Roswell, New Mexico
This week’s Roswell finds Liz trying to take a dispassionate, scientific approach to her interactions with Max, pretending to help him investigate his rage blackouts while secretly gathering data to prove that he killed her sister. She’s conflicted, both because of their history — he was the only person who made her smile after her mom left — and also because of the agonizing sexual tension that has not been dampened even a little by the possibility that he’s a murderer. After getting Max to take his shirt off, because of course, she deliberately provokes him until he releases a burst of energy so intense that it burns her. I’ll just leave the subtext right there for you all to unpack at your leisure.
The people around Liz and Max think they’re both insane: “You want to believe Max is a golden retriever, but he’s a friggin’ X-File, Liz!” says Kyle, while Isobel’s face essentially transforms into a single endless eye roll when she realizes Max is letting Liz exploit his feelings for her. Since he’s putting all three of them at risk by doing so, Isobel decides it’s finally time to take Michael’s suggestion from the pilot and get inside Liz’s head to make her leave town, just like she did ten years ago.
You know what else happened ten years ago? Rosa, who was by all accounts a huge flake with a severe drug problem, left an intricate treasure trail of clues about her life stashed all around various significant locations in Roswell. I mean … sure. Guided by a mixtape whose song titles all have double meanings, Liz and Maria follow the trail and eventually find a note to Rosa from someone named “Ophiuchus,” a.k.a. the 13th zodiac sign, which suggests that Third Eye Blind lyric about “a fraudulent zodiac” had deeper meaning. Maria says Rosa was sneaking out of her bedroom at night in the week before she died, probably to see a boy. So who is Ophiuchus?!?
Over at the ranch, Alex is caressing a sleeping Michael’s chest, and Michael is quietly thrilled when he wakes up and realizes Alex stayed, and let’s all just enjoy this romantic interlude while we can because things are about to get rough. Alex freaks out when Isobel shows up — he still doesn’t want anyone to know about their relationship — and his skittishness makes Michael shut right down. Alex is clearly out to his friends but not to his father, so is he worried about word getting back to Manes? It’s interesting that nobody else in town seems to know that Michael and Alex are a thing; even Maria doesn’t know who his mystery boy from high school is. In any case, Alex later tries to make amends by inviting Michael to split a sixer at a drive-thru movie screening, which is as close he’s going to get to asking him on a date. Alas, the movie appears to be everybody’s favorite anti-alien blockbuster Independence Day, which unbeknownst to Alex, is not Michael’s fave!
Things go from bad to worse when Manes shows up to quietly cut Alex down to size, telling his son that he’s not “properly representing his country” by hanging out with a petty criminal like Michael. It’s unclear whether Manes knows they’re more than friends (I’m going to guess no), but when Alex later sees Michael doing some kind of shady deal, he’s primed to assume the worst. Even though Michael is selling copper wire rather than drugs, Alex says he’s done: He’s a soldier, and can’t be with a criminal. “You’re still the guy looking for any excuse to walk away,” Michael says, telling not a single lie. “You’re so good at giving them to me,” Alex claps back, and I’m sorry but selling wire does not qualify as a reason to walk away from anything. I want to reserve judgement on Alex, because clearly he grew up in a very conservative and low-key abusive family, but he is being a real dick and Michael deserves better.
Isobel takes her chance to get into Liz’s head, but what she finds there is … Rosa! And not Liz’s memories of Rosa, but what appear to be Isobel’s. “Why are you being like this? I thought we were friends,” Rosa says, and then “I wish it could always be like this.” Isobel’s so thrown that she doesn’t succeed in getting Liz to leave town, but she does find out that Liz loves Max just as much as he loves her. This is devastating to her because she’s deeply codependent on Max and seemingly wants to be the number-one person in his life, even though she herself is married to poor Noah, who’s used to playing second fiddle at this point. Theory: Isobel is Ophiuchus, and it was her Rosa was sneaking out to see. I’m extremely into the idea that all aliens are bisexual, because why would the human concept of gender mean anything to them?
Rosa’s clues lead Liz and Maria to one last item: a love letter from Max. Instantly jumping to the worst conclusion, Liz furiously interrupts Max and Cam’s drive-in date and accuses Max of being in love with her sister. But in news absolutely everybody else saw coming, Max has only ever been in love with Liz, and the letter was meant for her. Rosa intercepted it and was furious with Max, telling him to leave her sister alone — hence the glimpse of her angrily shoving him last week. Liz finally asks him, point blank, if he killed Rosa, and Max is heartbroken by the question. He lied about seeing Rosa the night she died because it was an ugly memory of her, and Liz has enough of those to deal with already. “I have loved you my entire life, including every single day you were gone,” he tells her, acknowledging that this is maybe a little pathetic and obsessive but no less true for it. Liz tells Maria she still doesn’t trust Max, but we know from Isobel’s mind-delving that she does love him back.
Kyle, refreshingly, is not being positioned as the jealous ex trying to sabotage Max; in fact he’s the opposite. Manes gives him every opportunity to turn Max in, and he refuses because he believes in innocent until proven guilty, which Project Shepherd clearly does not. To get Manes off his back, Kyle hands over a collection of letters written by his late father, which seem to be nonsensical diagrams and notes but will surely provide more grist for Manes’s anti-alien propaganda mill! “Innocent until proven guilty means justice can only be served after disaster has struck,” Manes says ominously, as Max goes into another uncontrollable rage spiral and blows out the power in the entire town. Oops.
• Is Jane Austen’s name supposed to be misspelled on Rosa’s copy of Pride & Prejudice? I was so fully distracted by this that I missed all the actual dialogue that followed and had to rewind! I like the idea that Rosa was using some weird off-brand classic literature as her hiding place, but this seems like it might just be a mistake.
• “If they pose a threat to humanity, they’re taking their sweet time — unless your boy Paul Ryan is an alien.” Wow, sorry Max, but I think I’m Team Kyle forever. He’s so snarky yet wise and caring, and he has sick GOP burns.
• Noah is either an incredibly patient and generous and forbearing husband … or he’s hiding something and is not to be trusted. Am I paranoid? Something about his preppy shirt–sweater combos and relentless kindness does not sit right!
• Max trying to force himself to get over Liz by getting serious with Cam sucks, especially when she’s out here buying him first editions of the depressing literature he loves. Add her to Michael’s category of People Who Deserve Better Than This Nonsense.
• We have an explanation for the nail-polish remover! The main ingredient is acetone, which promotes cell regeneration in plants and, apparently, in aliens.
• Why is Max calling Isobel on the phone for help, instead of reaching out to her psychically like he did in the pilot? Does their twin bond have a Do Not Disturb option?