Roswell, New Mexico: Smells Like Teen Spirit

“We’ve lived for 10 years in a comfortable lie.”

You have questions? We have answers! Let’s get to it!

The pretext of Michael and Max’s confessions serve as one giant flashback. Offering us the answers to our burning questions both large and small. It also provides a window into the character’s relationships in the present day. From the push-pull of both Michael and Alex and Liz and Max, to the antagonistic back and forth between Max and Michael, the love-hate relationship Liz had for Rosa, or the overprotectiveness both Michael and Max have towards Isobel.

The mystery of Rosa’s killer has been laid to rest even if the motive is a bit murky. I assume Isobel killed Jasmine and Kate as payback for the way they treated Rosa. And that instead of being grateful, Rosa threatened to call the police or in some way expose Isobel. However, Isobel has the power to as Michael said: “mess around with peoples’ thoughts.” Why kill Rosa when Isobel probably could have made her forget or at least remember the event differently?

Isobel’s changing attitudes towards Rosa were also perplexing. Her friendship (read: obsession) with Rosa held more than just romantic overtones. Was she hiding the relationship because she didn’t want to admit her bisexuality? And if she was so afraid of Michael and Max abandoning her, why was she so eager to run away with Rosa? Or was running away with Rosa the answer to Michael and Max’s abandonment? Either way, Rosa was obviously becoming uncomfortable by the attention. Maybe Isobel killed her because Rosa spurned her advances.

That Rosa served as a proxy for Liz’s absent mother should surprise no one. Just as Rosa’s love for Liz was never in doubt. However, this episode gives us insight into Rosa’s view of events rather than Liz’s perceptions. Rosa believed that Liz had a brighter future than to remain mired in the bigotry and racism of Roswell and she would do anything to protect Liz from the town's small-mindedness and ensure Liz’s escape. Yet, Rosa’s personal demons colored her opinions about what was best for Liz. This led to actions like lying to Liz about the car and to hiding Max’s true feelings for Liz.

As for Liz, she may have idolized her older sister. But after the sting of her mother’s alcoholism and abandonment she was quick to associate any failings of Rosa’s as proof that she was just like their mother. The belief that Rosa’s drunkenness or drug use led to her death cemented those feelings of resentment and abandonment. Learning of her sister’s innocence was almost like getting her back but it was also like losing her all over again.

Max may not have killed Rosa, but he is a killer. Granted, Max was defending his sister and the man he killed had threatened him with a knife. But Michael had already removed Isobel from danger and could have kept the man from harming the trio. Max attacked the man out of anger. And while Max claims those events changed him, the rest of his story proves otherwise. Max’s culpability is glossed over in favor of the event’s effect on Isobel. She was broken after that day while there seemed to be few, if any, ramifications for either Michael or Max.

Max’s guilt stems from his actions surrounding Rosa’s death. His inability to recognize how far off the rails Isobel was, or to stop her from committing the murder in the first place. The belief that covering up the murder was a betrayal of the woman he loved. The damage done to his relationship with Michael in the aftermath. The sacrifice of his dreams to protect Isobel and ensure that nothing like that reoccurred. And the fear that if Liz discovered the truth any chance of a relationship would be destroyed. Given Liz’s response, those fears were well-founded.

Michael’s martyr complex developed during the decades of abuse while watching Isobel and Max flourish with their “parents.” Is it any wonder that Michael and Alex bonded over their crappy home lives and their outsider status? By his senior year, Michael had ditched his foster home du jour in favor of sleeping in his truck. The daily threats and physical abuse Alex was subjected to made him envious of Michael’s freedom despite realizing the cost. Alex befriends Michael partially because of his genuinely decent nature and partially in recognition of their shared history. After repeatedly pushing back on Alex’s kind overtures, Michael, who make a joke out of everything as a form of protection, admits to Alex how much he means to him.

Enter Chief Master Sergeant Manes. If anyone doubted Alex’s description of his Dad as a monster, they should now be convinced of his veracity. The most frightening aspect of Manes’ behavior was the fact that he never seemed out of control. Yes, he was angry. But he didn’t pick up the hammer in a fit of rage. It was the first thing Manes grabbed when he walked through the door. He always intended to use it. It was just a question of how.

Once again I find my heart aching for Michael. Not only did he get shuffled from abusive foster home to abusive foster home while Max and Isobel lived in comparative comfort, his fledgling romance with Alex and any sense of peace Michael had was shattered along with the bones in his hand. Plus, he was forced to cover up two murders and sacrificed his chance of escape in order to protect Max and Isobel. I would have a serious chip on my shoulder too.

The only person to escape relatively unscathed was Kyle. He may have lost the girl, but he acquired a medical degree and discovered some empathy along the way. Once again, Maria is nowhere to be found.

And now that we know what they know, what happens next? Monster though he may be, is Manes right about the aliens’ murderous natures? Neither Max nor Isobel seemed to be in control of themselves when they killed. Could it happen again? Will Liz go to the authorities with what she knows? Will Isobel turn herself in? What lengths will Max go to in order to protect Isobel?

We’re nearly halfway through the season and I feel like the roller coaster has just reached the top of its first peak. My desire to see what happens next is warring with my need to cover my eyes.

4 out of 5 hand and soul-crushing hammers

Parting Thoughts:

If I need to tell you where the title for this episode comes from, I’m not sure if this is the right show for you.

I know I promised not to talk about Roswell 1.0 but did anyone else catch the mention of Tess? Easter egg or foreshadowing?

Quotes:

Michael: “So I can move stuff. Isobel can mess around in people’s thoughts. Figure out your thing yet?”
Max: “Other than causing a power outage every time I have a dirty dream? Worst superpower ever.”

Alex: “I’ll take ‘high school clich├ęs’ for $500, Mr. Trebek.”

Isobel: “I’m not ashamed of you.”
Rosa: “So then why act like you don’t know me?”

Liz: “I’m not done being taken care of.”

Michael: “Isobel straight-up vanished… And I have a bad feeling?” (Gee, I wonder why this sounds vaguely familiar.)

Michael: “Why are you being so nice to me?”
Alex: “People don’t always have an agenda. They can just be nice to one another sometimes.”
Michael: “Not in my experience.”

Michael: “You only get to impersonate a human high school senior once.”

Liz: “You know what? You are just like Mom. Nobody matters but you.”
Rosa: “I’m nothing like Mom. I’m here.”

Max: “I want to write something you can disappear into. Something that makes you feel like home, you know, that wraps you up when it’s cold.”

Liz: “I really want to kiss you.”
Max: “Uh, okay. Yes.”

Liz: “I don’t want to be a leaver like my Mom.”
Max: “So… stay.”
Liz: “I also don’t want to be the kind of girl who changes her plans for a boy.”

Isobel: “Is that what we are, killers?”

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

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

It's definitely getting more and more intriguing, and I'm certainly into it now. I wish they hadn't used CGI for the teen stuff, though -- I kept finding it so distracting.

Shari said...

I'm of two minds about it. It's obvious that it's CGI but to see the 30+ year old actors trying to look like 18 year olds without the CG would have been a hard sell.

Anonymous said...

Great review. I really liked this ep! It was fascinating to have so many things answered and yet be left with so many questions.

It was heartbreaking to find out how Michael broke his hand and what had happened between him and Alex. My heart goes out to the two of them.

I have some ideas about what's happening with Isobel. Since we didn't see the flashback from her perspective (it was Michael who found her with Rosa's body) and Michael says she's been acting like a completely different person, I'm wondering if there's a fourth alien out there who can possess people, like the demons on Supernatural. So maybe Isobel was possessed when she killed Rosa? Either that or she is very bi-polar?

Shari said...

If that's not the case, she at least has a split personality. The Ophiuchus version seemed to be romantically obsessed with Rosa, while the other person legitimately seemed not to care about her one way or the other. And is, or at least was, happily married to a man with no hint of bisexuality. Either way, something is definitely up!