Good thing Roswell, New Mexico was renewed for a second season, because showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie has big plans for the story — in case that wasn’t completely obvious from the massive cliffhanger that closed out the Season 1 finale.
MacKenzie spent the first season carefully piecing together a multi-layer story about aliens that balanced her needs as a self-professed “true crime junkie” with her love of characters. Her list of priorities, she told MTV News, looked like this: “Service the heart and the romances first, and then tell a story about the murder mystery, and then lower on the list was the political side of the show, and then even lower than that was the sci-fi side of the show.”
Heading into Season 2, she plans to move away from the 2008 mystery that had dominated the story line thus far and dive deeper into the mythology of the 1947 alien crash that brought Max (Nathan Parsons), Michael (Michael Vlamis), and Isobel (Lily Cowles) into our orbit, and what happened when they got here.
But, of course, MacKenzie is absolutely not going to walk away from the relationships. How could she? Right after Liz (Jeanine Mason) and Max started really exploring their feelings for each other, Max sacrificed his life to bring Rosa (Amber Midthunder) back to life. There’s really no way to cleanly move on from that. Meanwhile, Michael is digging himself deeper into his love triangle with Alex (Tyler Blackburn) and Maria (Heather Hemmens) — who definitely took note of Michael’s magically healed hand.
How do we make sense of all of this? Here’s what MacKenzie had to say.
MTV News: Let’s talk about Michael, Alex, and Maria. That love triangle doesn’t seem to be letting up at the end of this season. What are you excited to explore with that?
MacKenzie: All of it, honestly. I grew up on love triangles, and it's funny because people always tweet me like, "Oh, I hate love triangles, I'm so sick of them," and I'm not sick of them. I love them. I'm always excited for the next twist in the road and this one's obviously a very complicated one because Alex and Maria are close. You know, I think that it was about time that we tell this sort of story that we've been telling for a really long time, but with two queer characters involved in the classic WB love triangle. So, I'm excited. Alex and Michael's story is going to be important to this show for as long as this show airs.
MTV News: Tyler name-dropped you as one of his confidantes before he told the rest of the world that he is bisexual. How did you balance that care for his own process with his story line as a gay character playing opposite a bisexual character?
MacKenzie: I just talked to him about it a lot. I had sort of an open-door policy with all of the actors and I told everyone that they could come to me with questions or concerns. It wasn't like Tyler had this secret — he came out to me very casually during the filming of the pilot, and he honestly sort of became a resource for me. If I felt like I might be misrepresenting something, it was nice to be able to talk to Tyler about it. He is fantastic, and I'm really excited for him to have come out publicly, because I think that he's going to feel a lot more free and a lot more open. And I'm really glad that Roswell and his character were a part of that journey for him. I'm humbled by the fact that when he read this script, it pulled him back to this. Because I just don't think that we would've made the show without him. He's magnificent.
MTV News: Right, Malex is absolutely among the fan favorites, and it’s really special to know that Tyler could contribute to Michael’s character on screen.
MacKenzie: They're really close and they really lean on each other for sort of the arc of it, and I also know that Michael, the character, is still figuring out what it means to be bisexual. There's a line when Max sort of brings up Alex for the first time to Michael and Michael says, "It's just him," and "It's just Alex” — as in, he's the only guy, otherwise it's all women. And then he sort of later on really says, "No, no, no, I'm bisexual. It's not that complicated." Over the course of the episode, he's still figuring out who he is and why he feels the way he feels. I'm 32 and I'm still figuring myself out. I don't think that you have to figure things out in high school. I like that we're telling stories about adult characters who are still trying to decide how they define themselves.
MTV News: We also need to talk about the major cliffhangers — Rosa coming back and Max in critical condition.
MacKenzie: We're not really finished with Max's story. That’s all I can say about that. Rosa's story is just beginning. We're really, really excited to really dig into her character more next season. It's going to be really cool to see. We know who Liz was as a little sister in 2008, and suddenly she is eight years older than her older sister and she's gotta play the role of mom a little bit in Season 2, when she didn't have a mom who played the role correctly. So, it's going to be a really interesting story about the Ortecho sisters next season.
MTV News: What are your new goals going to be moving forward?
MacKenzie: There's still a lot of ground to cover, and there are still a lot of loose ends that didn't get fully tied up on the show. My hope is to explore this sort of new world where Liz lives where she's got to reconcile the fact that someone she loves traded his life for somebody else that she loves. Our themes with Season 2 are really trickling back to the original concepts of the show — where do I belong and who gets to decide? We'll also dig a little deeper into the characters that were less nuanced this season. I'm really excited to explore Maria's story, specifically. She's going to be very important to our main mythology line next season, and we'll dig a lot deeper into her family and her history in the town.
MTV News: Season 1 had a lot of underlying political themes. What are the big ideas that you want to explore moving forward?
MacKenzie: In Season 2, Arturo is going to be on the path to citizenship, so we're going to dig in a little bit more into what that means. We also have a chance to explore what it feels like to be undocumented as a young person in America, because obviously, the newly-resurrected Rosa Ortecho doesn't exactly have a birth certificate that matches who she is. So we’re going to explore the metaphor that way too, and it’s going to continue to be an examination of the three aliens. Even though there's sort of an immigrant metaphor there, they do benefit from white privilege in a border state, and that’s something that we’re really going to talk about in Season 2 — the question of what would've happened to them if they were three brown children found wandering around the desert in the ’90s, the reason why Max didn't think to not put Rosa in the driver's seat when she was the only person of color in the car. Things like that are still left to be discussed.