‘Roswell, New Mexico’ Showrunner on That Season 2 Finale and What’s Next in Season 3

     June 16, 2020

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[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for the Roswell, New Mexico Season 2 finale.]

On the Season 2 finale of The CW series Roswell, New Mexico, while most of the attendees of CrashCon survived unscathed, many of the beloved characters were faced with choices in their own lives that forced them to make decisions that could set them on very different life paths in Season 3. How any of it will ultimately play out, only time will tell, but for now, there’s plenty of time to speculate while waiting for new episodes.

And in the meantime, we got on the phone to chat 1-on-1 with showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie about tying up all of the family threads this season, shooting the last two episodes at a carnival, the scene that had to be cut, digging deeper into Max’s alien side, which character is most content with who they are, the importance of the abortion storyline in Season 2, how the plan for Season 3 will evolve, and what fans should make of that shocking final moment.

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Image via The CW

Collider: A lot of threads get tied up in this season finale, and you really pulled together a lot of the family storylines this season, from the Ortecho family, to the aliens and their family history, to Maria (Heather Hemmens) and her mother, to the Manes men, and even Cameron (Riley Voelkel) and Charlie (Jamie Clayton). Was that something that was always a really apparent theme for this season, or was that something that just happened, along the way?

CARINA ADLY MacKENZIE: That just happened. My only experience, other than working on Roswell, was working on The Originals, which was a show about family, so I think that my storytelling inclination is always in that direction. I also think that the age of the characters, when everybody’s coming into their 30s, that’s when you start to build your family, and you start to examine where you came from and decide where you want to go, as far as the people that you surround yourself with. And so, it just came about organically. I like telling family stories. I think that there’s a complicated nature to the people that you’re stuck with and who you were put here with, and figuring out how they fit in your life and whether they fit in your life is an ongoing process.

These last episodes have a lot going on, between a carnival, a fire, and all of these big things happening. What was it like to set these last two episodes in a carnival, and what were the biggest production challenges in pulling all of that off?

MacKENZIE: Well, I’m glad that we did it when we did it because I don’t think we’d be able to do it in a post-COVID world. Honestly, it was easier than I thought it was gonna be. We had a real carnival team come in and set up the carnival. The cotton candy truck was working and you could go get a fried Oreo in the middle of work. [Michael] Vlamis and I rode the rides, during a break. It was not as hard as it seems. We did have to cut one scene that we shot on the Ferris wheel because it turns out that it’s not that easy to shoot on a Ferris wheel in the daytime. I was like, “But I’ve got so many favorite shows that have Ferris wheel scenes,” and I realized that most of those are in the night because you don’t have to worry about these massive shadows getting cast over your actors, while you’re trying to shoot. But really, it was pretty seamless. Our crew worked really hard. Everyone was in really good spirits and really good moods. We shot all night, on weekends, trying to get that done, but everybody was very happy to be there. It was cool. It was fun. It was a little detour into childhood, riding the Sizzler.

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Image via The CW

Did you have to entirely cut that Ferris wheel scene that you mentioned, or did you just have to move it to a different setting?

MacKENZIE: No, we had to cut it entirely. After it was shot, we looked at it and it didn’t look like our show. It was a scene between Kyle (Michael Trevino) and Steph (Justina Adorno), so I was sad to see it on the cutting room floor, but it’s hard to strap a camera to a Ferris wheel and send it on its way.

Having CrashCon does pay homage to the original series and their UFO Convention. Was that something that you intentionally wanted to acknowledge?

MacKENZIE: Yeah. UFO Con is a huge part of the culture in the real Roswell, so we definitely wanted to get there, eventually. It was a fun journey, deciding how to tell that story. Comic Cons tend to be inside with a lot of people standing in lines, and they’re not that pretty. So, we wanted to figure out a way to tell the story of this convention, but make it look cool and make it pretty. The carnival idea came up, as a closing night carnival, and it was super fun to film. We had a couple of very, very long, very, very late, and very, very cold nights at the fair, but it was fun for the crew. I think everyone was in super good spirits, and it was a fun way to end our run for the season.

Just when Max (Nathan Parsons) really does have everything that he’s wanted, he seemed as though he was willing to risk it all, in order to keep pushing for answers about his alien side. Why did you want to dig deeper into that, and why is he willing to put everything else on the line, right now, in order to get those answers?

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Image via the CW

MacKENZIE: When we meet with Max in Season 1, he has very much rejected his alien side. He’s got this whole never be extraordinary rule in his life. Knowing Liz (Jeanine Mason), and being in a relationship with Liz and seeing how inquisitive she is and how much she strives to solve the mysteries of the universe, has really affected him. I also think that, for a long time, he was willing to settle for a life that he was only half living, and seeing Isobel (Lily Cowles), in particular, really come into her own this season, and learn about her background and who she is and who she wants to be, has really influenced him. He’s got a curiosity that he just can’t satiate. Ironically Liz does, too, but their interests are not aligning.

By the end of this season, who would you say is most content in knowing what they need to do next?

MacKENZIE: I think a person who is most content, at the end of the season, is Alex. Losing his father, his renewed relationship with his brother, and the ongoing coming out process that he’s been experiencing, has brought him to a place where he’s figured out a way to be who he is. I think that we’re gonna see him really blossom next season.

I love that you also were able to not only have him find his voice figuratively, but literally, as well, with the song that he sang (called “Would You Come Home”).

MacKENZIE: Thank you. I’m really proud of that song. I wrote it with Leslie Powell and Charlie Snyder, who are really phenomenal songwriters. I’ve been writing songs for a long time, and this is the first time anyone’s ever actually heard one. It was really cool to put ourselves into Alex’s shoes and to direct Tyler in the performance of that, when we were in the studio. I love the way that the montage came together, and I’m very proud of it. I’m really excited for it to be out there. We’re going to release it on all of the various platforms, and all of my royalties are gonna go to the Trevor Project. Hopefully, it’ll do some good for the character and some good for the world, ultimately.

I also have to commend you on the whole abortion storyline this season. Abortion is clearly a topic that TV shows tend to avoid, and when shows do take that risk, they also tend to never say the word. Do you think that this being a sci-fi show and the character being an alien helped, in being able to explore that, or do you think that you would have been able to do that anyway?

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Image via The CW

MacKENZIE: I think I would have been able to do it anyway. I actually think that it was really important to tell that story in a very human way. The big conflict that came up was the amount of blood that we saw in the episode. There was a suggestion from the network, at one point, where they said, “Can you make the blood iridescent? Can you make it look alien and put the same effect on it that you put on the pods and on the glass?” And I dug my heels in really hard and said, “No, it needs to look bloody. It needs to look ugly. It needs to look like an act of violence. Forcing a woman to essentially perform an un-medically supervised abortion is an act of violence.” And ultimately, I’m really grateful for the studio and the network’s support in that. It was important that it felt very much like a human moment because that’s how we told it. We wanted to say, “Okay, what does this really look like? What does it really feel like, to be a woman in a desperate situation without access to the care that she needs?” I’m very, very proud of that storyline. It was hard and it was scary, but I think that we told it with a lot of love. I was very, very proud of Lily and very proud of Nathan. It was tough, but it was definitely worth it.

I’m guessing that you had a plan for Season 3, before you knew how the world would be changing. Will you be able to hold onto what you wanted to do for the third season, or are you thinking about and re-evaluating everything that you had planned to do?

MacKENZIE: Well, interestingly enough, the writers’ room took a break before George Floyd’s death. When we took a break, we had sketched out an entire season that was built around racism in the police department in this small town. And so, we are looking at that story with new eyes. We’re still gonna tell the story, but the pressure is on, more than ever, to get it right because it feels like the world is tuned into that station right now. So, we’re re-evaluating that, on our storytelling side, and obviously, we are also paying a lot of attention to how things evolve, as far as how we can tell our stories safely. We have a lot of contingency plans for how to sketch out a romance, if characters can’t be touching and kissing, as much as normal. And if we can’t pack our diner and our bar set full of extras, how do we tell stories in those spaces? One of the things that I learned, working on The Originals, from Michael Narducci, who was the showrunner over there for awhile, was that no matter what happens on set, when you’re the showrunner, even if it’s not your fault, it is your problem, and that’s how we’re approaching storytelling. The virus is frustrating. It’s not our fault and it’s annoying to have to re-evaluate the way that we tell stories, but our cast and crew’s safety is really, really important. And so, we are trying to creatively write our way out of a difficult situation, as every writer in town is trying to do right now. As an industry, we’re just gonna have to have to evolve and our audience is gonna have to evolve a little bit. We’ll manage.

Obviously, the end of the finale has a shocking moment, in regard to the aliens. What should we make of that? Is that something that will also be a big part of the next season?

MacKENZIE: Yeah, we’ve got a new character, and he’s around for the long haul, Farmer Jones. He’s gonna have some answers, and he’s gonna really take what the characters think they know about where they came from, why they’re here, and who their families were, and challenge those ideas. Jones’ story of what happened in 1948 is very different from Nora and Louise’s take on the story. We dug into Michael and Isobel’s family in Season 2, and I think it’s time that we do a little exploring with Max and make up for all of that work that Nathan was not doing, at the beginning of Season 2, and put him to work twice in Season 3.

Roswell, New Mexico will return for Season 3 on The CW.

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