Of all the characters on Season 2 of HBO’s Divorce, Dallas Holt, played by Talia Balsam, is having the most fun.
“I think she’s claiming herself a little more in Season 2,” says Balsam. “She was very clingy with her son in Season 1, making some choices out of being lonely. I think [the writers] were trying to move Dallas, as someone who’s been terribly hurt, into a more settled aspect of accepting where she was in her life.”
In the new season, which starts Sunday, January 14, the show picks up just about a month after the events of the finale, with Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church) finalizing the details of their divorce with their lawyers, including the sleazy Tony Silvercreek (Dean Winters), whom Dallas is still hooking up with. Even though she doesn’t see any long-term potential with Silvercreek (who would?), the relationship is important in her evolution this season.
“I think she’s hoping in the end that she can trust her own decision-making. She’s a little bit mistrustful of her own judgment.”
And this coming from a psychotherapist. “When I started this job, I didn’t know what Dallas did for a living. All of the sudden it begins to inform decisions you make once you know.”
During the middle of the season, Dallas is faced with a professional dilemma that affects her and friends Frances and Robert. But is she more conflicted about her ethics as a therapist or a friend? Balsam believes Dallas is good at what she does, even if she could learn to follow her own advice.
“I do think she’s a flawed person who, once she separates herself out of the equation, can help people make better decisions than she may make herself. I think she’s a good ear.”
Dallas is also the friend Frances goes to in crisis. In the first episode of the new season, “Night Moves,” Dallas excuses herself for a client emergency, to which Frances jokes, “Really, I’m not your biggest emergency?” Dallas’s expertise extends beyond her patients, as the strong friend Frances leans on.
“Dallas wasn’t very judgmental of Frances. There are times when you need someone more than other times, and these are the times. Right now, [Frances] needs the attention. I think [Dallas] admires her greatly. But I think that Frances has been there for Dallas, too.”
Yet, Dallas has much of her own story going on this season, dealing with the repercussions of her own divorce. With her son getting older, she faces an empty nest, which means she’s looking to new opportunities.
“I think it’s a big question mark right now. But I think at this point hopefully she’s gotten over her ex. I think the first season she was very self-involved and a little angry. But she can find her way, whether it’s with a partner or doing something else and figuring out how this part of her life is going to go.”
In one especially great scene, Dallas interviews to join a country club, and the club asks her who else is joining with her, to which she responds, “It’s just me.” The silence in the room is awkward, something that visibly makes Dallas uncomfortable. It reveals a more exposed side of this usually stalwart character.
“She wants to do something to engage with people other than what her work is. And I think that is vulnerable. You stick your neck out. I don’t think it has to do with being divorced. You’re single and navigating what you want your life to be.”
HBO’s Divorce airs on Sundays, starting January 14, at 10 p.m.