Carrie Preston Looks Ahead to New Sides of ‘Elsbeth’ in Season 2

TV Shows

Elsbeth (Carrie Preston) isn’t going anywhere!

The first season of Elsbeth ended with Wagner (Wendell Pierce) not only wanting her to stay, but giving her a new office. And that came after the finale broke from its format in a couple areas, including Elsbeth’s hunches when it comes to solving crimes and not revealing who the murderer was from the jump.

Below, Preston looks back on the first season, including the finale, and begins pondering what could be next.

Elsbeth is staying and Wagner wants her to stay. What did you enjoy most about playing the different sides of their dynamic this season? It takes a few turns leading up to that sweet hug. 

Carrie Preston: Yes, it was really wonderful working with Wendell. He’s such an extraordinary actor and he brings such gravitas and grace and skill to his work. And so when we got those scenes where we went head-to-head, I couldn’t have wished for a better scene partner to flesh those things out. So as painful as it was for the characters, it was pretty thrilling for me as the actor because I really got to take Elsbeth to a deeper place than I think we’ve ever seen her in the 14 years that I’ve been playing her.

And then that sweet moment when he shows up at the fashion show…

Yeah, it was so moving. We were almost done shooting the episode when we shot the fashion show, and so we were all feeling personally emotional because we didn’t know if we were going to get another season. And so there was a very, very faint line between us and the characters at that point. And so when Wendell walked in the room and I was walking down the runway, it really was so genuinely moving to look in his eyes and see him smile at me—and such a relief, too, for the characters, but also just for me because we all became very close during the shooting of the show.

But just because Elsbeth and Wagner have gotten past betrayal doesn’t mean that it’s not going to linger necessarily. What do you know about what that dynamic will be like in Season 2 and what do you want to see there?

I don’t know anything about Season 2 yet. The writers, I think, have only just begun, but I think conflict is what makes good storytelling. I think there’s forgiveness there on Wagner’s part. But I think there’s also just maybe a slight bit of distrust that I wonder how that will play out, if it will rear its dubious head in future episodes or not. But I think Elsbeth really does win him over with her defense of herself and how she was stuck between a rock and a hard place, and hopefully he will judge her by all of her former actions rather than by just that one action.

Carra Patterson as Kaya Blanke, Wendell Pierce as Captain Wagner, and Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni in the 'Elsbeth' Season 1 Finale "A Fitting Finale"

Michael Parmelee / CBS

How do you think she’s grown as an investigator this season? She also didn’t have a hunch when she normally would in the finale.

Yes, Elsbeth has this capacity to hold a lot of things in her brain at once, but we also see that she’s a vulnerable person who’s human, and when emotions take over, as they do in the finale, she doesn’t quite know how to focus on the work without those emotions also coming in. I think it was wonderful to have that vulnerability, and I was talking to the writers throughout the season making sure that we kept her as not some superhuman person who can solve a crime within three seconds of meeting someone, that there are doubts in her mind the way there are doubts in all of our minds about certain things and especially a life-or-death kind of thing.

So Elsbeth now has an actual office. I know the logic, space will make filming easier, but what’s appealing to you about what it means for Elsbeth next season?

You know Elsbeth is going to trick that office out in some wonderful and quirky and self-expressive way, so I’m looking forward to seeing what our wonderful production designer does with the office, but also perhaps we’ll get to see her interview people in there. It would just be another way to see into Elsbeth’s personality.

Elsbeth and Kaya’s (Carra Patterson) relationship has been so great, and we’re seeing how that’s helped Kaya as well because she’s on the fast track to detective. What has Elsbeth seen in her throughout the season?

I think Elsbeth sees her as a friend, but I think she also has cast herself as a bit of a mentor to Officer Blanke. She sees the potential in her and she wants to foster that and shed light on her intellect and her skill in a way that maybe the department wasn’t doing yet. And so I think when they started their work relationship, they started realizing how much they really need each other, and that then turned into a lovely and meaningful friendship that I think is something we haven’t quite seen a lot of on TV given their age differences and where they come from and their different approaches to life. I think it’s wonderful that we’ve seen that blossom as the season has gone on and they need each other.

I talked to Jonathan Tolins and I’m happy to hear that Elsbeth’s dog is sticking around.

Oh, I fell in love with Blossom, who plays the role of Gonzo. She is the cutest. And she’s such a well-trained dog. She would hit all of her marks and then look up at the humans and wait for us to get our marks, and it would take us way longer than it took her. She was really extraordinary, and we all just fell in love with her. And so I’m excited too. I think it’s such a great thing that we are not seeing Elsbeth have a relationship with a person, we’re seeing her having a relationship with a dog in this new life that she’s taken on in this fresh new city. And it, I think, is a great way to show another side of Elsbeth.

And the dog plays a key role in the finale.

Turns out that they’re quite a good match. The dog himself is a little canine sleuth.

Do you have a favorite investigation from Season 1? Whether it’s because of the guest cast, the world that Elsbeth got to dive into, what she got to do during the case…

Each of them was just so fun and challenging in its own wonderful way. I guess the tennis episode comes to mind just because I myself am not a tennis player—luckily Elsbeth isn’t either—but being in that world was certainly fun. And also what our production team was able to do, creating a whole tennis court where there wasn’t one. Where the tournaments took place, that’s a soccer stadium in Long Island, and so they were able to actually build a tennis court in there, and it was really incredible to watch that happen. That was definitely fun. And I loved working with Blair [Underwood]. He was really fun and such a true gentleman and pro.

What are you hoping to explore with Elsbeth in Season 2?

I think it would be fun to see her in more situations, maybe outside of work, just to get to know her a little bit more. She’s such a career woman, but it’s been nice to get these little glimpses of her outside of that. And I think the writers, as you saw in the finale, are starting to mess around a little bit with the structure. And so perhaps they’ll do that a little more in Season 2. I trust them so fully that I get excited when I get a script because I learn more about the character than I knew thanks to them.

What are the chances of seeing Teddy?

Gosh, I don’t know. I personally think it’s really fun not to see him in the same way that we didn’t see Columbo’s wife. He talked about his wife all the time and we never saw her. And there’s something to be said for leaving the audience to imagine what Teddy is like than to actually cast an actor as Teddy. That said, I, again, trust Jonathan Tolins, our showrunner and all the creators of the show to, if they do cast Teddy, find somebody who’s going to be wonderful and maybe it’ll be something that I couldn’t have dreamt. So I’m open to anything as far as Teddy goes.

Elsbeth, Season 2, Fall 2024, CBS

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