In the next episode of The CW series Roswell, New Mexico, entitled “Como La Flor,” Liz (Jeanine Mason) and Rosa (Amber Midthunder) are forced to revisit their past when their estranged mother (Bertila Damas) show back up in their lives. At the same time, Max (Nathan Parsons) is trying to make sense of his own past, now that he’s started having flashbacks to childhood memories that have been long buried.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Nathan Parsons talked about why it was important that his character’s death mean something, the different dynamics in Season 2, how much he knew about what Max’s journey would be, where things are at for Max and Liz, Max’s concern for Isobel (Lily Cowles), learning about the aliens’ history as more and more memories come back, how crazy the second season finale will be, and what it’s meant to have such tremendous support from some of the original series cast members.
NATHAN PARSONS: Yeah, it’s awesome. Especially considering how up in here everything else is right now, it’s nice to know that, whenever we all can get back to the office, we’ve got somewhere to go.
Now that Max is officially back in the world of Roswell, what was your reaction when you were first told that he was going to die? Were you like, “Hey, did you forget that I’m the male lead of this show?,” or were you game for however that played out?
PARSONS: Honestly, I had an inkling that it was spiraling towards that, pretty much for most of Season 1. Obviously, you never know for sure until it’s on the piece of paper in front of you, in the script, but I had an inkling of it. By the time the script for that episode came around, and it was like, “All right, officially, you’re dead,” I was so exhausted with the crazy schedule of shooting the season that I was like, “Thank you! I’ll take it. I can take a nap.” The end of last season was absolutely insane. We were in the pouring rain, in freezing temperatures, screaming at each other for 18 hours a day, so that’ll take it out of you. I was actually a little excited about it because it was like, “What else is gonna happen? What are you doing?” I think the writers did a great job of giving me little things to play with, via a little zombie action, or the imaginary friend. Those were all fun things for me to chew on, while people were figuring out how to bring me back.
What was it like to be a part of the show, before you were officially back in the storyline? Did it feel weird to have it be so very different, at the beginning of the season, or was it fun to get to play with some different dynamics and aspects of the character, that you couldn’t have done last season?
PARSONS: It was both, to be honest. I love all of the things that I got to play with. It’s fun to play. That’s why we do what we do. But it was a little confusing ‘cause I would show up to a table read, and I would have no idea what was going on. People would be talking, and there were characters and I didn’t know who they were or what they did. But I knew my little bit and I focused on that, which was fun. So, it was both. It was very confusing and I was pretty lost, but I enjoyed it. I tried to make the most of it.
How much of Max’s journey were you told about, at the beginning of this season? Did you know how and when he would ultimately come back, before that happened?
PARSONS: I knew, pretty much from the end of Season 1. Between Season 1 and Season 2, I had a lot of conversations with the writers about how we didn’t want Max to come back, right away. That’s cheap. His death had to matter, otherwise, what were we doing? So, I knew it would be some time. Beyond that, I didn’t really know much. My purview into what was going on was so narrow because I wasn’t there for most of it. It was actually nice going in, not necessarily knowing what’s going on because it puts me immediately in the same place Max is in. When I wake up, eight months, or whatever it is, after I died, all of this stuff has happened and I’m going, “Huh? What? You’re doing what now?!” So, it was fun to play catch up, on screen. When I’m asking everybody, “What happened,?,” I was really genuinely asking about what happened because I didn’t know. I really enjoyed that. Going forward, from the time I come back until the end of the season, I had a vague idea of what was going on, but you never know until you see the script.
It feels like Max’s journey this season is only just beginning, now that he’s back. What can you say to tease this next episode and what we’ll see with him?
PARSONS: Well, we know that Max and Liz are back, essentially. Now, we’re gonna Liz’s mom come back into the picture, played by the amazing Bertila [Damas]. She brings a whole new level of complexity to that whole family dynamic because now we’re no longer just Liz and Max. It’s now Liz and Max, and Rosa, and their dad, and now the mom’s coming back. We’ve got the whole family going. That’s a whole web to untangle, right there.
How does Max feel about all of that? Is it more than he bargained for?
PARSONS: It always is, right? You start a relationship and suddenly you go, “Oh, you’re the sibling? Hi, it’s nice to meet you. You’re the dad? Hi, it’s very nice to meet you. And you’re the mom? Okay. It’s very nice to meet you.” You end up getting slammed through that gauntlet, sooner or later, and in this case, it’s happening sooner. I don’t think you ever quite anticipate that, but it always happens. I don’t know why we think that we can escape it because it always happens.
Isobel has always been a little intense, even before Max died, and now she’s even more intense about wanting to spend time with him. What can you say about the dynamic between Max and Isobel now, and what is he most concerned about, when it comes to her?
PARSONS: I think it’s just that, her intensity. I don’t know what she’s been through, with the pregnancy and all of that. I just know that she’s a little more chomping at the bit. They had that huge fight, that big smack down, and she’s obviously become super powerful. It’s a little like, “Easy up, sis. I’m here. It’s cool.” For me, it’s only been a minute, so not much has changed. For her, it’s been a lot longer. I don’t really have an understanding of what she’s been through, so it’s like, “Hold your horses,” a little bit there.
Max had a very interesting vision, at the end of the last episode, and obviously you’ll get into that more, this season. What can you say to tease that, and where that will lead him, this season? Are we going to learn more about his alien side?
PARSONS: Absolutely. You’re gonna learn more about all three of us and our history. That’s always been a burning question, since the beginning. What happened before we woke up in the desert? No one knows. We don’t remember. It’s bee suppressed. Now, we know that they were experimenting and that’s horrible, but that was all post pod. Now, suddenly, these memories are starting to pop up. Not only is it an effect of being dead and being in a pod for so long and having those members seep in, but also it’s just my effort to suppress those memories and suppress the questions of, who are we? Where do we come from? I’ve worked so hard to try to be human, but I’m not. That’s a tough pill to swallow. At the end of Season 1, Noah said, “This is who we are. This is where we come from. Whoever wins the war is coming for you.” And it was like, “What war? What are you talking about? Why were we in these eggs?” All of that stuff has been a question, from the beginning. Noah re-awoke it. As much as I’m still trying to suppress it, now it’s going, “Sorry, I’m already awake now. And they’re coming back. Whether you want to remember or not, you’re going to.” And then, you have to decide, if you keep trying to suppress it or if you go, “Fine, what do I need to know? How do I remember? Who the hell are we? Where did we come from?” That’s really where the shift is gonna come, and we see that more and more of these memories are coming back.
Obviously, you want those answers, but at the same time, is that also scary for him?
PARSONS: Absolutely. That’s why I’ve suppressed it for so long, to begin with. It’s scary enough that we all have these weird powers. It’s even scarier to think, if we were only children and we can do what we can do, and I can call down a lightning storm and throw it into someone’s chest as an untrained child, what were we capable of? What are we capable of? And do we want to know? Not necessarily, but we don’t have a choice. That’s why you go, do I pretend that it doesn’t exist? I’ve squashed that part of myself so hard that it’s almost like I’m normal, but at the end of the day, I’m not. I’m not like everybody else. You can only do that for so long, before it comes around and bites you.
Without giving away any spoilers, what can fans expect from the season finale? Last season, you had a big finale where your character ended up dead, so how does this season’s finale compare to that?
PARSONS: It’s still pretty crazy, I would say. Maybe some more people die. Maybe there are much bigger plots going on than we ever thought there were, to begin with, and they all crash to a head. We learn that there’s more to this world than our little town of Roswell, and we’ll see how that explodes before us.
It’s very cool that this re-imagining of this story has also been able to include some of the original cast members, with Shiri Appleby directing episodes and Jason Behr guest starring this season. What’s it meant to the cast, to see the original cast supporting the series and to have them around?
PARSONS: It’s awesome. This was such a loved series, when it first aired. When we first started, before Season 1 ever aired, people were going, “You’ll never replace the original. There will never be another Max.” And they’re right. I’m not Jason Behr. I’m not able to do what he did. I’m not trying to do what he did. We’re not trying to. The wonderful thing is that the cast from that original said, “No, you’re right. We’re all a part of this huge family here, and we all love this weird world that we all work in and live it.” Their support has been awesome, from the beginning. Back in Season 1, Shiri fist directed for us. Jason came in this year, and he’s been a wonderful help for me, personally, just because I admire him, as a person and as an actor. To have him around and his support is wonderful. You can’t ask for anything more than that. It’s really been nice. If there’s one thing that we’ve tried to really work at it’s to keep these stories fresh. Ultimately, every story has been told, so it’s about finding new ways to tell them. And to include the people that came before us and set the tone, to begin with, elevates what we’re trying to do. Together, as a whole family, two separate series have come together, and I think it’s wonderful.
Roswell, New Mexico airs on Monday nights on The CW.