Roswell, New Mexico Season 1 Episode 4: Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? Recap

Roswell, NM 104 Michael, Max, Isobel

In episode 4 of Roswell, New Mexico, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?, Max and the town deal with the consequences of his electromagnetic outburst at the end of episode 3. Power and cell service are down throughout the town, causing car accidents and medical emergencies. Since Kyle knows the truth about Max, he attempts to goad Max into taking some kind of action to help the hospital’s dying patients.

The investigation into Rosa’s death continues, with both Liz and Isobel investigating in their own ways. Liz gets in touch with Rosa’s ex-boyfriend, who gives her an important clue. Isobel exchanges psychic readings with Maria, and comes away with a new clue, but more confusion.

This episode finally gives us some decent Michael and Maria time, and, WOW. They have great chemistry. I think was my favorite episode yet, largely due to the amount of screentime their characters got, separately and together.


This week begins with a flashback to May 17, 2008, when Rosa helped Liz get ready for prom. They both spill all kinds of secrets during the conversation. Rosa has recently returned from rehab and broken up with her boyfriend, Frederico. Liz is no longer a virgin, but she’s not sure about her long-term prospects with Kyle, since he’s loving with her, but a jerk to everyone else.

Rosa tells Liz not to worry about her high school boyfriend, and not to worry about love. “People are the worst drug. They hook you, and then, they make you believe that they care, and they leave, or they fail you or they hurt you on purpose… There’s a reason that God put a cage around your heart. People don’t need other people. We need armor.”

Liz wants to know who hurt Rosa and gave her such a cynical attitude, but Rosa won’t talk about it. She’d rather talk about Liz’s dress.

Their dad picked out Liz’s dress, which is pretty, but cream-colored and bland. Rosa has a better idea. She pulls out a bad girl, lipstick red dress instead.

Isobel and Michael find Max at home, loading up his jeep with supplies to help the hospital through the power outage. He tells them that the rage he’d felt since healing Liz disappeared when he expressed his negative emotions all at once. Michael figures that Max must have absorbed some kind of negative energy when he healed Liz, and now that he’s released it, he’s better.

What was the destructive energy hiding inside Liz? Was she possessed by a demon? Was it leftover from when Isobel mindwarped her? Was it made up of her free-floating anxiety and fears? Are they going to dismiss this rage and destructive energy so easily now?

Michael asks what upset Max so much that he let out an electromagnetic tsunami. Max is surprised that they don’t already know, since he left them phone messages, but Isobel explains that cell phone service is also out. Max tells them that Liz knows that Rosa was murdered by an alien. Michael is so upset that he uses his powers to lift the jeep off the ground momentarily.

Max plans to go to Liz and confess, right after he drops off the supplies at the hospital. He doesn’t think there’s any other option. Isobel says that she still has another option.

Grant Green, alien believer and podcaster, is out in front of the Crashdown hawking his alien wave detector bracelets, $45, one day only. He claims they’re the only way to stay safe from the alien threat.

Liz meets with Rosa’s ex-boyfriend, Frederico, at the Crashdown to ask him if they’d gotten back together before Rosa died, and to give him his class ring, which she found in one of Rosa’s hiding spots. He tells Liz that Rosa was avoiding the friends that she’s done drugs with, and that included him. He’s nervous about being in the diner, since Arturo didn’t like him. Liz is sure it’s fine, but Arturo comes barreling out of the kitchen, antennae bobbling on his head, spatula in hand, and chases Frederico out of the diner.

Jesse Manes brings Sheriff Valenti evidence that tampering caused the blackout. It’s been going on for 18 hours, and still no fix. The evidence was found by military engineers, so Sheriff Valenti tells Jesse to keep his engineers on the base, where they belong. Jesse starts throwing his weight, and veiled threats, around. He has expectations about her cooperation and choices. She throws him out of her office.

He walks past Cam’s desk on his way out. She jumps up to stand at attention and apologize for the sheriff, telling him that Sheriff Valenti doesn’t like the military much. Cam is former military, and the sheriff still hasn’t taken to her, even though she’s been in town for 2 years. Manes shows Cam the “evidence” that he tried to give to Valenti. It’s lightning fractal patterns, which Manes says are on every broken transformer in town. Cam recognizes that the pattern is from lightning. Manes leaves the folder with her.

Max, Isobel and Michael discuss the option of mindwarping Liz. Max asks how Isobel’s powers will affect Liz. She says that Liz won’t forget him, just how she feels about him. He doesn’t want Isobel to get hurt, or Liz to get violated. Isobel assures him that she’s in control the whole time, and Michael suggests that this might free Liz to move on with her life.

Cam pulls into Max’s driveway to give him a hard time for being so late to work on a day when the townies have nothing to do. She’s disdainful of the town, then puts her window back up, so that she doesn’t have to talk to Isobel or Michael while she’s waiting for Max.

Not exactly the friendly type.

Isobel asks Max what he wants her to do about Liz. He says that what he wants doesn’t matter. Isobel should send her away.

After Max leaves, Isobel tells Michael that they’re going to the Wild Pony so she can practice mindwarping. When he wonders why she didn’t tell Max how Liz feels about him, Isobel says that it’ll hurt Max less if he doesn’t know that she loves him back.

So, Isobel is suffering from some form of mental illness. During her last conversation on this subject, she was in tears with Noah because she’d realized how unhappy she’d made her brother for all these years by driving him and Liz apart. Now, it’s like that never happened.

Liz yells at Arturo for driving Frederico away like a crazy man. He can’t believe she brought a drug dealer into the restaurant. She tells him that Frederico is sober now and to stop treating her like a child. He thinks she’s obsessed with Rosa.

Liz suggests that maybe Rosa wouldn’t have kept so many secrets and had so many hiding places all over town, if he had trusted them more. Arturo says it was the other way around. He stopped trusting Rosa when she started to keep secrets. When the girls were little, he’d make churro pancakes and they’d have heart to heart talks. Then one day, Rosa started lying to him.

Suddenly, Arturo collapses to the floor and writhes in pain. Liz gets him to the hospital without calling 911, so that ICE doesn’t pick up on it. Kyle tells her that, since the computers are down, his paperwork won’t make it into the system. They’ll do more diagnostic tests once the power is back on.

The hospital is running a study on angiogenesis, and they’re looking for a biomedical engineer, so Kyle suggests that Liz apply for the job. Liz isn’t ready to admit that she’s staying in town yet, so she has to think about it for a while.

The power outage hasn’t slowed business down a bit over at the Wild Pony. Michael reaches over the bar to grab a bottle of liquor, and Maria calls him on it, saying it’s a health code violation. He responds that he thought it would match her disregard for the fire code. She says that she thought she’d banned him for life. He agrees that she did. Twice a week.

Once he drinks straight from the bottle, she tells him that he owes her $84. She’s onto the scam he’s running, where he gets drunk enough to forget his cowboy angst, then gets in a fight so he’ll get thrown out without paying his bill. She’s been keeping a tab. He can start to pay his debt by getting Isobel out and making sure she never comes back.

Hank, the racist best buddy of Wyatt Long, has been talking to Isobel. Now, he comes over to the bar and orders a raspberry cosmopolitan with a twist. The mindwarping appears to be going fine.

Max and Cam are following up on calls about looting. After they finish checking in at the junkyard, Max asks Cam if they can talk about last night, when he took off with Liz in the middle of their date. Cam gives him a suitably sarcastic response to let him know she’s pissed, especially since he left her at the drive-in and she had to find a ride home.

Max apologizes, saying he hasn’t been himself lately. Cam asks if this is about Liz. Max tells her that Liz is leaving town, so she won’t be a distraction anymore. He wants to make it up to her. Cam agrees, but she wants a fancy date night, at an expensive restaurant. As she lists the details, Max is incredulous. She relents, and agrees to queso, tequilla and no less than three orgasms. Max nods his head in agreement.

I totally respect Cam for this decision.

Back at the Wild Pony, Hank is donating money to immigration groups and ordering daiquiris, Isobel is tripping over furniture, and Maria has had enough. The two women get into it over old high school grudges, then Isobel insults Maria for being a “bar psychic”. Michael jumps in to break the argument up, but Maria tells him that if he says to calm down, she’ll remove his liver and sell it. She leaves to make Hank’s drink and tells them to be gone when she gets back.

Michael totally admires her figure as she walks away.

Isobel decides to practice mindwarping on Maria before they leave, since she’s a more complicated target than Hank and Isobel wants to know why Maria doesn’t like her. Michael just looks at her.

I can’t imagine that being disliked is an unusual experience for Isobel. She doesn’t like Maria either. Why does she care so much that Maria doesn’t like her?

Isobel sits at the bar and tries to convince Maria that she wants to be friends. Maria says, “Spare me the white flag.”

Dido reference! I will go down with this ship.

Isobel takes out a $100 bill and asks Maria to do a psychic reading for her. Maria reads Isobel’s palm. She divines Isobel and Noah’s recent sexual experimentation, but Isobel assumes that Maria saw the rope burns on Noah’s wrists. Maria says that Noah wants babies, but Isobel is afraid that a baby might disrupt her perfectly planned and posed life. Isobel thinks Noah might stop loving her if she gave birth to a freak. That one hits home.

Isobel decides that it’s time to take over and invade Maria’s mind. She asks why Maria hates her. Maria says that she hates Isobel because Rosa hated her. Rosa left the Wild Pony on the night she died because she was avoiding Isobel. Maybe if she hadn’t, she’d still be alive. Isobel has Maria show her the memory.

Rosa and Maria are sitting at the bar, chatting. Rosa writes “a fraudulent zodiac” on her hand. She sees Isobel come in the door across the room, and tells Maria that if Isobel asks about her, to say she was never there. She can’t deal with Isobel right now. Rosa grabs a bottle of liquor, tells Maria not to tell her mom, then leaves.

In the present time, Isobel collapses off the bar stool, onto the floor. Michael runs to her and picks her up to take her home.

Max delivers the supplies to the hospital, and runs into Kyle, who’s tending to Victor Franco, a little boy that he’s known since he was a baby. When the lights went out, it caused a car accident. Victor’s heart was damaged, and he needs to wait until the power is back to undergo heart surgery.

Max apologizes for the way he treated Kyle at the station. Kyle tells Max about his father helping Victor’s mother give birth to Victor in a dairy barn. Because his dad was a hero who did whatever he could to help people, no matter the risk to himself. Kyle asks why Max became a cop. Max says that he wanted to help people. Kyle says that he became a doctor for the same reason. Max tells Kyle that they’re just men, they can’t play God.

Kyle clearly thinks that Max should heal everyone he possibly can, all the time. I don’t think he understands that the risk isn’t just death, it’s torture and experimentation.

Roswell, NM 104 Liz and Frederico

Frederico comes back to the diner, because he’s working through the twelve steps, and he needs to make amends, the 9th step. He’s brought Rosa’s old backpack to Liz. He took it from one of her hiding spots the week before she died. There’s a bus ticket for Los Alamos in the bag, and a handwritten note which reads: “Rosa, The first step is the hardest. I’ll always be by your side.”

That sounds like it could be a note from her NarcAnon sponsor, who’s guiding her through the twelve step program. It’s probably not a coincidence that Arturo mentioned working on the 9th step just before we see the note, which mentions the first step.

Kyle checks in on Arturo, who wakes up and tells Kyle that he’s never liked him much. Kyle good-naturedly agrees that he wasn’t the most likable kid. But right now, he has a diagnosis of prediabetes for Arturo, and a treatment plan that he’s worked out that will continue to keep Arturo safely off the books.

The generators break down at that moment, and Victor Franco goes into critical condition. Kyle has the surgeon paged, but she won’t operate until the power is stabilized. Kyle snaps at Max, who’s watching from the doorway, about watching and doing nothing. Max moves down the hall and blows up at Cam, because he feels so conflicted and helpless.

He’s tired of doing the bare minimum for people who are desperately in need of help. By way of relieving his guilt, Cam reminds him they follow orders and do what they’re told. Max decides that he’s done with laying low and doing the minimum. He finds the hospital’s utility room and some giant power boxes, places his hands on one, and makes them glow while he screams, until he gets literally blown away. Then the hospital magically has power again, because he healed it.

I don’t know much about electrical systems, but unless those electrical boxes are giant batteries that he was charging, I can’t see any way that he could have fixed the power by a laying on of hands in that particular spot. Or, maybe he’s powerful enough to have sent his healing energy all the way through the system from the hospital to the power source and to have remotely fixed every connection. That’s what he did to heal Liz. But it should have also fixed the connection to other places along the line as well, and it doesn’t.

If anyone has a better explanation, please share it in the comments!

As soon as it’s confirmed that the power is back up, Victor is prepped for surgery. Kyle is happy, and has a feeling that he knows what happened.

Cam finds Max, still lying in rubble in the utility room. Max tells her he must have gotten shocked while he was tinkering with the machinery. As he’s walking away, she notices the new lightning fractals on the electrical box Max worked on. She looks from Max  to the branching marks, becoming suspicious.

Liz compares the handwriting on the note from Rosa’s pack to the handwriting on the messages in their yearbooks. The only writing that matches is Kyle’s father’s handwriting, from the dedication page. She accuses Sheriff Jim of having an affair with her teenage, drug addict sister.

Kyle refuses to believe it. They argue for a minute, then Liz backs down. She realizes that Rosa wouldn’t have been with a cop, and Jim Valenti definitely wasn’t an alien. He didn’t kill Rosa. She was looking at the wrong clue.

Kyle tells Liz that Jim knew about aliens, that the crash was real, and that not all of the aliens had died. He confesses that he was able to get the autopsy because of that. Liz knows that Kyle looks on his dad as a hero. She doesn’t want to take that away from him, the way her heroes have been taken from her. Kyle explains that his mom doesn’t want him to dig too deeply into Jim’s past, probably because of this.

Probably because his father had a history of drug addiction and still secretly attended NarcAnon meetings. Liz wasn’t looking at the wrong clue, she was interpreting it wrong, because, between her and Maria, they assumed that the supportive Ophiuchus notes had to be from a boyfriend. Liz and Rosa didn’t understand each other very well, and Liz didn’t give Rosa credit for changing once she went to rehab.

Liz and Kyle kiss, then Liz tries to explain about what a mess she is, but Kyle argues that distractions, recreational sex, and adulthood are good. Liz responds by taking off her shirt. So does Kyle. Liz agrees that adulthood is awesome.

My, those are two very attractive people.

Michael has taken Isobel back to Max’s house, and she’s still passed out. When she wakes up, she asks him why Rosa hated her. She remembers that Rosa was avoiding her on the day she died, and she needs to know why.

Michael: “You can’t get inside the head of a dead girl, Isobel. Besides, we made a deal, remember? We never talk about that night. And we never ask questions.”

Isobel passes out again.

Kyle and Liz are done already. Liz tells Kyle that he’s gotten better at that since high school. He says it’s due to wisdom, experience and anatomy class. Then he asks if she’s going to apply for the research job he told her about. She’s felt unrooted, ever since Rosa died. Maybe if she can solve the mystery, she’ll be able to settle down somewhere. Plus, she likes having Kyle around. He makes her feel safe.

Kyle decides to leave, since he doesn’t want Arturo to find them and chase him out. LOL. Arturo’s fierce protectiveness is so legendary that even in his sick bed he’s still scary.

Kyle runs into Max on the way out of the diner, and thanks him for his help at the hospital. He tells Max that one of the reasons he went into medicine was for the glory of being a hero doctor. He’s realized that Max didn’t become a cop for the glory. Max says no, he didn’t.

Max continues on, into the diner, where Liz is making pancakes. The first thing Max does is call her out on being with Kyle, the second is to accuse her of telling Kyle his secret. She admits right away that she has been with Kyle, and she did tell Kyle about Max, but not about Isobel and Michael. She was angry, and Kyle was the only one she could talk to. Max had lied to her and Kyle saw the mark he left on her chest. She trusts Kyle, and he won’t share the secret. She promises that he won’t tell anyone else, unless…

Max finishes the sentence- unless they decide that Max murdered Rosa. He turns to leave, but Liz stops him.

She says that she knows she hurt him the other night, and figures that’s why the power is out all over town.

Liz: “I hate that you’re hurting, Max, and I want to believe you. I don’t trust people. I’ve been burned too many times. I use facts and evidence to build a cage around my heart and I can’t help it. I can’t change it. Honestly, I don’t think I would want to. It’s my armor. I have never wanted anything as much as I want to believe that you didn’t hurt my sister. but I can’t shake the feeling that you’re lying.”

Max: “I need to ask you something. I have been pouring my heart out to you ever since you got back, and I need to know, how do you truly feel about me Liz?”

Liz verbally stumbles around, and finally says, “I feel a lot of things. But mostly, I feel… terrified. In all kinds of ways. That’s the truth. It’s the only one that I can give you right now.”

Max asks if she believed him at the drive-in when he told her that he loves her. She says that she did. He says that’s what matters to him. He hopes she remembers that, wherever she goes. Then he says goodbye and leaves the diner. They are both teary-eyed. Liz tries to stop him, but he doesn’t let her.

Roswell, NM 104 Max and Liz

Meanwhile, Max has forgotten about Jenna and her promised 3 orgasms. He didn’t show up for their date, and has left her sitting alone at a restaurant. She’s easy prey for Jesse Manes, who’s done his research and knows her friend, “Charlie”, could use some help from someone like him. All he wants in return is help with access to the Roswell Sheriff’s Department. He leaves unsaid that he can hurt Charlie or he can help him/her, Jenna’s choice.

Liz finishes making churro pancakes for her and her dad. They’re a healthy version that are better for his prediabetes. She needs to have a talk with him about her boy problems and she apologizes for how much she’s ignored him lately.

Michael and Isobel sit in front of a fire in Max’s backyard, and muse that Michael always thought someone from the sky would come save them. Isobel always thought it would be someone from town. Max arrives and says that they have each other, and that’s it. He confesses that Liz told Kyle about them. He realizes now that he was wrong to tell Liz their secret. Now that two people know, it will surely spread.

He neglects to mention that Kyle has known for almost as long as Liz has, and the alien hunters haven’t shown up yet. As with his conversation with Liz, Max is enjoying the melodrama too much to share the facts. Isobel tells Max that she’s not strong enough to change Liz’s mind and get her to leave town. Max says they’ll figure something out.

Michael doesn’t want to wait. He thinks they should give Liz, Kyle and Grant Greene, the podcaster, the alien murderer they’re looking for. He says, “I’m the one that killed those girls.” So he intends to turn himself over to someone- Liz? Max? Grant Greene? It’s a 10 year old closed case. No one but Liz and Jesse Manes are still looking for the truth. And how did the podcaster become an important factor in this?


I assume we’re supposed to be shocked that Michael is the murderer. I would be, except TV murderers never make their confessions at the end of an episode, this early in the season, when the murder is supposed to be the season long mystery. However, the people who were close to the murder victim, who have survivors’ guilt, make this kind of confession with alarming frequency.

I’ve been trying to come up with a pithy nickname for the trope, involving Riverdale’s Cheryl Blossom, but nothing sounds good yet. Cheryl famously confessed to the murder of her twin brother, Jason, at the end of season 1, episode 2. Episode 3 wasted no time explaining that Cheryl felt it was her fault that he’d been kidnapped, but she had nothing to do with the actual murder.

If Michael did actually kill all three girls, either it was an accident or there were other exonerating circumstances. The burn on his hand means he was most likely involved in some way, and probably tried to get Rosa, at the very least, out of the burning car, but couldn’t save her.

We know that Rosa supposedly hit a tree while speeding and the car burst into flames, but we have no idea what happened to the other two girls. Were the two white supremacists in the car with Rosa? Did she hit them or their car on the way to the tree? My best guess right now is that Wyatt and/or Hank had something to do with Rosa’s death, but she and the other two girls could have seen Jesse Manes or Jim Valenti doing something evil. Then the three aliens discovered the situation, and tried to save the girls.

Liz could be finding evidence that was planted.

I’d like to note that the show listened to my complaints last week and has already added more Hispanic characters. 😘😘

I don’t think we were ever told what, specifically, happened to Arturo to put him in the hospital. Prediabetes means your blood sugar is consistently running high or uneven, but isn’t bad enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes yet. Going by what they showed us, I’m going to guess that he was hypoglycemic (had extremely low blood sugar), and when he collapsed, it was supposed to be something between passing out and having a seizure.

Liz/Jeanine Mason and Rosa/Amber Midthunder have to be the best cast sisters on TV. They look so much alike, but have a unique look. They have good chemistry as sisters, too.

Noah wasn’t around to be Isobel’s person this week. In fact, it seems like Michael is her person. He’s the one who’s in on her secrets and schemes, and drops everything to help her, not Max.

Alex was also AWOL this week. He didn’t even visit his bestie Maria at the Wild Pony, to cry in his beer over his break up.

I really hope we get to see the scene where Jenna gives Max h-ll for completely forgetting her existence, after offering to take her out to make up for being a jerk on their last date. He didn’t even send a text. She seems like an honorable person, but if she turns against Max, I couldn’t blame her. Especially with Manes pressuring her.

I’m hoping that Jenna and Kyle run into each other and start talking. I always thought Tess and Kyle should have gotten together on the original series. It makes even more sense here. Both of them have been drawn into the alien situation and need an ally.

Pride & Prejudice, Catcher in the Rye, White Flag and Aliens

I suspect that they’re going to alter the Pride and Prejudice aspect of Michael/ Mr Bingley and Maria/ Jane Bennet, and have both sets of friends disapprove of the relationship, while Alex acts as a Wickham type spoiler who’ll tell Maria awful stories about Michael and make her doubt his intentions.

Plus there’s the whole thing with Rosa’s murder. Michael and Rosa could have had some kind of secret dalliance that led to her whole caged hearts equals armor philosophy. Maybe he ditched her for Alex while she was in rehab. If Rosa was friends with Michael and Isobel, and Isobel never knew about Michael and Alex, but Rosa did, it would explain why Rosa didn’t want to talk to Isobel that night in the Wild Pony. Rosa might have been keeping secrets that she was angry about, but she still kept them.

Meanwhile, the drive-in scene last week and the diner scene this week between Max and Liz will substitute for Mr Darcy’s proposal to Eliza. Max has never been more like Darcy than he was in the diner scene in this episode, with the way he was only concerned about himself, his feelings, his family.

Liz’s father, the only family she has left, collapsed and was taken to the hospital, a scary prospect in his situation. She could have lost her father today, not just in theory, but to death or deportation. Max didn’t even ask about him. He didn’t ask about Liz or her life at all, except as she relates to him. And he gave Isobel permission to tamper with her mind, tantamount to rape or worse.

Fixing the power in the hospital, but keeping it secret, is the beginning of his rehabilitation. We’ll continue to discover what a great guy he is from here on out, and he’ll continue to quietly help people.

Now that he’s given up on his old, idealized image of Liz, which she could never live up to, anyway, Max can start to see her as the person she is now, and fall in love with the flawed adult woman, while trusting her see the real him, eventually. Hopefully he won’t treat her like a misbehaving possession the next time around.

There will have been a protection aspect to the aliens’ involvement with the three girls’ deaths. In P&P, what appears to be Mr Darcy’s biggest crime turns out to have been a way to protect his younger sister from the way Wickham took advantage of her. Darcy wins Eliza over when she discovers that he’s quietly helped her sister and family deal with Wickham, without telling her or the rest of the family.

Chances are, the racists will have tricked Rosa into a bad situation, and maybe Michael along with her. Maybe Michael lost control of his powers when he figured out that something bad was happening.

We got significant references to The Catcher in the Rye and the Dido song White Flag this week. White Flag is about a lover who won’t give up on her romance despite a messy breakup. Max might as well be singing White Flag every week, but I suspect he’s not the only one. We know that Alex and Michael are carrying torches for each other, Liz has a thing for Max, and Kyle has a thing for Liz.

But the White Flag reference was between Maria and Isobel, the only two among the main cast who aren’t supposed to have old loves that they’re pining for. Given the way Isobel giggled when Maia used the term “white flag”, I don’t think it was a coincidence. We’ve had foreshadowing that Isobel and Rosa were involved. How much does Maria know? How much did Isobel erase? Can Isobel erase her own painful memories? Who could Maria have been involved with?

The Catcher in the Rye is about a teenage boy who leaves chaos in his wake during one long night in early 1950s New York City, as he tries to avoid growing up. It’s seen as a coming of age story, wherein adulthood equals a tragic loss of innocence. The main character, Holden Caulfield, dreams of becoming an overgrown Peter Pan, saving children from falling over a cliff into the tragic grown up world.

The parallels to Roswell seem obvious. Both Rosa and Michael were/are alienated  outsiders who leave chaos in their wake. Max has been destructive in the present time, but in the physical world and to Liz and Cam’s lives. Isobel has also attempted to wreak havoc on Liz, for the sake of protecting herself and her siblings, so that they can retain their protective bubble a while more.

The night that Rosa died was the night that the entire gang grew up, in many ways, and certainly the night that the aliens lost their innocence. Whatever happened with Rosa and the other girls, however they died, I feel certain that the lies have been told, in part, to protect Rosa’s family, thus preserving some of Liz’s innocence and making the aliens the Catchers in the Rye.

We’ve been shown all season that the aliens are pretending to be adults, but not quite taking on full, real adult responsibilities, because they’re afraid. In this episode, we saw all three start to take steps to remedy that situation. Max accepted that maybe he does have a responsibility to use his powers to help people, when he can do so safely. Isobel realized that she’s made some enemies with her attitudes, and that means doors are closed to her that she might want opened. She also discovered that her cheat, her mindwarp power, doesn’t work so well on everyone. And Michael became the responsible alien, talking sense into both Max and Isobel when needed, and deciding to turn himself in for Rosa’s death, for the good of the family.

On the other hand, Kyle and Liz are happy to be adults and fine with facing the difficulties of life along with the pleasures. They’ve both accepted the hard parts of their investigation, and been mature about where they stand with each other and their families.

Kyle and Liz ask the hard questions and talk about everything, whereas the aliens made a pact to ask no questions and never talk about what happened. Michael, Isobel and Max don’t even truly know themselves or each other, they’re in such deep hiding and keeping so many secrets.

Max and Liz and Love and Terror and Mindwarping

I want to note that, in the diner scene, Liz asked Max, in so many words, if he was lying to her, and to give her a reasonable explanation. Max could have said a lot of things, like whatever the truth is, or that he is lying, but he’s lying to protect someone else, who isn’t the murderer, but has another secret. Instead of answering the question she asked, he repeated that he loves her, a sentiment she’s not ready for. It’s like he doesn’t see her or her needs at all, only his own.

His “love”, at this point, isn’t for the person she actually is, because he doesn’t know who she’s become since high school. And it’s clear that Rosa’s death changed her, along with the way Isobel tampered with her brain.

Liz can’t develop real feelings for Max as long as he’s more preoccupied with covering up Rosa’s murder than with them getting to know each other. She has every right to let her fear and anger about her sister’s murder overshadow her ten year old potential love for a man who won’t tell her the truth.

A man who injured her because she asked the wrong question, then knocked the power out in the entire town because he was angry, and who shows no sense of what her feelings or needs are, only his own. Of course she’s terrified of him. Any sane person would be. The potential for abuse is obvious, and Max would be sure that he was trying to do the right thing, while he was hurting her. He would lay the blame at her feet, just like he is now.

Liz needs a man who will be honest with her and who won’t agree to let her mind and free will be violated to serve his own interests. Max has no right to expect Liz to love him just because he loves her or saved her life. They can also love each other, but still not be right for each other, because he doesn’t have control of his emotions or powers and she’s scared of him.

I suspect that for a while, the story will be about Max learning to control himself and be a more reasonable person, who sees more than himself and his siblings. Right now, he’s following a rule book for “How to Be a Good Man”, but he hasn’t internalized it, so he treats people callously much of the time. The only people who actually matter to him are Michael and Isobel, just like he said at the end of the episode. Max needs to reach the point where the people around him matter, for real. He needs to open his heart to them as equal human beings and make connections. Then he’ll be able to see his girlfriends as real people, too, and treat them better.

Liz will be learning to let go of the fear she’s carried with her since Rosa died, her mother left, and Isobel took her memories of Max away, so that she can settle down in one place again and trust that whatever she loves isn’t going to disappear. Liz lost so much, so quickly, at the time when she was also transitioning to adulthood.

Then Isobel interrupted the natural flow of her healing and maturing process and sent her away from home. That meant that she effectively lost everything. By sending her away and telling her to never come back, the aliens took everyone she’d ever known from her, her entire history and home. And she couldn’t figure out why she felt the way she did. Her own mind didn’t make sense to her. Part of her would be longing to go home, and part of her would be refusing. So nowhere could be home, and she couldn’t get attached to anyone, because somewhere inside her, she was sure she’d be forced to leave them, too.

She’s already been forced to forget and leave Max once, and Isobel just tried to force Liz to do the same thing, again. Somewhere inside her, Liz knows the truth. That, alone, could make her hold back from being with Max and feel like he’s lying to her, like there’s something very wrong about them being together.

Max and Liz might not be able to be together until Isobel and Michael come clean about what they did to Liz ten years ago, and Isobel does something to release Liz from that order. Then Liz will need time to get over losing ten years of her life to Isobel and Michael’s selfish fears. Max will have his own rage to deal with, since the aliens were supposed to be loyal to each other, but Isobel and Michael betrayed him and shut him out for ten years.

Until the three aliens can see how wrong it is to mindrape people this way, and understand that there are long-term consequences, they shouldn’t be with anyone. At this point, they still react to threats like scared children instead of mature adults. They have the right to protect themselves, but judiciously, without violating the rights of others. Usually, they are paranoid rather than actually threatened.

On the original show, Tess’ mindwarp capabilities were seen as villainous and manipulative. The only acceptable use was against serious enemies. The original show dealt with some of the long-term consequences to her victims. Even the original Isabel’s dreamwalking capabilities were seen as manipulative, and something she shouldn’t use unless absolutely necessary.

New Isobel’s powers should be seen in the same way. They aren’t heroic or even neutral. They are detrimental to the lives of the people she uses them on. They are a weapon, and should be used only when a weapon is absolutely necessary.




Images courtesy of The CW.

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