‘Perpetual Grace Ltd.” star Jimmi Simpson describes Sunday’s season finale (10 p.m. on EPIX) as just the beginning of this darkly comic, noir series.
“I would say the story is clearly not over,” says Simpson, 43. “The season, up to this point, was an explosion of all these different characters and it’s now congealed into two elements — the blood and plasma — heading toward each other. We’re just going to have to wait to see what happens when they meet.”
The 10-episode series, created by Steve Conrad (“Patriot”) and Bruce Terris, is ostensibly about an elaborate ruse hatched by Paul Allen Brown (Damon Herriman) to steal $4 million back from his crooked parents, Pastor Byron Brown and his wife Lillian (Ben Kingsley, Jacki Weaver), known to their devoted church flock as “Pa” and “Ma.”
Paul ensnares grieving firefighter James (Simpson) into his scheme, which also involves an ex-con-turned-LensCrafters franchisee named New Leaf (Chris Conrad); a Mexican sheriff/wannabe novelist (Luis Guzman) obsessed with his weight; James’ father, a former astronaut who wanders around town wearing a full NASA spacesuit (we never see his face, only reflections in his mask); a Texas Ranger (Terry O’Quinn) named Wesley Walker as in “Walker, Texas Ranger”; and Glenn Pirdoo (Dash Williams), a teenage pawnshop worker who wears a football helmet to cushion a brain injury.
It’s that weird — but it’s also compelling and, at times, very funny.
“It’s like a work of art that’s moving,” Simpson says by way of explanation. “It’s like, ‘How are we going to get out of this insanely entertaining mess?’ When a director like Steve Conrad is so clear on a piece of art he’s trying to paint, he’s got to make everyone walk this line, and it goes along with having some of the most clever writing I’ve ever seen. There are no big or small parts [on the series]. In ‘Perpetual Grace Ltd.’ we’re all together, and even if someone has three episodes or one scene they’re just as much an essential part of the story as Ben [Kingsley] or myself.
“It’s a three-dimensional painting and, to me, a whole other level,” he says, agreeing that the series’ vibe often echoes a Federico Fellini movie. “It’s like a 10-hour movie. And with the Fellini element; you think of Fellini you think of art on film, pictures, composition, depth, contrast and interpretation — and I think Steve Conrad goes there like no one since Fellini.”
Simpson says he didn’t know much about his character going into the series but was told by O’Quinn and “Perpetual Grace Ltd.” co-star Kurtwood Smith, both of whom appeared in Conrad’s two-season Amazon series “Patriot,” that he was joining an elite crew. “They said, ‘It’s a tough team to be on — it’s difficult, but rewarding,’” he says. “They basically shoehorned me in.
“What clinched the deal for me was watching ‘Patriot’ and seeing how eloquently Steve executes what he’s trying to say and how beautifully and interestingly he tells the story,” he says. “So I had those two things, and when I met with Steve and Bruce at [LA restaurant] Little Dom’s I was instantly blown away; they’re unaffected by the industry and the transient needs of whatever is ‘hot’ at the moment. Their mission is to tell beautiful stories.”
Sunday’s season finale of “Perpetual Grace Ltd.” finds Pa and Ma on a collision course with James, New Leaf, Wesley Walker, Paul Allen Brown, Glenn et al. Its ending certainly leaves the door open for another season.
EPIX has not yet said anything about the show’s future and Simpson says he hasn’t heard anything about a second season. “We’re certainly hopeful,” he says. “Steve and I found in each other not just friends, but storytelling partners.”
Warning: Trailer includes graphic language