‘Roswell, New Mexico’ – Lily Cowles Interview on Season 2’s Isobel

Isobel (Lily Cowles) discovered everything thought she knew about her husband was a lie at the end of season one of The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico. Plus, her heroic twin brother died but not before he brought a girl she murdered (well, her husband inhabiting her body murdered) back to life. That’s a lot of dramatic, life-altering events for one person – or one alien – to handle.

How will Isobel be dealing with these major events? During our roundtable interview at the New York Comic-Con, Cowles said we can expect to see Isobel reaching out to others for help. Yes, the self-assured newly widowed Isobel will realize she needs help as she attempts to put her life back together. Cowles also says this season will give Isobel the opportunity to empower herself.

Roswell, New Mexico season two premieres on March 16, 2020 at 9pm ET/PT.

Where do we pick up with Isobel as season two begins?

Lily Cowles: “We pick up right where season one ended. I was really hoping that maybe we’d be like a year later and she’s had some time to process. She’s over it and we can move on. No. We’re seeing Isobel absolutely reeling from the information that she got at the end of season one. Finding out that her husband had been lying to her and betrayed her. Finding out that her marriage was this sham. She thought she was in this loving relationship that she was working so hard always to keep going and it was with someone who had been using her and manipulating her.

So, not only that but the events of the very end of the season with Max. Isobel is going to have to…she suddenly finds herself very much alone. I think she is a character who throughout her entire life has defined herself in relation to other people. She was always part of the family unit. She’s a wife in a marriage. She got married very young and she was so co-dependent on Max; they had this like super twin bond.

At the top of season two, suddenly all that has been ripped away from her. It’s like a little snail without a shell. She doesn’t have anything to protect herself. So, we see her extremely vulnerable and I love that. I’m happy for her. As horrible as everything is that she is having to go through, it’s a change that offers her an opportunity to empower herself. I think that’s such a powerful storyline for a female character, that she’s suddenly like I’m going to have to put on my big girl pants and find a way through this now.”

Who can she turn to at this point for help?

Lily Cowles: “Well, Guerin…I don’t know. Can you turn to Guerin? I mean of course she loves him so much and they love each other so deeply. I think she feels that familial bond with him. He’s always kind of felt like he was the outsider to the two of them. She didn’t have the same relationship that she had with Max with Guerin. But I think that she’ll find it in unexpected places.

I think that she will find comfort and support in other female characters that can give the support that she maybe doesn’t expect to find there. She hasn’t historically played so nice with other girls, and so she has kind of burned some bridges there. But I think when you’re so broken there’s a power in coming to people like, ‘Help me. Can you help me? I need help.’

I think we get to see some unexpected combinations of things and it’s been a pleasure as an actor to get to go through that.”

Roswell New Mexico Season 2 Episode 1
Lily Cowles as Isobel in season 2 episode 1 (Photo: Ursula Coyote © 2020 The CW Network, LLC)

That will be interesting to actually see her ask for help because that’s just not her.

Lily Cowles: “It’s so not Isobel. I think we’re going to see a really different shade of Isobel, by necessity. I think she built this gilded cage to keep herself safe with this insecurity. I don’t think she really knows who she is. I think she’s always defined herself in a performative way. It’s like, ‘This is how I should be. This is what a wife does. This is what a person who’s successful looks like.’ It’s always been an imitation.

So, I think we’re going to see a whole side of her when that has just been shattered. She’s left with like, ‘What if I don’t have this? What am I left with?’ She’s looking at the shattered pieces of her life and like, ‘How does this now fit back together?’

It’s a great storyline for Isobel to get into it.”

Can you tease how her relationship will be with Rosa now that she’s back?

Lily Cowles: “They knew each other and were friends, but Isobel doesn’t remember that. I mean she has the memories of it, but it wasn’t really her.

There’s this kind of cognitive dissonance for her where I think she knows her and she’s like, ‘I can remember that I was nice to you. I also remember that the real me was kind of a bitch to you.’ She was not so nice to Rosa when she was left to her own devices. It was only when Noah was inhabiting her that she became friends with her. So, I think that will be such an interesting kind of coming back together.

We’ve both been victimized by this man so there’s this yearning, I think, to connect on that level and yet I think Isobel feels tremendous guilt, despite the fact that she wasn’t actually responsible for what happened to Rosa. It was her hands. She has the memory of killing that person so it’s like how do you kind of move through that? I think that’s going to be a really juicy kind of relationship to untangle.”

Is she going to spend a lot of time having to deal with what she did when she wasn’t in control of herself?

Lily Cowles: “You know, I think that other events come up that are more pressing than having to dwell on what happened. I think she needs to plow straight ahead because there are some really intense issues that come up very quickly for Isobel. So, no, she doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling.

I think she’s kind of like, ‘I just need to find a way to survive.’ I think dwelling would only keep her down. I think the story that we’re seeing of Isobel is how do I pick myself up and keep walking? It’s very much more a forward…she’s leaning in.”

Has season two been more of a challenge for you?

Lily Cowles: “I think it’s different. Honestly, I’ve loved it so much. I think in the first season it was really interesting to play a character who did not know who they were and was always having a façade. It was actually difficult for me to watch it back sometimes. It’s weird to see yourself being kind of phony and like a jerk. And in this season, I think we’re going to find her a lot more likable because she’s having to just be real now.

Actually, I think I prefer her now. This has been more fun for me, as difficult as it’s been because it gets dark for Isobel very quickly for several episodes. That’s hard to go through as an actor. It’s been a challenge to go through it, but it’s been a very welcome challenge because I’m getting to move her towards a kind of authentic place that I think she’s really been wanting to go.”

Will she be going through other changes this season?

Lily Cowles: “Oh, she’s definitely changing. She’s going through a real transformation now. I think after the experience that she had, her number one feeling is I’m never going to let that happen again so how do I protect myself now? I was such a victim – I don’t ever want to be a victim again. So, Isobel is going to be taking steps now to arm herself against that.

I think that’s a very exciting thing to see.”