Roswell, New Mexico
Hello and welcome to this week’s recap of my favorite show, which is named Liz & Michael: Science Bros. Now that we know how delightful it is to watch these two being genius nerds together, this had better be the first collaboration of many. Their unlikely partnership forms over the common goal of saving Isobel, who spends most of this episode on the brink of self-inflicted death by serum.
For a second there, it really seemed like Kyle had flipped his lid at the revelation that Isobel killed Rosa (a.k.a. his half-sister, a secret he came perilously close to revealing to Liz!). But in fact Isobel mind-controlled him into stabbing her with the serum Liz created last week, which doesn’t just dampen her powers, it causes every cell in her body to start self-destructing. And while she doesn’t necessarily want to die, her opening voice-over does clue us into the fact that she’s willing to, if that’s what it takes to kill the evil inside of her. (Meanwhile, poor bewildered Noah is still out here trying to figure out why his perfectly healthy wife is on death’s door from an alcohol problem he never saw any evidence of until, like, last week.)
Michael is furious with Liz for engineering the serum at all, comparing it to gay conversion therapy and asking how she’d feel about a serum designed to make her less Mexican. It’s a loaded, raw moment, but he’s not wrong in pointing out that history doesn’t look kindly on people trying to forcibly eradicate traits they seem undesirable. Liz is also not wrong in pointing out that Isobel is a murderer! But Michael pulls a trump card on Liz: If Isobel dies, it’ll destroy Max, too.
After discovering that Liz’s emergency creative process involves Alanis Morissette and wine, Michael starts to distrust her slightly less, and even shows her the secret underground bunker where he’s hiding his alien artifacts. (Serious question: How many secret underground bunkers does this town have?) Michael’s makeshift lab includes samples of the fluid that kept him, Max, and Isobel safe in stasis before they hatched from their pods, and from this Liz figures out a way to synthesize a similar fluid and heal Isobel by returning her to her pod. The catch is that the process could take months or even years, which is devastating to Max, and could result in Isobel losing her memories, which is devastating to her. There’s no alternative though, so back into her pod Isobel goes, as Max looks like he’s about to collapse with the sheer weight of twin-feelings.
Also thanks to the Science Bros partnership, Liz is now unexpectedly the one person who knows Michael’s secret. “You’re trying to rebuild your ship, aren’t you?” she asks, giving voice to a question that’s been lingering since the pilot. Roswell is home to Max and Isobel because they were raised to feel safe here; Michael wasn’t, so to him home is still a place he doesn’t remember but wants to get back to. This is probably moot for a while though, because it’s not like Michael would leave Max alone on Earth with Isobel in indefinite stasis.
Because he’s just in the secret-spilling mood this week, Michael also tells Liz that she was mind-manipulated into leaving town ten years ago. But Liz isn’t mad; she says Isobel can only exert influence, not full control, and she was always planning on leaving to travel. “I’m glad Isobel made me leave town,” she later tells Max, even though she apparently left town before Rosa’s funeral, which is … a lot. “We weren’t meant to be together.”
Speaking of secrets, Alex is all out of fucks to give in his pursuit of uncovering them! Ever since watching Manes fly into a homophobic rage and attack two scared teenagers, I’ve pretty much been ready for him to get a beating, and Alex’s crutch-smackdown was worth the wait. Also worth the wait: Alex’s cheerful “Hey, Pops” demeanor as he threatens Manes while using his casual Mr. Robot skills to hack into the Project Shepherd mainframe. But his composure cracks when he sees Michael listed in the database as a suspected terrorist from outer space. Manes tries to convince Alex that Michael is just using him to advance his evil alien agenda, but Alex (reasonably enough) thinks Manes is using the so-called “alien threat” as a smoke screen to target queer people, and warns him to leave Michael alone.
Alex ultimately forces Manes out of town by threatening to expose him to the Feds (who have already shut down Project Shepherd once), and as satisfying as it is, this all feels a little too easy. Manes absolutely has something up his sleeve, and it’s nothing we’re going to like. And despite knowing his dad’s a lying scumbag, I feel like Alex may now put together the pieces and figure out that he is, indeed, in love with an alien?
• The introduction of Max and Isobel’s adoptive mom (Claudia Black) felt like one plot point too many in a stuffed episode, especially since she was kept on the outskirts of Isobel’s situation, but I guess I’m glad someone was around to give Max a hug?
• “I’m an influencer. Like Bad Girl RiRi.”
• “I want to destroy the thing that you love, and I want to make you watch.” Not coincidentally given what we know about 2008, Alex says this line right before Michael’s image comes up onscreen.
• What kind of intel does Manes expect Cam to get on Alex?
• After their long estrangement, Michael and Max being quietly supportive and brotherly to each other is so sweet and satisfying!
• Liz may have created the serum with no intention of ever using it, but as with any scientific innovation, there’s no real way to guard against it falling into the wrong hands and being weaponized. Just imagine if Manes got wind of its existence.
• “Tell me you’re not sleeping with Maria.” “Never.” Hmmm.