Jeanine Mason and Roswell, New Mexico showrunner preview season 3 of the extraterrestrial drama
Are you ready to head back to Roswell, New Mexico?
On Monday night, the extraterrestrial drama returns to The CW for its season 3 premiere and along with it brings Liz (Jeanine Mason) living out her career ambitions as a groundbreaking scientist in a lab in L.A., Maria (Heather Hemmens) continuing to experience prophetic visions (see exclusive clip above) and, of course, two Maxes (Nathan Dean Parsons). Well, one Max and one Mr. Jones who looks exactly like him, plus an impressive beard.
When we catch up with the residents (and former residents) of Roswell, New Mexico, an entire year has passed since the near-catastrophic events of Crash Con during the season 2 finale, meaning our beloved aliens and humans have had a lot of time to grow and come to terms with the decisions they made last season. (Okay so maybe Max still has some coming to terms with losing Liz to do, but classic Max, amirite?)
So has the time finally come for Michael (Michael Vlamis) and Alex's (Tyler Blackburn) relationship to flourish? Where's Isobel (Lily Cowles) at on her road to self-discovery? And can we hold out hope that Liz and Max will find their back to one another? We chatted with Mason and new showrunner Chris Hollier to find out all that — and literally anything we could squeeze out of them about the mysterious Mr. Jones.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was the year time jump because of the pandemic? To sidestep making that too central to the plot, or was that always the plan?
JEANINE MASON: That was always our intention and it was just sort of a saving grace in that way. We also don't acknowledge the pandemic in real-time on our show. There are no masks and that was just so wonderful just to get work in that way and have that time where it was a little more normal. Also, that's just our show — we want you to come to us the way you always do, which is for nineties nostalgia, sexy Cowboys, brilliant scientists, you know?
CHRIS HOLLIER: So we wanted to drop our characters in a year later, let them stew in their individual decisions that were made last season. We want everyone to root for our poster couple but we want to honor what happens in real life, which is sometimes you step away from that person, even if you are entwined with them in a very particular way. So we wanted it to be a real enough time and distance so that they could live a little life on their own.
With showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie departing at the end of season 2, has much changed? Or are you still working with ideas she had in place?'
HOLLIER: It's a little bit of both. There are things that Carina and I built that live all the way through and then once the story got up on its feet, discoveries were made with our new crop of people that we were like, "Oh, we're going to bend it this other way."
Jeanine, how is Liz doing in her new life in L.A. when we pick up this season?
MASON: Well, it's been a year and at this point, her life is actually pretty great. She just hasn't taken a second to acknowledge that. She's doing what she does best, which is just full head in her work and trying to figure out what she could use of her discoveries and her brilliance to save Maria. She has a great job, a really nice place, and an awesome partner at work who is a good time and a real match for her in terms of intellect and ambition. He begins to ask her to recognize that and to maybe give something a chance that she's been reluctant to because of how drawn she is to Roswell and to Max. It's a fun first episode. It's sexy. It's fun to find opportunities for her. She's our hero so she's got a lot on her shoulders and anytime where we can find levity for her is always a real treat for the writers and for me.
And no Crashdown waitress uniform must be nice?
MASON: Honestly, I miss it quite a lot right now. I have a note in my notes with Chris, I'm like, "I gotta tell him we gotta find him more opportunities for it."
Should Liz and Max shippers be worried about them finding their way back to one another after he destroyed her work and didn't follow her to L.A.? Should we resign ourselves to a season apart?
MASON: This season really is about these characters having themselves mirrored to each other. Max and Liz need some growing and ultimately they can't do anything but be orbiting each other. We found so many opportunities to have such a beautiful language around the cosmic element of their connection. They're asking, "Is this our decision, or are we just acting off of a decision that the cosmos made for us?" It was so fun to navigate that. I always have such a good time with Chris Hollier and with Nathan Dean, just finding the little tiny notches, a tiny bit of movement towards where they're going next. I really loved following them. It's my favorite Max and Liz season to date.
HOLLIER: It's not a season apart. I'll tease that they, in an unexpected way, end up in front of each other relatively soon. But it's really about when am I ready? And what does it mean to talk to my ex? When someone makes such a big influence in your life, when do you know it's over and when do you know you should fight again? We tried to give them real grown-up lives.
Steven Krueger (The Originals) also joined the cast as Heath this season. What can you tease about his character?
HOLLIER: He's just an awesome human being. I know him from The Originals and we were like, "If we're going to have to be stuck with people in the desert, who do we want?" You want to be stuck with a handsome and lovely and charming Steven Krueger. So really this was looking at, "Well, what did Liz want and what does it look like when you start to give Liz versions of what she wants?" Heath is somebody that is beyond being just a lovely person, he is smart and wants to advance science and that's appealing to Liz. It becomes, "What does it look like when the man that I hang around with all day is also into the same things that I am?"
MASON: I love him. Heath is just such a fun, whip-smart, fantastic character. His humor was so fun. We've been having a good time with kicking the humor up really through season two and in season three, we just took it up another notch. There are some moments that are like, "Is this a drama or is it a sitcom?" Looking back on it, he was such a fun partner to spar with. They're both such intellectual characters and I love that there's a real meeting of the minds. It makes it competitive and sexy. I know a lot of fans are so excited because they know him from The Originals and he's going to be a great addition.
Technically, Mr. Jones is a new character too. Can you tell us anything at all about him?
HOLLIER: I'd say he's a new character — and a fully-fleshed interesting new character. Mr. Jones has an awesome beard. At some point, he might lose that beard. A lot of people are asking me, "Is Jones good or bad?" And what I would argue is that's a perspective based upon who you are in the conversation that you're having with him. He knows a lot about our heroes' story and he knows a lot about home. He'll be able to answer questions for them. This season our heroes will get to learn why they ended up here on earth. One of the things I think that people will love is that they're going to get to see that home planet this year. We asked ourselves a lot about this whole season, "What have we set up for the past two?" We look at these first three seasons almost like a trilogy so a lot of things are going to be paid off.
Has Nathan enjoyed pulling double duty this season? Or is he just exhausted?
MASON: He's exhausted, but he's such a champ. That really is the beginning of this mirroring thing that starts with Max and Jones with him actually getting to look at himself to a degree and those questions that come up. The self-analysis that it provokes in him is really the beginning of what is happening to all of our characters this year; everybody's being confronted with themselves. I loved that the Max/Jones of it was also a real sci-fi element.
Did he really grow that beard or was that not possible if he had to go between the two characters?
MASON: That was a prosthetic beard and our makeup team killed it. He was not accustomed to early mornings, which, of course, all of us babes are. It was a lot of extra time in the chair for him.
Can Jones dupe Liz into thinking he's actually Max since she doesn't know he exists?
MASON: You're totally on to something. It's a real and pressing threat. I mean, she's totally in the dark and he looks like her cosmic lover!
HOLLIER: What I will say is that, Liz — beyond her being number one on the call sheet — is integral to this story in a way that she and none of our characters are going to perceive when they start episode one. We're bringing [the characters] to a new crossroads moment in their lives and they're getting, through Jones, a mirror into their own lives to decide what they're going to become next.
How's Rosa (Amber Midthunder) doing this season?
MASON: By the end of season two, Rosa really makes the decision to start taking care of herself. She really becomes an incredible asset to the Scooby-Doo gang. It's something that Liz is in constant adjustment to. As much as she's the younger sister, she feels very protective of her sister and Liz has had to make adjustments in her trust and faith in Rosa. I loved it because it just felt like a real personal, authentic thing that sisters would go through, but also that Hispanic sisters would go through. I think we sometimes, culturally, have a tendency to baby our women — maybe that's the wrong word — but just to underestimate their physical ability and what they might take on, and sort of 'queen' our women in a way where we treat them tenderly. I hate that. I'm a tough bitch and so is Rosa. So Liz has to confront that and go, "I'm an idiot to underestimate you. You've done nothing but prove me wrong."
What about Maria and her visions?
HOLLIER: This year I think Maria has the most complete arc of any season, as she recognizes things about herself that cause more questions about who she is, who her family is, how she's linked to this story. We dive into it in the present-day and we dive deliciously back in time too.
In the exclusive clip above we see her have a vision of a funeral, can you tease anything about who potentially might be about to die?
HOLLIER: Maria is front and center in driving the first half of the mystery for us. She's burdened with trying to figure out whose death she is seeing. It takes a few episodes to unravel and we use it to ask, is this linked to our supernatural stories or real-world stories that are going on politically? Is it bad luck? Is it herself? There's a whole gambit at play. We joke that we solved a past murder, now we're going to try to stop one.
Can Malex (Michael and Alex) shippers have hope that this might finally be their time?
HOLLIER: What I would say is that I think that Malex fans are really going to dig this journey. We, as writers, put them at the same level of importance as Max and Liz. So we wanted to really honor the next step in what they may or may not be. How did they grow up and how did they have those hard conversations just like Liz and Max are going to have?
Is Isobel going to continue to date women this season?
HOLLIER: Isobel is going to go on a more personal journey. You got to love yourself before you can love someone else. We lean into those possibilities by the end of who she might love. It's not something that is dropped all season — it is something that you'll see. We play some romantic comedy stuff with her character this year and with Maria that I think fans are gonna dig. There's a lot going on in the world and wanted to pump some humor and hope into it.
Will see more of Liz fighting to challenge the perception of the Latinx community?
MASON: I think that just by nature of it being one of such few shows that are led by a Latin woman, it's always going to be, to an extent, a protest or an assertion of the space that I get to fill and that Liz Ortecho gets to fill on network TV. I was really excited to just have Chris as a collaborator. Over our hiatus, before the season started, I was doing a lot of reading. I chronicled the books that play into Liz every season on my Instagram. I was reading some Sonia Sotomayor. Her book is just incredible. I was texting him screenshots of pages of the book with things underlined. Ten episodes deep into season 3, he's like, "Remember that page you sent me?" He's a real dream collaborator. I loved him for that. A pressing struggle for people of color is going through the ranks in these big corporations and then sometimes coming to find out that those corporations are purporting to support marginalized groups but actually aren't following through. So how do you, as someone who's having your success, your dreams become reality, navigate supporting the company and giving so much of your intelligence and your work — that they often legally own, especially with science — to a company that isn't going to be for your people?
Roswell, New Mexico returns Monday at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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