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Sasha Alexander discusses season 4 and beyond of 'Rizzoli & Isles'

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The second half of Season 4 of "Rizzoli & Isles" is as fresh and fun as the series was in Season 1. The relationship between Detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) is as enjoyable as ever -- despite the ups and downs they have had in their personal and work relationship -- and their friendship endures.

On tonight's "Just Push Play" episode, Jane's dad (guest star Chaz Palminteri) returns after being gone for more than a year -- and he's got some shocking news.

Alexander, who spoke to Examiner.com in an exclusive interview, says it is an episode she is "super excited" for fans of the series to see.

"It is a very special episode dealing with the Rizzoli family," she says. "Chaz Palminteri returns and he causes a whole lot of problems. There is a lot happening there, and I really liked doing that episode."

The case for the night is the brutal murder of a singer and guitar player, who is stabbed in a bar. As details emerge in the case, the squad soon realizes that the victim had something to hide."

In the interview, Alexander also talked about how Maura has changed from Season 1, when we will discover how Lee Thompson Young (Detective Frost) is being written out of the series following his untimely death, both her TV moms, and more.

Maura has become one of my favorite characters because she is so refreshing. With all of her knowledge, she isn't a snob and she seems to really enjoy new experiences. Can you talk about how she has evolved since Season 1.

Maura is a really fun character for me to play because I do feel as if she has these different sides to her. This is a woman who in Season 1, you could have said, "Maybe she is just a comedic relief in a way. Maybe she just fits into a one-dimensional role, a funny and a quirky character -- and then she's out." Then, we were introduced to her family, and all of those very dark dynamics of her past, so as an actor playing her, everything was so new.

We have been watching her discover all of this stuff about her life. So, I think, there is something deeply -- I don't want to say sad, but it could be if she allowed it to go there, and yet, she is such a positive person. She wakes up and the glass is half full. I think it is because she knows a lot and she chooses to live in that world instead of something else.

I love playing her. I feel like she has evolved in huge ways and we are continuing to see that. Yet, she is still really offbeat. I am about to shoot a scene that is completely wacky and, in order to do that, I get in a frame of mind that is almost disconnected from the other [side of her] character. She is so in her own head.

Jane has had multiple boyfriends. Maura did date Jane's brother for a while and she had another relationship, where he turned out to be a bad guy. Will she find love in the three remaining episodes for this season?

No. There is a lot more family drama going on with the girls, but I do hear -- and my fingers are crossed -- for Season 5. I am hoping just as much as you to see her explore that side of her life.

Speaking of family drama, Maura has so many parents, will any of them be back?

Her biological mother, Sharon Lawrence, everyone loves her. The fans love her. I am pretty confident we will see her. I personally love watching her and Maura together. That storyline is just so interesting to me about these two people who didn't know each other most of their lives, and now, they both have the same interests, they look very similar, and they have similar mannerisms, I like that. There is something very touching about them together. I don't know. After the Golden Globes, we are going to have to talk to Jackie Bisset [who plays her adoptive mother] and see if she is going to come hang out with us. As far as Paddy Doyle [John Doman] goes, I am not sure.

In this group of episodes, are there any cases coming up that you can't wait for viewers to see?

. We meet Maura's grandfather, Paddy Doyle's father. He has been in prison for a long time. She, having the big heart that she does, wants to meet this man, but it doesn't go as planned. There is a sweet story there.

I was surprised that Lee Thompson Young was in these episodes. I didn't realize he had episodes in the can. Is he in all four of these? How will his absence be explained going forward?

He is in three out of these four episodes. We will not be dealing with the departure of his character until Season 5.

You have a new executive producer, Jan Nash, have you talked to her yet about her plans for the series?

We are back to work on Season 5. We are in our fourth week. We have been trying to pick her brain as much as possible -- all the secrets that she has planned -- but they don't give us the whole arc for the entire season. I think we are just going a lot deeper with the characters. I think, all around, her intention from what I am getting is stronger stories in terms of the crimes, but personal stories. Stories that are really driving these characters together. That is really the unique part of our show is you do have these characters go through these personal and life things in conjunction with the crime. There is a lot more exploring of that.

The girls are going through a lot. They are reaching this new point. Jane is back and forth with Casey [Chris Vance]. We don't know what the outcome is going to be. That leaves them in a certain situation.

Jan is an incredible show runner, writer and woman and we are very lucky to have her with us. We kicked off the season in a strong way and I think it is going to be a good one.

And, of course, the most important thing about "Rizzoli & Isles"is the relationship between Jane and Maura. That is what people tune in to see.

I agree. People love these women so much. It is so wonderful and unusual that they just want them to be together and hang out. When we went back to shooting, it is such an easy chemistry for Angie and I. We just put the shoes on and it is there. It is not that we don't ever disagree, because we don't always see things eye to eye, but they are supportive of each other and help each other. I personally like to watch that, so I get that other people support it.

"Rizzoli & Isles" airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on TNT.

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