The wonderful thing about shaping a show around witches is the treasure trove of themes that can be explored throughout the series depending on your approach. In Ryan Murphy's hands, witches are a conduit to examine aging and race on American Horror Story: Coven. Constance M. Burge examined sisterhood in an incredibly moving way on Charmed. Joss Whedon framed Wicca as an allegory for addiction with stunning results on Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Currently, Maggie Friedman is using Lifetime's Witches of East End as a launching pad for a fascinating examination of female empowerment, which was beautifully explained by star Rachel Boston when we chatted on the phone earlier this week. In addition to expanding upon the show's central themes, Boston teased what fans can expect from upcoming episodes -- including the person Ingrid has unwittingly issued a death sentence to!
ETonline: First, I have to commend you four on the incredibly chemistry you've generated in just three episodes.
Rachel Boston: Thank you! It's such a beautiful cast of very heart-centered women. To take this supernatural world and ground it in the family, and stories about being in this very supportive group, is just wonderful. We are making a show about past lives, about people you immediately connect with upon meeting them, and where that comes from, and sometimes we'll be in the middle of a scene and it's very powerful because we have such a deep love for each other. To be making a show about empowerment has been the most sacred work experience I've ever had.
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ETonline: What have you enjoyed about Ingrid's magical exposure?
Boston: Ingrid dove in headfirst because she had to save her family; she was the only one there to save her sister, her mother and her aunt. By diving in, she started to do spells without knowing anything about the consequences. The beginning of this journey is now about learning the dark side of magic. You can try to do something good, but there can be a downside as Ingrid quickly learned thanks to the curse lingering over her head. That's not something she can live with.
ETonline: What's interesting to me is that despite her first two spells going horribly awry, she's undeterred in her quest to practice.
Boston: Right, now it's about figuring out how she can courageously keep moving through and trust her instincts to know she'll use her powers for good. There's great fear with that because she's not sure what will be on the other end. But I think you're really able to see her character in how she's trying to reverse the curse. You see how tenacious and driven she is.
ETonline: When will we learn who will die as a result of Ingrid's first spell?
Boston: You might find out Sunday! [laughs]
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ETonline: How does Ingrid react to learning the victim's identity?
Boston: It's a very human response, initially. Then she has to figure out how to save that person and ask for forgiveness and to talk them through it. What I love about that storyline is we talk about how a human deals with grief, but then how a human with supernatural powers deals with grief. I mean, how does a witch deal with grief? That has been a beautiful world to explore because we're able to have very human experiences but then add in this element of magic.
ETonline: Because Ingrid's power stems from her mind and not her heart, it strikes me that she has the potential to evolve in a much more significant way than her sister.
Boston: There was a poem called Good Timber that I brought to set. It said, "Good Timber does not grow with ease, the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." So we put that in my bedroom because through all the tests and trials, Ingrid keeps getting so much stronger. What I loved about playing her is that this is a women whose journey is just beginning because this is not what she wanted! She wanted a quiet life. So when she finds out the power she has, it takes a long time to step out and get comfortable with it, but she's willing to do whatever she can to try.
ETonline: One of the biggest mysteries right now involves the identity of the shifter trying to kill Joanna. What can you tease?
Boston: We're shooting the finale right now and I'm so excited for fans to see who the shifter is! Which does get revealed this season. One of the things I love about this show is you never know who is good and who is evil -- even the actors aren't always sure [laughs]. So I'm learning along with Ingrid who has come into her life and is a positive force or an enemy.
ETonline: How does the arrival of Enver Gjokaj play into that?
Boston: Enver plays Mike, who comes to town to do research on witches, and I'm not sure if his motives are pure, so Ingrid is not only having to use her powers, but also her instincts to see who she can trust outside her family.
ETonline: Looking ahead, what are you excited for fans to experience this season?
Boston: I'm excited for them to see women grow into their powers and strengths and to learn the lessons of forgiveness; of forgiving yourself for mistakes and the lessons of truly trusting your heart. My favorite journey with this show has been into time travel. We're able to explore other lives because Ingrid and Frea have been born and born again. That has been incredible in terms of understanding Ingrid. Back in 1906, she lived a very different life -- she was a very sexually liberated woman -- which has molded her and shaped her into the person she is today Now that they know the truth about their family, it's been a beautiful journey for both Ingrid and Frea to look back at their past and decide who they want to become. They can find love, they can find your purpose, they can find their destiny and they can do that with all the past experiences they've had and use that to fuel them into becoming the people they want to be.
Witches of East End airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.