Roswell, New Mexico Season 1 Episode 6: Smells Like Teen Spirit Recap

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In episode 6, Roswell, New Mexico goes back to the characters’ senior year to relive the events surrounding Rosa’s death. Along the way, we also find out the truth about Michael and Alex, Liz and Kyle, Max and Liz, Isobel and everyone, and which dress Liz ultimately wore to the prom. We also discover that Rosa and Liz’s very best friend Maria didn’t figure into their high school lives enough to be featured in this episode.

This is not okay. We were shown in a previous episode that on the night she died, Rosa stopped by the Wild Pony, the bar run by Maria’s mother at the time, to pick up a bottle of booze and avoid Isobel. Is that all Maria is to the rest of the gang? Someone to use when they need something?

I appreciate the reboot making Michael bi and having that form of representation. But Maria doesn’t need to disappear. The original character of Alex was still in the show when Michael was in a relationship with Maria. He was only written out because Colin Hanks had other offers and wanted to leave, not because the showrunners were ignoring him.

WHERE’S MARIA?

Other than the revelation that Maria was on her own in high school, and the scene that told us how Michael’s hand was broken, I don’t think there was much new information in this show that we couldn’t extrapolate from previous episodes. While it’s always a pleasure to see Amber Midthunder, I would have preferred to see the present day story move forward, with highlights from the past, instead of spending an entire episode on a nostalgia turn for kids who went to high school at the same time as the showrunner and the characters.

We also got yet another almost kiss between Max and Liz, but it was Liz who stopped it this time, with a long-winded speech that made it sound like a kiss was the equivalent of an engagement ring. At this point, I expect that the big culmination of 10 seasons and 200 episodes will be Max and Liz kissing for the first time, after each of them has slept with, and kissed, literally every other character on every CW show. Then they will discover they have no sexual chemistry and go their separate ways.

Carina, it’s just a kiss. Stop beating the idea to death, and move on with the real story.

A big part of the real story is the confirmation that Isobel and Rosa were close friends, but Isobel was erratic about it, sometimes not seeming to remember they were even friends, and at other times looking like she wanted to devour Rosa. All of this has been strongly hinted at already. The Isobel who hung around with Rosa seemed like a different person, and I suspect she was.

Isobel’s multiple sides have been foreshadowed from the beginning, with her multiple lives and propensity for lying to everyone about where she was and what she was doing. The question is, who else is in her head with her? Does she have a mental illness and multiple alter egos? Are there multiple alien consciousnesses living in her brain? Are there alien telepaths, either on earth, in space, or on their home planet, taking over her mind, the way she can take over people’s minds?

The presence of an alien telepath makes the most sense to me, or possibly that she has multiple consciousnesses in her brain. One of them seemed to sincerely want a relationship with Rosa and to be possessive of her. There could also be a third alien, who killed Rosa because the second alien was getting too close. When Max and Michael entered the cave, Isobel said that Rosa, or possibly the real Isobel, couldn’t be trusted.

And can Max please, please, please stop wearing that stupid backwards baseball cap which just looks incredibly stupid? People wear baseball caps everywhere here, it’s true. They’re part of the New Mexico uniform. But they wear them the way God intended, to shade their eyes, because the sun is so freakin’ strong. The backwards cap doesn’t make Max look young, it only makes him look dumb. Just leave the hat off.

Recap

The episode begins with a flashback to 2004, when the three aliens took a birthday camping trip to the desert.

Max’s voiceover: “There are moments that define our lives, and there are moments that divide our lives. Incidents that separate us into two people. Who we were before, and who we will be, after. Forever.”

The kids are playing cards inside their tent and Isobel is complaining that she’s missing the middle school party of the year in order to spend her birthday with her brothers. No sympathy from the brothers, though. She goes outside to pee, which gives Max and Michael a chance to complain about her in peace.

Michael pulls out a bottle of nail polish remover and asks Max if he’s figured out his superpower yet. Max causes power outages whenever he has a wet dream, but other than that, he hasn’t found a use for his ability to control electromagnetism, or even figured out that’s what he’s doing.

Fun fact: I don’t think he’s figured it out in 2019, either. He certainly can’t control it very well.

Michael doesn’t have control over his powers yet, either. He’s living in a group home, and last week Group Mommy brought in a sadistic priest to torture Michael in the name of doing an exorcism. He’ll have scars, but he still has his powers.

Isobel screams in terror. A man is dragging her off into the desert. Michael blasts the man away from her, but then the kidnapper pulls out a knife. Max jumps on him and uses the power in his hand to kill the man. Max tells Michael that he just suddenly knew he could.

Michael looks to Isobel to take over as leader, but she’s cowering in fear on the ground, broken, as Max tells us in voiceover.

Whoa. All it took to break her was a stranger trying to drag her away from her brothers, but never getting her out of sight? Is she made of fragile antique porcelain?

Max was protecting them all, so the death was a justifiable homicide. There’s no reason for the show or his siblings to act like he’s a terrible person for it. What he’s become is a battle tested fighter and they all have now experienced trauma, instead of just Michael.

Since Isobel is now a delicate flower who’s fragile feminine self must be protected at all costs, as if she’s a character in a Tennessee Williams play, Michael uses his power to bury the body. Max’s voiceover explains that they were no longer children after that day, because they’d all participated in a crime and cover up.

I’m not clear why the sheltered 12 year olds were camping alone in the desert, at night, without adult supervision, to begin with? Or why a show run by a woman insists on such misogynist stereotypes. In the space of a few minutes, we saw Michael laugh off his years of abuse, and then both boys quickly react to stop the kidnapper, while Isobel couldn’t handle a few minutes of being threatened.

In the present, Max says that Blanche Dubois Isobel started having blackouts after that night. Max assumed it was because of the trauma. He doesn’t worry about the effect of that night on Michael, or the effects of Michael’s years of abuse. It’s only poor, delicate Blanche whose mind snapped at the first sign of trouble.

Isobel’s sexist brothers never bothered to investigate the phenomenon of her blackouts further. It’s not like blackouts can be a symptom of a medical issue or anything. Or of someone else messing with your brain.

But it’s been made abundantly clear that these three aliens don’t have superior intelligence.

Liz is as impatient with Max’s privileged, white, male version of the story as I am, and tells him to move along to part about Rosa. He insists that context matters, because in high school he thought he could be anyone and do anything. Like I said, white male privilege.

Much of the story that follows happens because at 12, Isobel realized that she’s a female who’s not safe in the world, but she’s also someone with alien powers. This made her angry and gave her trust issues, but she’s also more capable than most women of striking back, so she’s scary and dangerous.

As we all know, women with powers can’t be trusted alone with them. They need male supervision.

Max and Michael took until they were 18 to understand that they aren’t actually white human males who can do anything. It took legitimate tragedy to make them understand that they need to think like oppressed aliens. They’ve been pouting about the freedom they were promised, but then lost, for the last ten years. Well, Max is the one doing most of the pouting. Michael does a lot of acting.

Back in 2008, while the alien trio is hanging out at the junkyard, Michael tells the other three that he got a full ride to the University of New Mexico. Max hugs him, while Isobel begins scheming. They discuss Max’s plans to backpack around the world and write a novel. Isobel schemes harder, then leaves. The boys assume she just wants attention.

At school, we learn, again, that Max is interested in Liz, that Kyle and Liz are dating but Kyle is kind of a jerk, that Alex and Liz are friends, and that Isobel has an attitude. Kyle gets into Michigan State. Kate and Jasmine, the soon to be dead girls, threaten Rosa because she’s stopped dealing and was their main supplier.

Later, at the diner, Rosa and Arturo have a fight because he’s violating her privacy. Their mom is already gone, but they’re still hoping she’ll come back in time for Liz’s prom. Rosa goes up to the roof, where Isobel is waiting for her, and shows her the Ophiuchus constellation. At one point, Isobel looks like she’s about to kiss Rosa, and is kind of intense.

Rosa seems fairly neutral about Isobel kissing her.

Back at school, Alex finds Michael playing guitar in the back of his truck and yells at him for “stealing” it from the school music room. Michael claims he only borrowed it. Alex notices Michael’s sleeping bag and figures out that he lives in his truck. He tells Michael about a warm shed behind his house that Michael could sleep in sometimes. Alex maintains a hostile tone of voice the entire time.

Max and Isobel stop by the diner for a take out order and so that Isobel can be rude to both of the Ortecho sisters. Liz is used to it. But Rosa reminds Isobel about their plans for the evening, and is crushed when Isobel pretends they aren’t friends.

It’s hard to maintain sympathy for Isobel for long. She doesn’t just deny her friendship with Rosa. She mocks her in public.

Then it’s prom night and Kyle is picking up Liz. Arturo gives him a graphic speech in Spanish about everything he’ll do to Kyle if he sullies or hurts his little girl. Rosa and Liz walk downstairs, with Liz in the red dress. Arturo tells her she looks so much like her mother.

Isobel, Max and Michael are each other’s prom dates. Isobel tells Max he should have asked a girl named Tess. Haha.

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Midway through the night, Kyle and his teammates follow Alex outside after calling him a homophobic slur. Liz finds them and Kyle tries to pretend that what he said wasn’t as bad as it was. Alex and Kyle start a fight, but Michael breaks it up, and makes sure Alex is okay. Liz walks out on Kyle.

Isobel leaves the prom and goes to visit Rosa at the diner. Rosa is angry and Isobel acts strangely. Isobel says she’s been going through a lot. “I wish I could be who I am with you all the time.” Rosa forgives her.

Rosa has her backpack packed and is ready to leave town. She tells Isobel there’s a guy, and Isobel acts jealous for a moment. When Rosa says he’s more of a father figure who’s helping her stay sober, Isobel asks Rosa to run away with her, instead.

Max finds Liz sitting outside, still in her prom dress. She makes excuses for Kyle and he quotes Shakespeare. She confesses that she misses her mother and wishes that her mom was the kind of person who would actually take care of her. Michael interrupts them because he can’t find Isobel and has a bad feeling, so he wants Max to help search for her.

They search all night, then find her at the junkyard in the morning. She has red paint on her hands that looks like blood. She and Rosa painted alien murals. They get in a fight because she didn’t tell the boys where she was.

Michael moves into the Manes shed. Alex brings him an old guitar of his brother’s. Michel wants to know why Alex is being so nice, and Alex says that people don’t always have to have an agenda. Michael confesses that playing is one of the few things that calms him.

Isobel finds Rosa staring at the car because Kate Long and Jasmine painted graffiti all over it, including ethnic slurs. Rosa wants to get it cleaned up before anyone else sees it. She’s upset because she thought Kate and Jasmine were her real friends, but instead, they were only drug friends.

Isobel stands too close to Rosa and looks like she’s smelling her. Rosa says that she doesn’t want Isobel’s help and that Isobel’s a lot to deal with. Isobel looks at the car with evil intent.

Inside the diner, Max and Michael try to figure out what’s wrong with Isobel and how to fix her. They’re confused by her erratic moods and behavior. Max says, “There are these moments when she’s like, she’s not there.” Michael doesn’t think they should get her any official help. They should just accept that this is how she is now.

Instead, they decide to live in the moment and enjoy the end of high school. Max intends to ask Liz out. Michael thinks about Alex.

Rosa and Liz have an argument about who gets to use the car. Liz needs to drive out to the desert to do an AP Bio project. Rosa walks out with the keys. She must not think she can clean it quickly enough. As she goes through the door, she’s put into slo-mo for a moment. That’s the last time Liz sees her alive.

Max overhears the argument, and offers to take Liz with him to do the project. Liz decides to ditch her schoolwork and drive into the desert with Max and a six pack of beer instead. They talk about their dreams and fantasize about becoming a dancer and a novelist. They slow dance to the song Bright Eyes when it comes on the car radio.

Michael stops at the alien museum, where Alex works, and asks to talk to him in private. Alex brings him into the museum and tells him to talk. Michael’s tongue-tied, so he kisses Alex. Alex agrees with this topic of conversation and they make out.

Liz and Max come within about 2 millimeters of kissing, but Liz stops to tell Max that she wants to kiss him. Thinking she’s asking for consent, he says okay. But, no. She’s telling him why a simple kiss would be too momentous and would ruin her life and self-image forever. So, no make out session for them. Liz doesn’t seem to understand that the feelings will still be there, with or without a kiss.

These writers have watched way too much Disney and are putting too much emphasis on True Love’s First Kiss™. It’s much more revolting than it would be for Liz to decide to spend one summer of her life at home, getting to know Max, before leaving for college.

Meanwhile, Michael and Alex go back to the shed, confess that this isn’t just sex, that Michael isn’t a virgin, but it’s his first time with a guy, and that he likes Alex more than he’s ever liked anyone. Then they go for it.

They will be punished later in the episode, so maybe Liz was on the right track. These characters live in a universe that doesn’t approve of premarital sex.

Max convinces Liz to bring him with her on her road trip to see the country. They still don’t kiss, because that would be too much of a commitment. Maybe they’re afraid she’ll get pregnant.

Michael and Alex finish up, get dressed, and look very satisfied. Then Alex’s father, Jesse Manes, alien hunter, finds them in the shed. He comes in and the first thing he does is pick up a hammer. He gets up in Alex’s face and tells him to end the relationship, going on a homophobic rant.

Michael pulls Jesse off Alex, yelling at him not to hurt Alex. Jesse uses their momentum to drag Michael to the workbench, put his hand on the counter, and hit it with the hammer. It looks preplanned to me.

I think he suspects Michael’s an alien, and is hoping he’ll go to an emergency room, so that Jesse can see the X-rays. There’s no other sensible reason for Jesse to have acted so strangely specific in his attack on Michael. He’s probably trying to match Michael’s hand to a handprint on a body.

Max writes his romantic letter to Liz and puts it under the windshield wiper of the Ortecho’s car. Drunken Rosa finds him and chases him off, then takes the letter.

Michael and Max both receive intense telepathic visions, apparently from Isobel, of the dead girls and race to help her. Michael gets to the turquoise mine first and finds Kate and Jasmine lying on the ground, dead, outside the mine. He runs inside the mine, shouting for Isobel.

Inside the mine, Isobel is standing, holding up Rosa’s body like it’s a puppet, with one hand in her hair on top of her head and one over her mouth. In a strange voice, Isobel says, “But I did it for you. Everything I did was for you.” Then she drops/throws Rosa to the ground.

She stares at Michael, who says, in a frightened voice, “What did you do?” She answers, “She couldn’t be trusted.”

WHO couldn’t be trusted? Rosa, Kate, Jasmine, or Isobel herself?

Max shouts for Isobel at the mouth of the cave. Isobel drops to the ground, like a puppet whose strings have been cut. Max keeps moving and runs straight to her, while Michael stands frozen. Max is relieved to confirm that Isobel is alive, and tells Michael to come help him.

But Michael is stuck on the first thing he saw, which looked a lot like the way Max killed the man who attacked Isobel in the desert. As far as he can tell, both of his siblings are now killers. He tells Max that he saw Isobel “do it.” While Max is checking Rosa’s pulse, Michael says that he thinks Isobel killed them all.

Max tries to heal Rosa, but she’s too dead. Michael is annoyed that Max isn’t actually Jesus and able to raise the dead, but he’s still the moral compass of the group. He lists the steps they should take next, like getting out of the crime scene, calling the Evans’ parents, and calling the police.

Max: “On Isobel? This isn’t her, man. Something’s not right with her. She wouldn’t do this.”

Max and Michael immediately assume that Isobel is the killer, without investigating to see if she interrupted a crime, just like Michael thinks he did. They go into patriarchal hyperdrive, deciding that they are responsible for Isobel’s crimes, because she’s mentally incompetent by virtue of being a girl, so they should have kept her under control. They vow to “protect” her from this moment forward by putting more effort into controlling her.

Michael levitates the bodies out to Rosa’s car, just as we saw in the video. As they’re getting the bodies arranged, Isobel comes to, and can’t remember anything. Michael claims that he got in a fight, his hand got hurt, then he got drunk and ran into Rosa, Kate and Jasmine. His telekinesis went out of control and he accidentally killed the three girls.

Max tells Isobel to drive home in his car and let them dispose of the bodies. Isobel refuses to leave them.They take Rosa’s car out to the road and Michael uses his mind to drive it off the road, into a rock wall. Then, at Isobel’s suggestion, Max sets the engine on fire.

Michael and Max stayed in Roswell because of that night, but they stopped hanging around with each other. The memories were too painful. They kept a close eye on Isobel, and nothing like that has ever happened again.

Liz asks if they ever figured out why she did it. Max says no. They were too busy trying to forget it ever happened.

Lucky them, that they could forget, since Isobel is alive. It’s not so easy for the three families who lost someone.

When Michael finishes telling Isobel the same story, she asks the same thing- Why did she kill them?

Michael: “You’re never going to understand, because it wasn’t you.”

Isobel, throwing a chair: “It was me! You saw it!”

Michael: “No! When I found, when I found you with your hand on her, the way that you looked at me, it was like you were a different person.”

Isobel has a meltdown over the number of deaths she and Max have caused, wondering if their entire species are killers, since they don’t know anything about who they really are.

Liz shows Max the autopsy photo of Rosa, with the alien handprint mark on her face. He says he sees her face every time he closes his eyes. Liz wants him to confront the fact that he’s the one who made the town think Rosa was the one who killed Jasmine and Kate. In reality, Rosa was as much of a victim as they were. Her family has been targeted and terrorized for ten years because everyone thinks Rosa caused the other two girls’ deaths. Liz was shot and almost died.

Max makes excuses, saying he didn’t know it would happen, he was scared and he was a stupid kid.

Liz: “You were not stupid, Max. You were brilliant. You were 17, and you covered up a murder for 10 years. I mean, it’s incredible.”

Max, stepping toward her: “Liz…”

Liz, pulling away: “No, don’t…”

Max, in a whiny voice: “I wanted to tell you. I came to find you a few days later, and you were saying goodbye to your family. You drove away.”

Liz looks at him like she can’t decide whether to strangle him or vomit.

The man is repulsive. Liz’s sister was dead and he’d just framed Rosa for murder to save his own sister, but he’s whining that she hurt his feelings ten years ago? He knows she didn’t leave by choice and that Isobel mindwarped her, so he’s blaming her for something the aliens did, just like Rosa’s been blamed for 10 years.

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Liz is appalled that Max tried to blame her for this whole disaster. He’s just the worst.

Isobel realizes that if she’s having blackouts again, she’s dangerous.

Isobel: “We’ve lived for ten years in a comfortable lie. It’s time to face the truth now.”

Liz shoves Max: “You destroyed my sister to save yours. I never want to see you again, Max Evans.”

She walks out.


Commentary

I’m totally Team Make Max and Isobel Stay Away from Liz and Her Family Forever

Team It’s Time for an Alien Restraining Order

Team Maybe Jesse Manes Has the Right Idea, But Let’s Keep Michael

Team Let Liz Spend Time With Her Female Friends

Team WHERE ARE MARIA AND CAM AND MRS SHERIFF VALENTI?

Why isn’t anyone suspicious about Mrs Ortecho’s disappearance? It’s especially worrisome that she disappeared within a few weeks of Rosa, Kate and Jasmine’s deaths, but since the three geniuses covered that up, no one knows that they could be linked.

I hope Liz and Isobel team up to investigate what really happened to the three dead girls, with the help of Michael and Maria.

Max must have become a cop so he could continue to cover up Isobel’s crimes. And it allows him to keep up the reputation of being a good man. Never forget the importance of being seen as a “good man” in public. You can get away with anything in private, if you are a good man in public.

Michael became a drunk who gets in fights all the time to continue the lie he created for Isobel the night Rosa died. He’s an honorable, compassionate person in reality who keeps up a bad boy image in public because he needs a cover story for why he’s still in Roswell.

Michael’s the one who gave up his full ride to college to keep Isobel safe and feeling secure. Max gave up a little travel, but he can write a novel anywhere. He was going to end up back in Roswell by September 2008, anyway. It’s only more excuses that keep him from writing.

(I think there’s a UNM campus close enough for Michael to commute to, and he could also take online classes, but let’s not muddy the water with facts.)

Isobel doesn’t seem to have ever had any hopes, dreams or plans beyond keeping all three aliens together and in Roswell.

We still don’t know the aliens’ whole story, because in between the car burning and Max going to Liz to confess, Isobel and Michael decided to mindwarp Liz into forgetting about Max and leaving town without him. His potential confession must be the real reason they got rid of her.

All 3 aliens tell us Isobel has someone else inside her:

Max: “There are moments that divide our lives. Incidents that separate us into two people.”

Isobel, to Rosa, her secret friend: “I wish I could be who I am with you all the time.”

Max: “There are these moments when she’s like, she’s not there.”

Max: “This isn’t her, man. Something’s not right with her. She wouldn’t do this.”

Michael: “You’re never going to understand, because it wasn’t you.”

Michael: “The way that you looked at me, it was like you were a different person.”

Was it really a different person, or do Michael and Max just wish it was a different person? They had to deal with a huge crisis when they were very young, and by themselves. They’ve spent 15 years running from the first assault and death in the desert, and now ten years running from the second.

They’ve learned to deal with crises by destroying the problem, then hiding whatever’s left. And never speaking of it again. That’s not a healthy way to deal with things, and it’s coming back to haunt them now. They’ve lived with a combination of fear and complacency for twenty years and told themselves it was necessary. But they’ve bought their complacency through others’ suffering and death, and they’ve never acknowledged the pain they’ve inflicted. Liz and Isobel seem determined to force a confrontation.

Liz really gets a raw deal when it comes to female companionship. Isobel is mocking and condescending. Maria, when she’s around, seems to have been Rosa’s friend. Her mother wandered off somewhere, and Rosa was an addict who died. Her father makes her work long hours at the diner, and her only other two friends, Alex and Kyle, are guys. Plus there’s the stalker who brings death and destruction into her life, Max Evans.

At least Rosa stepped in for her mom and helped out with the prom dress.

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Images courtesy of The CW.

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