There is a test on the horizon in Season 2 of WGN America’s historical drama series “Manhattan,” and no one will be excused.
As the season opens Tuesday, Oct. 13, everyone in the isolated, government-sanctioned town of Los Alamos, N.M., is preparing for the Trinity Test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on July 16, 1945.
But all is not well on “the hill” in the days leading up to the implosion. There is an air of paranoia and suspicion permeating the secretive community, as spies embed there and the confinement and related sacrifices take their toll on the scientists and their families. Some find their own sanity and commitment to the Manhattan Project slipping.
One is scientist Frank Winter (John Benjamin Hickey), the driving force behind the weapon’s design, who begins to question how the bomb will be used.
“Frank … kind of stares into the abyss and sees that the creation of this thing is bottomless,” Hickey tells Zap2it. “There is no end, just like a nuclear reaction. Just like an atomic reaction, it just keeps expanding on itself. For lack of a better way to describe it, he sort of sees the future and it’s not pretty and [he] becomes a little bit of a Cassandra as far as what exactly this genie we’d let out of the bottle is and what the government plans on doing with it.
“You know, one of the most interesting things to get to play in Frank,” he continues, “is this genius-level intelligence as far as science goes, and yet just on the other side is this remarkable naivete as to its implementation, as to the way it would be used. And so Frank’s test is to try to, if not put the genie back in the bottle, is to try to have some say in how the genie is used.”
Questions are also arising in the Isaacs household, where Abby (Rachel Brosnahan) appears to have reaffirmed her commitment to her project worker husband Charlie (Ashley Zukerman) after her lover Elodie (Carole Weyers) was dragged off by police in the Season 1 finale.
“Abby asks a lot of questions of herself about how she feels, about what she thinks might be going on here,” Brosnahan says. “She demands to be a more equal partner in this. She demands to know more about what’s going on. Whether or not she gets that remains to be seen. But with her family being in Europe and what she thinks might be happening on the hill, she for the first time develops opinions that are entirely her own, and that’s something that she’s relishing in a lot of ways – proving herself to herself that she is valid and worthy and she has a role to play here. … She’s playing a more active role; less reactive, more active.”