Left to right, Michael Vlamis, Jeanine Mason, Lily Cowles and Nathan Dean Parsons of "Roswell" walk the red carpet at The CW Network's 2018 upfront in New York City. Season 3 starts Monday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, July 26 (UPI) -- Jeanine Mason says Liz Ortecho -- the brilliant biomedical researcher she plays on The CW's sci-fi drama, Roswell, New Mexico -- is living out her dreams in Los Angeles in Season 3, which premieres Monday.
Unfortunately, Liz is so consumed by her obsession with finding a cure for her ailing alien friend, Maria (Heather Hemmens,) that she can't fully appreciate her own success or Heath, the cute colleague who could be perfect for her.
"Liz's life is pretty good, but I don't think she is any sort of place to acknowledge that," Mason told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
"Her work is thriving and her efforts to save Maria are driving her, but it's made the blinders quite severe, and she hasn't really taken the time to realize she's got a great place, a great job and a really great partner."
On paper, scientist Heath (Steven Krueger) is the ideal romantic interest for Liz.
"It's a real match, a meeting of the minds. He's intellectually and sarcastically right there with her. They have a real rapport, and it is quite a fun dance," Mason said.
But Liz can't commit right now because she is still pining for Max Evans (Nathan Dean Parsons), the sheriff's deputy/spaceman she left behind in Roswell.
"She is in denial. She is in complete abandonment of such a big part of her, which is Roswell and Max and her being present in her community there," Mason said. "Missing being their protector starts to pull at her."
Mason thinks Liz's personal joy is deeply linked to how she cares for people.
"I'm curious what her life would be like if she was unencumbered by the grand responsibility she has, this cosmic responsibility that has been thrust upon her and what if she could just tend to herself and what an uncomplicated life would look like for her to be focused on her work and the beautiful repercussions that would have -- of where her imagination could lead for medicine," the 30-year-old actress said.
Mason said Liz is her favorite type of protagonist because it is impossible for her to deny that her life's work is in helping others and that comes with ups and downs; it isn't just a "coast."
"It feels so right for a Latina, a woman born of this community, that ultimately she is in service to this community," Mason added. "As much as something else might make her happy in another way, her happiness and fulfillment is connected to this community. She loves the complications."
This season, which picks up about a year after the events of Season 2, follows Liz as she deals with the red tape and dubious ethics of the big pharma company that is financing her research and then using her discoveries for less noble purposes than those she intended.
Mason said Liz finds herself confronted with the troubling question with which many people in real life are grappling these days: Is the morality of the corporation for which I am working aligned with mine?
One might learn that the company that employs them doesn't act politically or socially the way they think it should, but the resolution isn't always black and white, Mason pointed out.
"You go, 'Well, I can't be a part of that.' But then it is limiting the reach with which your work can accomplish. That's devastating. I thought it was so brilliant that [showrunner] Chris [Hollier] wanted to make that a real central theme this season," she said.
Mason loves being part of a big, fun show that also intelligently and responsibly explores important issues such as science, family, immigration, racism, homophobia and violence against women.
"We can't possibly make a show about a Latina who is thriving in her professional life, who is a real contributor to her field, without acknowledging the hurdles she is going to face," Mason said.
"She is a woman, she is a woman of color. She has a background where, socioeconomically, she hasn't had as much reach and opportunity as other people might have."
Not everyone thinks a show with gorgeous aliens and a peppy 1990s pop music soundtrack should tackle weighty or possibly controversial topics, but Mason disagrees with the naysayers.
"That is in it because it is about her," the actress said of the struggles of Liz and the people she loves.
"It is the show. It is the existence of what this woman is, so it is always fun to find ways to steer it in directions that are helpful to the current conversations we are having."
Co-starring Michael Vlamis, Lily Cowles and Tyler Blackburn, Roswell is about space aliens living as humans in the titular town. It is a remake of a similarly named series that ran on the WB and UPN from 1999 to 2002.
The Season 3 premiere episode shows Liz getting a visit from Roswell physician Kyle Valenti (Michael Trevino) and speaking with her sister, Rosa (Amber Midthunder), by phone, but there isn't any interaction between the scientist, Max and their friends.
Mason said viewers will see Liz reunite with her Roswell family "pretty immediately."
"She trickles back in and they start to get a lot of face time very soon," she said. "There's something about being a Southwestern show, that desert feeling, the magnetic pull that Liz and Max have -- and knowing they're not on good terms, but they are back in the same small town -- that feels like a western to me, like a duel, where they are navigating each other and just missing each other around town.
"It's a really fun device for how they find their way back to each other."