What Is Abigail Spencer and Mena Massoud’s New Show ‘Reprisal’ About?

Timeless and Rectify stars Abigail Spencer and Aladdin star Mena Massoud lead the cast of Hulu’s new drama Reprisal. The cast also includes Rhys Wakefield, Rodrigo Santoro and more. Reprisal is not a simple story so the stars and creator Josh Corbin helped entice viewers to give it a chance this weekend.

Abigail Spencer in Reprisal
W. Earl Brown and Abigail Spencer in Reprisal | Fred Norris/Hulu

Spencer, Massoud, Wakefield, Santoro and Corbin were on a Television Critics Association panel in July to preview their show. Reprisal is now on Hulu with new episodes every Friday. 

Abigail Spencer plays a dual role on ‘Reprisal’

When Reprisal begins, Abigail Spencer is bearing the brunt of vicious violence, the perpetrators of which leave her for dead. She survives though and appears again as Doris. Spencer explained how the woman Reprisal first introduces becomes Doris.

Abigail Spencer in Reprisal
Abigail Spencer at the beginning of Reprisal | Fred Norris/Hulu

“Everything here is out of Josh Corbin’s brain,” Spencer said. “A year ago, one summer afternoon, him and Warren Littlefield and Graham Littlefield and Anne Johnson and Jon van Tulleken, our director, came over to my house, and told me the story of Doris, who actually is a woman named Katherine Harlow.”

‘Reprisal’ is about more than its synopsis

Hulu describes Reprisal as “a hyper-noir story that follows a relentless femme fatale who, after being left for dead, sets out to take revenge against her brother and his bombastic gang of gearheads” They have to write something for the streaming menu. 

Mena Massoud, Rhys Wakefield and David Dastmalchian
L-R: David Dastmalchian, Rhys Wakefield Mena Massoud | Antony Platt/Hulu

“From day one, I’ve been pitching this show as we don’t know where we are and we don’t know when we are,” Corbin said. “For me it is a story about characters who are having to reckon with their pasts and in a lot of ways, in a lot of instances, reckon with the sins of their past.”

Abigail Spencer has a husband in ‘Reprisal’

As Doris, Abigail Spencer plays a married woman. Reprisal reunites her with a Rectify costar as her husband.

Reprisal: Abigail Spencer
Abigail Spencere and W. Earl Brown in Reprisal | Antony Platt/Hulu

“Doris is married to Thomas in her world that she’s recreated herself in,” Spencer said. “We were looking for a Thomas, and obviously got to be on Rectify for many years and work with the marvelous Ray McKinnon, but I never got to act with him. It’s so important to Doris’s journey that you really feel the love between them and all this history. We had two scenes to do it, and Ray and I have known each other a very long time, and we are like family.”

Mena Massoud plays a new gang member 

Reprisal introduces Ethan Hart (Mena Massoud) in his initiation into Matty (Rhys Wakefield)’s gang. He does what he has to to impress Matty but it’s not clear at first whether he’s a true believer or just someone committing necessary evils.

“I think every human being in the world has a little bit of good and evil in them, or what we refer that,” Massoud said. “I think a lot of times people who we refer to as evil, they don’t see themselves that way. That’s why they’re able to do what they do. So, that’s something that I’m excited about on this show. I think everyone has a different definition of that, and we go on those journeys, I think as you watch the show, your opinion of who’s good and evil might change as well.”

Mena Massoud in Reprisal
Mena Massoud in Reprisal | Antony Platt/Hulu

Corbin added, “I think the difference between good and evil is a blurred line in that regard. I think it’s more understanding a character’s motivation, and what drives them to do what they do, be it horrific or good. I think that some of the best drama really is when I want the audience to ask themselves, ‘Well, wait I don’t know how I feel about that.’”

‘Reprisal’ is about family

Whoever is the good guy or the bad guy, everyone on Reprisal contributes to violence. Reprisal is not for the squeamish. Rodrigo Santoro said there’s more to Reprisal’s violence than the acts themselves.

“I think also, for Doris, violence is the catalyst but not her engine,” Santoro said. As it evolves you will understand that at its core this show is really revolving around the theme of family, the one you’re born into, the one you find along the way, the desire to fit in. These characters are exploring the complex relationships that exist between families.”

Rodrigo Santoro in Reprisal
Rodrigo Santoro in Reprisal | Antony Platt/Hulu

Abigail Spencer also added that Reprisal begins right at the juiciest moment for these families.

“We’ve been in a time of peace,” Spencer said. “All these characters have been in a time of peace. So, we’re catching it at the catalyst when the story begins. We have to remember that everything has been dormant for a long time which is great because we’ve picked up at the right time in the story. As things get more clear, which will happen as episodes come out, things will get more gray. So I think, we’ll always be towing that line.”