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Roswell, New Mexico: I'll Stand by You

“There’s always three. Until the very end.”

Since this episode revolves around the fight to save Max, you could be forgiven for thinking this episode is about him. However, it is more about his argument for the power of three than himself. In this case, family, friendship, and loyalty. And the lengths we will go for the people we care about.

Every one of the main characters shows up to help fight the good fight in their own way. Even Maria, whose pain from her friends’ betrayal is still an open wound. Yet she takes her discussion with Alex to heart. She shows up for her friends with an offer of love and forgiveness.

Alex’s loyalty is on full display here. He forgives Maria for dating the man he still loves and even argues for her to give Michael a second chance. I believe we’d all like to think we’d sacrifice our happiness for the person we love, but I doubt many of us would be this selfless. He also provides military cover to protect Max’s operation. This is further proof of his friendship with Liz and love for Michael. As if we needed more.

Kyle assists with a surgery he believes may be pointless. He cannot disentangle his love for Liz, be it romantic, fraternal, or familial, but he doesn’t need to. Liz is hurting. She needs him. So he’s there.

For Rosa, it is all about Liz's happiness. Until this episode Rosa was willing to let Max suffer because she knew Liz would eventually revive him. It’s the darkness of Max’s mind that convinces her bringing him back might not be in Liz’s best interest. But her sister’s devastation when faced with losing Max changes her mind. Rosa uses the electrical charges she is afflicted with to bring Max back. Damn the consequences.

After wrestling with her decision to abort her baby, Isobel understands the need for self-determination. Therefore, despite the personal cost, she’s willing to let Max go. Until she learns his decision is based on his fears for others and not about any pain or torment he’s been suffering.

As a side note, I just have to say that while I want Max back on the show as a living and breathing person, I’m not sure how I feel about that. It should be his choice to make, no matter what his reasons are. However, it’s like Isobel said. He got to play God. Now it’s her turn.

Michael and Max’s relationship serves as the backbone of the episode. The argument for and against the need for the big three mentioned above. Two schools of thought vie for Michael’s soul. The first is transactional. You do things for others because you expect them to do things for you. And if you do it right, you’ll ensure you get more than you give. This is represented by Old Man Sanders.

To be fair, Sanders has always been there for Michael. Providing a place to crash and food to eat when the teenaged Michael needed a safe place to hole up. He also gave Michael a job when he got older. Michael has returned that kindness by propping up Sanders’ business now that Sanders is unable to do so himself. While it's doubtful Sanders planned for this eventuality, it's clear that he expected some recompense.

The other argument is relational. You give because giving is not zero-sum. This is demonstrated throughout the flashbacks of Max and Michael’s relationship. Max’s continued concern for Michael is not based on any expectations. Max needs nothing from him. He gives because it’s within his power to do so. And when push comes to shove, Michael returns the favor.

In the end, Sanders may be right when he says that passing credit back and forth may get you stuck with someone for life. But Max would argue that was the point. In the battle between transactional and relational, The Powers That Be firmly come down on the side of the latter.

Which is why the last thirty seconds of the episode are so jarring. In the grand scheme of things, I shouldn’t be surprised; that Max might have come back “wrong” is a through line in the episode. And we knew the seeds they've been laying since the season premiere regarding Isobel’s growing abilities had a purpose. But having them end the episode with a potential Battle Royale seems to undercut the very premise of the episode.

Or does it? In a discussion about the lengths one will go for their loved ones, what could be more fitting than putting your life on the line for them? Isobel is facing the possibility that Max could kill her. I know, I know, the likelihood of that is negligible, but we’re looking at it from the perspective of a viewer watching a TV show and not from Isobel facing off against her brother. For her, the outcome is uncertain.

As for me, I don’t care. Max is out of that damn pod.

4 out 5 alien pacemakers

Parting Thoughts:

The title is named after the 1994 single by The Pretenders.

Just a question. Where was Alec when Maria came to visit? That wasn’t his cabin.

Before her disappearance, Mama DeLuca was in discussion with someone she needed to hide from potential prying eyes. No red flags there.

I loved the idea that the only reason for Max’s four year membership in Biology Club was the opportunity to be near Liz. I’m such a sucker for that sort of thing.

Taylor Swift as President would definitely be an improvement.


Michael: “I’m repaying an old debt.”
Sanders: “Don’t pay more than you collect, kid. Passing credit back and forth is a good way to get stuck with somebody forever.”

Alec: “You’ve been avoiding me.”
Maria: “Well, I learned you and all of our friends have been lying to me about aliens and murders and resurrections, So haven’t been feeling particularly social.”

Liz: “How did you get here so fast?”
Kyle: “You called, I broke the speed limit. What else is new?”

Michael: “You got me. My abandonment issues have all been a long con in case your half-resurrected brother decides to short-circuit his stasis pod.”

Alec: “Don’t write him off. He keeps secrets because of how much he loves Max and Isobel. Not because of how much he loves you.”

Rosa: “Okay, you know you can’t just say ‘no offense’ after you say something offensive.”
Isobel: “Okay. Right now there’s no time for my stunning personality.”

Michael: “I’m the hothead, you are the hero. It’s always been that way. Just embrace it.”

Liz: “He can either fade away in a cave, trapped in his own hell, or he can spend his last moment knowing how loved he was.”

Maria: “I’m not investigating my mom. I just want to know who might have taken her, but she’s a victim. I’m not going to invade her privacy over it. She has a right to her secrets.”

Alec: “You know something I learned in the last ten years is, sometimes showing up is the most important thing. Can’t stay mad forever. People have a right to their secrets.”

Max: “Whatever Liz is bringing back is not me. It’s just some broken shell.”

Isobel: “You know, you didn’t just stand Max up tonight. It’s my birthday too.”
Michael: “Well, I’m sorry. I was very busy with all of my underachieving.”

Rosa: “Oh, these bitch-ass aliens!”

Liz: “So you built an alien pacemaker in seven hours.”
Michael: “My genius increases when I’m pissed off.”

Michael: “So, this thing in your chest. It might give your heart a pretty solid kick every once in a while. Consider it payback. It’s my hero move, Max. If you wake up, you consider us even, okay? If you wake up, we can be a family.”

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


  1. Gotta love surgery by committee. At least Max is finally out of the pod -- that went on too long, and I'm sure the repercussions will go on even longer.

    I'm still finding the de-ageing during the teen scenes a bit freaky, although it's better with Max out of that backwards hat.

  2. This was the first time the de-ageing really bothered me. It looked so unnatural. Could it be because of the direct sunlight?

    I hope you're wrong about the repercussions. Normally, they burn through a seasons worth of story in 3-4 episodes. Hopefully this will be over after 1-2.

  3. Alex is the best. At last Max is out of the pod. yay! Even if he came back wrong like Buffy.

  4. "It should be his choice to make, no matter what his reasons are."
    I disagree, the reasons absolutely matter. If he was genuinely suicidal then of course it's his right and they should respect that heart-breaking choice. But it's based on a lack of outwards hope. He doesn't believe their circle has what it takes to stop him or manage him. I think they're allowed to take that personally and force his hands, as he has done himself in the past even when an opposing party operated on a higher level of decency. It magically worked out in Max's favor that time, and there's no reason for him to think it can't work out in the team's favor this time and that they do manage to control his release of dark energy or whatever that is. And, whoever in the show made that reductive comment about his martyr thing is right. Sucks for him, but I'm gonna enjoy seeing him wrenched back and coping with responsibility and TRUST again.
    I really want to love Isabel's need to keep Max around, but it still just doesn't work for me. Maybe I'm comparing them as twins unfavorably to the twins in Gone Girl. In that movie I could totally buy it. There was a feeling to it. Here, they're really straining it. I wish they'd back off from it.
    I like the bad de-aging btw, it's pretty funny and I have to assume the overt backwards-cap thing is self-aware lol. Like that one guy who got killed and was replaced with his (identical) twin. I was so amused when they did that


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