Roswell, New Mexico: American Woman

“I’m only doing this because you’re my family.”

Max and Isobel set out to learn what became of their birth mother with Michael, Maria and Alex in tow. They all got more than they bargained for in an episode that puts a new spin on the idea of found families.

When you study story craft, you eventually come across the concept of scene/sequel as a story structure. Scenes are where the action takes place while sequels are the pause after the scene to reflect on what happened and plan for what’s next. In that context, most of this episode felt like the sequel to the events from last week’s episode.

Learning Louise survived the massacre at the Long Farm sparks a field trip to the reservation where Alex’s mother was raised. However, as much as this was a group trip, each of their journeys are uniquely their own.

After the Sheriff’s revelations, Max was already on edge. Discovering Isobel’s abortion and near-death experience rekindles his rage at Noah and finding out Isobel is not his biological sister unmoors him. These events combined with his emerging pre-pod memories paint a disturbing self-image and leave him even more isolated. What if he is neither savior nor healer? What if he’s the villain of his story?

While these discoveries send Max in a tailspin for Isobel, it’s akin to a rollercoaster. Whether or not Max is biologically her brother makes no difference to her. He’s her brother. Learning she had a sister is a different story.

Initially, believing her sister didn’t survive childbirth leaves Isobel wondering if she’ll ever have children of her own. This led to two surprises. The first being Max’s aforementioned meltdown. The second was Michael’s admission he wants children and would father her child. I agree with Isobel. I think he’d make a wonderful dad.

We soon learn interspecies breeding is indeed possible, and Louise’s baby survived. She was none other than Maria’s grandmother. This knowledge rocks both women. And spawns so many other questions. Are the Deluca psychic abilities a product of genetics or the Caufield experiments? The same goes for their mental health issues. And just how much of this does Jesse Manes know?

Alex has a journey of his own and while it doesn’t include any genealogical bombshells, it revolves around his family. We meet Gregory, yet another Manes sibling. While Alex and Gregory’s conversation never touches on anything specific, it sheds more light on the horror of Alex’s childhood.

We glimpse how each brother survived their father’s abuse often at the expense of each other. How their decisions led to the men they became. And how the guilt from those choices still gnaws at them. Gregory found a measure of peace away from the military and back on his mother’s reservation, but the hatred for his father lives on.

Alex is searching for a different path. One free of hatred and shame. This would be a good thing if it weren’t partially founded on the belief that Jesse Manes has changed.

That is what made his argument with Michael so upsetting. Their shared history lent their fight all the markers of a married couple ripping open old wounds. However, from the viewer's perspective, although both men made valid points, the argument was weighted in Michael’s favor. Alex is not wrong about Michael’s tendency to focus on the negative or self-sabotage, but we know there is no scenario where Jesse Manes can be trusted.

The one exception to my sequel theory is Liz and Arturo’s story. I feel like the show has been building to this moment since the pilot. A childhood afraid of Santa brought home Liz’s fear and sense of powerlessness. Unlike the threats to the Pod Squad, this ordeal was all too real. And not everyone can call in favors from a senator.

Speaking of calling in favors, we finally get to meet Diego, the famous ex-fiancĂ©. I’d envisioned some cute but nerdy guy. Not the model/Kennedy Max described. I could see why Max was insecure. But while it was obvious Diego’s relationship with Liz was based on mutual respect and genuine affection, it was equally obvious that calling off the wedding was the right decision for them both.

Just as the show has never shied away from immigration issues, they have kept gender equality front and center. This episode is no exception (the title might have been a clue). It’s not that the show preaches. It just consistently and continually states facts. When Louise claims being a woman on Earth is hard. When Liz questions why Max believes he’s supposed to save her. Michael pleading his case with Maria while acknowledging her decisions are her own. It’s not that the men in their lives can’t be helpful or supportive. It’s just that the women can and should have agency of their own.

Many breadcrumbs were dropped in this episode. Cam’s spinal tap and the mysterious use of Butyricol. Arturo’s ongoing immigration issues. Michael’s offer to father Izzy’s child. Why Louise rescued a much younger Max. Who is the devil and did he ever return? And who abducted Alex? That is a lot of ground to cover in three episodes. But I have faith.

4 out of 5 stars on the ground

Parting Thoughts:

This episode’s title was taken from Lenny Kravitz’s 1998 remake of The Guess Who’s 1970 hit.

Is Louise the woman mentioned in Songs about Texas?

If Alex doesn’t show up for his recruiting trip, will they think he’s gone AWOL?

Speaking of Alex, he supposedly has three brothers. I wonder when we’ll get to meet the third.

Correct me if I’m wrong. But when Kyle tested Maria, she didn’t have the alien genetic marker found in Rosa and the Pod Squad. Why not?

I think I’m just going to start keeping a running tally of how many of my predictions come true. Max being “the child” was a red herring, as I suspected. Just as Bronson was related to the DeLucas.

Am I a horrible person because I couldn’t look at Gregory without thinking of him in his Liberty Mutual commercial? “Liberty Biberty.”

Quotes:

Max: “I have no leads on our mysterious hunting van. Charlie hasn’t made contact.”
Liz: “To be fair, I hear that phone service is a little spotty in flying saucers.”

Forrest: “I write my book on my computer. However, I write my angsty emo poetry in an angsty emo journal.”

Michael: “Isobel and Maria needed a timeout from each other.”
Isobel: “She started it.”

Isobel: “I just took a DNA test, and it turns out I’m Elizabeth Warren percent Navajo.”

Cameron: “‘Max thinks.’ So typical of dude to make my abduction all about him.”

Liz: “I begged my parents not to tell Santa where we lived because I was afraid he’d ask for papers. My whole life was built on a fear of this day coming, and it’s here.”

Cameron: “Do you know anyone with some real power? You know, federal muscle?”
Liz: “Gonna have to call my BFF Ivanka.”

Isobel: “Sorry, I’m going to need you to say more words.”

ICE Officer: “We might be willing to help you if you approached us more calmly.”
Liz: “How about if I approached you more blondely? Would that work?”

Tripp: “I’m a Christian, Harry. When evil itself tells me to kill a woman with child, I disobey. Even if the evil looks just like my brother.”

Max: “Healing people destroys me. But killing Noah? That felt good. I was high. And whenever I think about what he did to you, I want to chase that high.”

Alex: “You know I actually think he’s getting a little bit better. It’s like the stroke melted away the psycho in his brain, or something.”

Arturo: “I should fire you. I’m gone one day and already you’re showing up late for your shift.“

Max: “I’ll always be your idiot brother.”

Liz: “Dad’s chocolate caliente. The booze is relative to his gratitude, so proceed with caution.”

Alex: “Hey, that alien console piece that Jim Valenti left me. You still have it?”
Michael: “No. I sold it on eBay.”

Michael: “When we were kids, you believed people were good, despite humanity doing everything to prove you otherwise. And, God, I loved you for it."

Alex: “You miss your injury because you want to hurt. Your anger made you feel safe.”

Liz: “Family is the one area where I am certain biology does not matter.”

Isobel: “I will leave on the condition that you are not about to propose to my great-great-grandniece. The branches of this family tree are twisted enough.”

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

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Lovely review, Shari. This was quite an episode. What a bunch of revelations. Max and Isobel aren't siblings. Michael is willing to have kids with Isobel. Maria is part alien. More Tripp, too -- can't be bad. Although it's too bad we're only seeing Tripp in flashback.

Shari said...

Thanks Billie,

While I think I have a rough idea on where they are going with the Deep Sky storyline, I haven't a clue what they are planning with all of the interpersonal relationships. Although it's obvious they are working towards something. It makes me happy when I can't figure it out immediately.

And you're right. Tripp is becoming a favorite and not just because of the casting choice.

Billie Doux said...

Shari, I have no idea where they're going. I'm glad I kept watching, though. I keep liking the series a little bit more with each episode.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I’m wrong. But when Kyle tested Maria, she didn’t have the alien genetic marker found in Rosa and the Pod Squad. Why not?
- One theory floating around is that it's a protein from being inside one of the pods and not actually an alien DNA marker.

Shari said...

My operating theory had been that the protein might have been bred out of her by all the human genes. But your theory makes more sense.

Anonymous said...

Poor Alex, can they stop hurting him?
Diego is too hot to be trusted right?
Liz and her dad broke my heart. Too plausible as a story.

Shari said...

Thank You! I feel like Alex gets the short end of EVERY stick.

Diego is too perfect all the way around. He had his mother call in a favor even though Liz jilted him right before the wedding, he found out about Butyricol the same day Liz asks, there are no hard feelings about the guy that replaced him, and he's completely hot. Something's definitely up.

And I'm in total agreement about Arturo. What makes it so horrible is knowing that and so much worse is actually happening.