‘Roswell, New Mexico’ Star Jeanine Mason: Liz Gave Her Heart to Max But [Spoiler] Is ‘a Real Contender’

Jeanine Mason Roswell New Mexico Season 3 Premiere Liz Ortecho
Spoiler Alert
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Roswell, New Mexico Season 3 premiere “Hands.”]

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…or leads you straight into the arms of another. One year later, Liz (Jeanine Mason) is in Los Angeles and her alien ex Max (Nathan Dean) is back in Roswell when Season 3 begins and by episode’s end, both hook up with other people (a colleague for her, a local for him).

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Also in Roswell, New Mexico‘s return, both Max and Maria (Heather Hemmens) are dying, and Michael (Michael Vlamis) continues to pine for Alex (Tyler Blackburn). Plus, Max tells Michael and Isobel (Lily Cowles) he’s the clone (at least according to Jones, also played by Dean). Oh, and Maria’s having visions of a funeral. Uh-oh!

TV Insider turned to Mason to find out what’s next.

Liz seems pretty settled in LA and less attached to Roswell. Is that just because she’s so busy or is being busy and trying to save Maria sort of an excuse?

Jeanine Mason: Absolutely an excuse. She is connected to her people in Kyle [Michael Trevino], Rosa [Amber Midthunder], and Maria and particularly in her quest to save Maria through her work. But Roswell has a real heavy association to Max, so she’s not quite ready to embrace that just yet. We even made a decision to make her clothes much more L.A. and less Southwestern than they’ve ever been. It was quite weird, those first couple of weeks on set, just not having my fingers draped in turquoise. It felt wrong for Liz.

And that’s how Liz feels. She feels like she is attempting to push away a giant part of her, but she really is on this journey of trying to suss out for herself whether she wants this for herself. So much of this cosmic question, this love affair, and this deep need for her to be their protector and answer all these questions for these aliens and take care of them have been decided for her [by] the cosmos. This season is really a journey for her of deciding whether she wants this for herself and if it’s what’s best for her. It was so fun to craft that arc this year. I really love where it ends — I know we can’t talk about that just yet — but I really think that the back half of this season is just beautiful. It’s like magic, how it all comes together.

Roswell New Mexico S2 Finale Jeanine Mason Liz Nathan Dean Max

John Golden Britt/The CW

At this point, how does she feel about Max?

I don’t think she would ever truly confront how strongly she still feels about him. She’s so strong-willed and just so good at compartmentalizing. It’s part of the reason why she’s such a brilliant scientist and so much of the first couple of seasons was about her compartmentalizing her hatred for her mother and the abandonment that she felt at the hands of her mother and the betrayal she felt at her community for how they reacted to the circumstances around her sister’s death. She had just gotten to a place where she tore those walls down and Max and Isobel and Michael were part of that, of letting her welcome a new family into her heart. She’s just [put those walls] right back up.

Being back in Roswell — which she does pretty quickly — and being alerted to the magnitude of the problem with Mr. Jones and how the stakes are so high on how unwell Max is, very quickly she gets back into a rhythm of being their hero, being the protector, being our protagonist, and that begins to tear down that wall and quickly she realizes she can’t ignore how much of her heart she has given to this man since she was on the playground with him.

Is Heath (Steven Krueger) just a distraction or does she have feelings for him?

She definitely develops feelings for him. He is like a gorgeous candy, but with a lot to offer in the filling because he intellectually and sarcastically is really a match for her. It’s a real meeting of minds and that’s something she’s been starved of for a minute. I’ve been using the word sparring, but they are really kind of dancing with each other. It’s like a bit of a tango. Then we ultimately end up in an episode where we do quite literally dance together. It was fun to have a real contender in a lot of ways. Then as we start to learn more about Heath, things get more complicated as they tend to do in our tiny town.

Roswell New Mexico Season 3 Premiere Health Liz

John Golden Britt/The CW

He was willing to help her erase that footage. That says something about who he is. She thinks she’s in the clear when it comes to leaking the formula, but how soon before she inevitably finds out that’s not the case?

Pretty quickly. And you’re right to watch his actions in that way. Steven Krueger’s a great actor and he’s charming and we can clearly tell he’s taken with Liz, so we might assume that he’s doing this just as a first-time, out-of-character thing. But there is a real ease with which he does it that the attentive watcher will realize, “Hold on, wait, this guy’s a little comfy with some shenanigans here. What else can we come to expect of him?” He’s got a gorgeous arc this season. We capitalized off of that guy’s acting skills. That was really fun.

I love that Liz and Kyle are friends, despite their history, in a way that Liz and Max can never be.

[Laughs] You’re so right! That’s what I love about Liz and Max. They truly feel like — this is just my scientist, Liz Ortecho brain turning on — magnets to me. There’s so much beautiful language this season about orbiting and how the two of them are quite literally orbiting each other. But the pull is so strong that it’s either in it or it’s gotta be opposites sides of the country.

But Kyle and Liz have a real easy, familiar rapport. They are family. And I feel that with Trevino. I love that man, and it’s so fun to play with him. He’s always so down to find little beats and moments. So he did feel like Liz’s lifeline. She’s so good at talking people away, but [she can’t do that with] Kyle. And she is a part of his big question this season, which is the question she sort of posed for herself at the end of Season 2: How much am I going to give to these people and how much I put on the line for these aliens? It gets really complicated for him and convoluted and he has to start making personal sacrifices. And it’s like, “Hold on, wait, where do I say no? Where do I set boundaries? Where do I consider myself?” Trevino did a really gorgeous job navigating that.

Roswell New Mexico Season 3 Premiere Kyle Liz

John Golden Britt/The CW

Is Liz reconsidering some of the choices she’s made about her career after seeing the more business side of her job, with the plans for her formula to be used for skincare?

Yeah. I’ve had a lot of people asking me, what element of this season is Liz being the Latina warrior we know her to be? [This season is about], how is Genoryx actually meeting her demands in being for the people they purport to be for, the people and marginalized groups and everything she stands for and wants to look out for? Are they actually looking to take care of us? And how much of her brilliance, of her actual work, are they benefiting from, are they using, do they own as they do when it comes to science? They legitimately own it. Then she can’t go and use that to positively affect her community.

It’s a pressing question and thing to navigate, especially for marginalized people and women of color who are becoming successful in their industries and are getting to a point where they are working with these big corporations. They have to start asking themselves, “How much of this corporation is aligned with my morality?” It just breaks my heart because you want nothing but for someone who’s as brilliant as Liz and has so much to offer to just have limitless access to the financing and to affect positive change in the world. But you’re not often aligned with the people who are the financiers. I’m really proud of how we wove her navigating that into the season.

Maria’s having visions of a funeral. What can you tease?

It’s very awful. These are things that we know for certain are happening. It’s not like this is something that we’re then going to find out she misinterpreted the situation. We are working against a clock and we are attempting to alter the future. We realize pretty quickly we can make adjustments, but that doesn’t mean that then it disappears. The circumstance is still happening. So it was really between saving Max’s dying heart and sorting this Jones thing, plus Maria’s visions. It created two real great pressure cookers for us the season to work under. And the Scooby-Doo gang’s just good at working under pressure.

Nathan Dean Roswell New Mexico Season 3 Premiere Jones

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How is Liz balancing the fact that her ex-boyfriend, who she still loves, and her best friend are both dying and she’s coming at it from a scientific point of view but there are aliens involved?

Oh, it’s insane. We joke often that if we only had an extended episode version, you would get to see them all going to the town therapist. We’re like, “Can we get the town therapist in Season 4? Thank you so much.” The sign-in sheet is just every character on the show. She turns to her usual safety nets and touchstones in Kyle, Maria, and Alex, but ultimately we had to make a decision, how does this woman manage this much science, just in her brain at any moment?

We came up with this thing I’m super excited about. We are calling it the Sherlock Holmes season for Liz, where we took all of this beautiful mind element that we normally on our show have made it pretty insular and we’ve made it physical for her. She gets to share in the way that Sherlock Holmes does. Because her mind moves a mile a minute, it was a technical challenge and getting all the science jargon down enough to try to feed it to Isobel and to Michael and be like, “Guys, ’cause we need to do this and this and this and this,” but it created a lot of opportunity for hurriedness and comedy. It was fun to just take it off of the whiteboard and get to see her mind at work physically. There’s a lot more comedy and comedic relief through her work, which we need because the stakes are just so high.

What can you tease about any interactions between Liz and Jones?

Their first interaction is really awful. The beautiful thing about Liz, particularly since the pilot, is she’s the viewer, the one that is taking in this information in real-time and in disbelief and trying to sort it together and making sense of it. And we get to have that moment with Jones. She gets to really see the fullness of, “This is my beloved’s face on another body,” and it’s just mind-blowing. “Where do they come from? What are we up against?” She, in real-time, is trying to calibrate all that.

Roswell, New Mexico, Mondays, 8/7c, The CW