Elizabeth Frances, who plays Prairie Flower on The Son, talks about how pregnancy changes Prairie Flower, why Prairie Flower denied Ingrid what she wanted and what she most wants people to see this season.
Q: The season starts off with the Comanche camp being attacked by the Apaches, killing much of the group. How does this impact Prairie Flower’s perspective moving forward?
A: Because this was such a devastating attack, she is looking for options. I think her perspective before, when we meet her in Season 1, is very much that it’s sort of a coming together in Season 1 of her and Eli, who is from the white world that killed her family. And in Season 2, because she’s pregnant, she is even interested in exploring the white world as a possibility, being with Eli, because it’s ultimately about survival. And I think that Prairie Flower, which is different from Toshaway‘s point of view, is very much like, I have to adapt or we die. And even Eli is hesitant about those kinds of ideas because he’s finally in a place of status in our tribe. But I would say that, from Prairie Flower’s perspective, at the end of the day she is a survivor and that is priority number one once she finds out that she’s pregnant.
Q: Speaking of Prairie Flower’s pregnancy, how does this change her?
A: I think it changes her in a couple of ways. Very much in the way that we talked about in the last question, now it’s not just about her or Eli or even this tribe. It’s about something greater, which is her future child, and I think that that changes her method of how she prioritizes survival.
But I also do think that this season and, because I do think that Eli and Prairie Flower are the healthiest relationship on the show, I do think that being pregnant allows a woman who’s been surviving to dream a little bit for the first time. It was really important to me that this season we got to really see their lives and her vulnerability. When she talks about what they could do, I think there was even a point where she says, oh I could put on a dress, we could walk into the white world, and she allows herself to dream. Because Eli is now of a certain status, I think it allows her to relax, a tiny bit, when she’s with him and say, you need to do this so that I can be a mother. Especially for the period of time, the reason that it was important to me that we do get to see her dream and be vulnerable is I feel like so many times the idea of a strong woman means that she’s masculine. And I think that truthfully what makes women incredibly strong is that we buckle down and do what we need to do, but also that we are vulnerable and intuitive. And I wanted to protect that in her, and I think that being a mom and being pregnant in this second season allowed a little bit of space for that.
Q: In order to survive, Prairie Flower and her group must find a new camp. Is she worried about where they’ve ended up, especially with the issues between Toshaway and his son?
A: I think she recognizes that there is a conflict as soon as they get to Fat Wolf’s camp. Once she recognizes that, that’s when she realizes this is a temporary situation. And once it looks like that, I think she’s saying, ok, what are our other possible options? And she’s hoping and looking to Eli to be thinking that way as well.
Q: When Prairie Flower learns Ingrid has killed Scalped a Dog, she is ready to turn her in, while Eli wants to lie in order to protect her. How do you explain the difference between them?
A: I think deep down the difference is that Prairie Flower has a child inside of her. It just makes priority and risk a very different thing. She says to Eli that what she loves about him is that he wants to protect people. It’s what would make him a good leader. But this isn’t the time because the risk is too great for what it would mean, in terms of them losing their new home. They’ve just now found it, and every day she’s more and more pregnant. Imagine that he protects Ingrid and then we’re kicked out. Then we are back on the road. And to do that further and further into pregnancy is a completely different set of circumstances.
And Prairie Flower starts to think very individually. I think that’s again a big shift. She’s gone from how do I think of the group to how do I protect myself as soon as everything gets much more dangerous.
Q: When they are leaving the camp, Ingrid wants to stay with Fat Wolf, but Prairie Flower denies her freedom, even with the payment Fat Wolf offers. Why won’t Prairie Flower let Ingrid go?
A: I’ll be honest. I think that Prairie Flower, she’s tried to save and guide Ingrid enough times over the course of the season, and I think this is a time where Prairie Flower’s like, you reap what you sow. And I’m not saying it’s the best trait, but I truly do think that if you have created this situation, then we all suffer together. And Prairie Flower doesn’t give her what she wants. Human nature…
Q: What are you excited most for people to see this season?
A: I think the stakes are even higher this season. I think we do go into the real cost of what it was like at a time where everyone is vying for resources and desperate, and it makes me think of our times right now and what we’re going through. Then, it was maybe more tangible. It was land and oil and food, and now it’s a power struggle. And I think I’m excited and hopeful that, in some subconscious way, this season will make people take a second look at the negative ripple that can happen when we start to dissect ourselves as human beings because we’re afraid that there’s just not enough to go around. When I think of today, I go, gosh it’s crazy, we have the technology at our fingertips and yet we still can’t learn how to completely work together cooperatively. But I think the hope is that, no matter what anybody believes, they can look at it and go, ok, how do we do better?
You look at what Eli becomes because of the first seed of what happens in our timeline. Had he never lost his wife and child, he probably wouldn’t have become the person that Pierce [Brosnan] plays. That’s real, the generational trauma. This is the beginning of our generational trauma as Americans, whether you’re Native American, Mexican-American, Chicano, Caucasian-American — this is the seed.
Q: What’s your favorite memory from filming this show?
A: We really all loved on each other. This cast was fantastic. We had a table read where there was this beautiful scene between Prairie Flower and Young Eli. We just had this moment — Jacob [Lofland] and I and the whole cast was there, and the writing was so great. You could just hear a pin drop. And we finished this scene and looked around the room and everyone had tears in their eyes. I’d never had that experience before at a table read. We were all so moved at what the writers had created. I think it just really speaks to the dynamics of the cast and the creators of the show that we were all so invested in the story, that we all allowed ourselves to be moved by what we created together.
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