‘Instinct’s Travis Van Winkle Hints at a ‘Spark’ Between Lizzie & Ryan

David Needleman /CBS

On CBS’s sophomore procedural Instinct, the NYPD squad room is getting a bit more crowded. There’s Dylan Reinhart (Alan Cumming), aka Dr. Psychopath, an eccentric professor and former CIA agent turned crime solver. Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic), who fulfills the role of scrappy, no-nonsense homicide detective. And now, rounding out the mix: Det. Ryan Stock, a heroic hunk of man-meat — on loan from Nebraska, no less — played by Travis Van Winkle.

Needless to say, we ain’t mad at the new addition. But thus far, the poor guy has been struggling to acclimate to the Big Apple as he follows the trail of a budding serial murderer — known as the Sleeping Beauty Killer for his or her habit of swaddling victims in a blanket — whose spree began in Ryan’s hometown.

“My character is honest and sincere almost to a fault, and he’s been suddenly thrust into this very fast-paced world,” Van Winkle says. “Everybody around him has a sarcastic edge, and he has to learn to not take it personally!”

Among those busting his all-American chops? Lizzie, although her barbs seem to be more of the flirty schoolyard variety. “There’s definitely a spark there, and we’ll be slowly leaning into that,” Van Winkle teases. Ryan’s presence in the precinct will also stir up a rivalry of sorts between besties Lizzie and Dylan. Says Van Winkle, “They compete over who gets to work with me, which is flattering!”

Of course, Ryan does bring more to the table than just a pretty face. His personal connection to the case — the first victim was a close friend — and dogged style make for a formidable investigative combo. Even his target will take notice, starting with the July 21 episode.

Jeff Neumann/CBS

“The Sleeping Beauty Killer catches wind of me, and a communication begins,” Van Winkle says. “Over the course of the season, it’s going to get really sticky.”

Instinct, Sundays, 9/8c, CBS