Love is in the air on TNT's Perception, but with Pierce and Moretti finding romance elsewhere, does that put an end to the series-long "will they or won't they" question?
"I wouldn't assume it's gone forever, but it's safe to say it's definitely on the backburner," executive producer Kenneth Biller tells TVGuide.com.
At the end of Perception's summer season, Pierce (Eric McCormack) reunited with his college girlfriend Miranda (Perrey Reeves), while Kate (Rachael Leigh Cook) was coming closer to reconciling with her ex-husband Donnie (Scott Wolf). When the second half of Season 2 premieres (Tuesday, 10/9c), both relationships are in full swing, but that leads to some big tests for the characters.
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"[Having a girlfriend] is a tremendous step forward, but a tremendous challenge for someone with his condition," McCormack says. "Committing himself emotionally and putting himself out there really changes the character and even though Perrey isn't in the next four episodes, the very fact he has someone out there opens him up a bit."
For Moretti, the biggest struggle she faces with Donnie is forgiveness. "When we pick back up, it will be clear that they've been giving it a shot and are working up to whether they're really going to pick the relationship up again," Biller says. "She's still struggling a bit with balancing her strong feelings for him with the fact that he hurt her and she's trying to get over that."
Though fans might like to see Pierce and Moretti together, McCormack says the professor-cop duo is at their best as friends. "We realized that it really cooks when we're of one mind solving a crime. Sometimes the other stuff can set us off to the left a bit," he says. "When the two of us are finishing each other's sentences it's really fun. But I think there's a romance to that too."
Perception Season 2: Will Kate's ex-husband come between her and Daniel?
Love aside, Daniel will come across particularly tough cases this season that hit incredibly close to home. In the second episode, titled "Brotherhood," we meet the younger brother of Pierce's assistant Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith) who's accused of a crime. Not only does the hour put the relationship between Pierce and Lewicki at risk, but it also divulges a big backstory. McCormack explains, "I said to Ken early on, 'So we cast this beautiful black guy [as Lewicki, a Polish surname], were going to change the name right? And he said, 'No I'm going to keep it as Max Lewicki and we'll explain it later.' So the idea that he's adopted and that when you're adopted, you possibly still have brothers and sisters out there is just so ripe to explain why he is the way he is."
By the end of the sophomore season, Daniel will face his biggest obstacle yet when the one thing that has kept him (somewhat) sane thus far is threatened: his job. The finale also features the return of a very important character, Caroline Newsome (Kelly Rowan), the real person behind his hallucinatory best friend Natalie. When Caroline is stalked, Pierce becomes the suspect.
"His sanity is questioned and he [also] has a very public episode, which hasn't happened before and it's something that threatens his job," Biller says. "The question is whether or not he is competent to continue his job because of his mental illness so this is a very emotional and raw place to put Pierce in. It resolves itself in a way that will hopefully very satisfying but unexpected." (Hint: Biller says that at the beginning of Season 3, Pierce is in "a faraway land.")
So how would Pierce bounce back from that? "Nothing changes everything forever, but it's really important on any series that you throw real curveballs at the characters and the audience," McCormack says. "What kept Pierce sane up until the pilot was living the life at the university and his routine and whenever we can disturb that, whether it be with a case or with possibly changing his life at the end of these four episodes, it can completely enrich the show and set it in a different direction."
Perception returns on Tuesday at 10/9c on TNT.