‘Rizzoli & Isles’ Returns Determined to Rescue Maura

Rizzoli & Isles
Doug Hyun/TNT
Sasha Alexander

When Rizzoli & Isles returns to TNT to finish out its sixth season, the stakes are higher than ever—Maura (Sasha Alexander) has vanished, but Jane (Angie Harmon) will quickly realize the M.E. is in grave danger. But even though Maura’s hands are tied—quite literally—she won’t be passive about saving herself. And as the series starts to prepare for its seventh and final season, the danger to Jane and Maura will continue to linger.

With Rizzoli & Isles returning for the second half of Season 6, executive producer Jan Nash offered up a few teases about what’s coming up.

What’s in store when Rizzoli & Isles returns?
At the end of our summer season, the last thing we discovered was that Maura Isles had been kidnapped by someone clearly trying to hurt Jane Rizzoli. Someone who has burned down her apartment, has disrupted her finances, sent a threat that seemed like it was a personal threat but ultimately was a threat to someone she cared about. And so there’s been this building tension in the episodes that existed in the background, and then it reached full power in the summer finale when Maura was abducted. I think quite simply, the job is to find Maura. She’s been kidnapped, she is in danger. And Jane and Frankie and Korsak and Nina, their job is to figure out who has Maura and where she is and how they bring her home safely.

And then, on the flip side of that, Maura is some place in danger, and being the smart medical examiner that she is, she’s going to do everything she can to protect herself, to save herself. And these two paths move forward through the episode in, hopefully, a way that the audience will find to be a satisfying conclusion. Over the course of the winter season, we don’t necessarily answer the question of who did this and how we catch them; it’s a longer arc story that will carry into Season 7.

RELATED: Why Rizzoli & Isles Is Ending With Season 7

How much will we see Maura’s captivity versus Jane and the team trying to save her?
For dramatic storytelling purposes, for the opening part of the episode, we don’t know where Maura is. And then there’s a moment where it’s revealed, when they figure out what’s going on with Maura. And once we figure that out, we begin to see more of Maura. After that moment, she’s very present in the episode, in the ongoing quest to figure out who abducted her and what she can do to escape. Of course, there is the expectation that all these people who love her are out in the world trying to figure out where she is and to save her at the same time.

How much guilt is Jane feeling about Maura’s kidnapping, and how will that impact the way she goes about the case?
I think Jane Rizzoli feels an enormous sense of responsibility in Episodes 13 through 18 about, not just [about] what happened to Maura, but what’s happening to the entire team in terms of the stress it puts on them and the implied danger of not knowing who this nemesis is. She does, definitely, have some moments where she gets very, very frayed and is not as in control as we expect to see [her]. It does have an impact, and I think it will continue to have an impact in Season 7 until we ultimately catch the person who is behind this.

Rizzoli & Isles

Jane and Maura during less trying times.

How will this experience shape Maura going forward?
Obviously, this is a light, comic procedural, so we do try to live with as many dramatic moments as we can, and we do try and honor the drama of the situations. We will be allowing Maura to have the experience of having been affected by this kidnapping, to wrestle with what those feelings—that lack of personal safety— will mean for her life. That issue, from both the perspective of Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, is something we deal with very directly in the subsequent episodes. At a certain point, you want to continue to acknowledge it, but you don’t want to lay on it too hard, because then the show becomes a different thing.

How does a more serious episode change how you and the cast go about things?
The actors, even in their previous acting experiences, have spanned the range from drama to comedy. When they get a script that’s lighter, they totally get it; they do the lighter thing. When they get a darker [episode] or something that has a little more thriller, they totally lock into what the tonal intention is, and [they] can carry that to the finish line. They’re actually incredible filters for us, really, because they can look at something in an episode and say, “This just doesn’t feel real to me in this moment” [or say] “That’s a great joke. I love it because it’s an appropriate joke for the moment.” We’re lucky to have a group that’s as talented in as many different ways as they are.

Rizzoli & Isles returns Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 9/8c on TNT.