Roswell, New Mexico: What If God Was One of Us

“Some things are just God’s will.”

In honor of Holy Week, God makes an appearance in Roswell. Not literally. But through ruminations on faith and doubt, free will and destiny, and the possibility of redemption, the show poses an interesting question. What if God is all of us?

The most obvious example of this is through Isobel’s journey. Noah believed the bible was a record of previous alien encounters. The aliens were Gods among men. While Isobel was unconscious during his speech, she appears to have internalized the argument. But where Noah saw opportunities for power, Isobel sees the potential for good.

Most of us would agree that manipulating another person’s thoughts without their knowledge or consent is wrong. Using another’s faith in God as the basis of that manipulation is downright evil. Yet if that manipulation serves to reunite a family and heal emotional wounds, is it inherently bad or could God be using the tools at his disposal to work a “miracle?”

The Ortecho family is in need of such a miracle. Reuniting Arturo with his “dead” daughter is only half of the issue. As hard as Arturo has worked to provide for his family, and as much as he loves them, he feels like a failure. He clearly did not know about his wife’s unhappiness or her issues with drugs. His struggle to help Rosa with her drug and alcohol issues strained their relationship to the breaking point. And now Arturo mistakenly believes that his financial instability is keeping Liz from pursuing her dreams. He attends church in a hope for the redemption he believes he’ll never earn.

If Liz is right, Rosa’s issues stem from a bipolar disorder and not the drugs and alcohol she used to cope with those underlying problems. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the burden of knowing the man who sacrificed so much for her isn’t her biological father. This was her mother’s failure, but Rosa is the one filled with guilt and shame. As for Liz, the competing obligations of sister, daughter, friend, lover are making it difficult to succeed at any of them.

Isobel’s contribution to the Ortecho family was one of the few rays of sunshine in a fairly dark story. Arturo may not believe he is worthy of the miracle he’s been granted but he’ll take it. Just as Rosa is happy to have the only father she’s ever known back in her life. It also expands Rosa’s support network at a time when Liz needs to focus on saving Max.

The less obvious contribution to this discussion is Noah’s death. Max killed Noah, which has left Sheriff Valenti’s Spidey-sense tingling. Was God working through Max to protect humanity from an intractable predator, making Kyle’s argument that it was God’s will at least partially true? Or was Max exercising free will?

Not everything in this episode fits neatly into a religious discussion, although the overtones still exist. Eugene Manes III a.k.a. Tripp’s behavior could be seen as an argument for free will or could be looked at from his perspective as a duty to God and Country. However, I think this speaks more to the 70 year long story playing out in Roswell that Jesse alluded to.

The call to duty and service has a long history in the Manes family. Normally, that would be considered an honorable pursuit. Unfortunately, the Manes family devotion to the military has superseded their ability to perceive right from wrong. Tripp’s expanding definition of the enemy is emblematic of this.

The enemy was not limited to the aliens. This was bad enough considering he knew they were just women trying to protecting their children. The foreman who hid them and the boy not old enough to understand the consequences were tarnished by their association, which made their deaths justifiable in Tripp’s eyes.

We have yet to see how the Manes family beliefs will play out. It’s clear that Jesse is just the latest in the line to see his duty in terms of the many over the few. His willingness to sacrifice both his friend and his friend’s son proves that. Is there any doubt that the information he provided Cam was anything other than an attempt to locate Charlie? Her research may be the final piece needed to complete the bomb and bring forth Project Shepherd’s grand plan to annihilate alien life on Earth.

Alex followed in the family tradition of service to one’s country. But where the rest of the family follows the letter, he follows the spirit of the law. He understands genocide is a moral wrong no matter the context. But there is a part of him that can be as cold and calculating as his forbears. And it’s his battle with that side of himself that led to returning the section of the console to Michael. He may not want Michael to leave, but he will not stand in his way.

Then there’s Kyle. The longer the show goes on, the more interesting I find him. He was friends with Alex before turning into a homophobic bully. But his love for Liz smoothed out the worst of his rough edges, even back in high school. The idea that his father died disappointed in him cemented his desire to be a better person.

Which leaves me, like Steph, wondering why he’s pining after Liz. Is it based on a genuine love and the desire to see her happy no matter what it costs him, or is his opinion of himself so low that he doesn’t think anyone else will have him? It seems Steph has at least reminded him he has options. Love interest she might be, but that doesn't mean she isn’t wrapped up in alien shenanigans. And if she isn’t, she soon will be.

Let’s return to the theme of perspective. Specifically, the grand old argument of everything being a nail to a hammer. To the military the aliens pose a threat and are therefore the enemy. Forrest realizes that the story of a lightning strike and the subsequent fire is unlikely. He pieces together enough to know that the military covered up a raid and his passion for World War II leads him to the assumption that their targets were Nazis. Michael views the events as one more example of a family that didn’t want him. And Alex blessed with context and a little more objectivity can see it for the tragedy it is.

All of which brings us back to Isobel’s final monologue. If we are made in God’s image, then we have the potential for acts of great kindness or wrath, and we’ve been given the free will to choose.

4 out of 5 cherry chili blast milkshakes

Parting Thoughts:

The episode is named after Joan Osborne’s 1995 hit.

Well, I was right that Tripp was related to one of the current characters on the show. I was wrong about Roy being related to the DeLucas.

Anyone else think this mysterious private securities company and Project Shepherd might be related? Either way, Jesse is a much better liar than Kyle.

It looks like Max’s time in the pod has come to an end one way or another. Thank God!

Cam may learn more than she wanted to about where Mimi DeLuca has been...

Quotes:

Kyle: “You want me to steal another...”
Liz: “No, no, no. I’ll steal it. I just want you to aid and abet.”

Michael: “Isobel’s on a health kick. DeLuca won’t speak to me. It turns out I don’t have many friends.”

Wyatt: “Howdy. Oh, I’m sorry. That’s the greeting we reserve for guests. What I meant to say is... y’all are trespassing.”

Steph: “So, you’re watching heart surgeries to try to impress a girl whose boyfriend is dying? Did I just wake up in a YA novel?”
Kyle: “Trust me, with our history, you can fill a whole series.”

Roy: “The military is looking for little green men, not Duke Ellington.”

Isobel: “Rude. Oh, my God, of course you’re afraid of me. I murdered you.”

Michael: “Why not let me out of the pod? Crash the party?”
Alex: “They fought off an entire Air Force squadron to protect you. If they didn’t bring you here, they were probably still afraid of something.”

Forrest: “Alien guy.”
Michael: “Nazi guy?”
Alex: “Totally lost guy.”

Cam: “Charlie fought in two wars. Who was she afraid of?”

Arturo: “Oh no, your money’s no good here.”
Isobel: “Listen, old man, you either take that now, or I break in later and reverse-rob you.”

Liz: “I got it. I was so stealthy. Like Catherine Zeta-Jones in a laser maze. You’d have been very impressed.”

Michael: “He’s a guy who competes for space at the microfiche reader. It’s not like we’re grabbing beers together.”
Forrest: “Beer?”

Alex: “Drowning your sorrows?”
Michael: “No. It’s a happy beer.”

Cam: “Give me a call when you get that tin-star-wearing E.T. awake, so I can curse him out for worrying us all.”

Arturo: “Perhaps, when God grants you a miracle, you don’t question it. You give thanks.”

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

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Shari, what a lovely review.

This was the first time in this series that I liked Isobel. It was so nice seeing her going so far to help Liz and her family. The end, with Liz and Rosa and their father, actually made me cry.

Shari said...

Probably because it was the first time Isobel made an effort on someone else's behalf. I agree. It was a heartwarming moment. But I'm still left wondering how it'll work out. Arturo may see it as a miracle but the rest of Roswell won't.

Anonymous said...

I think it will be hard to explain Rosa's presence in the present.