The actress above had one of television history’s most shockingly memorable, gruesome death scenes in Dexter’s Season 4 finale, when her character Rita was slain in the bathtub by the Trinity Killer. Since her four-year run so brutally ended, Julie Benz has done indie films, guest spots and short-lived shows (No Ordinary Family, A Gifted Man).

Last year, the Pittsburgh-born beauty took on a new series, one that marks a departure for her: the video game-inspired Defiance (Syfy, Thursdays, 8/7c), which returns for its second season this week. Her character, Amanda Rosewater, the titular metropolis’ former mayor, stands at odds with the current man in charge but on the verge of an uneasy alliance. We grilled her about Dexter, Defiance and being a badass.

“When you’re on a cable network you get a little more love. They can give a show more time to breathe and gain an audience. The major networks don’t have that luxury.”

What can we expect this season?
Well, I’m very excited about Season 2. Amanda’s lost her job and Defiance has now been taken over by the Earth Republic. She’s having a hard time fitting in and figuring out where she goes from here.

What do you like about science fiction?
The female roles are much stronger, that’s what I like. You can play a badass female in genre material.

How badass are you in real life?
I’m pretty badass. I can take down a spider. Spiders and bugs don’t bother me.  After shooting Rambo in Thailand I have no fear of bugs. But don’t throw a rat my way or I’ll freak out. There was a rat in my house recently. But I’m badass about everything else.

You have a couple of films coming up. Any of them sci-fi?
I did a little indie called Circle that I like to describe as a sci-fi version of 12 Angry Men. It was a very cool project in that it stripped away props and movement, the things we hide behind as actors. We were restricted as actors so it was a scary challenge to take on. It was really hard. I had nightmares about it. But it turned out to be an amazing experience. There were 50 actors and I felt like I was in a master acting class. They’re hoping it’ll hit the festival circuit.

No Ordinary Family was the lighter side of sci-fi: mom, dad and kids with superpowers, like The Incredibles.
I loved that show. ABC really gave us a shot but unfortunately we just didn’t have the numbers to keep it on the air. When you’re on a cable network you get a little more love. They can give a show more time to breathe and gain an audience. The major networks don’t have that luxury.

Did you watch Dexter after you left, or see the finale?
No, but I keep in touch with all the actors and they told me what happened, way before it aired.

What do you watch on TV?
Mostly cable—Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad. I don’t sit down and watch TV a lot. We’re watching Cesar Millan on Nat Geo. I watch Dancing With the Stars. I’d love to do it, but they would never ask me. I’m klutzy, not good. But I’m very competitive. I’m the type that would sabotage everyone’s costumes just so I could shine!