the only way he knows how to do things, so it’s jarring to him. [He thinks], “I wouldn’t do it that way.” But he has to force himself to step back to watch a new strategy. To start off with, it’s a real struggle for Manny to watch someone else run his department, to do what he did and in a different way, to change things. It’s a real puzzle for him to try to piece together that there are other perspectives that could work. And I think that’s a really good challenge that he’s faced with this season.

Is his goal to get back to Three Rock, or will he find himself more settled at 42?

I think at this point, because his world has been sort of ripped away, he is searching for where he belongs, and I think it’s given him the opportunity to really question, is that where he belongs? Is that what he wants or does he want this? Does he want to advance? He’s juggling a bunch of balls of goals right now, and I think he’s trying to figure out where he wants to be. Of course, he is in love with Three Rock. Three Rock is what changed his life, is what gave him another opportunity to reclaim his position in society for people other than himself. So they’re doing a really beautiful job of watching him try to balance that and trying to find exactly what and who he is and how he wants his trajectory to go.

Kevin Alejandro as Manny Perez and Diane Farr as Sharon Leone — 'Fire Country' Season 2 Episode 2

Sergei Bachlakov/CBS

This episode ends with Liam (Jason O’Mara) approaching Sharon, and clearly there’s something going on there. The photos for the next week’s episode show that he’s at a call with a fire, and we are seeing Manny and Sharon working together, which I love, so is Manny going to get a front row seat to all that drama?

I mean, probably. [Laughs] I’m glad that you said you love seeing Sharon and Manny working together because both Diane and I love working together and we’re really establishing subtextually between us—and I think the writers and our team are starting to notice—that there is real chemistry and a real dynamic between the two. But we’re trying to set up that we are homies, that we’re both parents, we both are flawed, we both have these things to deal with, and somehow our energy connects in a way of, “I got your back and I feel comfortable talking to you,” and we have a really nice rapport and I’m really loving that they’re exploring that a little bit more.

What else is coming up for Manny?

I keep getting hints that he has a really unexpected arc that’s coming up, and I’m not sure if that deals with the mom or Three Rock or what, but they’re like, “Just get ready. You’re going to go on a big emotional arc.”

Fire Country, Fridays, 9/8c, CBS

Articles You May Like

Elsbeth Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Ball Girl
Not Dead Yet – Episode 2.10 – Not A Ghost Yet (Season Finale) – Promotional Photos
Whimsical ‘Door Prize’ Returns, ‘Not Dead Yet’ Finale, Our Changing Planet, So Many ‘Survivor’ Idols
Young Sheldon – Episode 7.10 – A Little Snip and Teaching Old Dogs – Promotional Photos + Press Release
Tori Spelling Shares Former Co-Star Offended Her Amid Divorce