When we last left WGN America's acclaimed series Underground — which will feature a new song, "In America" from executive producer John Legend when it returns in March — the slaves known as the Macon 7 were running for their lives from a Georgia plantation. They'd been split up, fleeing in scattered directions. We also got our first glimpse of Harriet Tubman, who'll be played by Aisha Hinds when the series returns for Season 2.
In the series, Tubman — the woman who helped thousands of people escape to freedom in real life and will soon appear on American $20s — may be surprising for people as she comes to life.
"We're taking a character like Harriet Tubman and humanizing her," Alano Miller, who plays Cato, told TVGuide.com at at the Television Critics Association previews in Pasadena, Calif., Wednesday. "We know her as this untouchable person. ... We get to know all the baggage she had and bring that to life in a way that's never been done."
For starters, "she was married," said Hinds. "Which is part of what you find out. She went back to her husband and found out he was married." Also: "She carries her gun. At all times." Hinds said finding out she was playing Tubman caused her to weep and "broke her open." "I was stuck in a place of reverence for her," she said at Underground's TCA presentation Friday. "Harriet had done the work. She lived it. I just had to trust the words [the producers and writers created]. The story stands on its own."
This season, executive producer Joe Pokaski said, is about the theme of "citizen vs. solider" and though it's about slavery, it's absolutely relevant today. "The more we read things from 1858," he said, "it's amazing how how relevant they are today."
As for Alano Miller's Cato, he's in a much, much different space after having set fire to the plantation. Far from being on the run, he's doing pretty well for himself.
"Cato is very well, very rich and you've never met this Cato before," Miller said. "He's completely different. You're going to have to relearn him. This is Cato 2.0." His whereabouts are unknown, but, "it's one of the best entrances ever. At the end of Season 1, he finds a chest of money and he's got a lot of it." Having been betrayed by Noah (Aldis Hodge), Cato is wealthy enough to impart revenge, if he wanted to. "All hell is about to break loose," he said.
Underground returns for Season 2 Wednesday, March 8, at 10/9c on WGN America.