Even if you haven't seen a single episode of Extant - CBS' drama starring Halle Berry as Molly Woods, an astronaut who returns from space pregnant with an alien baby - there's no reason you can't jump right in when it returns on Wednesday. And that's exactly what producers are hoping will happen.
"We wanted to launch this season in a way that new viewers could jump right in with Season 2," creator and executive producer Mickey Fisher tells TVGuide.com. "You don't have to have seen the whole Season 1 or any of Season 1. Within the first couple minutes of this episode, you'll be up to speed on everything. We really wanted to do that as a way to invite new viewers into the show for this season."
The series has undergone a massive reboot for its second season, dumping some old characters (adios, Camryn Manheim), adding new ones (welcome, Jeffrey Dean Morgan!), and in general, overhauling the show's entire tone. "It's a little edgier, a little sexier, and certainly action-packed," Fisher tells TVGuide.com of Season 2. "It's like a novel with 13 chapters. ... Last season was almost like a previous novel, and this is the next installment of sort of a trilogy or a series of books that are all built around the same world. So in that sense, it's the same world but moving on to the next phase, the next bit of storytelling."
Along with the on-screen changes, there's also been some behind-the-scenes personnel shuffling. Husband-and-wife team Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro (Necessary Roughness) have stepped in as the new showrunners, replacing Greg Walker, who has left the show entirely. They'll work closely with Fisher, and Berry has also been promoted to an executive producer.
A primer/refresher: At the end of Season 1, Molly's robot son, Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) sacrificed himself to save her, and wound up in the cloud. Her alien offspring, however, was picked up by a Good Samaritan couple while wandering along the side of the road.
When Season 2 picks up, it's six months later and Molly is being held in a recovery center. The events that put her there make up the big mystery of the first part of the season, and begin to unravel in Wednesday's premiere - with some big revelations about Molly's husband, John (Goran Visnjic), for starters.
Here are five big changes to expect from Extant's rebooted sophomore season:
1. The show is more grounded - literally. Producers are abandoning the outer space conceit this season - hence the dismissal of Manheim's character, Sam. "We move away from that world. We wanted to do that as a way to reset the story and explore new worlds in this season," Fisher says. Replacing the space administration is the Global Security Commission, which Fisher describes as "basically threat assessment of the future. They deal with pandemics and bioterrorism and asteroids. And now they're faced with this problem that nobody saw coming." The leader of the group is General Tobias Shepard, played by new cast member David Morrissey (The Walking Dead).
2. What's the big mystery? While she's institutionalized, Molly also learns about a series of mysterious deaths, which she believes are tied to her experience in space. "Because she's in this kind of questionable mental state, it's a little like Chicken Little yelling 'The sky is falling,' and nobody believes her. So, she becomes convinced that she's the only person who can stop this and sets out to get to the bottom of it," Fisher says. "As they get deeper and deeper into it, she's going to find that it's all connected to a much bigger mystery." Enter Morgan's character, the cop investigating the killings and the only one who (despite initial skepticism) eventually realizes that Molly may have some invaluable information about the case. Adds Shapiro: "In this case, the stakes are as high as they come because the state of the human race hangs in the balance, as we begin to learn. That's a lot of pressure on a person. And she's going to rise to it during the course of the season. "
3. Molly's newest enemy is closer to home. The aforementioned information that comes to light about John turns Molly and Julia (Grace Gummer) from wary counterparts into full-fledged nemeses. "Mickey left such great breadcrumbs last season," Kruger hints. "We decided to take them and run with them. That breadcrumb is going to turn into a whole loaf of bread this season. The relationship between Julie and John will be explored and the relationship between Molly and John will be explored. We're going to get to a lot of deeper truths about Molly - her past, who she is, why she is the way she is, what that marriage was all about. ... What makes a person become an astronaut? Why did she go up to space? Why did she leave her family?" As for Julie, according to Shapiro, "Due to her ambition and the best of intentions, she's going to make a lot of questionable decisions and end up suffering the consequences for that."
4. We haven't seen the last of Molly's offspring. Brace yourselves for a major turning point involving Molly's alien offspring in the season premiere, which will send the narrative in a direction no one will see coming, Kruger warns. "There's a definite connection [from] the offspring arriving on earth to the story that happens in Season 2. It is a catalyst for the story of season 2, for sure," she says. "But whatever it is you're thinking about what that story's going to be, it's going to be something entirely different."
VIDEO: Get a sneak peek at Extant and CBS' other summer dramas below.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)