This Roswell review contains spoilers.
Roswell, New Mexico Season 2 Episode 1
When we left them last season on Roswell, New Mexico, Max vanquished Noah and sacrificed himself to save Rosa. That makes the dreamy opening – a figment of Liz’s grief struck imagination – all the more cruel. Max Evans is dead. Or, well, not exactly dead, but he definitely can’t come back – at least according to the version of him that Rosa is seeing, thanks to the power of the psychic handprint.
It’s so good to have Rosa back. Actor Amber Midthunder was such a bright spot last season, even when her character’s story was decidedly tragic. There are moments, like when she abruptly tells Kyle that Max is dead, that she sounds exactly like her sister. Seeing the sisters goof around listening to Meredith Brooks and fight over clothes, their relationship feels so deep and full of love. I’m so glad we get to see both Ortecho sisters alive and together again in the present tense. The effect of the egg and Rosa’s age-preservation means that Liz is finally the older sister, bringing their physical appearance in line with their personality, maturity levels and behavior – though I doubt Rosa would see it that way.
It’s painful to watch Izzy eulogize her tormentor, a man who entered her mind without permission, manipulated her, and used her to perpetrate violence against others. From a strictly narrative structure perspective, Noah was always holding Izzy back, something of a dead end, story-wise. Aside from the contextual implications of his death, I hope this frees her up to be more involved in the main action of the show, or at least more interesting story lines of her own.
Izzy, of course, follows the time-honored nighttime soap tradition of overdoing it at a funeral, black lipstick, fascinator and all. Mrs. Evans isn’t far behind, with her “phenomenal cape.” The image of Isabel Evans breaking neighbors’ crystal with her mind is in perfect defiance of the Stepford wife she used to think she had to be to blend in and stay safe.
For now, it looks like Izzy’s going to focus on leveling up, saving her brother, and processing the trauma of living through domestic violence where the perpetrator quite literally took up residence in her mind. That’s not something that a person gets over quickly, and it looks like Roswell intends to give Izzy the narrative space to heal from it. She’s long been one of the most formidable women on a show with plenty to choose from, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she comes out the other side.
Season 1 of Roswell did so many things well. It made us fall in love with this new incarnation of characters and more than justified its own existence with its political DNA, ’90s beating heart and what is, quite frankly, some of the most intense chemistry ever seen on screen. But from a story perspective, it kept things pretty tidy keep those 13 episodes from going off the rails. Plenty of seeds were planted to explore in the future, like why Manes is such a xenophobic jerk, whether there are other aliens around, and what happened to everyone’s mom, and season two is the time to open up the world and start exploring.
This episode focused on mothers more than Roswell ever has before. Once again, the show called our attention to the fact that the Manes boys look so much alike, making me wonder who their mother is. Is she indigenous? Are they adopted? Meanwhile, Alex showed Michael some of the file on his own mother (a trigger warning might have been kind, Alex). Mrs. Ortecho was shouted out several times, making it feel more likely than ever that we’ll come across her this season.
One of my favorite mysteries on this show, Maria’s mysteriously witchy mother, continues to intrigue with her apparent perception that something changed with Rosa, and again at the end of the episode when she went missing. So far, Maria and her mother’s abilities have always been proven correct – eventually. Sometimes they’re misunderstood at first, but clearly Mrs. DeLuca has a larger role to play, hopefully one that will be teased out over the course of this season.
Over the course of the last season, Kyle dipped in and out of the group, but his active role in the possible Max surgery and Liz trusting him with the truth about what happened to Rosa seems like a sign that he might be admitted to the inner circle on a more permanent basis. If nothing else, being Rosa’s brother will certainly bring him closer, and he and Alex’s bond (which was a wonderful arc last season) is still going strong.
Let’s talk about a few of these musical cues. Roswell has always been precise in how it mines the ’90s, and this episode is an excellent example. The needle drop of the opening cords of Everclear’s “Santa Monica” is such a vivid sense memory to just about anyone who listened to rock at the time. But even if that’s not you, the opening line, “I am still living with your ghost/lonely and dreaming of the West Coast” feels like it was written for Liz Ortecho in exactly this moment. It’s impressive that they held off on using “Bitch” for this long, but as always, that song still slaps.
But the pièce de résistance is the episode’s climax, when the Cranberries’ “Zombie” starts to slowly rumble as Liz and Kyle work on excavating Noah’s heart so they can transplant it into Max, and Liz defiantly pledges to use her scientific background and a lifetime of standing up against bullshit to save him. There’s the obvious meaning, but beyond that, singer Dolores Reardon struggled with addiction and was taken too soon, much like Rosa. And then there’s the song’s context, about armed conflict that senselessly kills young people, something our three aliens (and plenty of other refugees) were sent away from – and a war that might follow them to this planet, if Noah’s right about the Alighting. Or maybe they just wanted to wish us all a happy St. Patrick’s Day in our self-quarantines.
- It’s sort of hilarious that the gang has two characters on ice, Max and Pape Manes.
- Mr. Ortecho is working on his citizenship!
- That St. Cristopher prayer card from Mr. Ortecho bears more than a passing resemblance to Max…and then Noah mentioned that humans “still haven’t figured out religion.” Are we doing the Marvel thing where aliens are gods?
- Alex noticed Michael’s hand has been healed, a deeply symbolic injury for Michael and for their relationship. Oof. More Malex thoughts in future reviews!