Roswell Season 2 Episode 5 Review: I’ll Stand By You

Michael faces down his demons as the gang races to save Max, in a great Roswell, New Mexico episode about family and hard truths that gives us all the feels.

Roswell New Mexico Season 2 Episode 5
Photo: The CW

This Roswell, New Mexico review contains spoilers.

Roswell Season 2, Episode 5

This episode made perhaps the best use of Max’s absence, which, to Roswell’s credit, has lasted much longer than I expected. The episode gets its shape from an extended meditation on Michael’s role within the “family” that the trio of aliens form. No matter what Max and Isobel have insisted, Michael clearly had a very different experience than they did. He wasn’t raised in safety and love or as a triplet, and as well-intentioned as their protestations, they can’t change that. Exhibit A: Isobel giving Guerin a hard time about how he’s handling Max’s impending death. 

But Michael takes a huge step forward in this episode, by rising to the occasion to rescue Max. Clearly Michael has always felt strangely indebted and hated it, as he communicates with his refrain of “I didn’t ask for that, I didn’t ask for you, I didn’t as for anything!” For Guerin, the only way he could stop feeling so awful about Max helping him was to stop feeling awful about himself. Liz reminded him that Max never underestimated him – that was all Guerin. By being the genius with the car and the pacemaker and making the hero move, or passing the same “hero credit” back and forth between the two of them, Guerin accepts his own value and puts himself and Max on equal footing. He commits to being there for Max, but more importantly (because this was his real problem all along), he decides to allow Max and Isobel to be there for him, saying that if Max pulls through, they can be a family. 

There’s a way of looking at Michael that sees his heroism this episode as something he did purely for Max, divorced of what it means for his own self-acceptance, but that’s both less progress for him as a character and simply not true to how he would evolve. Here’s to writers who understand their characters. 

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It was nice to actually see Sanders the junkyard owner this episode, and for him to play a role in both Guerin’s emotional level up and his eureka moment about Max’s alien pacemaker. Sanders gets a lot of play in Guerin’s stories, and this season in particular, more of those stories have had a softer side to them. While he wasn’t the warmest and fuzziest of guys, it sounds like he made it a soft place to land for a kid who had never had one before, and likely wouldn’t have trusted anything much more welcoming than that. I’m holding out hope that one of these days, we might just learn that there’s more to Sanders than Michael realizes. 

This episode also marks the apex of Isobel’s growth into what promises to be one hell of a warrior, physically and emotionally. Early on she tells Guerin about her abortion in an open and shame-free way, to illustrate that tough, deeply personal choices can only really be made by the person involved. (Guerin’s response here is perfect. It isn’t a judgement or pity or whatever, just a simple statement of support – “I’d have been there.”) Throughout the episode, Isobel does what she needs to do in order to save her family. She even goes into Max’s head while he’s dying, risking whatever fate might befall her. 

Max is right about one thing: they’ve all become stronger without him, Isobel most of all. She took control of the situation when she realized what Max wanted inside of Rosa’s head. And when she figured out that he had all that negative energy inside of him, she took responsibility for that too, apparently continuing her training so she could “play god” just like her twin. 

One thing that still feels off is Roswell’s insistence on ignoring the dynamic between Rosa and Isobel. It’s possible they’re kicking that can down the road until things settle down (Isobel acts like she loves feelings, but we all know she only loves feelings when they’re on her terms.) But seeing Isobel betray Rosa twice in quick succession and put her hand on Rosa’s chest, knowing that for Rosa they were making googly eyes at each other like two seconds ago back in 2009, made it feel deeply weird to keep pretending they have no relationship to one another. Or no relationship beyond Noah riding around Isobel’s meatsuit like the homicidal creep that he was. 

On the healthier side of things, Alex Manes and Maria DeLuca are quite possibly the two best people in the entire town of Roswell. It makes sense that Maria would come back to Alex first – he’s her best friend, she did him wrong, and she needed a favor. It’s just damn impressive to see them comfort each other over their mutual love of Michael Guerin and not be mad about it. Even more impressive? Maria’s resistance to spying on her mother. I have a feeling that this respect for Mimi’s privacy will turn out to prevent Maria from uncovering some small hint at “the truth” earlier and Maria will feel guilty for it when Alex inevitably does go snooping through those encrypted files, but for now let’s be thankful for characters who respect boundaries. 

Finally, in keeping with the themes of bygones and family, there’s Kyle Valenti. He returned Liz’s expression that he previously scoffed at, telling her they’re family. I doubt he’ll stop having feelings for her anytime soon, but it feels like a big step toward understanding their larger, more important, more permanent bond. 

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In other Kyle news, it took hearing Maria question Alex and Kyle’s friendship to remember just how far they’ve come from the pilot. Holy character development, Batman! Kyle still has a bit of an edge to him – he was definitely chill with letting Max die – but he’s clearly in a totally different place than when we first met him – he also wanted Liz to say goodbye to him in such a way that she would find closure, so he’s not, like, a total monster. 

Importantly, Alex has changed too. It’s got to be tough for him to look back on his time with Michael knowing what he knows now about Rosa’s death. That said, it wasn’t until Maria mentioned being raised in an abusive home and Michael’s violence that it hit me how triggering it must be for Alex to be around him all the time. See? This is why we need Maria DeLuca to be in on all the secrets. 

Additional Thoughts

  • I’m very here for Arturo Ortecho falling fast asleep, clutching his rosary. The poor man deserves it.
  • It’s so good to see Rosa painting her room, music playing, smile on her face
  • When Max is all better, Rosa should give him a little zap for putting her in the middle of all of this, like a “bitch-ass alien.”
  • Can we all agree that Kyle and Liz coating their hands in pod goop is the grossest scrubbing in ever, and very thoroughly non-COVID-approved?
  • “My genius increases when I’m pissed off.” I’m very ready for the genius of Michael Guerin
  • The screen going black and letting us hear the beeps in the dark was a MOMENT. Well done, Roswell.
  • Does this mean Michael has the same tattoo as Max? And where?
  • I love Isobel so much for pretending Max has been in a coma for 12 years, and “Taylor Swift is president now, which honestly is for the best.”


4 out of 5