Making A Scene: ‘Fallout’ Cast and Crew Break Down the Epic Finale Reveal, That Pivotal ‘Okie-Dokie’ and What’s Next for Season 2

While breaking down Prime Video’s “Fallout,” showrunners and series creators Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet recognized that they were headed straight toward a “whopper pileup” in their finale. With three main characters — Lucy (Ella Purnell), Maximus (Aaron Moten) and the Ghoul/Cooper (Walton Goggins) — barreling toward the climactic showdown housed inside a burned-out, post-apocalyptic Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, the duo realized they had three major narrative reveals about to collide.

“We talked briefly about spreading the gravy a little thinner, as you spread gravy, of course,” jokes Wagner. “And at some point, there was a moment we were like, ‘Fuck it, it’s whopper city.’”

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That creative chaos — the balance between the somber and the surreal — is where “Fallout” found its sweet spot. The TV series’ ability to distill the quirks from the video game’s retro-futuristic wasteland and dig into a deeper story while maintaining its signature (be it very morbid) sense of humor was a knockout for fans, bringing in 65 million views within the first 16 days of its release. But the real test would be pulling off a finale that could weave together the bizarro storylines between a vault dweller, a knight and a ghoul.

How did it come together? The cast and crew of “Fallout” discuss the creation of the siege of the observatory.

“We just piled everything, crammed everything to the end, and the hope was to take all of these big moments and stack them up almost on top of each other and have it all happen as one super whopper,” says Wagner.

Moten, who plays the oft-misguided Maximus, has a much more poetic term for the finale: the “obliteration of optimism.” Despite “Fallout’s” offbeat humor, the finale delivered gut punches to the three leads. “It’s just a credit to the writers. It’s an amazing moment for all three of those characters,” says Moten.

After traipsing through the Wasteland in search of her kidnapped father, Lucy’s idol is revealed to be the destroyer of the newly minted enclave Shady Sands. The Ghoul (aka Cooper Howard) also discovers his wife’s handiwork in ushering in the end days, albeit that news has yet to detour a 200- year search to find his family in the post-nuclear world. Meanwhile, Maximus receives everything he’s ever wanted — a knighthood and cold fusion to boot — only to wake up alone and with a whole new set of questions.

“Since [the finale], essentially, is all these characters realizing the most horrifying thing that they possibly could, we wanted it to feel like one scene or one revelation that was multifaceted,” says Robertson-Dworet.

To accomplish this narrative feat, “Fallout” would have to pause its episodic road show and halt everyone in one singular location, no matter how many characters had to die to make that meeting happen. “That was the goal — to do a piece of theater,” says Wagner. “In contrast to a show full of so much movement and scope, to actually get people sitting down and [in an] almost kitchen sink conclusion.”

For a big, theatrical ending, the creators would need a stage-worthy set — and the Griffith Observatory worked on many levels.

The L.A. landmark offers a spectacular look at the city below, which, of course, is very important to Lucy’s journey.

“This is the gauntlet that she has crossed to try to rescue her father,” Robertson-Dworet says. “Maximus gets to see the lights go on and the stakes of what this thing is that everyone has been fighting over this entire season — this piece of technology, how powerful it really is. Maximus gets to witness that by having that incredible landscape view, so it was a twofold motivation for choosing it.”

In fact, the landmark bookends the whole series. In Episode 1, as Cooper Howard is riding away from the mushroom cloud of doom, the observatory is in the shot.

After the scene was set, it was time to shoot. Pulling from Sergio Leone’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” a major influence for the series and the inspiration behind the three parallel character stories, the camera pushed in for each big revelation.

“That incredibly intense, intentionally over-the-top shooting style that Leone used was something that we wanted to build our way toward,” Robertson-Dworet says. “We felt like maybe if we leaned into it too hard in the pilot, it would have been alienating or bizarre or made the show feel too campy. But by the end, when Lucy has experienced so many horrifying revelations, it feels like we’re ready to be that close to her face.”

Despite the pages of dialogue, Purnell would sift through for her character, it would be Lucy’s catchphrase that would give her the most trouble. “That ‘okie-dokie’ was the hardest thing about the entire scene,” says Purnell. After several shots and plenty of harrowing exchanges, the Ghoul invites Lucy with him out into the horizon to “meet her maker.” Her response was the familiar “okie-dokie.” But it wasn’t that simple.

“I can’t tell you how many times I must have said that line,” Purnell says. “By the end, I was so frustrated. It was really hard … Do you do ‘okie-dokie’ broken? Do you do it strong? Do you do it like a badass? And so every time I did it, I could feel it wasn’t right.” Help would come from her co-star. Purnell’s lightbulb moment hit when she realized it all came back to the Ghoul.

“Part of the Wasteland that I carry with me literally is, it’s not the Wasteland; it’s the Ghoul. I’ve turned into him when I said I wasn’t going to do that,” says Purnell. “Most of Lucy hates herself for what she’s turned into, hates him for what he’s turned her into. But she doesn’t have a choice. She can’t stay here. When he says, ‘Do you want to go meet your makers?’ Lucy is never going to say no to that. And so, it’s not a broken ‘okie-dokie.’ It’s an acceptance of what’s happened to her. It’s an, ‘OK, there’s nothing else for me to do except put one foot in front of the other.’”

Goggins says the scene was one of the “most fulfilling parts” of the project since it started so brutally and ended slightly softer but not overly sentimental. The actor is glad the co-creators didn’t lean into that sentimentality.

“It isn’t father-daughter,” he says. “I think it is a person who has seen the loss of innocence in another person and deeply empathizes with it because he himself went through a similar experience 200 years earlier and is still reeling from the loss of that innocence that his tone changes. And when he says, ‘Are you coming?’ I just think that’s a pretty cool way to go out.”

Meanwhile, Maximus said the most without saying anything at all. In his final moments, he stares out into the vista, seemingly abandoned by Lucy and awash with emotion.

That stare, however, was delivered again and again, emoting every possible sentiment he could conjure. “Aaron Moten is a guy who can do soliloquies with his expressional journeys,” Wagner says. “We’re not the kind of show to release deleted scenes, but the various iterations of how Maximus processed this moment … is amazing.”

Moten says they did multiple takes to try and figure out “what Maximus does with the obliteration of optimism.”

He continues, “It almost feels like this is going to be now the biggest defining blow that’s going to turn him into the man that we will continue to see develop throughout the course of this series.”

As for the new season, which the crew was currently crafting throughout our interviews back in May, no one knows for sure how many questions the next batch of scripts will answer, for example, why Goggins’ seemingly has a thicker accent as the Ghoul. “He started as a Gene Autry-era cowboy, and by the time we meet him in the present day, he has become a spaghetti western eram,” Wagner teases. “Everything is pushed, everything is emphasized, and yeah, that’s his arc, and yeah, the accent comes with it.”

Fans can look forward to future conversations about Robert House, an integral figure in the games to New Vegas and will return for more episodes and the deathclaw skull reveal in the end.

“To be honest, the deathclaw is an element we were troubled by not finding the right space for it in season one, and we very deliberately wanted to box ourselves in,” says Wagner. “And sometimes, as writers, you do that. You set yourself a challenge and you just say, ‘Well, now we got to.’ So, that actually has helped us a lot because we’re already developing ways, iterating ways to actually get the deathclaw up on its feet. Make it the most cool and impactful thing and it actually has given us the runway so we’re not just delivering a script and saying, ‘Oh, God, there’s a deathclaw.’ It’s like, ‘We know there is a deathclaw, so get ready.; These things take a lot of iterating, a lot of time to do it and to do it right versus just having it be a CG squiggle running across the screen.”

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