***Note the following interview contains light spoilers for tonight's episode***
Tonight Syfy airs an all-new episode of Resident Alien
. Recently on the series, Asta (Sara Tomko) killed a man to protect her alien friend Harry (Alan Tudyk), and she’s been dealing with the guilt. Can she forgive herself? “I think that that is going to be seen and felt by her for a little bit,” Tomko told SciFi Vision during an exclusive interview last week. “Forgiveness is so important, especially with self; that's one of the hardest things for us to do as humans is to forgive ourselves.”
Guilt and pain is part of being human, and in a recent episode, Harry took away Asta’s memory of the shooting to remove her pain without her permission, but a lot of it was selfish, because he didn’t like the way she was acting. He just didn’t comprehend what was happening, according to the actress. “I don't think he even understands what he did was wrong at all…I think he just wanted it to stop. I don't think he even thought twice about asking for permission consent or that she would be upset by it. In his mind, he did a good thing.”
She thinks, however, that it was innocent. “I don't think there was any malice or ill will,” said Tomko.
Still, it was a hard pill to swallow. Why does she stay friends with Harry now that she isn’t worried his race is trying to destroy humanity? “He's so awkwardly honest,” she explained. “It's brazen and bold and in your face a little bit…She finally meets somebody who has the balls to just tell her the truth and to just be really brutally honest, and it's actually, I think, really comforting to her. She doesn't have to guess. She doesn't have to worry. She doesn't have to question. It's just answer after answer after answer, even if you don't like it.”
Still, removing her memory affected her relationship with her estranged daughter Jay (Kaylayla Raine), when it also caused Asta to forget that she agreed to meet her for her birthday, and it can’t be easily fixed. “[H]ow do you come back from abandoning your daughter twice?” she asked. “…It's one thing for my daughter to be mad at me because I abandoned her once, but what if she turns indifferent to me? What if she doesn't want to ever see me again?”
“I think what's important, going forward,” explained Tomko, “is that Asta’s going to have to find a way to deal with acceptance. ‘I've hurt you, and there's nothing I can do about it.’ I think it's something we struggle with a ton as humans. We get really defensive if someone tells us that we hurt them…The majority of us are not going around trying to be mean, trying to hurt, we just do. I think it's important that Asta goes through a process of acceptance, and I think we're going to see her have to sit with that uncomfortable feeling of ‘I've hurt you, and even if you don't ever want to be in my life, I need you to know that I accept what I've done, and I love you no matter what.’ I think we're going to have to see her really be honest with Jay in that way. Hopefully, Jay will take that and appreciate it, but, honestly, I could understand if Jay didn't.”
For more from Tomko, including how she’s similar to Asta, what she’s like to see happen for her character, and much more, read the full transcript below and be sure to tune into an all-new episode of Resident Alien
, tonight on Syfy.
SCIFI VISION: I just wanted to first ask you, other than the script, where else you kind of pull from with with your character? Like, is there anything you pulled from yourself or maybe other inspiration you got from somewhere else?
I think that's true for a lot of characters I've played. I think you have to pull from personal life, because then it wouldn't be fully truthful if you didn't. Things that Asta and I have in common, we're super emotional. When we're happy, we cry. When we're sad, we cry; we just cry all the time, and we're really in tune with other people. We're both empaths, and that's something that I find true in my life.
Something that I use on a daily basis is tarot, which is a wonderful way to kind of get low, get quiet, and still and have some intuition. So, I actually use my taro when I'm working to really tap into where Asta is at and see if there's anything that comes up that I need to deal with. So, there's that. I have some tarot influence and meditation.
Music, of course, that is always influential. When I'm on set, actually, I have a song called “Once Upon Another Time” by Sara Bareilles that is just so stunning…It's so beautiful, but it's all about a woman who's been somewhere before and is not headed that direction anymore. She's going in a new direction. It reminds me of that moment in the pilot when Asta leaves very quickly from the house of her abusive ex, and is in that tunnel, and she has that moment of, “Do I go back or do I go forward?” and she goes forward. This song is so beautiful, because it's just so still and powerful and about those moments where we can't change what's happened; all we can do is go forward, but we have to take where we've been with us as lessons in life. I take that song with me on set a lot, and especially when I have to do really intense scenes where I do have to maybe be a little bit more emotional, or I have to remember where I've been to get to where I'm going. That's something I have in common with Asta as well. I was never in an abusive relationship, but I've definitely been in a relationship that was toxic, and I've definitely had real things I've had shame and regret about too, the same way she does with Jay. So, I always use that song as a great way to ground myself in stillness and to remember that no matter where I've been, I'm moving forward. That's what I use a lot, actually. I'll sort of sing it to myself right before we start shooting a scene, especially if it's an emotional scene.
I want to talk a minute about her relationship with Harry…Other than trying to save the world, what does Asta get out of her friendship with Harry? He's not really a good friend most of the time. Why does she keep coming back to him?
He's so awkwardly honest. [laughs]
It's brazen and bold and in your face a little bit, and I think being adopted and having her mom drop her off at a doorstep and feeling a bit abandoned in her lifetime, feeling like she's never really been able to have a good relationship, then, of course, going through the experience she had giving up her own daughter for adoption. I think she meets this man - who she thinks is a man, of course, the first time they meet, and why would she think he's an alien? [laughs]
- She finally meets somebody who has the balls to just tell her the truth and to just be really brutally honest, and it's actually, I think, really comforting to her. She doesn't have to guess. She doesn't have to worry. She doesn't have to question. It's just answer after answer after answer, even if you don't like it. He's full of answers. So, I think she keeps him around more than just to save the world, because he's the only person in her life besides her dad, played by Gary Farmer, who's - I wouldn't say the only [one], because Darcy is too, but the only man, I think, besides her dad, that she feels like, “I can trust you, and I can trust that you're going to tell me the truth,” which is why it's so upsetting that he erases her memory without her permission! [laughs]
Because she trusts him, and that's a big deal that he does something without talking to her about it, and it's a real violation. Before we get into that, I think, to answer your question, the reason she keeps him around is because she knows he’ll tell her the truth. And, like I said, while she has Dan (Farmer) and Darcy (Alice Wetterlund) in her life, who also tell her the truth, they've always been there, and to have this new person, this new energy, a stranger from another world, coming into her life and reminding her how to remember why it's important to be alive and to be human, it's like her constantly having to teach him those lessons is reminding herself of those lessons, and it's comforting, but it's also sobering. He really keeps it real.
I do want to talk about Harry taking her memory, but first, I wanted to ask you something, because I was thinking about it, but do you think that she sometimes thinks of herself as a mother figure to Harry to some extent? Because she's obviously teaching him.
Oh, yeah, you hit the nail on the head. I think, especially in season two, you see a lot of it, the lessons that she's teaching in a motherly way. In some ways, it's like an opportunity for her to be the mother she never got to be to Jay. I think you're spot on with that. I think Harry's very childlike, in that way, in his wonderment and how he doesn't know how to do things and doesn't know the ins and outs, just like a parent would have to teach a child…It's been really eye opening - Mothering can be a negative term sometimes when it comes to adult relationships. I think sometimes it can be seen as something that you don't want to do, especially to an adult man…but this is not an adult man. This is a child in an alien body really, and he's scary a little bit. The way a child who just is first learning how to walk is scary, how you think they're just going to ram their head into everything. So, her being a mother to him is really just very protective the same way he's protective of her for different reasons. She's protective of him, because she's like, “I don't want you to get hurt, but I need you to understand that getting hurt is a part of being human.”
Now, I want to ask you though, do you think that his reasoning for taking her memory away was altruistic though? She was sad, but I feel like it was really that he didn't like the way she acted when she was sad, not so much understanding what that meant.
Yeah, I don't think he even understands what he did was wrong at all. I think he just was like, “You don't feel good? I don't like this. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it now.” I think he just wanted it to stop. I don't think he even thought twice about asking for permission consent or that she would be upset by it. In his mind, he did a good thing. He was like, “Oh, you weren't feeling good; I made you feel better.” It's very innocent. It's very childlike. Which is why in [last week’s episode you saw her] have a real conversation with him about how that's not okay and how pain is an inevitable part of being human. But I don't think there was any malice or ill will. I think he definitely just thought, “I can help!” [laughs]
His eyes got wide like, “Oh, I’ve got it!” It’s like, “No, that's not it.”
Could you maybe talk a bit about sort of what is going to be her plan with trying to figure out how to get Jay to forgive her? Does she have a plan?
It's a great question. I think that when I first read in the scripts that this was going to happen, I was so angry - obviously not really, but like a little bit. I was like, “Are you joking right now?” This is not happening. I felt sick to my stomach. So, similar to Asta, I think when she [found out she was] devastated, first of all, but how do you come back from abandoning your daughter twice? There's something really scary about [it]. It's one thing for my daughter to be mad at me because I abandoned her once, but what if she turns indifferent to me? What if she doesn't want to ever see me again? What if she is like, “You know what, I don't even care about you anymore,” because that's what happens in humans. You get hurt enough times, you're like, “Fuck you, then. I don't even want to give you the time of day.”
So, I think what's important, going forward, is that Asta’s going to have to find a way to deal with acceptance. “I've hurt you, and there's nothing I can do about it.” I think it's something we struggle with a ton as humans. We get really defensive if someone tells us that we hurt them. We're like, “Well, no, I didn't.” You’re like, “No, you did.” And it's because we don't mean to. Obviously, we didn't intentionally try to hurt you. I mean, maybe there are people that do that to each other out there, and of course, there are, but for the most part, the majority of us are not going around trying to be mean, trying to hurt, we just do. I think it's important that Asta goes through a process of acceptance, and I think we're going to see her have to sit with that uncomfortable feeling of “I've hurt you, and even if you don't ever want to be in my life, I need you to know that I accept what I've done, and I love you no matter what.” I think we're going to have to see her really be honest with Jay in that way. Hopefully, Jay will take that and appreciate it, but, honestly, I could understand if Jay didn't. It's really, really messed up that not only did I give her up, but then I hired her. I was like her friend and stalking her while she was at work. I mean, really, when you break down what Asta did, it's really a mess. [laughs]
It is. So, I also want to talk about sort of her her struggle now that she killed a man. Obviously, she did it to save Harry.
Yeah, of course, it was just instinctual.
Can she forgive herself? How is she going to deal with that?
Her whole storyline is based on saving humanity. So, it's very hypocritical for her to kill a man, and I think that that is going to be seen and felt by her for a little bit. Forgiveness is so important, especially with self; that's one of the hardest things for us to do as humans is to forgive ourselves. I think, again, sort of the same way she's going to have to have some acceptance with Jay, she's going to have to have [acceptance] that she has in fact killed a man. In some ways, it was self defense. It was, “I was defending my friend whom I love who you were going to kill.” I think once she can come to some clarity with the fact that she didn't intend to take a man's life, that she was really just defending her friends honor, I think she'll still have a little bit of an easier time with it. But I think she's going to have to either do some Forgiveness Ritual or maybe take a take a week in the mountains and really sit with herself for a little bit before she can come out and go, “Okay, we can move forward from this.”
I think it's really hard, but I think what we're seeing with Asta is she's learning faster. She and Harry are similar that way. It's like she's learning now how to turn it all around much quicker than she did before. [When] she would make a mistake in season one, she would take all of the season to figure it out. Now it's like only an episodes’s worth. [laughs]
So, I think we'll see her get some forgiveness for herself much quicker.
There is a scene in [this] week’s episode with Liv (Elizabeth Bowen), and the two of them trying to figure out the truth. Can you kind of tease about that, and is she worried that will lead to her getting in trouble for the shooting, or is she more concerned to finding out what happened to Sam (Jan Bos)?
I think it's important she gets to the bottom, truly the bottom of what happened to Sam, for closure. I also think her relationship with Liv is growing too, because they both have had abandonment by parents, and so you're going to see some some similarities there on them searching for answers. They both are searching for answers that they need closure to, so I think it's just really key in their friendship and why they bond, but also key in they’re being able to breathe a little easier. Like Deputy Liv even sending that video out finally to the alien tracker and asking for his help is a big step, and so Asta turning around and going with Liv to try and find out what's going on about Sam is important. It's a big step. There are still a lot of holes with why the original Harry, the human Harry, why he was a part of this in the first place, and why he was such a bad guy, and why he would kill Sam. So, I think it's just really a great way for Liv and I to have a little bit more content on screen together, which is great.
Also, I recently came to an epiphany about Deputy Liv. That [other] episode, watching her listen to Sheriff Mike talk about a frozen gun and it melting from a bullet, I just was like, “Oh my god, Sheriff Mike (Corey Reynolds) and Harry are like the same person and Deputy Liv and I are in hell trying to like explain to these humans or these beings, like, ‘No, that's not it. It could just be this normal answer over here.’” [laughs]
So, I texted Elizabeth Bowen, and I said “Hey, I think we have a lot more in common than I think we've even realized.” I'm looking forward to seeing Liv and Asta finally have a conversation about the men in their lives that they have to work with, and I just want to see them have some coffee and be like, “Can you believe what he did today?”
What else would you like to see happen with Asta? Like if you got to write anything, what would you like to see happen?
I was just thinking about this today. I really think it'd be cool to see her trying to find a new hobby. We've seen her struggle with the daughter storyline for obvious reasons. We've seen her in an abusive relationship. We've seen her have a lot of pressure on her shoulders to save humanity. But what would it be like for her to be like, “Do I want to play guitar or learn how to juggle?” I mean, I think there's a lightness that Asta deserves after all this heaviness that she's been through, to try and discover, like to see her seeking soul’s purpose. As humans, there's all this downtime we don't talk about. What we talk about is all the big events. We talk about when we get married or if there's a death in the family or if there's a job promotion or if we lose our jobs. There're all these highs and lows, but a majority of our human existence is all that in-between magic, when we're sort of bored and sitting around and saying, “What's my purpose?” So, I think it'd be really cool to see Asta explore that hobby that makes her excited, just because it makes her excited and for no other reason. I think it'd be fun for Harry to help her. I could just see them trying some things out, like they go to archery together. They go to the mall. she tries to make clothes, and she's bad at it, whatever. I think it's important and funny to talk about those in-between moments where it's not just highs and lows. I think that would be really fun to explore.
What has the show taught you about yourself?
It's been incredibly life changing. For me, it's taught me to have radical trust in my purpose in life. It's taught me to lean into those moments where I'm feeling my most confident and my most joyful, when I'm on set, and I have purpose, and to not be afraid of those moments when I don't feel so confident or I'm lacking joy. Being successful isn't always the only thing to reach out and search for; it's more about soul fulfillment.
I think Asta has taught me a lot, as a series regular now, about [how] there's going to be things that change your life, but there's also going to be times you just need to go to the bar and laugh with your best friend and lighten up. Or for those people that have chosen to be sober in life, or don't want to have that be a part of their journey, to find the thing that is fulfilling to them. I just think it's taught me to lighten up a little bit more about my career as a whole, a little bit more about [counting] the blessings when we have them. [laughs]
I mean, it's weird to do a show about the world ending, and then the world ends. When you have a pandemic [laughs]
it really puts things in perspective; I will tell you that.
So, Asta going through all this stuff is really just been simultaneous with Sara going through all this stuff. I think I've learned the most from watching her just being an empath sitting there listening and taking the world in and not taking no for an answer and standing up for herself. It's been lovely to be able to do that in my career and for my castmates, and in the show, but also now having a platform where people are listening to be able to give a voice to the voiceless when I can. So, I've learned a lot.
I don't know how it is there, but maybe at least now you all can get together more than you probably could for a while.
Oh my god. Alice's coming over in about an hour, we're going live tweet the episode tonight. So, that's great, because we're finally in a place where we can actually hang out in each other's living rooms again. We didn't get to have any of the fun cast parties or wrap parties. We didn't get to do many red carpet events. San Diego Comic-Con was literally the second event we've gone to with our show, and we've been doing it for four years. So, I'm hoping we do have some some more fun together that way in season three.