Ethan Hawke Returns in ‘The Purge’ Season 2 Finale, but How?

USA announced that Ethan Hawke, star of The Purge which spawned the movie franchise and the TV series, will appear in the show’s second season finale. Fans remember the first movie well which raises questions about how Ethan Hawke can return. USA provided some details, and spoilers for the 2013 film follow.

Ethan Hawke in The Purge Season 2
Ethan Hawke as James Sandin | USA Network

Season 2 is the first time the franchise has taken place on any days outside of Purge night. The season began at the end of a Purge and follows the year until the next annual Purge. The show airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on USA. The season finale airs Tuesday, December 17.

Who was Ethan Hawke in ‘The Purge’?

In the near future, the New Founding Fathers of America have instituted an annual Purge. One night a year, all crime is legal for 12 hours including murder. The idea is that by purging violence out of their system, society becomes more peaceful the rest of the year.

Ethan Hawke played James Sandin. Sandin was not only a husband and father to two children, but he was an executive at a security company that sold wealthy families security systems. The Sandin family found out, as James admitted, that no security system is 100% safe. 

When his son (Max Burkholder) allows a homeless man (Edwin Hodge) in their house to shelter him from Purgers, the masked marauders try to break into the Sandin house. James does not survive, but the franchise did becoming a lucrative one for Blumhouse.

The characters of season 2

Season 2 follows several different storylines. Marcus Moore (Derek Luke) survives an attack and spends the year trying to find out who was trying to kill him and why.

Derek Luke in The Purge
Derek Luke as Marcus in The Purge season 2 | Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network

Fraternity brother Ben Gardner (Joel Allen) embraces his dark side and deals with his impulses the rest of the year. Ryan Grant (Max Martini) leads a heist, but one of his team members is a few seconds late after the siren, so technically he committed a crime during non Purge hours.

The Purge season 2
Paola Nuñez in The Purge season 2 | Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network

And Esme Carmona (Paola Nunez) works in the control center monitoring the events of the night. That alone takes a toll on her, but she discovers there’s more than the NFFA let on.

Ethan Hawke’s role on ‘The Purge’ season 2

USA confirms that Ethan Hawke will reprise the role of James Sandin in the cold open of the season finale. It will be a flashback to one week before the very first Purge, depicted in the 2018 prequel. It will be the first time Sandin puts his security system to the test on Purge night. A flashback allows Hawke to return and it fits with the format of the show.

The series has also flashed back to the recording of the Purge warning. Hawke did not appear in any of the sequels – The Purge: Anarchy, The Purge: Election Year and The First Purge – so it took 19 episodes of the series to see him again.