‘Mayor of Kingstown’: Taylor Handley Says Kyle’s Looking for Redemption in Season 2

Taylor Handley in 'Mayor of Kingstown'
Spoiler Alert
Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount +

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 2 “Staring at the Devil.”]

“Everything is off the rails” for Kyle McLusky in Mayor of Kingstown Season 2, according to Taylor Handley.

After all, his character has been through a lot in a short period of time. He was trapped in the prison during the riots at the end of Season 1; we saw then it affected him more than Ian (Hugh Dillon). Then, in the second episode of Season 2, now with the Michigan State Police, Kyle, during a stop in which his partner is shot, kills the person responsible and the passenger in the car — only to see their baby in the backseat after. Fortunately, the baby’s unharmed, but we see (and hear) how much it affects Kyle.

Handley breaks down that ending and teases what’s ahead for Kyle.

For Kyle to only see the baby after he’s killed both the driver and passenger, presumably the parents, and then he’s so clearly affected… Talk about filming that scene.

Taylor Handley: We had shut down a piece of road that day and we had done all the driving and some of the squibs and some of the shooting. But then we had to shut down right when we were getting to that emotional point where I see the baby and the aftermath of this violent encounter. And so it was like the whole day had kind of led up to it and then we got shut down by a thunderstorm. We had to wait another week and then we had to get there and then just recreate this emotional scene that actually we had to shoot some on green screen as well, which was interesting. But when I read that scene, I was like, “Oh my gosh, there’s so much to unpack for Kyle in this situation because not only is his partner down, not only has he fired his side arm, now he’s left this baby presumably parentless when he has a baby on the way.” This situation is just hitting Kyle from so many different angles.

Then the fact that he could have shot the baby and not known until after — that would’ve been completely devastating.

Oh yeah. The coulda woulda shouldas, all that that he’s dealing with, on top of trying to process what he’s gone through in the prison riot. Because we pick up in Season 2, we’re three to four weeks after the prison riot and Kyle has not stopped. He is running and gunning as fast as he can. He’s running away from being quiet in his head. All he wants to do is do, do, do, so he doesn’t really have to sit with himself in silence.

Taylor Handley in 'Mayor of Kingstown'

Marni Grossman/ViacomCBS

How is he feeling? Can he process all the emotions that he should be feeling after the prison riot and now this?

Absolutely not. He’s going about it in all the wrong ways. He’s taken up the job with the Michigan State Police. He hasn’t had any downtime. He’s had no time to process what’s happened in the prison riot, and he’s filled with a lot of guilt and shame and pain. He’s had a couple weeks to examine it, but really it’s the shame that he’s feeling that is making him exhibit really questionable behavior and that’s what he’s gonna have to deal with this entire season. Because essentially he wants redemption for how he underacted during the prison riot.

It seems like it can all be leading to some type of breakdown that we kind of saw the beginnings of on the road after the shooting, right?

Absolutely. You will see him go through many different phases of grief this season, because — here’s the deal with Kyle: He’s been a good soldier all his life. He’s done what he’s been told is the right thing to do. And yet it’s all culminated to this point in his life where everything is off the rails. So while he is looking for redemption, he’s also trying new things. He’s working outside of his comfort zone and he’s putting on a lot of different hats this season, trying to find his way because he’s taking matters into his own hands.

You talked about him running away, but he’s sort of run away from a problem by leaving Kingstown by going to the Michigan State Police, right? Can he move on without maybe going back and working in Kingstown again?

He’s still living in Kingstown, so he’s still one foot in, one foot out because he’s had to make the decision so quickly.

But that one foot out is maybe the most important part because he’s not working where he had that trauma. So he is not facing the trauma on the job in a way.

Correct, although when you’re dealing with Kingstown, it’s hard to escape any type of trauma. You walk around the corner and you could get shot, as we’ve seen in Season 1. Nobody’s safe.

What is coming up for him while working with Michigan State Police?

Without giving too much away, when a shooting happens, there’s an investigation and so Kyle’s gonna have to see the fallout of this shooting.

How would you describe Kyle and Mike’s (Jeremy Renner) relationship this year, especially with everything that Kyle has been through?

The constant between those brothers is that even though there’s all this crazy stuff that happens in Kingstown and all types of trauma that happened within their family and outside of their family, they can still meet each other on an even playing field where none of that stuff deters them from having that brotherly love for one another. They always have each other’s backs. And so no matter if somebody’s acting a little crazy, which Kyle definitely exhibits some questionable behavior this season, Mike always has his back. If Mike is outta line, Kyle always has his back. That’s what I love about the dynamic between the brothers is that no matter what the other person is going through, it doesn’t deter them or they never really kinda get mad at each other or throw each throw one another under the bus.

Taylor Handley, Dianne Wiest, Jeremy Renner, and Emma Laird in 'Mayor of Kingstown'

Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount +

That makes me think of the conversation they have when Mike brings Iris (Emma Laird) over in this episode.

Absolutely. It’s like, “you’re bringing the girl who’s the closest of proximity to one of Kingstown’s most notorious criminals to mom’s house. This is a bad idea, but I’ll back you up on it. But get your s**t together.” [Laughs] Which I love. I love that dynamic. It’s like, “you’re not thinking the clearest right now, buddy, but OK, I’ll play along until s**t hits the fan.”

How’s Kyle’s relationship with his mom (Dianne Wiest) this season considering everything he’s going through?

It seemed to me that after the prison riot, everything really settled and Miriam is really just taking in loving her boys this season no matter what they do, whereas last season she was coaxing Kyle to get out of town. I think that she’s lightened up. She was pushed to the edge at the end of Season 1. She almost lost another son and now I think she’s happy having them in the house. I think she’s going through her own PTSD in a sense.

What is what Kyle is going through doing to his relationship with his wife (Nishi Munshi)?

Yeah, Kyle’s a mess and it’s a full plate for the entire family, especially for Tracy. It’s said she’s a saint so many times in this season because she really is, to be able to put up with a partner going through such a mental break, which Kyle is this season. But it’s really a testament to her character because she sees her partner having a tough time. She’s pregnant, she’s got so much on her plate, yet she’s the rock for him. That’s a really special thing about relationships is when one person is off the rails, there can only be one crazy person in the relationship, right? Or else it doesn’t work. So she really is a rock for Kyle this season. Nishi and I discussed the character breakdown and the dynamic and the history and she was like, “there were times when you were a rock for me and now this is my time to be a rock for you.” I thought that that was pretty special.

Could Kyle get to a point this season where he could be a rock for anyone?

Absolutely not. Kyle is running and gunning and trying to make sense of his entire life. This season, he’s really trying to figure out who he is.

What else is coming up for Kyle?

There’s a lot of different faces to Kyle that you’ll see this season.

How has changed the most since the series premiere?

Kyle was pretty clean cut. He was really walking on the side of right, and this season, he walks the fine gray line.

Will he cross that line?

That’s up to the audience’s perception, right? There are definitely situations that he gets into that are very questionable.

What was your favorite scene to film this season?

It’s in Episode 6.

Is there anything you can say?

No, I can’t say it. As much as it would be great to talk about it because it’s so fantastic, I don’t want to spoil it because there are so many great set pieces that happen this season, to talk about it would just ruin it. Watch it unfold and you will be pleasantly, pleasantly surprised.

Can you say who else is in the scene or if it’s more of an emotional one?

It’s an actionable scene. There’s a lot of action that goes down. We’re just doubling down on what we did in Season 1. Season 2’s just the 1, 2, 3 punch knockout.

What would it take for Kyle to go back to working in Kingstown and leaving Michigan State Police if he had the choice? Because who knows, he could have no choice after this investigation…

Exactly. That thread that you’re on, keep following it.

Mayor of Kingstown, Sundays, Paramount+