Roswell, New Mexico: Tearin' Up My Heart

“Hypothesis: Max Evans killed my sister.”

Liz is an amazing liar. She is adept at assessing people’s emotions and using partial truths as a misdirection, obscuring her true goals. By offering her scientific skills, displaying her natural curiosity, and playing on their long-standing friendship, as well as Max’s feelings for her, Liz convinces Max to do the one thing he fears most. Having a scientist experiment on him.  However, the person she is most adept at lying to is herself.

Liz could have taken her San Diego grant money and left Roswell with or without dear old Dad. The realization that her sister did not kill herself or the two other innocent girls in a drugged-out haze and the desire to find out the truth is undoubtedly a compelling reason to stay. Especially for someone with Liz’s sense of fairness and the above-mentioned curiosity. Yet, for all her bluster about being objective in her search for proof that Max killed Rosa, she spends an awful lot of time justifying his behavior and excusing the evidence.

Liz dismisses her arm injury to Kyle even as she is legitimately afraid to let Max touch her. Her inability to dismiss the damage Max inflicted on the EKG machine causes her to shift her investigation into what Rosa may have done to instigate Max’s actions. While I agree that Max would not have hurt Rosa without cause, I am a) privy to information that Liz is not, and b) not related to the victim. Liz’s willingness to blame the victim has more to do with her unexamined feelings than logic or objectivity. She consistently cannot put aside her residual anger towards and feelings of abandonment by her sister or the attraction and, dare I say it, love she feels for Max.

Which is why it isn’t until she finds Max’s letter that she is convinced of his guilt and confronts him. And you have to wonder how much of that is undergirded by jealousy.  After all, his declaration that he has always loved her and he could never kill anyone that she loved stops her cold. That is as true for her as is the knowledge that he is not being completely honest with her.

I think we can agree that she’s not being completely honest with herself either. Her opening monologue acknowledges that her feelings for Max go back to her mother’s abandonment. She tells Maria of her attraction to Max on multiple occasion then later confesses to Maria that she was engaged to the “perfect” man that she felt nothing for. And for the pièce de résistance you have Isobel reading Liz’s mind and acknowledging the depth of her feelings for Max. The word “love” may not have crossed anyone’s lips, but the implication is clear.

Speaking of Isobel, her and Noah’s relationship is just odd. She doesn’t come home for dinner and he waits until the next afternoon to find out where she was? She basically tells him that her brother is the most important person in the world to her and he doesn’t get jealous, he merely offers to be more attentive. While I think we could all wish for husband (or wife) that was so kind and thoughtful, it doesn’t seem very realistic.

And what of Isobel’s argument with Max? Regardless of her reasons, her assessment of Liz was right on the money. Liz is investigating them and it’s not for benevolent purposes. Her accusation that Max would do anything just to be close to Liz is spot on as well. Is Max’s claim that she’s using his life as a distraction from her messed up relationship with Noah as accurate? Or is he throwing the barb he knows will cause the most damage as only a family member can?

With the possible exception of Maria, whom we still know very little about, Michael is the most honest of the lot. He is unapologetic about who he is, what he does, or what he wants despite the pain it inevitably causes him. Alex seems to be the antithesis of that. He vacillates between hiding and flaunting his sexuality just as he seems to both crave and despise his father’s approval. This is a man deeply uncomfortable with who he is. This doesn’t bode well for their relationship.

The Rosa Magical Mystery tour led to the discovery that Rosa was befriended by someone using the pseudonym Ophiuchus, which doesn’t strike me as a typical high school choice. Given Rosa’s comments in Isobel’s flashes, I would suspect Isobel but she’d remember something like that. Is she picking up on someone else’s memories?

Have you noticed Isobel is the only one interested in maintaining the status quo? Liz wants answers. Max wants Liz. Michael wants, to quote Isobel “his person,” and while Alex may not be sure what he wants, the status quo is definitely not it.

What do we know:

Max has never been sick.

Whatever has been building in him since he healed Liz was strong enough to take out the power to all of Roswell.

We get confirmation that Rosa was not in favor of a relationship between Max and Liz. She previously told Liz that Max should be in her rearview and here she hid his letter to Liz. Did she know something we and Liz don’t?

Kyle, despite believing Liz’s investigation of her sister’s death could prove dangerous, refuses to betray her confidence. How much of that is because of his feelings for Liz or his distrust of Manes is anybody’s guess.

Speaking of Chief Master Sargent Manes, he and Valenti Sr. had a falling out. The question is when and over what. My suspicion is that it was over expediency. Manes strikes me as an “any means necessary“ kind of guy and Kyle continually speaks of his father’s code which included “innocent until proven guilty.” Those two philosophies seldom mix.

Roswell, New Mexico is brought to us by several members of The Originals and The Vampire Diaries production team. Thus the casting of Nathan Parsons, Riley Voelkel, and Michael Trevino. And as with their predecessors, they have shown a willingness to burn through plot. Where other shows would have dragged out Liz and Max’s confrontation till at least the mid-season finale, here we barely make it through one episode. The end result is I have no idea where we’re headed but I am enjoying the ride.

4 out of 5 Blackouts.

Parting Thoughts:

This week’s title refers to the NSYNC song by the same name.

Max’s nerd boner over a first edition Walt Whitman brought a smile to my face. It’s not Russian literature but we are 3 for 3 on Max’s bookworm references.


While we’re meant to see Liz and her father in a sympathetic light. The Powers That Be don’t shy away from alternative views. While Sheriff Valenti, a neutral bystander in the overall narrative, won’t go out of her way to deport Arturo Ortecho, she’s not shy in her condemnation of the fact that he came to the country illegally while others, including her own family, sacrificed to do it the right way. We don’t live in a black and white world and I’m always pleased when writers and producers are willing to show it.

Minor Gaff: When Isobel announces that the fundraiser has doubled last year's donations, Noah is standing in the audience cheering. Yet when she gets home, she tells him the same info, and he acts like he never heard it.

Quotes.

Liz: “You can relax. I left my scalpel at home."
Max: “Oh, good. Cause I saw what you did to that frog freshman year, and it was not pretty.”

Isobel: “I have the entire Air Force here for the veteran fundraiser, and you’re out here playing what, alien autopsy?"

Kyle: “I know you want to believe Max is a golden retriever, but he’s a frigging’ X-file, Liz.”

Alex: “You’re awake.”
Michael: “You stayed.”

Isobel: “I just came from Max’s. He’s letting Liz experiment on him.”
Michael: “Please say ‘sexually.’”

Maria: “I didn’t want to invade her privacy, even now.”
Liz: “Well, as a little sister, invading my big sister’s privacy is my born prerogative. Even now.”

Jenna: “Yeah, why not. Let’s go to the drive-in. Maybe after you can take me to the malt shop and then pin your letter on my sweater.”

Michael: “So are you going to mind-warp Liz before or after Mars Attacks?

Maria: “If we’re stalking, I need a corn dog.”

Max: “I was really hoping for E.T. this year.”
Isobel: “Xenophobia sells more tickets.”

Michael: “Guess you’re still the guy looking for any excuse to walk away, huh?"
Alex: “Maybe. And you’re still so good at giving them to me.”

Manes: “We shared one goal. To protect our town and our world from the imminent alien threat.”
Kyle: “Imminent? The crash was in 1947. If they pose a threat to humanity, they’re taking their sweet time.”

Manes: “Although you should know there’s one fatal flaw in our system. Innocent until proven guilty means that justice can only be served after disaster has struck.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

2 comments:

DebG. said...

Found myself liking this series beyond my own misgivings - especially because I loved the 1st season of the original Roswell so much.
Great review!

Shari said...

You and me both. I didn't even start watching it until the first 3 or 4 episodes had aired. But it feels like a more sophisticated version of something that I already loved. Kind of like it grew up when I did. I know that may sound cheesy but I think that's why I like it so much.