Episode 8, of Roswell, New Mexico, Barely Breathing, is a very different episode from episode 7. In episode 7, characters and relationships broke down, and secrets took their toll. In episode 8, secrets are revealed and information is shared. New alliances are formed and characters begin to let their anger go. Isobel hits rock bottom, but is given a chance for rebirth. Alex Manes finds something he’s wanted for many years, but it may not benefit him in the long run.
And we finally meet Mama Evans, played by scifi veteran Claudia Black.
Isobel gets the opening voiceover this week:
“Safety is so easy to take for granted. Especially when you grow up loved, cherished, protected. Safety is a feeling you only value when it’s been stripped from you. When someone you trust spills your secrets, when someone invades your home, or when you’re a little girl staring at the stars in the desert one night and the devil tries to drag you into hell. Or worse, when the thing that makes you unsafe isn’t an invader at all. What do you do when the evil you fear is inside your own mind? When there may be no way to kill it without killing yourself?”
While she speaks, Jesse Manes observes Max’s house from his Project Shepherd bunker. He already has an organizational board full of clippings about Max, Isobel and Michael, from the time they appeared in the desert as children up to the present. It’s safe to say that the three aliens were already on his radar before Cam suggested he look into Max. Jesse actually approached her because of her closeness to Max.
Jesse has multiple cameras aimed at Max’s house and its vicinity. He watches Max’s mother arrive for a visit.
When Isobel speaks about the danger not being an invader, but something within you, Jesse controls the camera in the hospital hall so that it points at Noah, who’s waiting outside of Isobel’s room, fidgeting with a worry ball.
This means that Jesse has eyes almost everywhere, and Noah should be considered a suspect in the question of who’s causing Isobel’s blackouts. He wouldn’t be the first person to marry someone in order to drive them crazy, or in order to stop them from going crazy. He could be the 4th (or 5th) alien, hiding in plain sight.
Max and his mom, Ann Evans, sit at the firepit and catch up. Ann is concerned about appearances and maintaining socially important connections, which explains Isobel’s Pinterest Board perfect life when the season began. After a minute, Ann asks when Max expects Isobel.
Kyle brings Liz a strange and exotic cactus for her office. I think it’s from another planet, and will turn out to be an alien listening device, but maybe it’s just from South Africa. Many strange succulents come from South Africa. Maybe they come from District 9?
Kyle is anxious about how he’s going to keep Isobel’s alien status a secret for very long while she’s in the psych ward, and wants to confer with Liz about it. Liz “just needs one day of not talking about or thinking about or drinking about aliens.”
I don’t think today is that day.
She and her boss, Dr. Yolanda Avila, are presenting their research results to the board, so she needs to be prepared and do well.
Kyle isn’t sure how long he can justify keeping Isobel there when she’s not symptomatic, but Max told him that she’s been having blackouts. Liz confirms that she has, recently and in 2008. Kyle understands that Liz is telling him that Isobel killed Rosa, Kate and Jasmine. He’s upset that Isobel killed his half-sister before he even got the chance to know her as his sibling.
Noah is confused that Isobel is supposed to be in bad shape, when she looks so well.
OMG, peeps, mental illnesses are invisible illnesses. The vast majority of people with mental health issues look and act normal around other people. They might just seem tired, sad, or energetic. People mask their issues, including suicidal tendencies. It’s only a small percentage who hallucinate or are so manic that they seem out of control.
Why is this show perpetuating the backwards stereotype that you shouldn’t get help until you act “crazy” and “out of control”? As a doctor, Kyle should know that people need help even when they look fine, and know to watch for more subtle warning signs. He and Noah might as well be telling Isobel she has white girl problems and should give up the bed to someone who really needs it.
Isobel argues that she’s not as relaxed as Noah thinks she looks. But he wants to be the one to take care of her, so they can go back to some semblance of “normal”. Isobel tells him that she wants to come home with him, but things have never been “normal” between them. She needs to talk to the doctor and see if there’s some kind of treatment plan.
Kyle almost slips and tells Liz that Rosa was his half-sister. He catches himself and says that he’s been involved all along and had a right to know who the murderer was. When he asks what their next step is, she shows him the suppressant serum she created. Liz explains that the suppressant eliminates the electric charge around Max’s squamous epithelial cells. She believes that the charge is connected to their powers and suppressing it will render them powerless. But she doesn’t know if that’s all it will do, or if their bodies depend on the electric charge to function. She doesn’t have alien mice to test it on, and she never intended to use it anyway.
Alex follows Jesse to the abandoned Air Force training grounds where the Project Shepherd bunker is hidden, then waits for Jesse to emerge from the bunker. Jesse, knowing he’s been caught, tells Alex it’s not a safe place for him. Alex isn’t going to be turned away without discussing his father’s alien obsession. When Jesse refuses to talk, Alex hits him in the head with a crutch, knocking him out.
Max tells Ann that Isobel had a psychotic break due to mixing alcohol and anxiety pills. The first thing Ann asks is who already knows. Max says that only Noah knows, so Ann doesn’t need to worry about her Bridge Club finding out. Ann scoffs at the notion that she’s worried about bridge club.
Max asks about their medical history. Ann says that he and Isobel never got sick. Then he asks about their communication skills when they were found.
Ann: “You never spoke. Ever. And I was worried, but I swore that you and Isobel knew what the other was thinking, always. At least I knew you weren’t lonely. And then, all of a sudden, you both started to talk. And it was as if you’d been observing, waiting to learn the entire language, before uttering a single word.”
Max shows Ann a drawing of the alien symbol, asking if she recognizes it. He’s wondering if it’s an early memory, from before the Evans found them. Ann looks alarmed and asks, “Why?” Max tells her that it’s just been on his mind.
Ann: “When we visited the foster home, you and Isobel were huddled in a corner, crying. The other boy in the home had taken a red marker, and had drawn this all over the walls, obsessively. That poor boy. He needed special attention. A wealthy family that could give him everything he needed. And Lord, I hope he found it.”
Kyle appears in Isobel’s room, in a cool shot were she’s in the foreground on the left, looking left, and he’s on the right, reflected in a mirror and facing right. We’re seeing him, but not really seeing him. The person we’re seeing for real is Isobel.
Kyle accuses Isobel of killing Rosa, and Isobel admits that it’s true. She stands to face him. Kyle has the syringe filled with Liz’s supressant in his hand. Without saying a word, he steps up to Isobel and plunges the needle into her heart, injecting her with the full dose.
He reverted back to Tyler Lockwood from Vampire Diaries for a minute there, and thought he was staking a vampire.
Maria brings the Wild Pony neon sign out to the junk yard for Michael to repair. He’d really rather just build her a new one, but she doesn’t want a new one. She wants the broken one to be fixed. Roswell’s flirtiest pair negotiates a deal (she’ll cover his bar tab) and he says he’ll call her when it’s ready. But she’s not ready to give him her number, so she tells him to bring it by the bar. He insists that he doesn’t want her number, but even Max isn’t fooled, and asks if they’re sleeping together now. Michael says, “Never.”
Max has stopped by to tell Michael the latest about the alien symbol, or, as Michael knows it, Max’s tattoo. Max tells Michael about Wyatt and the boy at the group home, who Max assumes was Michael. This new evidence leads Max to believe it’s an alien symbol, not just something he made up as a kid.
Michael is busy being stuck on the idea that Max has acknowledged they’re aliens with a home planet and a history before they hatched out of the pods, since he usually doesn’t want to talk about anything from before. Max still insists that Roswell is home and he doesn’t regret closing off the rest, but his genius brain has figured out that Isobel’s blackouts could have something to do with being an alien, so now he wants to know more about their alien side.
Max thinks it’s odd that they came out of the pods with no memories, language or adults waiting for them. Michael thinks it’s possible that after 50 years in the pods, their knowledge faded. But he also thinks that whoever put them in the pods might not want them to remember.
Max suddenly feels cold and woozy, a signal that something’s wrong with Isobel. They rush to the hospital.
Kyle and Isobel tell Liz about what happened with the suppressant. She quickly realizes that Isobel used her powers on Kyle to get him to inject her. Kyle didn’t know what Isobel’s powers were. She explains that she’s an influencer.
(She can’t force people to do things, she can only influence them, because she’s a weak, young woman. I can almost guarantee there’s a more powerful male +/or older mind controller out there.).
Jesse wakes up inside the Project Shepherd bunker, tied to a chair. Alex is in Jesse’s usual seat, typing away on the computer. Jesse puts on his concerned dad face and calls to his son. Alex puts on his fake good son face and answers.
He wants Jesse to tell him about Project Shepherd. Jesse denies it exists. Alex gets a dark glint in his eye and explains to Jesse that he was a codebreaker in the military, which means he can break through Jesse’s outdated encryption software as if it’s barely there. Jesse can talk while they wait or not, but Alex will have access to everything in the computer, in a few minutes.
Once Max and Michael get to Isobel’s room, Max points out that Isobel could have PTSD or dissociative identity disorder instead of an alien issue. The suppressant might not help at all. Isobel says that Rosa’s autopsy showed a handprint mark, which means she killed using powers she doesn’t even know she has. She just wants her powers muted so she can be normal and safe and leave the hospital.
Michael hates the idea that Isobel equates being normal with being human.
Kyle comes back and Isobel tries to use her powers on him to get him to take off his shirt, but it doesn’t work. The suppressant did what it was supposed to. Isobel is happy. Michael and Max are not.
Isobel has good taste in potentially shirtless men.
Liz has gone back to work at her job. She and Dr Avila are discussing their research when Michael accosts her to yell at her for other people’s mistakes. He accuses her of attempting genocide and asks how she’d feel if someone made a serum that would make her less Mexican.
Liz fires right back at him, because that was an inappropriate comparison. She wasn’t trying to kill anyone, just dampen their powers after Isobel murdered her sister (and 2 other girls, which this show always forgets), because she knows that no prison could hold them. Isobel used the serum on herself. It wasn’t forced on her.
Michael moves on to his real purpose and tells Liz about Max and Isobel’s psychic connection, like a warm presence he can feel all the time. The loss of their connection was the coldness that Max felt when Isobel injected herself. Michael says that if anything happens to Isobel because of the serum, it will hurt Max, so Liz will be getting revenge on the wrong person, when, “Max didn’t take your sister from you. All he ever did was love you.”
Oh my. There was so much wrong with Michael’s side of that conversation. He’s confusing loyalty with shifting blame, and he’s blaming the victim. He’s trying to make Liz be responsible for Max’s emotional state, which she is not. She’s not his girlfriend or his mother. She doesn’t owe him anything. He only needed to save her life because of the multiple, serious crimes he’s committed against her family in the past, not because he’s done nothing but love her.
Max is not the woobie we need to protect at all costs, though he might be a jerk-ss woobie or a woobie, destroyer of worlds. I’m undecided. Let’s check in again at the end of the season and see what else he’s destroyed.
Isobel and Noah giggle in her hospital room and promise no more big secrets, only harmless, potentially sexy secrets. Suddenly, Isobel is coughing up blood. At the same time, Liz pages Kyle to her office. The alien blood sample she exposed to the serum has begun deteriorating at a rapid pace.
Max rushes back and tries to heal Isobel until he makes himself ill, with no benefit to her. Kyle and the aliens don’t know what to do next. Max begs Liz to create an antidote, but there isn’t enough time. She runs from the room.
Jesse asks why Alex is suddenly interested in Project Shepherd. Alex explains that he’s been looking for leverage to use against his dad for his whole life. Then he found the alien tech at the Valenti cabin. He searched the dark web and everything he found led back to Jesse. So, he followed Jesse, reconstructed one of his burner phones, and called his (Alex’s) mother. Jesse is the flaw in the system that can be exploited to bring down the rest.
Jesse claims that he hasn’t told Alex about Project Shepherd because he was protecting Alex from the Manes and Valentis’ dark legacy. Kyle isn’t his son, so he’s under no obligation to protect him. Alex is sure that Jesse told Kyle because he’s a real man, while Alex is weak and gay, since his father sent him to war at 17, and wasn’t worried about his safety then.
Jesse asks Alex. “What’s your endgame here?”
Alex: “I want to destroy the thing you love, and I want to make you watch.”
Sounds like Mimi DeLuca was right, and the darkness from the alien tech is already affecting Alex. I have a feeling that he’s going to be the one who watches as the thing he loves is destroyed.
Michael’s photo pops up on the monitor and he’s identified as a red level terrorist threat. Jesse says that this is the type of thing he’s been trying to protect Alex from. Michael’s involvement in terrorist activity was recently confirmed.
The question is, does Jesse actually have anything on Michael, or is this all an elaborate set up to distract Alex should he find Project Shepherd? I really can’t tell if Jesse’s concern is real or faked, and what he’s hiding. I can’t believe that he’d make it that easy to get to Project Shepherd’s secrets though, unless he was ready for Alex to find him, and wants to convert him to the cause.
Michael finds Liz on the roof of the Crashdown, in her creative zone (listening to Jagged Little Pill and drinking wine), trying to figure out what will help Isobel. She’s realized that their best shot is for her and Michael to work together, since he’s a secret alien genius. She says that she never understood why he didn’t go to UNM, but then she figured out that he was beyond what they teach there.
Guess she doesn’t remember the night that Max told her why he and Michael never left Roswell. Or the different writers never read each other’s scripts.
Michael gets a few more shots in about how manipulative and untrustworthy Liz is, so he won’t help her. Liz refuses to watch Isobel die, so she doesn’t let him walk away, despite his uncalled for viciousness.
Michael’s alien lab is in a bomb shelter under his trailer, accessed through a metal hatch. Michael has to move his trailer with his mind to get into it. That might be what gave him away to Project Shepherd. Not exactly stealth.
For years, Michael has collected artifacts related to the crash any way he could get his hands on them. He’s trying to rebuild their ship.
Before they get started, Michael confesses that 10 years ago, Isobel used her powers to “push” Liz to leave town without Max, to stop Max from confessing to her. He’s tired of the lies and wants Liz to have all of the facts while they try to save Isobel. Liz isn’t particularly upset. She was going to leave town anyway. She’d had her route planned out for years. Max had never been part of her plans.
Michael shows Liz several vials of a liquid that he extracted from the alien pods. He hasn’t been able to study it because it evaporates on contact with the earth’s atmosphere. Liz gets excited, because that liquid kept them in stasis for 50 years and she has access to equipment they can use to study its regenerative properties. She doesn’t think there’s enough time to figure it out, but Michael is sure that the two of them working together can do it.
Mama Evans comes to the hospital to visit Isobel. She had a friend who got into trouble from alcohol and pills a few years ago, so she’s sympathetic to Isobel, and thinks she has some idea of how to help. But Max turns her away, making her think that Isobel doesn’t need or want to see her.
Ann is in tears as she starts to walk away. Max calls her back, and she explains that he and Isobel were always a self-contained unit. They never let her be a mother to them. Max tells her had a great, happy childhood, and never needed anything. Including her, Ann inserts. Max tries to smooth things over, and they agree that Ann will come back tomorrow.
In a very odd scene, Noah is in Isobel’s room, and asks Kyle for information about what’s wrong with Isobel. Kyle refuses to give her husband her diagnosis or to tell him anything else and instead sends him to Max, her brother. Noah rightly points out that he’s her husband and legally they shouldn’t be giving that information out to anyone but him. Kyle’s only response is to say “Then let me treat her,” which is a rude response, under the circumstances.
Noah flees to the bathroom and breaks down in tears, then punches the mirror, which cracks in a spider web pattern. He stares at himself in the mirror intensely. Given the last mirror shot in this episode, I’m going to guess that their was some meaning in that one, too. There’s more to Noah than meets the eye, and his facade is cracking. The spider web pattern would suggest he’s undercover, part of a conspiracy or caught in a trap. Or some combination of the three.
Michael brings Liz to the pod chamber and explains that they can keep Isobel in stasis while they work if they can get her back into her pod. They debate whether the pods are tech or organic. Michael found through trial and error that a silver needle would penetrate the membrane. Liz touches the pod and her silver bracelet makes the membrane react. She sends Michael to get Isobel while she figures out how to use her silver jewelry to open the pod for Isobel.
Kyle sets Isobel up with an IV of straight nail polish remover. Isobel doesn’t understand why he’s being so nice to her, so Kyle explains that doctors have ethics and treat their patients equally, no matter who they are outside the hospital. Kyle learned that lesson during his internship in Idaho, when there was a mass shooting and the shooter was brought to his hospital.
Alex accuses Jesse of framing Michael, but Jesse thinks that Alex can’t see what Michael is because he’s blinded by his perversions. Michael and his people are monsters and he’s using Alex to infiltrate.
OMG, Michael’s been infiltrating Alex all these years.
Jesse starts raving about unprovoked alien on human violence. Alex, who was beaten by his father throughout his childhood, doesn’t want to hear his father’s concern for unprovoked violence.
Alex: “You are not using this operation for justice. You are using this operation to target people that you hate. And that stops right now.”
Max sits by Isobel’s bedside as she sleeps and gives a little Hamlet soliloquy. First, he tells her what every woman wants to hear, that she was right about something. Then he spends the rest of the speech blaming and guilting her for dying and leaving him.
I expect I’m supposed to be touched by how much the woobie tragically loves her, but all I heard was negativity, and how her illness was really about him, not love or concern for her. It’s not that different from the interactions we’re seeing between Jesse and Alex, where Jesse is gaslighting Alex and using concern as a weapon the way Max has just once again used love as a weapon.
The dying woman really doesn’t need her brother chanting “you failed” at her. Isobel wakes up while he’s guilting her.
Michael arrives with the news that he and Liz think they can help Isobel. Isobel says that she wants to live.
Alex gives Jesse his marching orders: “There’s a flight leaving at dawn for the facility in Niger. You’re going to decide to oversee the training, and when it’s time to come back to the base, you’re going to request a transfer out of Roswell. If you ever come back, I will alert the Pentagon that you’ve been running Project Shepherd for the last 8 years. That’s right, Dad. I know the Feds shut you down in 2010. They cut your funding and you’ve been running this farce with family money, against protocol, against direct orders. If you decide to not do as I say, I’ll expose you. You’ll be dishonorably discharged. That will be your legacy. Not much of a Manes man. Enjoy your freedom, Pops.”
Looks like Jesse is off to Niger while Alex sifts through the Project Shepherd files.
By the time Michael returns to the cave, Liz has chemically dissolved the silver using synthetic exothermic enzymes in order to make a solution for Isobel. When Max and Isobel arrive, Liz promises they won’t stop researching until they find a cure. Isobel removes her wedding ring and gives it Max for safe keeping.
In a gorgeous sequence, Isobel gets naked and sits in front of the pods while she and Liz coat her skin with the silver solution. Once she’s covered in the thick silver liquid, she’s able to slip back into the pod and curl up in the fetal position.
The scientists pack up their science kits and Michael leaves. Liz asks Max if he’s okay, and he says he’s lucky, because Isobel has a chance to survive because of Liz. She assures him that Isobel will survive. He tries to turn the conversation toward their not-relationship, but she cuts him off.
She suggests that he forgive Isobel, because he’ll miss her less if he’s not angry. Then she says that she’s glad that Isobel influenced her to leave town, because she saw so much that summer. “Besides, you and I weren’t meant to be together.”
Max gives her the wounded eyes, then she leaves,
because she deserves a life independent of her stalker/ because a man doesn’t own a woman just because he falls in love with her/ because she’s suffered enough because of him because it’s been a long day and she needs some churro pancakes.
Max puts the palm of his hand on Isobel’s pod. When he pulls it away, the alien symbol appears for a moment.
Cam meets Jesse on a deserted road. He gives her instructions for while he’s in Niger. She should watch for the usual alien signs, and she should also keep an eye on Alex. He includes the usual threat to her sister as payment for her services. He had Charlie moved out of a maximum security prison, and can have her moved back in at any time.
Michael brings the repaired Wild Pony sign back to Maria. He gripes one more time that he could have made a new one. She explains that when her mom isn’t doing well and wanders, this sign acts as a beacon to bring her home. Michael says he figured it was something cheesy like that, but on his way out, he looks at the alien symbol and wonders if it’s some kind of beacon, too.
Odds are good, since it joins the title card in the sky every week.
When Max gets home, he finds Ann waiting for him. She cooked him dinner. Max sits down next to her on the couch and bursts into tears.
Liz complains that Max applies justice unevenly, but she never seems to remember that Isobel, or whoever it was, killed three girls that day, not just her sister. She’s decided to handle the murderer herself in order to protect her family member, just as Max and Michael did. She’s keeping the true murderer’s identity a secret from the other two families to protect her father.
Jesse could have brought Noah into Project Shepherd as an observer, just like he brought Cam in. But he could have told Noah to watch Isobel and report signs of instability so doctors could protect her. The Neolutionists did a similar thing to the clones and their significant others on Orphan Black. The clones’ loved ones were recruited as handlers and spies without the clones’ knowledge.
So Jesse will be out of the picture for the moment, giving Alex time to sift through all of the alien evidence. Will he share it with Michael and the others, or will he become an alien hunter himself? I think Jesse’s gambling that once Alex sees everything he’s got on the alien trio, he’ll feel betrayed enough to join his father’s side.
I’d like to think the best of Alex, but we saw a very dark, cold side to him tonight. I can’t help but think that his revenge is more important than anything else in his life. We already know that he has a mean streak and a tendency to keep secrets. But this:
“I want to destroy the thing you love, and I want to make you watch.”
This never turns out well. Especially since Alex is Jesse’s son, and I have a feeling that Jesse does love him, in his own twisted way. And there is a lot of truth to Jesse’s alien stories, even if they’ve been demonized and exaggerated over the years. Alex can’t help but get caught up in his own curse.
Noah will for sure see
Chekov’s Isobel’s wedding ring at Max’s house, and Max won’t have a good excuse for why it’s not on Isobel’s finger at rehab.
We learned in this episode that one of Roswell’s lost women, Mrs Manes, is alive and able to communicate with family members. We still don’t know where she is, why she left, or what her condition is, beyond being able to carry on a simple conversation.
The Alien Symbol and the Boy in the Foster Home
Ann is hiding things when she talks to Max. She answers his questions carefully, with rote answers, and doesn’t seem open to further discussion. She even asks why he wants to know about the alien symbol before she’s willing to talk about it, as if it’s associated with something that’s difficult to talk about.
Is there a meaning to the boy’s use of the color red to draw the symbol?
Max assumes that it was Michael who drew the symbol all over the walls, but since she doesn’t name Michael, that’s a big red flag that it probably wasn’t him. Then she hopes that the boy found the wealthy family he needed. I can think of 2 sons of wealthy families who are about the same age as the aliens, who could have come out of pods at the same time: Wyatt Long and Noah Bracken.
Wyatt is from a wealthy ranch family, troubled, and is having the same symptoms as Isobel- blackouts, drawing the symbol and behaving erratically, while acting superior. Noah doesn’t definitively come from a wealthy family, but his job and lifestyle give him good odds for it.
Noah is a bit erratic as well, with the way he’s supporting Isobel then angry with her, then supporting her again, and the way he smashed the mirror. And he’s the one who sent Liz out to the barn where Grant Green stored the museum artifacts before Wyatt attacked her and Grant.
Wyatt could be another alien who’s the same age as the main trio, whose pod was stored somewhere else. Noah could also be the alien who’s causing Wyatt and Isobel to have blackouts, perhaps when he needs to wipe their memories for some reason. Maybe he can trigger an alter ego who will carry out his orders, or maybe he can essentially hypnotize them.
Noah has been awfully intense about wanting to bring Isobel home, instead of demanding that the doctors figure out what’s wrong with her. If he already knows she’s an alien, but either wants to keep her off kilter so that she’s easier to control or wants to push her into confessing to him, it would explain a lot. He could be one of the older aliens from the crash who escaped Project Shepherd, so he knows the importance of getting her out of the hospital. He’s likely also a shapeshifter if he’s one of the older aliens.
If Noah is an alien, his power is some form of telepathy/push influence. I think that one of the unknown aliens can use telepathy to push a thought, desire, or emotion into someone’s brain, and through that, make them do anything the telepath orders them to do. That type of power would serve Noah well as a lawyer.
If Wyatt is an alien, his power is harder to guess. So far, he’s been associated with gunshots, racism, mouthiness, violence, blue lives matter, having a gang of friends that he’s always with, wanting to avenge his sister’s death, and drawing the alien symbol. Those all speak to being a warrior, who chooses a side and is loyal to it, while hating the other side.
If he is a warrior, he’s out of control, taking his personal war to criminal lengths. Did he bring PTSD or another mental illness with him from his previous life? Or was he a criminal? His power is likely something connected to fighting skills. Maybe he’s a better shot than he showing anyone, and hides his sharpshooting skills the way Max hides his healing skills and Michael hides his spaceship engineering skills.
Images courtesy of The CW.