‘Dead Boy Detectives’ EPs on Whether [SPOILER] Is Really Dead — and What ‘Sandman’ Characters They’d Want in Season 2

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from the entire first season of “Dead Boy Detectives,” now streaming on Netflix.

The Dead Boy Detectives may have closed the case of Port Townsend, but they don’t jump back through the mirror to merry old London the same boys they once were.

More from Variety

In the Season 1 finale of Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Dead Boy Detectives” comic books, Edwin (George Rexstrew) and Charles (Jayden Revri) find themselves in the well-manicured clutches of resident witch Esther (Jenn Lyon), who is hellbent on bottling the youthful elixir she brews from the anguish attached to Edwin’s soul from his decades of torture in Hell. Pesky witches, always trying to steal childhood trauma for their skin care routine.

But with the help of Crystal (Kassius Nelson), who has restored her rather unwelcome memories of being a horrible person, and Niko (Yuyu Kitamura), the sweetest soul ever to exist, the Dead Boys are able to defeat Esther by tattling on her to Lilith, the goddess of wronged women and blood magic –– and the person who had given Esther her immortality. She rescinds that gift after Crystal shows Lilith that Esther has been using it to kill children to stay young. But Esther’s demise doesn’t come soon enough, as Niko becomes her final victim in the fight to save Edwin –– or so it appears (more on that in a minute).

By the end of the episode, Edwin and Charles, along with Crystal and Jenny (Briana Cuoco), whose butcher business went up in flames at the hands of Esther, head back to London and find the Night Nurse (Ruth Connell) on their doorstep finally ready to send them packing to the afterlife. But the head of the Afterlife Lost & Found Department determines they are doing good on Earth solving the cases no one else can, so they are granted immunity to stay together on this side of the light with one stipulation –– the Night Nurse will be their new overseer, reporting back on their usefulness to the Powers That Be.

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in episode 101 in DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in “Dead Boy Detectives.”

How Edwin will react to the increasingly crowded Dead Boy Detective Agency offices is a question that’s already enticing executive producers and co-showrunners Steve Yockey and Beth Schwartz about the possibilities of Season 2, should Netflix give the greenlight.

“I will say, it is hard enough to get Edwin to accept one new person in Crystal, and it only took the course of the season for that to begrudgingly happen,” Yockey tells Variety. “But to see them be confronted with a whole new gaggle of people and dynamics will be a lot of fun, I think.”

Schwartz adds: “Things are going to be different in London. They have grown so much, and learned so much about themselves this season, that future seasons will inevitably change how they are used to running things.”

Given the stinger at the end of the season finale, is it possible that Niko could reunite with the agency in Season 2? The brief scene shows a figure who sure looks like Niko with her parasitic Sprites (Caitlin Reilly, Max Jenkins) huddled up in an igloo, suggesting the soapstone polar bear given to her by Tragic Mick (Michael Beach) might have been a pocket-sized saving grace. But Yockey and Schwartz won’t budge on revealing what the scene means, choosing instead to commend Niko’s courage in her “final” fight.

“In that moment when she dies, she is at her bravest, and it is to save her friends,” Yockey says. “I will say that, wherever Niko is, she is going to have a very long journey to get back to her family.”

There is perhaps no one more heartbroken about Niko’s supposed death than the guarded Edwin. But on the whole, Port Townsend did wonders for the sheltered Victorian-era teenager, who took his first steps toward embracing the queer identity and sexuality his own time required him to repress. For better or worse, this personal growth was, in part, initiated by his encounters with and imprisonment by the Cat King (Lukas Gage). Yockey knows Gage’s performance will likely inspire plenty of hope for Edwin and the Cat King’s potential romantic future, but he would like to remind everyone not to mistake attention for good-hearted affection.

“I will say, if we get to make more, I believe you have not seen the last of the Cat King,” Yockey says. “But honestly, he is an antagonist. He’s a predator. It is great that you love him, and it is great that some people in our writers’ room think that he is magical. And Lukas certainly is charming and delicious in that role. But ultimately, he forcibly imprisons Edwin in a town in the Pacific Northwest and then tries several times to blackmail him into affection.”

No matter how persuasive the Cat King may be at luring Edwin and the audience in, Schwartz confirms he isn’t right for Edwin’s journey –– for now. “Lukas’ performance is so charming you forget all of that stuff, but for Edwin, who is just finding his own identity and sexuality, that was not where we wanted him to have his first experiences.”

Instead, it is worth noting that he shared his first kiss with Monty (Joshua Colley), the anthropomorphized crow Esther conjured up to distract Edwin (RIP, human Monty).

At the end of the day, the real love story of the show is and always was the friendship between Edwin and Charles. After Charles saves him from the depths of Hell in Episode 7, Edwin confesses that he is in love with his best mate, to which Charles assures him that while the romantic feelings aren’t mutual, there is no one he loves more than Edwin.

Yockey smiles at the mere mention of any will-they-or-won’t-they tension between the Dead Boys, because he says that was never on the table.

“It was important to me that we not drag out any kind of will they/won’t they situation,” he says. “That moment in Episode 7 is much more about Edwin saying something out loud that lets him be fully himself with his best friend — and his best friend receiving it like a real best friend should. And letting him know, ‘You are loved.’”

With the bromance alive and well, the Dead Boys will need each other to face what are undoubtedly bigger dangers lurking in the world around them –– even beyond the giant mushrooms, murder loops and the vast unknown of the Afterlife they’ve already encountered. The series was originally initially set up at Max (then HBO Max), which houses the DC Studios library. However, Yockey and Schwartz were legally barred from using the characters from “The Sandman,” another of Gaiman’s DC Vertigo comics where the Dead Boys made their debut, because it was being adapted by Netflix. When the show ended up being shuffled to Netflix anyway, they suddenly had the “The Sandman” universe of gods and monsters at their fingertips. But they had only two requests –– Death (as played by Kirby) and Despair (Donna Preston).

Charles and Edwin hide out from Death in the premiere’s opening sequence, their latest attempt to avoid being carted off to whatever comes after life. Kirby was not initially in the scene when it was first shot in 2022. They only showed Death’s signature blue light and wing seen to get around any legal troubles. But once approved by Gaiman, the cameo was the last thing filmed for the first season. Meanwhile, Despair briefly appears in Edwin’s trip to Hell in Episode 7, solemnly peering through the mirrors of eternity. But there is more to that story, Schwartz teases.

“Obviously, Despair is now connected to Edwin, so it would be fun to explore where that goes after their encounter,” she says.

With the show now officially a part of Netflix’s “The Sandman” universe, Yockey says a second season would be a great time to rope in Desire (Mason Alexander Park), who could be a tempting figure to put in front of the Dead Boys as they build relationships beyond their friendship.

Beyond “Sandman,” their wishlist for Season 2 is longer than Esther’s kill list. Also on it, Schwartz says, are more cases in London and more animated sequences, following the finale’s gruesomely fun origin story segment for Esther that was done by Warner Bros. Animation.

“The best part of this show is that it is limitless,” Schwartz says. “Ghosts, creatures — we could do it all!”

But Yockey has something more specific and festive he would like to do should the show be given the chance.

“It would be fun to do a Christmas special,” he says. “You know, one of those British-style Christmas specials with the Dead Boys and all their various traditions. So everyone needs to go tell Netflix that’s what the people want!”

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.