9:05 pm EDT, May 8, 2018

‘Shadowhunters’s’ Alisha Wainwright on the importance of getting Maia’s story right

With Simon in constant danger, Jordan reemerging in her life, and Luke preoccupied with the Queen of Edom, Maia has a lot to juggle in season 3. Alisha Wainwright teases what’s to come in Shadowhunters 3B.

Alisha Wainwright’s promotion to a series regular for season 3 was exciting for a lot of reasons. There’s the budding romance between Simon and Maia, the influence of Maia on Luke and the pack as a whole.

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But Maia is more than just a character who advances the plot of others. There’s a gravity in Wainwright’s performance that when she decides to let viewers see Maia’s vulnerability, you feel the room shift.

Maia is guarded, protective of herself and others. Take the first few episodes of season 3 – she’s placing Simon at the forefront of her agenda. What is the Mark of Cain? What does the Seelie Queen want? Can she help Simon navigate losing his welcome mat at the Jade Wolf?

Then something shifted in episode 7, she sees Jordan Kyle. The shift in her expression as she catches his eye in Simon’s apartment leaves her utterly exposed. For a split second she is caught off-guard and brought right back to the last moment they saw each other. It’s a journey that Wainwright wanted to get right.

Shadowhunters season 3 jordan maia

I spoke with Alisha Wainwright about tackling Maia’s season 3 arc, how the shift in the tone of the series elevates character-driven story, and she revealed that the best (or possibly worst) is yet to come in 3B.

‘Shadowhunters’ season 3: Alisha Wainwright interview

I want to kick it back all the way to the beginning and get a sense of what the early conversations between you, the writers, the producers were like regarding Maia’s arc and backstories in season 3. As we’ve seen the show has taken some departures from the books, how did they approach what Maia would be up to this season?

I think the main thing I was super protective of was, yes we’re bringing Jordan, but I was super protective of how we were going to resolve it, if there was going to be a resolution. I took so much time to investigate what trauma does to a person and how it shapes a personality shift and kind of how you move around the world.

And so for me I was very protective of okay we made this a very big deal for her so I feel like this is a slow burn story line that needs to be carefully tended to. And everyone was in agreement, like, ‘yes this is exactly what we want. How do you feel like Maia would handle it. This is what we’re thinking.’

Shadowhunters season 3 simon Maia

We all kind of really came together and they wrote really beautiful scripts that just so delicately approached the subject while also honoring how Maia would handle the situation. And I think meeting Jordan’s character, he’s kind of this wonderfully perfect guy, that did this very horrible thing to somebody and you know he also has to learn to forgive himself and Maia has to learn to forgive him.

And I think through the season we’ll see if this is possible.

I think it was such a wonderful moment where Maia says to Jordan, ‘I’m not ready to forgive you.’ It’s such a strong moment to see on TV, that you’re taking agency and owning what works for you at this moment. But we also in this episode [3×08] Maia walking away from Simon and saying, ‘Listen, I just need some time to myself.’ I know you talked about researching what trauma does to a person, what are your thoughts about Maia choosing to retreat inward, and taking some time away from the others?

You know, I think that for Maia she’s never fully handled the grief from the loss of the love of her life and for the loss of her mundane life. And I think she just kind of accepted it when Luke came in and became a father figure for her. So, I feel like Jordan’s introduction into her life is the initial step of what will see is her handling grief.

Shadowhunters season 3 Maia beach

And for her it’s kind of out of order for how the stages of grief go. At first it’s anger and it’s frustration and then I think it’s a little bit of denial. So the easiest way to handle a problem is to run from it. It’s not necessarily right or wrong her choosing to leave, but it’s the safest, so you have the space to free think.

But I think when you alienate yourself and you go into deep thought, you usually end up with a very clear decision when you come back and I think when she comes back in 3B, you’re going to be like, ‘whoa, well she’s coming back with the sort of perspective.’ And If you like episodes like 7 and 8 for Maia, well the last few episodes, were really more about Simon and Maia helping him, but move forward through the rest of 3B Maia starts to assert herself a bit more like she did in episode 3 of season 2 (“Parabatai Lost”).

When she comes back she kind of comes back having made a choice and a decision. That is going to dictate how she moves through the rest of this season.

You can definitely sense a change already in the characters around Maia, especially in Simon who still jokes around, but he can sense the gravity of what Maia is going through, but he is willing to just be quiet. It’s been great to see your character’s influence on the other characters in season 3.

Season 3 as a whole is very thriller-feeling against the other seasons. It’s darker literally, in the sense that the lighting in the scenes is much darker, but also in the gravity of the storylines. What was your reaction to the direction they were taking the series as a whole when you came back for season 3?

I mean… it gets so much darker (laughs).

What I really enjoyed about season 3, especially in 3B with Maia is that there are a lot of moral quandaries. There’s a great episode in 3B where someone does something and you have to decide, ‘Was that the right something to do, or could you have done that in a more right way.’

I feel like once [the show] gets its footing in seasons 1 and 2 it can start asking these questions that start to deviate from our kind of younger storylines. Now we can get into these more interesting moral quandaries, these kind of complex emotional choices and decisions while still, you know, relating to the core base that we have.

It’s definitely pushing the show out of a comfort zone into this more, like you said, thrillery aspect. But I like it. It’s fun and it’s different and every season we come back and there’s this new energy about how they want to approach the season and that’s something that I love.

It keeps it fresh and exciting. No one wants to see a season of the same thing. There’s a direction you can take it and our show always does have a ton of dark elements — we’re dealing with the Queen of Hell and demons and things like that — but there’s lightness in it too. Having Maia and Jordan’s back story did create a level of lightness throughout the episode so we’re not bogged down with the Owl stuff that can feel a little heavy.

There’s a nice art and balance to our episodes that keep things balanced.

I agree, and this is definitely feels like the strongest season to come out of this show and I cannot wait to see what comes for Maia in 3B.

I cannot wait for everyone to see what’s to come and fingers crossed for a season 4!

For more interviews and who we’re currently worried about each week, check out the rest of our Shadowhunters coverage!

Shadowhunters airs new episodes Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET on Freeform.

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