Roswell, New Mexico: The Diner

“What if we have this story wrong?”

AKA, who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

Should Max be jailed for Noah’s murder? Was Tripp an alien friend or foe? Is Kyle’s interest in Steph based on attraction or pity? In the battle between truth and perception, history is written by the victors. Or at least those who lived to tell the tale.

On its face, Noah’s death was just a freak accident. However, there are far too many unanswered questions for Sheriff Valenti’s liking. Why does Noah have bruises consistent with being handcuffed? Why did he have acetone in his coffee? And why did Max disappear the day Noah died?

Those questions drove Valenti to continue her investigation. Now she’s linked Max to the disappearance of three other people. Granted, this evidence is circumstantial and two of the three people have returned relatively unharmed. But Max can’t account for his whereabouts.

I loved the idea of Max needing to tell her a truth, even if it wasn’t the truth. Something to weigh against all the other truths. Because Valenti’s not wrong. He was a child with a traumatic past. He has suffered uncontrollable rages. And he killed Noah.

So Max confesses he had heart surgery, which gives him an alibi for all the disappearances. Telling her of his suspicions about Noah was also a confession of sorts. It handed her motive on a silver platter, although I don’t know how she’d prove murder given the cause of death. Somehow I don’t think she’ll try.

After discovering that Old Man Sanders was none other than Walt, the child befriended by Bronson and the Pod Squad’s mothers, Isobel and Michael berate, beg and eventually bribe him into telling his tale. What we learn is Louise had found a home on the farm with Bronson, while Nora still planned to leave. We also learn that Louise was tasked with protecting the child. Which child needed such protection was conveniently unspoken.

However, the mystery surrounding Tripp’s role in Louise’s supposed death and Nora’s capture remains just that. Walt’s memory of Tripp and Harlan’s conversation in the Malt Shoppe was damning, both in its vindictiveness towards a mother protecting her child and the willingness to use another child to bait a trap. Yet, Walt was in hiding during those fateful moments and could only hear what took place. Although he claimed to see Louise’s body when he made his escape. Besides, he was a traumatized nine-year-old at the time and it was over seventy years ago.

Our other version of Tripp comes from Jesse Manes, who has proven anything he says must be taken with a mountain of salt. I have to admit; I never trusted Jesse as far as I could throw him, but I didn't suspect the depth of his deception. The funny thing is, I still believe him. If only because the best lies contain some truths. Just ask Max.

Jesse’s portrayal of Tripp consists mostly of leaving carefully curated information for Alex to discover and letting him jump to his own conclusions. What little Jesse actually says about Tripp occurs decades after the events at the Long Farm and speak more to Tripp’s fraying relationship with his brother Harlan than anything else.

The question remains, what does Jesse want? Jesse Manes has been playing Alex and the rest all season. Originally, I believed it was to locate Charlie, but he’s done that. He’s claimed on multiple occasions that aliens are a threat to humanity, yet he’s made no move against the three aliens he knows are in Roswell. Jesse said an alien murdered Tripp and the photo of Louise proves she survived the attack at the farm. Did she have something to do with Tripp's death?  Does Jesse believe Louise is still alive? Is he trying to find the child Nora spoke of?

What is the truth? Was Tripp a true "Manes Man" bent on alien annihilation? Or was he caught between living up to his brother’s expectations and doing what he knew to be right, as Alex suggests? Keep in mind Alex’s perceptions are based on a few stray comments of his father's and a potentially unhealthy dose of wish fulfillment. And does the truth matter seventy years later?

For Isobel, it’s knowing there’s more to her mother’s story and the slimmest possibility that she’s still alive. Will Max remain focused on Charlie’s abduction or join Isobel’s quest for their mother? For Michael, there is no potential happy ending. He’s drawn the short end of the stick so many times, is it any wonder he believes that his mother sacrificed herself protecting Max? The world has been tilting towards Max since Ann and David walked into the group home.

To be fair, when Nora first mentioned “the child,” I also assumed she meant Max. However, she spoke of their children, plural, being in danger first. Is Max a red herring? Could “the child” be someone outside of the Pod Squad?

In other news, Kyle and Steph attempt a first date. A few weeks ago I mentioned Steph would mistake Kyle’s interest for pity. Turns out I was right. As viewers we know his attraction to Steph preceded his awareness of her health issues. All Steph knows is that he knew she was dying before he acted on that attraction. And as we’ve established, perception is everything.

Not to mention, once he realized that the only one at the diner was his ex-girlfriend, he should have taken Steph anywhere else for a first date. What was he thinking! There was no way that would end well.

Just as Max is a hero who can’t leave well enough alone, so is Liz. She can’t stop herself if someone needs help, and she has a potential solution, despite all the potential pitfalls it may cause. Her research may save Steph’s life, but at what cost?

We have Charlie to locate, Jesse Manes’ agenda to discover, the mystery of Louise and Tripp to solve, and Steph’s life to save with only four episodes remaining. I’ll say it again. I have no clue where this is going.

4 out 5 burnt hamburgers

Parting Thoughts:

As far as I can tell, this episode is named after Suzanne Vega’s 1987 hit. Although the correct title is Tom’s Diner, and it wasn’t released in the 90s.

While there were four different diner locations in the episode, there were only two diners. The Crashdown of the present day, 1987, and its previous incarnation as the 1947 Atomic Malt Shoppe, and Vega’s diner (the location of Sheriff Valenti’s interrogation).

Arturo was a busboy and worked his way up? Awww!

There’s no music on their planet? How sad.

Max had a creepy burn mark of his very own. What is Deep Sky doing to these people?

Quotes:

Liz: “We’re good. I compared our DNA.”
Kyle: “You did?”
Liz: “Hi, I’m Liz. Have we met?”

Kyle: “So, if it’s for your boyfriend, we’re expected to lie, cheat, and steal, but otherwise we have a strict moral code.”
Liz: “She’s a feisty Latina. You clearly have a type.”

Kyle: “Lying to protect someone is still lying.”

Liz: “Down the line alien DNA could create a universal vaccine. This could end illness.”
Kyle: “Cool. Good to know we’re operating in the realm of realism here.”

Steph: “Are you attracted to red flags?”

Tripp: “No woman fools a Manes man twice.”

Michael: “We both know the universe tilts in Max’s direction. We were just along for the ride.”

Alex: “There’s more evidence that you have a heart in this old box than I’ve seen in 28 years.”

Michael: “You came.”
Alex: “You asked me to.”

Isobel: “I’m fine. I just fainted. I’m a fainter.”

Kyle: “Tormenting my mother with unanswered questions isn’t right. She deserves some truth. Maybe not all of it, but... a truth.”

Liz: “The fryers are off, my friend, and I’m only turning them on if your day was worse than ours.”

Max: “There are people in this county who deserve the protection of honest police officers like you. He wasn’t one of them.”

Sanders: “When I said 6:00 I figured I’d see you around noon.”

Max: “I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think Charlie Cameron has been abducted by aliens.”

Max: “I don’t know why I can’t leave well enough alone.”
Liz: “Cause you’re a hero. It’s in your DNA.”

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

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I am ridiculously pleased that Tripp didn't turn out to be a bad guy. That made the episode for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Billie. Maybe that's because in my mind, he's still Max from the original series.... ;)

Anonymous said...

The episode title is from the Ani DiFranco song from 1994

Shari said...

I felt the same way, Billie, Making the OG Max a bad guy felt all kinds of wrong. I also liked the way this episode felt like the story of the two Maxs. That thought kept popping in my brain as I watched. :)

Thanks, Anonymous! I was searching for the song and the only thing that kept popping up was Suzanne Vega.