So Much for the Afterglow is right. After an enjoyable pilot, Roswell, New Mexico comes crashing down to earth in episode 2. I had a lot of issues with this episode, but the biggest one was with Max Evans. If you watched the original series, you may know where this is going.
I hated the Tess/Max storyline in the original series, especially for how much it took away from Max and Liz’s story. I was hoping Roswell, New Mexico would never go there. I knew Max had been casually dating someone in this series, and was fine with it. But dating someone else while Liz was gone for ten years is totally different from being ready to get together with Liz one minute, then shagging his second choice ten minutes later.
I wasn’t ready for Max to leave Liz and go straight over to the Tess look-alike’s house for sex. I was really, really, really hoping to avoid that entire scenario, where he’s in love with Liz but inexplicably sleeping with the blonde. Yet here we are, in episode two. Very disappointing. For a number of reasons, which I’ll go into further later on.
If they’re going to play Stefan/Elena/Damon games, or Liz/Max/Tess games, with these two, I’ll be rooting for another couple.
Please save the triangle shenanigans for Alex/Michael/Maria. Michael needs two people to love him.
And please, stop having Max say he’s a feminist. How many women is he lying to and manipulating? Guys who say they’re feminists tend to be the biggest jerks. Right now, it seems that’s where they’re going with Max’s character.
I’m currently on the Liz/Kyle-forever ship. If I can stand to keep watching a show that assassinates beloved characters so badly. In this episode, all 3 aliens are unlikable, and the show hinges on the audience rooting for them.
The episode begins with Liz at the town graveyard, trying to find answers at Rosa’s grave. She instinctively knows that she hasn’t been given the whole truth about Rosa’s death, but Liz believes that any chance for getting answers died with Rosa.
A strange light shines on the gravestone, which turns out to be Max’s flashlight. The graveyard closed at sunset, so Liz jumped the gate to get in. She wanted to visit after midnight, now that it’s officially the day Rosa died. And at night, for privacy from prying eyes. Max decides not to arrest her, though I’m willing to bet that locking her in the drunk tank cage so she couldn’t leave town flashed through his mind.
He has his good boy hat on, so he dutifully drives her back to the Crashdown Cafe. When they get out of the car, he asks if she’s been avoiding him. Heck, yes. She has a job offer in San Diego, and didn’t plan on staying in Roswell long. She doesn’t want to get tied down here. Or maybe she’s waiting for him to offer to follow her. Maybe he’s thinking he should have locked her in the drunk tank after all.
They say goodnight, but then Liz, who is the queen of mixed messages, stops him to say that the handprint is almost faded and they should meet at dawn the next day for that kiss. Max, who was pretty sure he just got the kiss off, doesn’t think it’s a good idea, for obvious reasons, but Liz tries to persuade him. They leave it open.
She’s all flirty and fun. He makes the lights buzz and pop. Didn’t I see this on Buffy? If they get together, the power grid will be lost forever, along with his soul, and he’ll have to leave for his own show, I just know it. Or maybe that was Klaus and Caroline, teased forever, never fulfilled, but he got to have a baby with someone else, somewhere else, just like Max, Liz and Tess.
Okay, back to the show at hand.
Master Sergeant Manes is still holding Kyle hostage. I knew someone in this show would go for it. He forcing Kyle to look at photos of shriveled corpses and listen to old war stories, without food or water breaks, an actual form of torture. Manes hopes that if he does this long enough, he’ll have brainwashed Kyle into his cult.
But Kyle is strong. He’s already made it all the way through med school and his surgical residency. Manes can’t break him that easily. Manes tries telling him that one shriveled corpse is his ancestor, Hector Valenti, who died the night of the 1947 crash, sparking the alien-human hostilities which haven’t stopped to this day. Kyle owes it to his father and his father’s father to continue the fight.
Manes really talks like this. He neglects to give any details about how Hector actually died, like if he was accidentally in the way of the crash, if he fired first, or if an entire platoon descended on a few scared aliens.
Kyle’s father taught him the Valenti Code, a code which has to do with honor, justice, duty and the American Way. And the sacred Clinton era HIPAA code of doctor-patient confidentiality. Kyle’s patient is alive, not a corpse, and he’s not talking. Except, oops, he just did. All Manes needs to do is follow him and/or use his connections to check which patients Kyle’s seen recently. I have no doubt that the Patriot Act supersedes HIPAA. If Manes bothers to do anything legally to begin with.
Manes threatens Kyle with the wrath of Homeland Security, should he reveal anything he’s learned about Project Shepherd, then lets Kyle leave.
Max is back at the station, pouting over Liz like the obsessive, alien, white, male stalker he is. His partner and friend with benefits, Jenna Cameron, joins him. She’s introduced to us by making some misogynist remarks about how he’s brooding like a teenage girl. From this, we are supposed to understand that she’s a bad*ss, cool girl with a past, who won’t be clingy, but will loathe herself and other women. The show thinks it makes her cool to insult young women.
Hint: It most definitely does f**king not.
And it doesn’t make Max feminist to continue the misogynist joke, either.
Next Jenna shares that a witness identified Gerardo Guerrara as the diner shooter. He’s already been apprehended. Max checks the traffic cam footage to see if it agrees with the witness statement. He tells Jenna that the violence against the diner has all had a racist edge to it. There’s been an uptick in hate crimes since the bigoted mayor took office. But Max knows Guerrara and he wouldn’t do this.
The traffic cam shows a jeep that belongs to Wyatt Long, the brother of one of the girls killed the same night as Rosa Ortecho. Max gets angry and slams the laptop he’s using closed. Jenna is taken aback. He apologizes, saying that a long time ago, he let Liz down. He just wants to do right by her.
Liz is woken up in the middle of the night by sounds coming from downstairs in the diner. She finds Michael and Isobel pilfering food, undoubtedly because Isobel is trying to recover from the terrible accident she had with the tablecloth she’s now got awkwardly wrapped around her midsection.
Michael is just there to intimidate Liz by throwing knives at cakes. But Isobel is also upset that Liz hasn’t been faithful to Max for the last ten years, since Isobel wiped her memory and forced her to leave town. Because if Liz was good enough for Max, she would have overcome the alien manipulation and come running back to him, right? Not that Max followed her and tried to rekindle anything. Or stayed faithful himself.
Isobel is extremely f**ked up.
Their big bombshell is that Liz had a fiance in Denver. She says she broke up with him. He says she ghosted on him. I can tell you from extensive personal experience that she could have broken up with him several times, to his face, in writing, etc. and if he didn’t want to hear it, he’d deny that it happened. Men have funny selective understanding that way, which applies to many areas of life, whether it’s romance, business, or housework.
Anyway, Isobel also hates other women, so she’s certainly not going to believe one. Michael just likes to go on power trips when he gets the opportunity, and to shove things in Max’s face. They close in on Liz, physically and verbally threatening her.
Max swoops in the door and punches Michael in the face. He tells them that Liz’s family has been through enough, without being harassed by them. Isobel can’t believe Max would punch Michael. Yet she had nothing to say when Michael blasted Max across a room in the first episode. Isobel thinks something’s wrong with him. He assures her and Liz that he’s fine.
Liz comes downstairs the next day ready for work, but finds the diner empty. Arturo decided that it was safest to keep the diner closed, with the way the violence has escalated. But he’s made Liz breakfast, and asks if she wants red or green? She answers, “Christmas!” They’re talking about what kind of chile pepper sauce she wants on her food. Christmas means she wants the red and the green.
Liz can’t understand why her father stays in a place where he’s constantly reminded of the worst day of his life. She wants him to move to San Diego with her. He explains that he has so many good memories in the diner, he doesn’t think about the bad ones. As he lists some of his favorite memories, Liz inserts bad memories of Rosa. Arturo tells his daughter that she needs to find a way to get past her anger and forgive her sister, or the bad memories will fester. Liz doesn’t think she can do that, but Arturo asks her to try, for him.
Michael drives back to the ranch, where he finds Alex waiting for him to tell him that the sale on the land has closed. Michael has 24 hours to move his trailer. Michael grabs Alex’s shirt and gets flirty, but Alex shuts him down, saying what happened at the reunion can’t happen again. Michael goes into defense mode, and says, “What happened? I was pretty wasted?”
As Alex is leaving, Michael asks what the Air Force is doing with all of this land, since this is the third ranch they’ve bought. Alex tells him they’re building a new facility. Michael wants to know if there’s a law about building on a historical site. Alex is confused, then laughs at him when he figures out that Michael is referring to the legendary 1947 crash. Alex doesn’t seem to think it was real.
Kyle calls Liz back in for a follow-up exam. She tells him her bruise is gone. She asks him if he can pull Rosa’s autopsy file for her, so that she can look at the toxicology report. She’s trying to forgive Rosa, and she hopes that if she can understand the science, she can understand what happened. Kyle agrees to get the file for her, but advises her to focus on her memories rather than the science.
Isobel used Noah’s favorite tie for the thing they did last night, and now the knots are tied too tightly to the bed for him to get it off. She easily removes it, so he’ll be able to wear it to court that day. She apologizes for being out so late and being so codependent with Max. Her twinsense is telling her that something is off with him, so she’s worried.
Noah offers to pretend to be an inarticulate cowboy so that he can talk to Max about feelings, which doesn’t even make sense, like so many other things in this episode. Isobel decides that Michael would be a better choice for her surrogate Max-whisperer.
Max meets Liz at the local church, where she’s lighting a candle for Rosa and complaining to God. She tells him that even though she’s a scientist, she used to be a devout believer. She’s not anymore. She asks if Max believes in God. He’s done a lot of research, reading every religion’s text, and they all predict a bad ending for a guy like him, who can work miracles with his hands.
Liz takes his hand and explains that she’s hoping he’ll show her his memories of Rosa, to help her come to terms with Rosa’s death and her feelings about Rosa’s substance abuse. Max doesn’t think he has many memories of Rosa, since he didn’t know her well, but Liz thinks that he knew her enough.
Max gives in and shows her the times he observed Rosa and Liz together. He tries to stop, but Liz makes him show her the last one, a time when Rosa shoved him away. Rosa had the words “a fraudulent zodiac” written on her hand.
When they’re done, Liz hugs Max and thanks him. They almost kiss, but Jenna interrupts with a police call. On his way out the door, Max strikes a pose, and tells Liz he’ll see her at sunrise.
Over at the Wild Pony, Michael is drinking an appetizing mix of whiskey and acetone. Michael, by the way, carries a bottle of nail polish remover with him everywhere, like it’s a hip flask, because, underneath it all, he’s the practical one. Isobel, who is the
busybody organizer, sits down next to him and starts working him, trying to convince him that he’s the one who should talk to Max. Michael is understandably skeptical, since Max punched him in the face a few hours ago.
Michael is worried about where he’ll go, now that he has to leave Foster Ranch, the place he’s always considered his true home. When he was a kid, he’d make his way out there and wait, figuring maybe the aliens would eventually come looking for the orphaned alien children, in order to bring them to their real home.
Jenna and Max visit the ranch where Wyatt Long and his bros are having a loud party, supposedly to honor his dead sister. They tell Wyatt there’s been a noise complaint, but that’s doubtful. Max goads Wyatt into a shooting match with Jenna, which she easily wins. She’s a crack shot, in keeping with her image. Max specifically wants Wyatt to lose to Jenna because it will be humiliating for him to lose to a “girl”, and Max is a feminist.
Yep, he’s a super huge feminist. He gave the FFT a chance to show off her skills and undermined both her and her abilities, all at the same time. What a prize.
They collect one of Wyatt’s spent bullets to bring to forensics to compare with the bullets that were shot at the Crashdown, hoping to prove that Wyatt was the real shooter. Jenna asks if Max wants to get a beer while they wait for the results to come in, but he’s going to watch the diner instead, since it’s the anniversary of Rosa’s death and trouble is brewing.
Maria is surprised to see Alex show up at the Wild Pony, since it’s not his usual crowd. They specifically insult Michael as riffraff, though Maria notices that he grew up to be hot, in a trailer trash kind of way. Liz joins them next and they share a group hug.
Liz asks Maria if she knows anything about the words Rosa had written on her hand in Max’s memory, “a fraudulent zodiac”. Maria explains that they’re a lyric from the Third Eye Blind song God of Wine. Rosa wrote the lyric on her hand the night she died, while she was at the Wild Pony with Maria. Maria doesn’t understand how Liz knows about it, since Liz didn’t see her that night.
But obviously Max did.
Next Liz meets Kyle so he can show her Rosa’s autopsy file. Rosa had taken benzos and barbituates, which would make her pass out. There was blunt force trauma to the head, meaning she experienced a severe blow to the head. Possibly caused by hitting her head in the car crash, possibly the blow killed her before the crash and someone used the accident to cover up the murder. There were post-mortem burns to 80% of her body, so after she died, most of her body was burned in a fire, probably caused by the cause crash.
The autopsy is consistent with a drug addict who drove into a tree. But Kyle remembers when Rosa had her appendix out, and this report shows that her appendix was still there.
It’s a fake.
He says that he did some digging and found the real autopsy report. Photos show Rosa with a black alien handprint over her face and mouth. Kyle tells Liz that he believes Rosa was murdered. He tries to get Liz to tell him who gave her the alien handprint. Liz cries as she goes through the photos. She sees a photo of Rosa’s hand with the song lyric written on it, and rushes out to confront Max.
Isobel tries again to convince Michael to talk to Max, this time reminding him that they’re family. Michael disagrees. He says that ever since the Evans choose Max and Isobel to bring home with them, and left him sitting in the group home, they’ve just been strangers who happened to be on the same doomed spaceship.
They overhear Wyatt Long bragging about shooting up the Crashdown, and preparing to go back and finish the job. Isobel knows that Max will be watching and will get involved. She thinks they should go help him, so that he doesn’t do anything (else) stupid. She even sounds sympathetic and understanding toward Max and Liz, then asks Michael if there’s anyone he cares enough about the risk everything for. Michael pretends the answer is no, but he glances over at Alex.
The lights go out in the Crashdown while Max is parked out front, watching. He gets out to go check, but stops to talk to Noah. Noah tells him that the accused shooter, Guerrera, is undocumented, so ICE has him.
While Max stopped to talk to Noah, Wyatt’s gang jumped Arturo in the back alley and started beating him in hopes of getting him deported. Max intervenes and chases the attackers away. He follows Wyatt around the corner into another alley. They brawl, with Wyatt goading Max, until Max puts his hand on Wyatt’s chest and uses his powers.
He’s about to murder Wyatt, until Michael shows up wearing a dark jacket and a black cowboy hat, which might be the stupidest, most laughable thing this stupid show has done yet. Michael blasts Max off of Wyatt. All three are silent, until Wyatt gets up and says, “What the hell?” Then Isobel comes up from behind and tases him. He drops to the ground, unconscious.
I give Isobel credit for being the only one smart enough to avoid using her powers in front of the muggle. It’s hard to imagine how these creeps have managed to avoid discovery for 20 years.
Max is upset that Isobel has a taser, who knows why. Her husband probably gave it to her.
Then he loudly explains why he was going to kill Wyatt, and Michael goes all judgy on him, which is just weird. Isobel changes the subject to whatever’s eating Max up inside. Nobody cares that Max has just said that Liz was actually dead and he brought her back, which is a little different from healing a wound, no matter how serious.
Max says that ever since he healed Liz, there’s been a poison inside him.
Alex is brooding about a guy, and Maria wants to know who. She reminds him of that time in high school he was mooning over a guy. Little does she know, it’s the same guy.
Liz rushes into the diner so that she can tell Arturo what she discovered about Rosa’s death, but finds him recovering from his beating. He tells her it was Wyatt Long, but Max arrested him and patched Arturo up. Max regularly keeps an eye on Arturo and the diner. He asks about Liz when he comes in. This time, he saved Arturo’s life.
Max and Liz both show up at the meeting place at sunrise. Liz confirms with Max that it was Wyatt who shot her, because he was angry about Rosa and racist.
Max tells Liz that he lied to her. He’s been feeling wrong ever since he healed her, except for when he’s with her.
Liz doesn’t give him a chance to finish his confession. At least I think he was going to confess something. It doesn’t really matter, since the show was always going to keep them apart using some contrived excuse.
She tells him that the handprint has finished fading and so have her feelings, so, oops, never mind.
Max says he understands and begins to leave. Liz stops him to ask when the last time he saw Rosa was. Because she has every right to interrogate him now, when she’s just dropped him like a stone. And of course she has every right to expect an honest answer, after everything she hasn’t done for him.
He says that the last time he saw Rosa was the day she died, but earlier in the day, when Liz and Max drove out into the desert to do a science project.
He’s not obligated to share his secrets with her at this point. She’s done very little to earn his trust, and she knows his biggest secret. He’s right to hold back on the rest. She’s messed with his feelings for the entire episode.
Max asks when Liz plans to leave town, but now she plans on staying. She tells him some half-truths, saying her dad needs her and she could help Max figure himself out while they get to know each other.
She gives him hope in order to further her own agenda.
Michael goes through his things in preparation for his move from the ranch. He looks at his piece of the spaceship, and his photos. He has a photo of himself with Alex and the same photo that Max has of himself, Isobel and Max. Then Michael looks at his left hand, which is scarred. Did he get burned the night of Rosa’s accident? Was he in the car, or did he pull someone from the car? Did Max save Michael and try to save Rosa? Did Michael try to save Rosa?
Max goes to Jenna’s house without calling first. She recognizes this as a booty call and invites him in. They go straight to having sex on the kitchen counter, not bothering to undress or talk. Max looks tortured, which has to be incredibly flattering for Jenna.
Alex visits Michael at his trailer to define that one of his issues with Michael is that Michael loves him as much as he did in high school, while Alex now hates himself. He only feels good about himself while he has Michael’s attention. Michael promises that Alex always has his attention, and Alex leads Michael into the trailer so they can have sex.
This won’t end well. Michael can’t prop Alex up 24/7.
Kyle finds Liz back at Rosa’s grave. He was worried that she went to confront an alien psychopath by herself. Liz tells him that she didn’t confront the alien psychopath. She was too scared. Instead, she’s going to stay in town and investigate Rosa’s murder, then bring her killer to justice. Even if it was Max Evans.
Yup. She just told Kyle that Max is the alien. So much for promising all three aliens that she’d keep their secret.
The misogynist writing for this episode made it almost unbearable. So many subtle and overt digs. Then there was the way they misrepresented my home state of New Mexico. I felt like a punching bag by the time it was done. This was one of the worst written and executed episodes of television that I’ve sat through in a long time. I only bothered because I want to give Roswell a chance, but I won’t give it too many more.
Max is a dirty cop and should be tossed off the force, immediately.
This episode undid the characterizations that were set up in episode 1, and even gave characters conflicting traits within the episode. I don’t know who any of these people are, but I don’t think I want to know who most of them are, anyway.
I especially don’t know who Alex or Maria are, other than foils and sounding boards for other characters. While everyone else at least fits a trope or is clearly supposed to be the exact opposite of their character in the original series, these two are still paper dolls waiting for their outfits.
Isobel and Michael seem to believe that Liz is a flighty slut because she had a high school boyfriend, a boyfriend after college, and now, in her late 20s, is interested in Max. This show is joking, right? Are they living in the 19th century?
I know Liz practically went straight from Max to Kyle last week. So why am I upset that Max went from Liz to Jenna? Because the two situations aren’t actually the same. Max has pined for Liz for ten years. Thanks to Isobel, Liz hasn’t pined for Max. Max had just been rejected by the love of his life and went straight to another woman. Liz was rambling around town, doing errands, one of which was trying to run into Max so she could catch him in a lie. Then she had a few drinks with a friend in remembrance of her sister. Then she ran into her actual old boyfriend, Kyle. There was no indication she was wishing that Kyle was Max. If she was, it was at a crush level, not a “I would have followed you anywhere” level.
Liz and Kyle were old flames having a fling. Max was specifically having sex with Jenna, in Liz’s place, to try to forget the woman he actually wants to be with. He still seemed to be thinking about Liz while he was with Jenna. The whole thing just felt a lot grosser and darker. Especially after he’s practically stalked Liz for the last two episodes. It’s better that he walked away from Liz and went to a woman who wants him, sure.
I don’t think Max is terribly mentally healthy himself, after Liz was so worried about her own sanity. And I felt sick that his reaction to losing her was to go sleep with someone else. He couldn’t keep it in his pants for a while and feel his feelings? He has to prove that as a man he’s still got it, instead? Just gross.
I have a few guesses for the “poisonous” feeling inside of Max. If he really did bring Liz back from the dead, and not the mostly dead, that might have either created a bond between them or he might have given something to her that he’s going to have a hard time going without. It could be that she has a piece of his soul now and they’re truly soulmates (The Liz as Horcrux Theory, TM Me).
It’ll take a while for Max to get used to being less than a full person.
If her scar starts burning If the handprint starts burning If the psychic bond continues in some way, we’ll know this is the correct theory. In the original show, Liz eventually took on alien characteristics, including developing her own powers. On the other hand, he could just have poured so much of himself into healing her that she absorbed some of his life essence, essentially having the same effect, but not giving her a piece of his soul. He should probably be mainlining the alien healing elixir, nail polish remover, either way.
Or, it could be that the object of Max’s lifelong love and obsession is back in town. Liz left town ten years ago under some shady circumstances that involved her sister and two other girls dying, and his sister wiping her mind. They’d just admitted they were in love with each other when the bottom fell out of everything and he lost her.
Now she’s back and he’s triggered and everything is spiraling again. Max has these powers and he’s a cop so he should be able to stop bad things from happening. But he can’t change anything and he keeps lying to her and screwing around on her and generally screwing things up instead. His family hates her and will do almost anything to keep them apart. He knows this for sure, because they’ve already done some terrible things in the past to keep them apart, and the threats haven’t stopped.
That would be enough to make anyone feel poisonous inside.
I had a hard time finding any of the aliens likeable this week. Michael walked the knife’s edge that he always walks, so I’m not fussed about that. But I think it’s a big mistake to use Isobel’s personality from the books. Katherine Heigl had the charisma to get the audience rooting for Isobel. This actress doesn’t. Is their intention for Isobel to be a villain and Michael to be unpredictable?
Then there’s Max, whose character has been taken from season 3 of the original series, at the point when he’d been attacked so many times that he’d become angry, murderous and jaded. They’ve added ten years of frustration and going nowhere to that guy’s biography, and made him a macho cowboy (which is extra weird- New Mexico isn’t Texas, but that’s what they’re making this show about).
Image courtesy of The CW.