EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

Image Credit: WGN America

'Underground' star Alano Miller on Cato and the show's relevance in 2016

Cato is the character from Underground we thought we’d all love to hate. Now we just love him (or if you still can’t bend toward love, at least you realize his importance). Alano Miller, who plays Cato, wants fans to know that Cato shouldn’t be thought of as a “villain,” but rather as a person who is doing the best he can to protect himself and ensure his dream of freedom — because for Cato, getting caught means being killed.

The EW Community caught up with Miller for an in-depth conversation about Cato and his motivations, seeing Noah’s true colors, Cato grappling with long-buried emotions, and that haunting scene of Sam hanging on the Macon plantation’s front porch. Sam being used as a literal political prop says a lot about America’s bloody and inhuman past, as well as the demons the country is still grappling with, particularly in the wake of this election season.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: First of all, congratulations on this awesome season of television. Underground was amazing.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. It’s definitely one that’s close to my heart.

I can’t wait until 2017; it’s too far away.
[laughs] Yeah, everyone’s been asking if we could do more than 10 episodes. If you could be in our skin for those 10 episodes, you’d want us to just do 10 episodes. But I’m very excited to get started. Very, very excited.

Starting with the season finale: You don’t have to spoil anything if you do know what happens in season 2, but what do you think will happen to Cato when we meet him again?
Well, I do know a lot, and I’m not going to say much, but I do know that chest of money changes the game. It changes everything. It changes where he is in life financially and what he’s capable of at that point. We see a different type of Cato. I think one that’s going to be more well-versed and taking what he’s learned thus far from Rosalee, as well as in the house and what he’s seen, to a whole other level. He’s well-versed at this point. It’s going to be very, very exciting to see how people react to this Cato and his relationships as far as what happens with him and Noah. Does he let that go, or does he go after him? And what happens with him and Rosalee? All these relationships … are still up in the air because he is, at this point from what we’ve seen, a man who has a lot of money and is on his way to freedom.

Let’s rewind back to when we first saw Cato on TV. I know you had to deal with a lot of people saying, “Uncle Tom! He’s an Uncle Tom!”

So what was it like seeing that shift in the fandom go from hating Cato to loving him and not wanting him dead?
I was warned. It took [co-executive producer] Misha [Green] constantly keeping me [afloat], like “It’s okay, they don’t know everything. They only know a little bit.” I was also worried about how people would receive my arc. That was very, very important: How do you take a character that people initially hate and make [them] root for him at the end? That’s a huge transition, and it was a challenge I was willing to take and wanted to take.

But it did hurt at first, you know. [I wanted to say] “Aw man, I wish you all knew more.” You can’t take a man who is like this at face value and at the end of that episode, when he says, “I want to run because you’re not gonna leave me behind,” I was hoping people could see there was way more [and that] this was going to be a very interesting character because … this is such an iconic character in history that we’ve turned upside down and said, “Nope, he’s something else.” That’s what I was hoping [for]; I don’t know if some people got that [or] if some people didn’t. But I was definitely shocked at first when people were like, “I hate him, I want to murder him! When is Noah going to kill him?” But then, I think, it was very flattering because I knew I was doing my job, and we wanted you to initially have your opinion about him and maybe [feel differently later].

I have to apologize, because when I first saw Cato, I thought, “Oh no, this guy is probably going to be bad news.” But as I kept watching, particularly when he set the cotton field on fire, I realized I might have misjudged this guy. At the end of the season, a lot of people were saying, “He can’t be dead; he’s too good of a character to be dead.” So I think people did come around.
Good. To hear episode 9 and be like, “Wait, he’s gone? He can’t be gone!” was cool for me, and to also see how some flipped on Noah, to say, “He left him, how could he do that?” because we built that character up to this thing where we all assumed [he would do a heroic thing]. But it gets people to look at every character and [think about how] every single character is flawed in this story. But every single character in this story also has the ability to be a hero. Everyone is redeemable. How much forgiveness and understanding are you willing to have in an extreme circumstances? And also look inside yourself and ask yourself what you’d be willing to do. Everyone can have a judgement, but … what are you capable of doing for freedom?

I always tell people everyone has Cato inside of them — everyone. You just need something to pull it out. You make those choices that are, at times, very selfish, and we do it today all the time. It’s just acknowledging them and not giving ourselves a way out and not taking responsibility for the things that we do. I think [Cato] is just someone who says it how it is, believes what he believes, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get to freedom, whether you’re on his side or not. That’s an interesting character to play, because you don’t know what he’s going to do next.

Once he sets the cotton field on fire, of course everyone is shocked, even the runners are shocked. But he was planning that the whole time, even knowing that Rosalee and Noah left. He was still like, “I’m getting off this plantation, and I’m going to use this to my advantage.” Being given a new job as overseer, he said, “Instead of taking it one way, I’m going to take it another way and get myself out of here, regardless of Noah, because I don’t need Noah.” I love that Misha and [co-executive producer] Joe [Pokaski] wrote it that way, where he’s self-sufficient, too. He doesn’t depend on anyone. Everything is based on his chess game of … how he can get to freedom.

It was fun in a character-examination way to see Cato finally give a hint as to why he does what he does: because he’s already lost his family. I get that that’s why he shut himself off, and it was fun seeing him open up the old Cato when he was pretending to be Rosalee’s husband. You could see some parts of what could have been the old Cato coming back. I was thinking, “He’s going to be tussling with this interaction for a while.”
She definitely opened up a wound, I think. The way I was looking at is that it isn’t love that he sees in Rosalee. It’s a reminder of his wife and his child. It’s a reminder of the joy that he felt, the hope that he had, and I think she brings [this out]. He is astonished by her abilities, by what she’s holding inside her. She has so many abilities, and he wasn’t even aware of it. Just when he thinks, “I’ve got to give up on this girl because she’s going to get me killed,” she does something else. It’s [a situation of] “who is this woman?” I think it releases something in him that hasn’t [been] released … in a long time.

Of course, he has that moment where he knows how much Noah loves Rosalee, but he tells the story [about the loss of his family] because it’s his way of finally coming to terms. A lot of people wanted it to be about [Cato and Rosalee] getting together and “Oh my God, they’re going to have a love triangle,” but it was less about the love triangle and more about the fact that Cato was just starting to feel. Cato is starting to have to deal with some things that he hasn’t had to deal with, because all he’s seen around him is pain and hopelessness. Now, all that’s being challenged.

It’s very interesting to take a character who has been carrying so much baggage, which is why I think he stays back to … come through with the plan he and Noah come up with to get Rosalee [from August] and distract the other guys so Noah can get in there and do what he needs to do to get her out. He sticks by because he actually does have some hope that there are possibilities. He doesn’t have to be that guy anymore. Of course, Noah leaves him behind [laughs]. But Noah was not who [Cato] thought he was the whole time, and that brought another sense of betrayal. He thought Noah was actually not like him, and turns out he was. It brought a whole other sense of anger back. It’s that thing we all deal with; we want to give into this belief that there’s hope in humanity, that there’s some sense of purpose and that people are better than what we see at face [value], and then they fail us. How do you deal with that? Do you go back to hoping, or [do you think] no one is good? That’s where [Cato] is … I think every person has a heart, it just takes something to bring it out in spite of everything.

That’s what I like about Cato; I can see where he’s coming from, because sometimes you do just want to do what you need to do, and screw everyone else, as long as you get what you want for your own life. Also, to see Noah portrayed as a superman and then to see him just leave Cato was like meeting your idol, and then your idol reveals that he’s just a regular human being.
[laughs] Yeah. We hear about it in episode 2. They get into a fight, and [Noah] puts him up against the wall with a gun [and] Cato says, “I see you. You say you’re [planning a group escape] for all of these reasons, but you’re really just doing it for yourself.” And it is true. Nobody wants to see that about their idol. Everyone wants to see it as a selfless act and [it’s] not. He built this team so that he can get free. He hopes that the others get free … if he just wanted to be free, he could have gone by himself, but he didn’t; he wanted a team. But someone’s going to get caught and sacrificed, and he was just hoping it wasn’t going to be him.

At the end of the day, I think that’s the reality, but no one’s going to see it that way. They’re only going to see him as the hero because that’s what he’s put out there for you to see, and he reveals that [other side]. I think he’s still a hero. All of these people who have done questionable things are all heroes. It’s just extreme circumstances: How badly do you want freedom, and what are you willing to do to get it? That’s just what it is, you know? They’re just tough decisions; nothing is black and white. Everything’s gray. Yes, it was wrong for Cato to shoot Zeke in the leg. Yeah, but then I also tell people that if Cato was caught again, he’s been burned twice on his face and he was given the most trust by the master. They aren’t going to burn him again — they’re going to kill him! For him, this is a life/death situation. He’s the most desperate out of the group.

The things that stuck out to me this season were the code-switching Rosalee did when they went to the doctor’s house, because code-switching is a part of my life, for sure; the stuff about politics and religion being used as racialized weapons, how that was actually shown on television …
Yeah. Oof.

So with all of that said, which part of this season stuck out to you the most?
You know, I would say it had to be that moment … when Sam is hung, and there’s a political rally going on and how relevant that is to this time when you have Donald Trump, who is holding these rallies about making America great again. If you listen to the language of that speech that is being said by Reed Diamond’s character, it’s a very similar statement that is being made, even in today’s time. It’s just coded differently, I think. To see the lack of acknowledgement that there’s a man hanging as he’s saying a speech …

With spotlights on him too!
… And there’s an American flag behind him! It’s just one of those things [that’s] so scary. You know we’re not repeating it, but we have the ability to repeat it. Not to that extreme, but a form of it, yes. We’re still dealing with police brutality; we’re still dealing with the way people see African-Americans as equals and our own worth in the world. The violence that’s happening during Trump rallies and everything else towards African-Americans, and that there are no forms of justice towards these [people] who are doing things to African-Americans who aren’t doing anything back towards them — it’s just a reminder. We’ve gone so far, and yet we’re still repeating the same rhetoric, the same mentality, the same motives. We still have the same issues … going on. [In some ways] 1857 is still 2016, and that is a very scary thing. I thought it was very bold of [Green] to put a black man hanging, which we’ve never seen in this series, in front of an American flag while they’re holding a rally, talking about politics and basically saying [they’re] making America great. That was a very powerful moment for me.

I was actually on set that day, and just hearing the way the people who owned the plantation … in a way were very excited by [the hanging scene] … they don’t really know. In their minds, it was just being shot; it’s just television. But at the same time, it was a real plantation that has been there for forever, has been through slavery, and probably had, most likely, our ancestors hanging from their trees and beaten and everything else. To have no sense of awareness and the power behind this image and to not pay it respect or not understand that you should be paying it respect, it’s again one of those things of how we are still seen in the world, even our ancestors. How people view slavery, is still like, “Well, it wasn’t that bad. Things were bad, but they still loved their slaves, they still took care of them.” I remember one time someone [said] while we were doing a walk-through, “These slaves were squatters.” We all just stopped, and we couldn’t even respond to it because it hurt so much — and they couldn’t even understand why it would hurt us. For you to call slaves squatters … it’s just one of those things, again, of how we’re still seen in the world as worthless, or that we’re a dime a dozen. For me, that was the most powerful moment.

Underground returns to WGN America in 2017. 

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like