Sasha Alexander: ‘Rizzoli & Isles’ Finale is a Game Changer

On Nov. 28, Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander will be back in action when “Rizzoli & Isles” returns with five exciting new episodes to wrap up the second half of the second season –and, according to Alexander, we have a lot to look forward to.

There are some big stunts coming, Jane’s love life heats up with the return of her military man and the puzzles get more intricate as Jane Rizzoli [Harmon] and Maura Isles [Alexander] continue to put away the bad guys.

Other characters will be back as well, including Paddy Doyle (Maura’s biological father played by John Doman), Jane’s just-out-of-prison brother Tommy (Colin Egglesfield) and Maura’s mother (Jaclyn Bisset) makes another visit that will add to the tension of the finale where something shocking happens.

“The finale is going to test Maura and Jane’s friendship. It is going to put them at odds in a really unexpected way. But I can’t give away how,” Alexander tells Xfinity TV.

But first, the former “NCIS” actress tells us about some of the upcoming cases, how frisky Maura is these five episodes and why she understands that so many people think that Rizzoli and Isles are lesbians.

What can you tease about any really cool cases coming up for the second half of the season?
The mysteries get really strong. I am excited for our fans to see them. They are all very different. The first one is a gang-related crime. There is a fun one where Maura tags along to Jane’s high school reunion and a crime happens. As it unravels, it involves a lot of people from her past. There is a great episode that involves Korsak (Bruce McGill), his ex-wife (played by Lolita Davidovich) and their sort-of adopted son, who gets in a lot of trouble. There’s another episode that involves Tommy, Jane’s younger brother. Let’s just say they have chemistry! Then he ends up involved in something – or we think so. There is some really great stuff coming up.

Maura dated that old acquaintance of Jane’s – the mechanic — because she liked his physique and that turned out to be a disaster; now Jane’s brother. What’s up with that?
She is feeling very frisky this season, but she is not taking up with Jane’s brother.

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We met Maura’s mother.  How was it working with Jackie Bisset and will she be back? Is she part of the reason that Maura is so happy to adopt Jane’s family?
Jackie Bisset is an amazing, beautiful, funny, warm woman and I adore working with her. She does a fantastic job. She does return in our finale and an amazing thing happens between her and Maura that is going to change the game for season three.

I do think that Maura was raised very differently than Jane. Clearly, Jane’s home is much more of a middle class, warm family. They were all much more connected. Maura’s personal life is much more complicated. She was adopted. She doesn’t know who her biological mother is. She just finds out that her biological father is the biggest gangster/hit man in Boston. So, she has a very complicated side to her life that I love. I love the light and the dark about her.

I do think that warmth is what makes her want to embrace Jane’s mother. Angela (Lorraine Bracco) is so easy to love. How can you not love Angela?

What is your favorite thing about Maura?
That she doesn’t care about being liked. I like that how she functions in society is sort of unique.

When the series started, you said you hadn’t read the books. But since then, you have. Do they affect how you play her at all, or do you stay strictly to the scripts?
It is a great question. I will tell you, it does. You can’t help it. Even though the storylines on the show may have nothing to do with the books, it can’t help but deepen the character. In this season, our finale ends in a way that tonally reminds me of the mystery of the books. The way it ends between the girls and what happens between them reminds me of the books in a more dramatic and intense way. When I dove into playing that, it was very challenging for me and I felt very lucky to be able to take Maura from being sort of the comedic relief in a way to showing all these different colors. So, it was challenging. When I embarked on doing that stuff and researching it, the book kept coming up for me because I felt I knew all this backstory and I felt like I knew all this stuff that she came from, so it helps me.

What is great about this show is it is like the old-boy buddy movies and proves that women can get along and have each others’ back.  Is there a big appeal in that to you?
Absolutely. This is a show where women value women and the people who watch it value these characters. I am very proud of that aspect of it. There is no other show on television that has that relationship between women.  What is great about it is they can go get a manicure together, but then they can turn around and be involved in something that is deeper and more intense. They are dealing with real-life issues. Our executive producer Janet Tamaro likes to say, “They are not just being catty and fighting over who looks better in a little black dress.” Their problems are real. They face not only their friendship, but also they work together and they have tough jobs.

In the books, Rizzoli marries an FBI agent and Isles had an affair with a priest so we know these women are straight. Why do you think there is so much buzz on the Internet about them being lesbians?
You put something out into the ether and people will interpret what they want. The important thing for me is they keep watching it and enjoying it. The other thing I will say that makes me happy is so many women – and not just women who like women but lots of women – have become friends with people who love the show and developed friendships with other women, or connected with past friends from high school that the friendship reminds them of. I can’t tell you the amount of letters and packages and gifts and videos and stuff that Angie and I receive, that are saying, “Thank you so much. You remind me of my friend in high school. You remind me because the two of us were so different physically, and we weren’t fighting over the same guy.” I think that is something our producer Janet Tamaro, Angie and me … we all as women agree that we don’t all like the same guy. We don’t.  I am glad the show shows women in all colors. You have two different women to explore the different ways we may choose to do things and what we are. We can go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Even when we disagree, it is funny. It can be funny and intense. Why not?

Maura has a great wardrobe. Very stylish. Are there pieces that you would want to borrow, or is your real-life style completely different?
I would want to borrow everything. I love it. It is beautiful. It is all beautifully tailored clothes. It is gorgeous. Some of the stuff is definitely more prim and proper than I am. I would wear it to a luncheon. I, Sasha, am much more casual in my real life.

“Rizzoli & Isles” returns on Monday, Nov. 28 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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