EPIX’s ‘From’ Producers on the Priest Ministering to Souls Trapped in a Monster-Haunted Limbo

EPIX’s ‘From’ Producers on the Priest Ministering to Souls Trapped in a Monster-Haunted Limbo March 12, 2022

A man in a Catholic Roman collar.
Shaun Majumder as Father Khatri in ‘From’/EPIX

Can a Catholic priest be a hero in a modern TV series? That just may be the case with Father Khatri in the new horror series From.

Having premiered with three episodes on Feb. 20 on EPIX (also available On Demand and on the EPIX NOW app),  and airing Sundays, From focuses on a mysterious town ostensibly somewhere in Middle America. Travelers from (get it?) all over the country find themselves trapped in the town — which appears to exist in a dimension of its own — where human-appearing monsters lie in wait for them every night.

The Sheriff and the Priest

Harold Perrineau (Claws, The Rookie, Lost) stars as the town sheriff, Boyd Stevens. A former military man, his organizational skills have helped the residents of the town (not always successfully) survive the nightly assault, as the deadly creatures try to sneak and seduce their way into homes protected by enigmatic talismans.

At his side is Father Khatri (Shaun Majumder), a Catholic priest who also stumbled into the town. He has set up a makeshift church and ministers to all the townspeople.

Considering the sad state of priest portrayals in much of modern media, I have to say that, so far, I’m pleased with what I’m seeing of Father Khatri. He seems both a brave, honorable man and a true believer.

Father Khatri Is No Plaster Saint

Father Khatri also acts as a counterweight to Boyd, but not always in the way you expect.

As seen in the first three episodes, a father in the town gets drunk and leaves his wife and daughter alone at home. When they fall prey to the monsters, Boyd faces a choice. He has decreed that anyone whose actions or negligence results in the death of a resident must be left outside at night in a rickety horse trailer — meaning certain death.

Faced with imposing the sentence for the first time, Boyd wavers. Father Khatri urges him to keep his word, so that the threat of punishment means something. Boyd fires back that Father Khatri should be all about mercy, but Father Khatri essentially reminds him that justice is also the duty — and burden — of a leader.

If There’s a Priest, There’s a Reason

In my experience, when you see a portrayal — whether positive or negative, but especially when it’s positive — of the Church in a TV series or movie, there’s usually a reason. Often, a baptized Catholic is involved somewhere. In this case, From creator John Griffin was raised Catholic but no longer practices the Faith.

A couple of days ago, I got to hop on Zoom and talk about Father Khatri with Griffin and executive producers Jack Bender (Mr. Mercedes, Under the Dome, Lost) and Jeff Pinkner (Cowboy Bebop, Knightfall, Fringe, Lost, Alias).

So, here’s some of what they had to say about the good Father.

On creating Father Khatri:

Pinkner: Jack’s wife is a rabbi. I’m raised Jewish. My wife is Buddhist, and comes from a lineage of Buddhist ministers. We are all, I think, spiritual people, regardless of our relationship to organized dogma or religion.

And if you’re talking about characters in a challenging circumstance, the idea of faith, what you believe in, who you put your faith in, or how you choose to contextualize your situation, what better a character than a priest?

Griffin: There are a lot of ways to portray a priest in today’s television, and a lot of them tend towards the more cynical view. Whereas I think, one of the things that Father Khatri brings to this place, that no one else really can, is that he really is a man of faith.

And particularly in episode six, where [new arrival] Tabitha comes to him and says, “Are we dead? Or are we…” And his response being, “Would it make a difference? We’d just be looking for a different way home, but we’d still be going home.”

Shaun wasn’t playing at the idea of a priest. He was playing the reality of a man who had, had his faith affirmed under some very, very unique circumstances, as Jeff pointed out.

On what faith means:

Bender: It has to do with morality, and the greater good, right? I mean, it has to. And that becomes selfless at times, as opposed to selfish. And that’s what I think we all strive for.

And it’s, how can you be the best person? How can you love that neighbor? I mean, come on.

And yet, we’re all imperfect people. And we all fall, we step into the little bear traps along the way frequently, and you try to not, or you try to do it again.

Pinkner: One of the things that I like the most about Father Khatri, is that he doesn’t have answers, that he’s searching for them, too. The best spiritual leaders are the ones who don’t present as if they already have been given all the answers.

The ones that I find the most authentic … are always looking and changing and willing to evolve, and willing to grow, and willing to ask the questions. I think religion is a great forum to ask questions, not necessarily to look for answers.

On the humanity behind the collar:

Griffin relates how eventually he came to realize that all churches were not like the very traditional one he knew as a child and that priests come in as many kinds as people do.

Griffin: That was when my eyes were opened. It was like, as you say. I was “Wow. Priests are just people. They’re people that have struggles and have questions.” And I think there’s a little bit of that in Father Khatri.

He’s a guy that wears jeans. He’s a guy that cares about people. You know what I mean? He’s a guy that, for whom the job goes beyond just standing on a dais, preaching.

The Challenge of Sticking the Landing

Both Bender and Pinkner worked on Lost, one of the most successful of the “puzzle box” shows, which rely on a strong sense of mystery, slowly unfolding through clues. But, as Lost fans discovered — and debate to this day — one of the hardest things about scripting the journey on a “puzzle box” show is landing the plane.

On what fans can expect from the finale of From, which should air around April 10.

Pinkner: There’s never been the ending to any story, anywhere, that satisfies everybody. And your goal is not to satisfy everybody. Your goal is to make an ending that feels both inevitable and surprising at the same time.

And [it should be] an ending that you realize, looking back at the beginning of the show, yes, of course, that’s how it has to end.

There’s clues all along the way [about] how it was going to end. We feel very confident that we have all of that. Will some people guess it? Maybe, and they’ll be satisfied in how clever and astute they were. Most people will not, but we’re not seeking out just to surprise people. We want the ending to feel emotionally right.

Griffin: You can have the most clever twists and turns in the world. You can have the most thorough mystery box. You can have something more clever than you’ve ever seen. If you don’t care about the characters, it doesn’t matter.

It ends up feeling clever for the sake of clever. And our goal from the start, has always been a really good mystery with a satisfying end, but with characters that you fall in love with along the way.

In case you were wondering, with its horror elements, blood and gore (not excessive but definitely there), rough language, and some nudity and sexual elements, this is NOT a family show.

Image: EPIX

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About Kate O'Hare
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is an entertainment journalist, Social Media Content Manager for Catholic production company Family Theater Productions and a screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
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