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Roswell, New Mexico: Wild Wild West

“Any of you buckaroos know where we can find Liz Ortecho?”

Danger is brewing—in Liz’s mind. Dosed with alien-enhanced mist, Liz must rescue Max from her own worst enemy. Herself.

But wait. I know the episode is framed as if it were a Showdown at the OK Corral, but was this really a battle between the Good and Bad versions of Liz? And, more interestingly, what are the dueling Lizs actually fighting over?

First things first. Is the Dark Liz (as opposed to the Sheriff) actually bad? Max thought so, but since he was the only one not of Liz’s mindscape, I’m not sure he gets a vote. Besides, even he admitted that the Dark Liz still loves him. So she can't be all bad. Dark Liz claimed it was a matter of perspective and Liz’s mentor, Allie, believed Dark Liz represented a differing opinion.

Dark Liz did kidnap Max. Not ideal but it was only to get the Sherriff’s attention. She also spent a good deal of time claiming that his desire for normalcy had trapped Liz into a life of mediocrity. However, the only outright villainous thing she did was slit Maria’s throat. And as hard as it was to watch both versions of Liz knew it wouldn’t affect the real Maria.

On the flip side, all the Sheriff’s searches for an enemy led to Clyde. He’s the one who proudly proclaimed his villainhood. While it’s true Dark Liz and Clyde appeared together multiple times, other than matching bandanas, I couldn’t find any proof they were actually working together. Plus, when the showdown at high noon arrived, it was Clyde who faced off against the Sheriff, not Dark Liz.

Yet, Dark Liz needn’t be evil to be the opposition. Her grievances with the Sheriff were strong enough to risk the actual life of the man she loved just to make her point. So, what the hell did she want?

On the surface, their argument revolved around whether to let the drug they were dosed with work its alien magic or to fight it. Dark Liz believed it could give them abilities to match the Pod Squad or at the very least amp up her already prodigious brain to the point where she would be their equal. The Sheriff argued that there was no guarantee the powers Dark Liz had in the mindscape would translate to the waking world. Besides, the potential long-term effects of the drug could be catastrophic.

I understand why Dark Liz would want to take it and the Sheriff wouldn’t, but the argument doesn’t make sense. Liz has already been dosed with the drug. At this point, it’s going to do whatever it’s going to do. Heath and Michael’s elixir wasn’t a cure. It merely reversed one symptom. Namely, keeping her immune system from killing her nervous system.

The real argument was about Liz’s fears. Her fear that danger will never stop coming for her and her family. Her fear that a powerless Max won’t be able to protect her. But most of all, her fear that one day she won’t be able to science a miracle out of the hat to save the people she loves. She is deathly afraid that after living through Rosa and Max’s deaths, another loss might break her. This is the reason she’s been so mad at Max for not taking the cure and why she didn’t say “yes” when he proposed.

Dark Liz may have her faults. She is more selfish, more ambitious, and more willing to jump first than the Sheriff. However, she is also the one with the confidence to face Liz’s fears. She’s the one who believes there’s an answer to any problem and has the faith in her ability to find it. Once the Sheriff realized what their argument was truly about, she couldn’t shoot Dark Liz.

Now, there’s a new sheriff in town. At the moment of truth, the so-called Bad Liz didn’t win. The other Liz came around to her view. The sheriff’s badge transferring from one to the other is the proof. Liz recognized it’s not an either/or it’s an and. Liz needs her darker side if she wants to make it through the dangers to come.

Meanwhile, in the real world...

If fear was the challenge for Liz to overcome, the rest of the Pod Squad seemed to be drowning in guilt.

Isobel is our poster child. If not for her, Max wouldn’t be trapped inside Liz’s mindscape. If it wasn’t for her, Kyle would be in Roswell to help Liz. If not for her, Tezca would never have become Jones’ lackey. None of which is true.

She may have acted poorly with Kyle, and nothing she did as a 7-year-old would have saved Tezca. She may have physically stopped Max from hopping into Liz’s mindscape, but Max, Kyle, and Tezca all made their own choices. Thanks to Maria’s timely intervention, Isobel came to her senses and acted on the one thing she could address. Her relationship with Tezca.

Michael has never been one to sit idly by and his inability to help Liz or Max has him boiling over. If Max can traipse around Liz’s brain trying to save her, then maybe Michael should be searching the alien sinkhole for Alex. Luckily, Rosa is there to remind him that acting impulsively has never ended well.

Speaking of Rosa, I like this new and improved version. No Kyle? She calls in Heath. She recognizes how helpless Michael feels and guides him toward a solution. It’s nice to see her reclaim her Big Sister mantle and be able to ride to Liz’s rescue.

Rosa’s new scientific acumen makes a whole lot more sense. As does her reasons for not going to Liz or Kyle. As emotionally stable as she may now be, admitting she needs their help must feel too close to the damaged Rosa of yesteryear. So she turned to Heath and his alien knowledge to help her learn how to control her abilities as an alien tuning fork. Whether their relationship progresses past the platonic remains to be seen...

As does many other things. Will Liz have alien abilities? Or will her juiced-up brain be the salvation her darker side believed? Will the Pod Squad rescue Alex, Bonnie, and Dallas, or will Dallas find the way out with the help of his departed father? Will Kyle and Eduardo find Allie? Will Isobel convince Tezca to join the Pod Squad and stop the Alighting? And what in the world is Clyde planning to do with Vanessa?

As an exploration of character, this was excellent, despite its lack of narrative cohesion. But I’m going to chalk the discrepancies up to being in the mindscape.

4 out of 5 Tombstone Mindscapes

Parting Thoughts:

This week’s title brought to you by Will Smith’s 1999 hit.

This is the first episode directed by Michael Trevino, AKA Kyle (not the horse). Bravo!

There was a comment that Dark Liz made about never having to fear death that I hope they explore.

And what's with everyone calling Liz "Elizabeth?"

I think this is the first time post-pandemic where we had over three people in an indoor set.

And in the category of things that made me laugh out loud: Deputy Machete!

The mindscape drive-in was playing Cowboys and Aliens. How appropriate.

Alanis Morrisette’s “Isn’t It Ironic” was playing under Liz’s “recovery scene.” Oh, the irony.

Quotes:

Michael: “He said there’s no one who knows more about alien science than me. Which is comforting to no one.”

Isobel: “It’s Cowboy on Elm Street in there.”

Arturo: “Seeking justice will never be out of my blood.”

Rosa: “The only people who can beat Heath in an alien science fair are either in Mexico or...”

Clyde: “I am the villain, after all.”

Michael: “You stepped outside to make a call and 30 minutes later Heath swooped in. So either Dr. Feelgood came to town with you, or... did you develop beam-me-up powers?”

Allie: “Are you here to talk circular mRNA or why you’re stuck in Once Upon a Time in Roswell?”

Liz: “So, she took Shivani’s words literally and trapped me in a dried-up dairy town?”

Dark Liz: “Accidents are the spark of evolution.”

Liz: “Med school looks good on you.”

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

4 comments:

  1. This was the worst episode of the series

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, I'm sorry you felt that way. I don't think it's one of their best but I'm a sucker for character exploration so I didn't mind.

    And yes, he is. I had heard a rumor that the reason Alex was written out of the show for so long was due to a back injury but I couldn't find any confirmation. It would explain things though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ok. I was the anon who wondered about Alex. makes sense if the actor wasn't availble. Guess we'll see him again.

    ReplyDelete

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