Roswell: Season Three, Part One

“I want to do this with you, Max. Together.”

(This review covers the original series Roswell episodes 3.1 through 3.10, and includes spoilers!)

If season two of Roswell was an attempt to try new things and kick them up a notch, season three was throwing everything the series had tried before against the wall to see what stuck. A lot of it feels half-baked, burning through several ideas that have a lot of merit, only to nix them before they ever got off the ground.

The season starts off on a jarring note, with Liz and Max on the run from the police after holding up a gas station in the middle of the desert. This doesn’t feel like an accident, as that general sense of revolution and defiance permeates a lot of Liz’s story this season. Given the dire situation Liz and Max end up in as a result of their secret attempt to gain access to the spaceship hidden underneath the gas station, their parents pull out all the stops to keep them apart.

The whole star-crossed lovers thing is familiar territory for Roswell, and it does pull off this slightly different take well enough. For one, it's a nice break to have more human forces keeping Liz and Max apart, rather than a pushy blonde alien and a mysterious past life. The tension between Liz and her father is also explored nicely, as his desperation to protect his daughter’s innocence is explained by past trauma rather than icky old-fashioned morals and an attempt to control a young woman’s free-will.


Liz herself is also featured more than last season, which is great to see, though that focus is taken away from her a bit too much at times. Her outlook has shifted dramatically from wide-eyed optimism to steely determination, possibly as a consequence of everything that’s happened to her over the past two years. She’s there for Max as he searches desperately for a way to find and save his son, but she also makes it clear that she’s also someone Max needs to show dedication to, something that bleeds into the second part of the season.

Outside of the relative success of Liz’s personal journey, the series fails to land on one solid idea that works. Max’s aforementioned quest to save his son takes him to some interesting places. Most notably, he heads off to L.A. where he meets the second guardian of the pods who worked alongside Nasedo. Unlike his deceased partner, Kal doesn’t feel much loyalty to his alien heritage, and has made a comfortable life for himself as a big-shot in Hollywood. Max’s journey to find Kal is a fun one, and the mash-up of alien mythology and So-Cal noir make for a wonderful combination, if only it lasted longer than one episode.


Isabel’s storyline is also fraught with quick-fire story beats. In between seasons she hooked-up with her father’s newest recruit, Jesse (played by a very likable Adam Rodriguez). In just three episodes she’s organising a gunshot wedding (at the age of 19!), all while being plagued by dreams of Kivar attempting to seduce her. Her past-life lover arrives just after she and Jesse exchange vows, only to be sent back to Antar before he can become a true opponent. Considering how often he’s been brought up before now, it's a shame his arrival didn’t lead to something more climatic. He does reveal that Valandra didn’t betray her family after all; she herself fell victim to Kivar’s manipulation, and was killed along with her family when she tried to broker peace, so there’s at least some closure where that’s concerned.

Michael was the shining light at the close of season two, as he finally accepted his human side, and opened up to Maria. Seemingly in an attempt to force a wedge between them, Maria decides to end things with Michael as she suffers some sort of identity crisis, despite his renewed dedication to her. This whole turn of events baffled me, as she always felt like the one character that was always completely herself. Instead, a visit from an old fellow band geek with an infuriating mumble causes her to question the person she’s become with Michael. There’s a valid argument made for Maria’s abandonment of her musical talents, as she reveals Alex’s funeral to be the last time she sang. But rather than focus on that pain, it's Michael who has to bear the brunt of her confusion, which would have been fine if her decision was written with a little more conviction. It’s sad to see the show’s best character fading out like that.

Plus

Kyle and Jim feel a little side-lined this season, but their story does touch on their struggles to make ends meet as Jim tries to get his life together now that he’s unemployed.

The Snapple product placement this season was insane.

Colin Hanks returns for a one episode stint as Alex in ‘Significant Others’, which gives Iz the chance to say goodbye to him and take a leap of faith with Jesse.

As filler-y as it was, I loved the New Years episode ‘A Tale of Two Parties’. The pairings were a lot of fun, particularly Maria and Max who typically get very little time together, and Isabel and Kyle who have started to get close in between seasons.

Kyle also seems to have developed feelings for Iz, which isn’t ideal.

He Said, She Said

Liz: “I want to do this with you, Max. Together.”
Max: “Why?”
Liz: “Because if I had a child that I had lost, I would want you to help me find him.”

Michael: “Why do you want out?”
Maria: “Because, Michael, I don't think I've ever been in.”

If this season had stopped to breathe and let just one of its stories play out for longer than 40 minutes, we’d have something a lot more cohesive on our hands. A lot can be said for the more concrete story arcs last season, which had more definitive structure to them. Instead, the series feels a bit lost, despite some fun moments.

5 out of 10 hidden spaceships.

2 comments:

TJ said...

I really liked this show back in the day. Don't remember much now, except that season 3 was the weakest.

IIRC, when UPN bought Buffy, it was a packaged deal including Roswell. It seems UPN never really had any real interest in the show.

Billie Doux said...

TJ, I had completely forgotten that UPN thing. Wow.