Roswell: Season Three, Part Two

“I have to be who I really am and let fate take care of the rest.”

(This review covers the original series Roswell episodes 3.11 through 3.18, and includes spoilers!)

Much like the first part of this season, the latter part Roswell’s third and final season is full of different ideas and hijinks, many of which don’t leave a lasting impression. Thankfully, a last minute creative surge helps to elevate this otherwise lack-lustre series of episodes, and allows Roswell the opportunity to go out on a relatively high note, rushed conclusions aside.

Many of the characters’ choices at the beginning of the season spill over here, even if the larger elements don’t. Maria commits to her music and even winds up in New York after getting spotted by a record label exec, though she winds up back in Roswell when it doesn’t work out; Michael struggles to fill his life without Maria; Isabel continues to hide the truth from Jesse, but he eventually learns the truth when she’s shot; Max’s search for his son reaches its apex; and the previously hinted “changes” that Liz went through as a result of Max healing her finally show themselves, just as she makes a decision to escape Max and the craziness that consumes the lives of those around him.

There’s a lot to be said for the different places the characters wind up in before the series’ curtain call. Liz’s powers manifesting naturally provides heaps of sci-fi goodness for the writers to take advantage of. I enjoyed how these episodes explored her initially volatile reaction to those new abilities, and the subsequent attempts to control them. I especially liked how she was written here, particularly her short-lived jaunt at boarding school which allowed her the rare opportunity to vent to an outsider and experience some sort of normality, though she goes home with Max after they talk things through (and he sacrifices himself for her). I can’t count on my two hands how many times these women have had to “put up and shut up” when it came to Max and Michael over the years, but I appreciated that there was care taken to ensure Liz’s commitment to Max was on both of their terms, not just dictated by Max’s personal struggles.

After a year of searching, Max’s son returns home, with his... complicated mother in tow. ‘Four Aliens and a Baby’ is full of a variety of reunions with Tess, with each speaking volumes about how differently she treated everyone before she ran for the hills last season. For all her faults, it's clear she did actually think of the Valenti boys as family, something that works to her advantage when the group make a pretty heartless vote over whether to turn her over to the hordes of agents that have descended upon Roswell following the arrival of her ship.

Maria, one of the group members with next to no past with Tess, along with Michael and Isabel, vote to turn her in. The Valentis and Max vote to save her, which makes sense given they were the characters with the strongest connection to Tess. Liz casts the deciding vote, choosing to help Tess, a decision that is made all the more significant following her initial hostile reaction to Tess’ return, and everything Tess has put her and Max through. But the most prominent choice of all is Tess’ decision to sacrifice herself by destroying the ship, along with the alien hunters. Liz and Tess share a great moment together before the latter's death, one in which Tess gives Liz all the reasons in the world to fully jump back in with Max, even if those reasons were obvious to everyone else. Max was always in love with Liz, even as he started to fall for Tess and experienced his “first time” with her.

Like Tess, Max also makes a tremendous sacrifice. His son is human, and so long as he’s a part of Max’s life, he would be hunted. To keep him safe, Max gives him up for adoption. Given the circumstances, this was the only way to put an end to this story, and free Max of this huge burden before the gang have to leave Roswell in the following episode.



There’s a certain romanticism to the gang’s last minute escape and the prospect of them spending a life on the road together. Unsurprisingly, the series closes on Liz and Max’s happy ending. Despite how fast each of the other characters' personal arcs were wrapped up, they did right by the series’ core couple. Giving them the gunshot wedding Liz thought she had been deprived of when she teamed up with future Max back in season two was a rewarding little moment. I even liked the idea of the gang riding off into the sunset together for places unknown.

The other couples’ fates are left more open ended. Isabel has to leave Jessie behind in Roswell, though Jesse refuses to move on – he’ll wait for Isabel until it's safe for her to return. We never receive any further insight into Kyle’s feelings for Isabel, but maybe they might end up getting closer on the road. I’m not mad at how little resolution there is here; it felt more organic than forcing a definitive decision between both guys given how Kyle’s secret crush had barely begun to show itself.

Similarly, things with Maria and Michael are also left hanging, though it seems fairly obvious that they won’t be able to stay just friends within the confines of a life on the road. I do wish there was more Maria screen time in this latter run of episodes to explore how she would eventually make things right with Michael so she doesn’t feel like she’s losing herself, but I guess we can imagine how that might have gone for them. Her decision to join them on the road does feel like enough of a step forward for her, and as she said, it was her choice to join in on the madness this time.

Plus

One of my least favourite episodes is ‘Who Died and Made You King?’. It does such a massive 180 with Michael.

Valenti finally puts his Sheriff's uniform back on – as a deputy this time. I like that he pulled himself together, and returning to his old job wouldn’t have made much sense so this was a nice place to leave him in.

The Valenti men’s shared goodbye was lovely.

The moment Liz knocked Tess on her feet was one of the silliest and greatest things to happen on this show.

Editor's note: it’s so hard to find photos of this show now that there’s a rebooted version.

He Said, She Said

Maria: “This is what I want. And whatever that is in the end that's what it'll be but we're doing it together.”

Kyle: “I don't think they're gonna forget the class of 2002.”

Liz: “Will we ever go back? I don't know. Even I can't see everything in the future. All I know is that I'm Liz Parker and I'm happy.”

A few fun moments aside, Roswell’s final season fell mostly flat. I’m happy that the series got the chance to end like this, though. I would have hated for it to have wrapped up following Tess’ sudden exit last season. Having one last run of episodes gave the show a chance to finish saying what it needed to say, and I’m glad that it happened.

My rewatch of this series so long after my last one has given me the chance to really reflect on the type of show Roswell was. My opinion of it hasn’t really changed a whole lot, though many of the things this show did wrong stand out a lot more, like Tess’ exit and the messy rewrite to cut her from the cast. There was a lot that was done right, too. The characters were all mostly likable, the themes of identity were explored well, and we got to see the show try out a few different tones, to generally successful results. It was very of its time, but Roswell is still a positive reflection of that vintage WB vibe that’s always nice to dive back into from time to time. You could even argue it does a few things better than its successor, but regardless of comparisons to the latest iteration of the source material, Roswell had a lot of heart, and I will still remember it as fondly as I did before.

6 out of 10 Crashdown uniforms.

5 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Panda, congratulations on finishing Roswell! I had spaced :) a lot of that final season, but your review brought it back. It was somewhat satisfying, enough so that I remember the series fondly.

Billie Doux said...

And I fully realize that I posted something similar to this message on your other Roswell reviews, Panda, but it was true every single time. :)

Lamounier said...

I have distant memories of Roswell. It was not a series I watched religiously, but I usually enjoyed the show when I watched it. I remember thinking season three had too much soapy drama (and not the good kind) and not enough alien action. I did like the finale, though, and thought that Isabel leaving Jesse behind was the right move, since that couple never clicked for me. Also, Max made a diamond to Liz, and Smallville totally copied that scene later, didn't it?

Panda said...

Thanks Billie!

Panda said...

You’re so right about the diamond, didn’t think of that :)