Roswell Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Good Mother

Roswell finds its season-long arc but Lily Cowles owns the episode as Isobel makes and owns her choice.

Roswell New Mexico Season 2 Episode 3
Photo: The CW

This Roswell review contains spoilers.

Roswell Season 2 Episode 3

With this episode, Roswell adroitly revealed its intention to run a parallel flashback storyline throughout the second season. 

Through a new mystery, Roswell has given its second season a framework, something to hang the rest of its more ephemeral material on, like who Michael Guerin’s dating at a given moment, so the whole show keeps shape instead of collapsing under its own weight. Our minds need structure, and no matter how much we love these characters and their stories, without an animating principle to let us know the goal of the season, what’s driving them all forward, we’d get lost. The first one is saving Max, obviously, but it’s hard to believe that will take long. 

Some stories, like Isobel’s healing and Mimi’s connection to… everything, will likely burn slower. But if the main mystery of season 1 was “What happened to Rosa? – no, what really happened to Rosa?” then so far it seems like season 2’s question is “What happened to the trio’s moms?” Or as Michael put it, how do you go from crash-landing in an alien spaceship to standing next to a prize-winning pumpkin to tortured in a cell within a year?

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Jenna and Liz’s time together was full of gems, from Jenna’s Max imitation and Liz’s much-needed acknowledgement that her sister needs help. Most importantly, with Jenna’s “I think it’s safe to say that we are different kinds of smart” line, Roswell sidestepped any kind of Liz vs. Jenna showdown. It’s so much more interesting to revel in the weird that is Liz trying to comfort her dead boyfriend’s ex-lover over wine, whiskey, and shooting practice. Here’s to the return of Jenna and her excellent sense of humor. I didn’t order a blonde, but I’m glad she’s here. 

However. This meant that practically everyone in Roswell knew about aliens and Rosa being alive and homicidal Noah Bracken and about a million other important developments before one Maria DeLuca. Maria’s reaction to Rosa felt appropriately frightened – of course she would think she was following in her mother’s footsteps – while her reaction to Michael was devastating animalistic in its anguish. She has every right to be hurt and betrayed by the whole lot of them, and frankly she’ll probably end up saving them all. Five bucks says the kind man who wants to help the alien women at the end of the episode is somehow related to Maria, because in these flashbacks all personality traits are hereditary.

Finally, there’s Isobel, who continued microdosing herself with alien death serum as means to abortion – and actually said “abortion,” something many shows and movies refuse to do. Lily Cowles was phenomenal throughout this episode as Isobel, reminding us how much we miss the Evans sibling bond and how fast on her feet Isobel is. But her crowning moment was the beautiful speech she made pushing back on the version of Max in her own mind, who tried to convince her not to risk her own life for an abortion because she would be a good mother. Isobel rightly told him that yeah, she would be a good mother – on her own terms. This reflects realty: two-thirds of all people who get abortions plan to have children in the future while more than half already have at least one child. Motherhood isn’t what this is about. As she says, “I might want to be a mom someday, but not like this, not when it’s been inflicted on me.”

Isobel has had one of the most intense journeys on the show already, yet its clear she’s going to do even more and better before the season’s through. But she said something critical in this episode: “The only person who will always love me and come to my own rescue is me.” While that may be an awful realization, it’s also the first time we’ve heard her see herself outside of her bond with Max. While of course he’s coming back at some point (after all, Guerin’s work on the pod is working), Isobel needs to stand in her own considerable power, and this episode was a huge part of that. 

I’m glad Liz was there for Isobel. Another part of growing beyond Max is expanding her support system apart from him. She needs to have relationships independent of him or a romantic partner, as hard as that is for her. here for isobel right now. Isobel putting Liz’s arm around herself was a small moment, but truly a big one for someone as used to being self-sufficient (or co-dependent) as Isobel. I only wish Rosa could have been there for Isobel, too. Hopefully they will have a reunion soon. 

Filed under “Roswell being better than it needs to be:” Isobel didn’t have to give a speech on politicians cutting off abortion access, the real life story of Roswell becoming “A Sanctuary City for the Unborn” and women’s shelters getting shut down, but she did. That is to say, Carina Adly Mackenzie and her team did. It’s all the more poignant right now, while politicians are taking advantage of the Coronavirus to limit or cut off entirely access to abortions. Rape crisis shelters and domestic violence shelters are struggling to cope with physical distancing, increased demand and cancelled fundraisers to still serve folks like Isobel who need their help. 

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Sometimes what we watch on television is bigger than the stories we tell. With Roswell, it so often is. Thank you to the Roswell team for continually putting their weight behind stories that matter out here in the real world, while still bringing us the very best stories they can about their version of the world. 

Other notes:

Hector Valenti was a hottie and of course a much better person than the Manes ancestor. RIP.

Is anyone else deeply concerned about the identity of the alien energy leech with the hood covering his face who turned the whole crash site into a death trap? Feels like a big deal. 

I hope we learn more about Charlie, who was apparently into gene therapy?

Jenna was into X-Files! Now I need Gillian Anderson to make a cameo on Roswell, NM. 

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“Is the library a new dive bar or something?” fair question, Alex, but it turns out Guerin’s been digging in the microfiche. Also, microfiche is still a thing!

Alex asking Michael’s permission to keep digging into his mother and if he should keep his findings to himself was truly a considerate heartthrob move. We stan. Consent in all things, including sleuthing. 

Max came very close to saying “Help me Rosa, you’re my only hope.”

What I wouldn’t give to see Kyle Valenti try his damnest to understand Isobel’s alien reproductive system and help her with the abortion. Alas. 

Max is correct: Isobel’s save with the handcuffs was epic. Can we get this woman a proper (queer?) love interest this season?

Rosa breaking my heart: “I ruined my miracle, Liz” 

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4 out of 5