Paula Newsome Talks Finale Twist, Max’s New Love & More

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the CSI: Vegas series finale “Tunnel Vision.”]

CSI: Vegas wraps its three-season run by closing out one case and introducing a new one.

The robotics case is closed after Max (Paula Newsome) is abducted—to make synthetic DNA for foreign intelligence—and Chris (Jay Lee) ends up in the hospital due to his exposure to a nerve agent. The good news: Max is rescued (her own doing, and with help from the others). But then the final moments tease a new serial killer in Las Vegas, one who has been killing in the shadows.

Below, Newsome takes us inside the finale.

Talk about your reaction to the cancellation and how it’s been looking back at playing Max since.

Paula Newsome: First of all, it was a surprise. I’m not going to lie. We had such amazing ratings and people were really in love with the show. Business is what business is sometimes, and sometimes, the ball doesn’t bounce your way. Looking back on Max, I’ll tell you, I love Max. I’ve got a crush on Max. I really like her. I like how smart she is. I like how strong she is. I like her warmth, you know what I mean? And I like that she’s the head of a lab, but I also like that she’s a DNA specialist. And I also love that she travels in a skin that we weren’t used to seeing at the head of a lab on network television shows. And I’m very grateful for that opportunity. I’m very grateful to play her.

A lot happens for Max in this finale, but I love how she uses everything she knows as a CSI along the way.

We’re used to seeing her a little more buttoned up, hair all coiffed and beautiful looking. I got to be in the underbelly of some stuff down in the bowels—Did you know that Las Vegas had bowels in it that, like tunnels and stuff like that?

Paula Newsome as Maxine Roby in the 'CSI: Vegas' Series Finale "Tunnel Vision"

Sonja Flemming / CBS

Not to this extent.

I had heard about it, vaguely kind of a whisper of it, but it’s a thing. And being able to be down there with Faran Tahir, who’s an amazing actor, we’re partners doing this whole thing. And to be able to go to the underbelly of Las Vegas and do some really kind of scary stuff was really fun.

What do you think was harder for her: dealing with everything she did or dealing with all that while not knowing what had happened to Chris? Because the last time she saw him, he knocked that canister away.

She had her people take care of her. He did that not knowing what was going to happen to him. He was very close to that canister. And I think Max was just in such a place of just being able to survive. We get to that fight-flight-freeze place where it’s just like, do what you have to do to survive. And it’s an amazing episode to see Max just fighting to survive.

One of my favorite relationships throughout this series has been Max and Josh’s (Matt Lauria). And to say that was complicated this season is an understatement. He thought that she didn’t take him to the lab because she still didn’t trust him. But was that completely true?

Trust is a weird word. He did some stuff to the man who was responsible for his mother’s death, right? That’s a lot. We are used to investigating those people. So yeah, trust was a big part of it. Not knowing whether he’s going to go off again. It’s like that family member that you love, but that you’ve got stuff that comes up with him.

Talk about playing the changes and the tension in that relationship this season.

Yeah, it’s a lovely thing to be able to play a relationship where there is love but where there is challenge. And Josh and Max definitely had that when he was in the orange jumpsuit when he was on the other side of the interrogation table. How do you reconcile that? It’s like a living nightmare. And Jason Tracey, our showrunner, articulated some beautiful stuff that happens between family members that love one another but also are challenged by one another.

Josh and Allie (Mandeep Dhillon) seemed to slowly be building to something. How would Max feel about that, both as their friend and their boss?

She wouldn’t like it. [Laughs] I mean, truly, how do you do that? You know what I’m saying? They always talk about a lawyer who represents himself has a dummy for a client. So how do you separate your heart and your head? But that’s just more grease for the mill in the land of CSI: Vegas.

Speaking of romance, we got the surprise in this episode that Max has her own new one. Do you know anything else about this Dean and their relationship?

Nothing that I want to say. [Laughs] It’s lovely. I’m very happy for her and at the same time, scared for her because when she’s in that dusty lab that Gray Suit provides for her, the only reason why she moves forward to get him what he wants is because she doesn’t want to miss her time with Dean.

What do you think it is about who Max is now and where she is in her life that she seems to be in a good place for a relationship?

Her son’s doing his thing. Allie has taken on a bit more of the lab. And I think it’s one of those relationships that catch you on the backside. You’re not aware of it and then suddenly you’re in it. But I think that she’s had a little less stress, a little less responsibility, and now we get to see what that blossoms into.

You brought up Allie taking responsibility. I have to say, I really liked the way that that played out this season with Max and Max getting used to that fact and Allie pairing people,

Yes, but also, I really like that scene where Allie’s in a noodle. She didn’t know how to do it, and she and Max get in a corner and talk it out, and she lets her know, what people think about me is none of my business. You don’t have to be so well-liked all the time.

The series does end on a cliffhanger with the new serial killer. Do you know anything about what would’ve happened there?

No, not a bit. And that’s what we love. Jason Tracey is an amazing writer. He’s a kind guy. He’s a guy that I always want to be my showrunner. And he is a master at cliffhangers, truly a master.

Do you think Max would’ve gotten as involved in another case like she did with the robotics one? Or does she kind of need a break to step back into being in the lab? 

Max is a scientist. Max is a CSI. Max loves being in the lab, so she’s always going to want to be there. So stepping back, I think we get a chance to see a little bit of everything that she does.

I know there doesn’t seem to be hope for a save right now, but as the series showed past CSI characters can always come back. So would you want to return to Max in the future?

Hell yeah. I love this woman and it’s not gone yet. Gotta hold out hope. But I would return back to Max anytime.

What are you going to miss most about Max and the show itself?

I’m going to miss our showrunner, Jason Tracey. He’s a kind man. I’m going to miss the group of people that we worked with. Just a really good group of people. Good, talented kind group of actors. And I think that comes from Jason. It’s a really, really amazing group of people that you get to show up and figure it out 14 hours a day.

CSI: Vegas, Streaming Now, Paramount+

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