Katee Sackhoff teases what’s to come in ‘Longmire’ Season 2

Katee Sackhoff refuses to ease up. Despite all of Longmire‘s success — its freshman season was A&E’s No. 1 rated original drama of all-time among total viewers and adults 25-54, sparking an advance second season order from the network — Sackhoff doesn’t intend to let her foot off the gas, knowing that if she or those around her slow up, that early success could disappear just as quickly as it arrived.

“Season 2 is a scary one because I think that people loosen the reins a little bit,” the 33-year-old actress tells TV Guide Canada. “I’ve been through this before, and I feel like you should almost tighten the reins. Great shows have been made or destroyed in Season 2 because you have that success and the fear is you become complacent. I’m sure the entire cast and crew hate me because I’m walking around like this ball of pessimism. I’m trying to get everybody to realize … there’re no guarantees in this business, and there’re no guarantees in life, and this business is life magnified.”

Early numbers indicate Sackhoff’s tenacity is paying off. Longmire‘s sophomore season premiered to 4.3 million total viewers last Monday (May 27), besting its freshman premiere by 200,000 (4.1 million) and matching last August’s finale. It also attracted 12 per cent more adults in the key 18-49 and 25-54 demos than the series premiere. So although Season 2 hasn’t brought in more viewers, per se, it hasn’t experienced a drop-off, either. And its beginning to attract a younger crowd, which is sure to please advertisers.

Perhaps more young-ins tuned in to the Season 2 premiere because it offered a noticeably darker tone than Season 1. Sackhoff can’t speak to whether that dark tone will persist throughout the entirety of the season — Season 2 doesn’t finish shooting until August 10 — but she assures fans that there will still be plenty of comic relief to go around.

“When you think of moments in your life where everything was incredibly tragic, there’s always humor,” she says. “Because I think, No. 1, it’s a defence mechanism, and No. 2, I think people also find humor in those moments to lighten the mood. So there’s always gonna be funny, light-hearted moments no matter how dark the show goes. Vic is always gonna be the comic relief. Well, between me and Ferg; we’ll bounce it back and forth.”

Sackhoff says the recurring motif this season is that a storm is coming — multiple storms, actually. Each of the series’ main characters, including her Victoria (Vic) Moretti, will have to weather individual storms of varying magnitudes. Vic, doing her best impersonation of the Caribbean Islands, will actually attract several.

While her marriage to Sean Moretti (Michael Mosely) won’t completely dissolve, it will continue to disintegrate. Also, she’ll be forced to confront some dark secrets from her past. Apparently, she didn’t just follow her husband to Wyoming; she was actually fleeing from something, or rather someone, back home in Philly. Sackhoff wouldn’t confirm a mob connection, but she did mention that Vic has four brothers and was brought up in a very Italian household, so it’s possible that’s the path her secrets lead down.

Sackhoff was able to confirm that Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) will return this season, despite having a huge falling out with Papa Walt at the end of Season 1 and not being heard from since — “When somebody breaks your heart, you don’t go running back the next day. You may go back, but you might give it some time, so that’s what we’re seeing.”

Also, a bit of bad news: the race for Absaroka County Sheriff won’t be wrapping up this season. We’ll have to wait until Season 3 to see if Walt retains his badge or has to surrender it to his underling, and flagbearer for the new guard, Branch Connally (Bailey Chase).

“I don’t think that Branch would make a horrible sheriff,” Sackhoff weighs in. “I just think that he would do things differently, with a little bit more big city attitude. Walt and Branch are both capable; I just think you’d see more strip malls and casinos popping up with Branch, and with Walt, he likes to keep things very, very small town.”

Adding to the bad news, we won’t be seeing Vic shoot many bad guys this season, continuing a troubling trend that began in Season 1. Vic had plenty of golden opportunities to discharge her firearm then, but she never did. Actually, that’s not true: she went to town on a poor, defenceless snake once.

Sackhoff says the lack of gunplay is down to safety issues. While filming Season 1, a gun accidentally fired on set and a couple crew members were hit by flying metal debris that came out the end of the weapon. Neither was seriously injured, but the incident was “enough to make the powers-that-be panic.” So now, guns are pretty much off-limits.

In terms of more immediate storylines, tonight’s episode, “Carcasses,” will bring out Vic’s more quirky, girly side when she’s forced to crawl through a pile of deer carcasses, underneath which rests a human corpse.

“They’re actually making [Vic] a lot more girly this year, which I love,” Sackhoff says. “There was a scene where they put a rat on the ground, a dead rat, and they wanted me to freak out. I was like, ‘Fantastic, I can do this,’ because I know what I would do if I saw a rat in my house. So I’m finding these girly moments from me; there’s not a tough bone in my body. I think this is probably the closest people will ever see of me on camera.”

Sackhoff’s fully embracing the opportunity to play a character so faithful to her offscreen persona. You know how Vic’s a big fan of the Philadelphia Flyers? That was all Sackhoff’s idea. She’s actually a big hockey fan, although her team is the Boston Bruins, not the Flyers. Mostly though, she’s a big Andrew Ference fan and has been following his career for years.

“I love to go to work and play someone that’s very, very close to myself,” she says. “It makes my job easier, but it’s also kind of a nice reprieve from what I’ve been used to.”

Puzzling Sackhoff are the comparisons being drawn between Vic and her character on Battlestar Galactica, Kara (Starbuck) Thrace. She doesn’t think the two are at all similar outside the fact they’re both strong women and wear a uniform. The most notable difference, she points out, is that Starbuck was a very angry and damaged young lady, whereas Vic isn’t; she’s got 99 problems, sure, but being damaged ain’t one.

Perhaps that’s the secret behind Longmire‘s success: familiarity. Sackhoff says lead Robert Taylor, along with being “funnier than s–t” and possessing an incredible work ethic, is also very much like Walt Longmire offscreen: a guy’s guy.

“We had a scene this year where he had to chop wood,” she recalls fondly, “and he took his jacket off and had a t-shirt on and all the women were just staring at him going, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ!’”

Throughout Longmire‘s freshman season, Walt and Vic shared several “moments” together. Even her husband, Sean, sensed something was up and passively laced into Walt about leaning on his wife too much. With Vic’s marriage on the rocks and Walt currently unattached, the two seem destined to end up together. Sackhoff isn’t opposed to the idea. In fact, she’s rooting for it.

“We’ve seen relationships like this on television many times,” she says, “where partners, a man and a woman, get together and they blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever. [With] Vic and Walt, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like that on TV. We’ve never seen two people who are flawed, who have an age difference, who come from different worlds, end up together and actually work. And I would really like to see that.”

Regardless of where Walt and Vic end up and whether Longmire can sustain or build its popularity, one thing is for sure: Sackhoff will never slow down, and that’s a recipe for success. Heck, even when she gets time off from her small screen duties, she doesn’t stop going and going and going. This summer, she’ll be appearing alongside Vin Diesel in Riddick (September 6), then, in 2014, the horror film Occulus. She’s also attached to a female version of The Expendables, which is likely to drop in 2015.

In other words, her power level is definitely over 9000.

Longmire airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on A&E.