'All Rise' Season 2 Premiere Drops Major Lola Surprise: Wilson Bethel on That Reveal and More (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
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Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched the season 2 premiere of All Rise.
Surprise! Judge Lola Carmichael is pregnant.
All Riserevealed the unexpected baby news for the beloved Los Angeles justice seeker at the very end of Monday's season 2 premiere, following Lola's (Simone Missick) intense confrontation with a police officer at a Black Lives Matter protest that served as a fracture point between Lola and her once impenetrable friendship with her best friend, Deputy District Attorney Mark Callan (Wilson Bethel). It wasn't that one of them was wrong and the other was right, but the racially-fueled standoff brought to light Lola and Mark's distinct perspectives and experiences in regards to racial injustices as it relates to the justice system and the real world. Though there's faith that Lola and Mark will figure it out eventually, the disconnect looms large.
"It's a relationship between a Black woman and a white man who had very different experiences in the world, partly because of who they are," Bethel exclusively tells ET on Monday. "My inclination is to say, 'Look, we should explore that. We should explore how who they are sometimes means that they run up against their own blind spots and they hurt each other.' To me, that feels very real to a relationship like this."
As the premiere shows, COVID-19 has affected protocols and guidelines within the court system, and those that work within it. Face masks, plastic shields and rooftop meetings, instead of Lola and Mark's regular stairwell meet-ups, are now the norm. "It's been a weird blessing where we have this chance to tell stories that feel very of the moment and are interacting with each other in ways that feel appropriate and accurate to the times," Bethel says. "While there's certainly some discomfort, that's the discomfort that all of us are feeling."
Following Monday's return, ET hopped on the phone with Bethel to break down Lola and Mark's tense fight, how they go about mending their broken friendship, Lola's pregnancy, which she heartbreakingly reveals to her husband through the glass window, and much more.
ET: How has acting with masks and having that added layer affected your just daily life on set? Has it been an interesting adjustment process?
Wilson Bethel: The first week or two when we first got back, it was a major adjustment to make and as anybody who's returned to a physical workplace since this pandemic began, had to make some pretty serious adjustments to whatever they thought their workplace felt like. We were no different in that regard. As far as shooting a TV show goes, we're fortunate in that our show exists in the real world and the real world of now. So COVID exists and all of the problems and dilemmas that we as real humans in this time are dealing with, we're dealing with on the show too, which is nice because it adds both the layer of poignancy hopefully to the viewer. But it also means that when we are going to work every day, it feels like an opportunity for us to reflect the reality of our lives, which as an actor is really nice. Honestly, it's been a weird blessing where we have this chance to tell stories that feel very of the moment and are interacting with each other in ways that feel appropriate and accurate to the times. While there's certainly some discomfort, that's the discomfort that all of us are feeling. So it feels right.
Lola and Mark's friendship seems so impenetrable that any tension or cracks in the foundation is so jarring. What was your reaction when you learned that they would begin the season on shaky ground?
Yeah. Honestly, this is something that I have really been advocating for their relationship is more tension that is derived from their different viewpoints and their different experiences in the world. You have this relationship where on the one hand, the foundation is very much a mutual respect, a mutual care or love and intelligence, an ability to bounce ideas off each other and take care of one another in all these different ways. And on the other hand, it's a relationship between a Black woman and a white man who had very different experiences in the world, partly because of who they are. My inclination is to say, "Look, we should explore that. We should explore how who they are sometimes means that they run up against their own blind spots and they hurt each other." To me, that feels very real to a relationship like this.
I think starting out the season like this and really putting that [out there], especially in the context of where our country has been over the last seven months, it seems totally right and appropriate that this would be a moment where their divergent sets of experiences and viewpoints would come to a head over something like this. I love that. I also think that it then offers an opportunity to say, "OK, how do you then address these things, address these differences and hurts? And can you while still maintaining the underlying relationship with love?" Because I don't think it's going to be too much of a spoiler alert to say, yeah, they're going to figure it out, but it's not without going through it a bit first. That's the kind of relationship I think we should all aspire to is a relationship that can endure difficulty, that pushes us to see things in new ways and probably hurts a bit, but that we get through because there's enough of a real love that underlies it.
One of the lines that really struck me was when Mark's first instinct was to ask Lola, "What did you do?" and Lola calls him out on it. But there's an obvious disconnect between them. Was there line or a moment in filming those scenes that really hit you hard on a personal level?
The broad answer to that is that we can say and do things that hurt people that we love all the time. We do it without meaning to and that just comes from, again, having a different prism through which we see the world or operate, whether it's your significant other or friend. So in that moment, Mark is operating from his world view. He's just like, "Hey, what did you do?" He probably didn't think twice about it. Of course, that is a very weighted thing for Lola to then process, especially coming from her friend. That bore real weight and real significance. For me personally, I can see how that can easily spiral. Even for me and Simone as actors, I can totally see parallels that could exist in the real world where she and I could disagree about something, and our perspectives being what they are just don't offer us the insight into the other person's vantage point. So yeah, that feels very real and very personal for sure.
Did you, Simone and the producers talk at all about this particular storyline? What discussions did you have about making sure that you got this right?
If I'm being honest, we didn't go super deep with each other about it. I will offer this, just as a point of frankness, Simone and I have had similar situations like this, honestly, over the course of knowing each other and working closely together over the last year or so. And Simone is somebody who I respect hugely, who I care a lot about. I think she's just an amazing woman. But she's a Black woman and I'm a white man and we don't always see each other perfectly. So we've had versions of this. So in a weird, interesting way -- this also shouldn't be weird and shouldn't be too interesting because it's kind of obvious that it would come up -- part of why we didn't have to maybe go in and have some huge conversation with each other about it is because we both experienced it with each other and gotten through it and continue to really love working with each other and respect each other. I think there's definitely a personal angle to all this. And especially by the next episode, some of that starts really coming through -- both the personal side of things and also the Mark and Lola side of things, where as they try and reconcile, there's some real emotion there.
Do you miss those stairwell meetings?
The good news is that I love the stairwell, but we've moved the stairwell to a rooftop for this season so that we can be outside. I think the more important thing is that Lola and Mark have a clubhouse -- maybe we'll have a new clubhouse every season -- but wherever that clubhouse is, as long as they have a place to download with each other, hopefully the fans will keep getting those moments that they really love, which are probably not about the stairwell per se, but it's more about Lola and Mark doing their thing.
Mark and Amy are happily living together. The personal is already seeping into the professional, and it's starting to complicate a lot of things. How do you see this playing out and will this begin to cause problems for their relationship?
Yeah. I mean, TBD. The stories are still kind of coming together, but I think, inevitably yes. Probably yes. Anytime you have two very strong-willed people who are at opposite ends of the judicial spectrum in terms of prosecution and private defense who are stepping on each other's toes here and there, obviously. Amy's also working with Rachel who's an old friend of Mark and Lola's, so that complicates things. But I think it goes without saying that there will be drama somewhere on the horizon in regards to the Mark and Amy's shared workplace.
At the end of the episode, it's revealed that Lola is pregnant. Was that a surprise to you?
It was a surprise to me. And as soon as we got the first script, of course, I get to the last page and the first thing I did was text Simone. I think that's a great development for the character and the show. I think it'll offer a bunch of really new, interesting situations for Lola to be a mom.
Mark is now heading up Special Trials. How does this new title change how he operates as a lawyer?
What we're developing in the first portion of the season now is Mark getting into some unchartered territory in terms of the gravity of some of the cases he's dealing with, and in particular one case. One of the things that I really love about this new season is that they're moving away from the slightly more rigid format of two cases a week that we were trying to adhere to last season. And now, allowing for longer case arcs. So in the first whole portion of the season, Mark is going to get pulled into an increasingly heavy, potentially career-threatening case now that he is in this new position and has the opportunity to pursue more substantive, maybe potentially dangerous cases. To me, that's really exciting. It just makes for more dynamic storytelling. Over the course of these first five, six, seven episodes, we'll get a different version of Mark as a lawyer as he goes deeper into one of these cases in particular.
More cutthroat maybe?
Yeah. I think just higher stakes, a little more on the line.
And also, a viral video of Lola seemingly saying, "Defund the police," makes its way to the internet, which puts her in hot water. What can you tell us about where this goes in next week's episode?
Just as has been the case since season 1, oftentimes Lola, who she is and her style as a judge, gets herself into a position where she's having to do damage control. This is no different. In this case, there's a particular spin on it or a misrepresentation of what she said. But I think it's important to see those moments where Lola is not always dealing edicts from on high, but you see Lola back on her heels a bit in defensive mode, and you see the way that the politics of justice behind the scenes can work to where judges are certainly not impervious to the larger political moods of a time. I think all that's really cool and the way that it's dealt with over the course of these first two episodes is pretty cool.
All Riseairs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. For more on the series, watch the video below.