Roswell, New Mexico creator on that Friday Night Lights-inspired love triangle, grief, aliens, more in season 2
Ahead of The CW drama returning for its second season on March 16, we caught up with Carina Adly MacKenzie to find out what's to come.
The time to touch down in Roswell, New Mexico once more is almost here!
To say season 1 of The CW's extraterrestrial drama ended on a cliffhanger (can we coin "cavehanger"?) would be putting it lightly. The finale saw the Pod Squad take out evil alien Noah (Karan Oberoi), Max (Nathan Dean Parsons) flex his newly-robust powers to bring Rosa (Amber Midthunder) back to life and die in the process (!!), and Michael (Michael Vlamis) opt for a seemingly simpler relationship with Maria (Heather Hemmens) over going all in with longtime on-again-off-again love, Alex (Tyler Blackburn).
So how's our girl Liz (Jeanine Mason) dealing with all of that? Ahead of the season 2 premiere on Monday, we chatted with show creator Carina Adly MacKenzie to find out as much as we could about the episodes to come, from hopes for a #Malex reunion, to Liz's new role as big sister, and how the heck Isobel (Lily Cowles) is faring without her husband and her brother.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you approach season 2? Did you have a plan for how everything was going to play out?
CARINA ADLY MACKENZIE: So far, for both seasons, I've gone in with a plan for what the mystery of the season's going to be and then how it's going to end. I present that to the writers and say, "Okay, now you guys help me make better." We felt that in season 1 we had explored the mythology of our characters as far as how high school and what had happened to them in 2008 is that still affecting their lives. So, in season 2, our approach has been to go deeper into the alien mythology and explore what happened to Michael's mother and Max and Isobel's mother in 1947 after the ship crash. That was our backstory stuff. Then, as far as our mystery that we're solving in present day, we have a little abduction story beginning that has some twists and turns along the way that are pretty interesting. I just went in and I said, "Here's who I think the bad guy is and here's how and here's why," and then we just tried to execute that to the best of our ability in 13 episodes.
Do you feel like this new season has its own theme or is it more building on what you've established in season 1?
It's so funny, the new poster that marketing put out says "Destiny reborn" and I'm like, "I don't know what that means," but I'm trying to frame my answer around that: We have Rosa coming back from the dead right off the bat and her legacy in the town was not what she wanted it to be. Part of our theme is, what do we want to leave behind? What is the impact that we want to have when we're gone? Especially as we explore the characters that were part of the Roswell lore in 1947 and are no longer with us. I also think that there's a real sense of our characters trying to take control of their own narratives and learn more about their own past so that they can have more agency in the future.
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Right, that makes a lot of sense, especially for Isobel, who we saw violated and controlled by her husband last season and then lose both him and her brother all at once. How is she doing when we pick back up? Should we expect her to go dark this season?
Isobel is definitely the person who had her world rocked in the most devastating way since the finale. She really loves Noah and so she's starting to question her own judgment. But probably more importantly, is that it was very clear in season 1 that she and Max were very codependent on each other. They don't really function without the other person and so she is in this place right now where she's realizing that she's defined herself for a very long time in how she relates to the men in her life. So, suddenly she doesn't have those two men and is realizing that in order to survive, in order to move forward, in order to have a life, she has to fortify herself as an individual and figure out who she is outside of being a wife and outside of being a sister. We actually have a, definitely complicated, but lovely time this season with Isobel, as she discovers what she likes and what she wants to be. Even just little things like the way that she dresses changes because she's no longer mimicking her mother. She's no longer mimicking what she thinks a human woman is supposed to be. Instead, she's going to try to figure out who she is as an individual.
Liz and Rosa obviously have to figure out this new dynamic to their relationship where Liz is now the big sister. Has that been fun to unpack the conflict there?
Yeah and there's a lot of conflict there. Rosa is used to being the older sister, to being this very kinetic, dynamic force in Liz's life and as a kid Liz really looked up to her sister. Now, suddenly, for Rosa, in the blink of an eye, Liz is 10 years older and just very different, very jaded and looks at Rosa through different lenses for sure. Rosa isn't exactly the kind of person who's suddenly going to take orders from her little sister so that complicates things for sure. Liz is at this place where she's trying really hard to experience the joy of a miracle happening: The thing she prayed for, for as long as she still prayed, came through and she's trying not to let Rosa see that it came with a really terrible price, which makes the beginning of the season very complicated for them. Luckily, we have Kyle around who gets to be the third sibling in a very complicated and weird way. He didn't really have a relationship with Rosa outside of her being somebody that was around, somebody that was present in his life, but not his sibling. So they get to start from scratch with a new sibling relationship, which has been a really fun thing to explore.
Where does that leave things between Liz and Kyle? Is he still harboring romantic feelings for her?
Because Kyle is so dependable and has loved Liz so much in all of the different ways that you could love someone — she's one of his best friends, he considers her to be like family and he was in love with her for a very long time — it's easy for them to fall into place in each other's lives as they're working together to pick up the pieces of what happened last season. Even though Liz is very much still in love with Max, it becomes one of those things where it's like, "Well, do you want to come over and watch a movie or grab coffee?" Suddenly it's like Kyle is like the surrogate boyfriend. He has to look around and be like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I've put my life on hold to be there for you, but you don't love me the way that I love you." He has to make a difficult decision about the extent of their friendship.
So is Liz's focus this season very much on finding a way to bring Max back? Is she using that to avoid grieving?
Liz is very good at compartmentalizing. So when she gets into the lab, she feels like, "Okay, this is where I have a superpower." She sort of frequently said throughout the season, "If I'm gonna succeed at the science, I can't think about the emotion." So she's putting her emotions into a box to try to be the brilliant scientist that she is. Obviously, that's not necessarily the most successful or the most healthy way to deal with grief — and not just grief, but some anger. Max made a choice; a huge choice for her that didn't involve her. That's frustrating for her as a woman who doesn't like to just be a person who's reacting to other people's decisions all her life.
What about the whole Michael/Alex/Maria love triangle? Can #Malex fans keep hope alive?
It's so funny because I keep seeing all of these reviews from the screening last week in Atlanta where people are like, "Well, Malex aren't going to be romantic at all this season." And I'm like, "Have you seen those guys? I could put them in a scene together about fixing a flat tire and it would still be a beautiful, romantic scene!" Their relationship changes on an episode-to-episode basis because they're trying to be one thing to each other and they are often successful and they're often not. They harbor a lot of anger about things that happened in their past that they are trying to get past. The other thing is that they both love Maria DeLuca. They both really care about Maria. So this is a complicated situation and we're really trying to tell a story about adults getting caught in this love triangle space where you can't just storm into geometry class like, "He's mine!"
Right, the stakes are so much higher.
The stakes are higher. They're grownups and people can't steal other people. They have a very complicated situation to work out that's not made any easier by the fact that when Michael is upset, it's very easy for him to slip into default old habits. In the past, whenever he's been like, "All right, well, today I'm the town drunk," Max has been there to fix his problems. Max isn't there to rescue him this time and he has to figure out how to rescue himself.
Ah, it's hard because I'm rooting for them all!
Right, we're rooting for that friendship between Maria and Alex too. I really modeled it after Tim Riggins, Jason Street, and Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights.
The most heartbreaking love triangle of all time! Texas forever!
Yes, it's this group of people who all love each other. Tim and Jason loved each other more than anybody else did in that triangle and that made it very complicated. It also made it about a bunch of people who, in the end, want each other to be happy and that makes it even harder.
Wondering if Max is really dead? Watch the video above for Parson's take and tune into Roswell, New Mexico when it returns Monday, March 16 at 9 p.m. on The CW.