Roswell, New Mexico
Let the record show that on the 19th day of March, 2019, after a weeks-long dry spell that was on the brink of becoming a true drought, everybody in the town of Roswell, New Mexico finally got to make out! There’s nothing like a road trip to stoke a fragile spark into a full-fledged fire, and the fact that Liz and Max’s long, long, long, long-anticipated first kiss was directed by Shiri “Liz Parker” Appleby just made it all the more impactful. “Songs About Texas” takes Liz, Maria, Michael, and Max on a desert voyage to visit a faith healer; Liz and Maria because they think the faith healer could help Mimi, Max and Michael because they think the faith healer could be an alien.
In news absolutely everybody saw coming, Arizona the faith healer is a fraud, but the show doesn’t miss an opportunity to layer in some deeper commentary, revealing that she’s also an indigenous woman sick of seeing “rednecks vote to strip my people of our land, our rights, and our humanity”. In this light, her scamming desperate locals out of thousands of dollars is still sketchy, but hard to entirely condemn. Max’s interaction with Arizona does make him wonder if he could learn to harness his healing power — he’s horribly aware of all the people he’s seen die during his time on the force. “You’re the only one I saved,” he tells Liz, who responds by quoting his fave Henry IV line (“Heavy is the head … ”) back at him, demonstrating just how clearly she remembers the moment they shared way back at prom, and it’s truly a wonder Max doesn’t kiss her right then and there.
But there’s Rosa to discuss first. “I’m not angry at you for that,” Liz says, which is a real whiplash moment after all the times she’s sworn she never wants to see him again after what he did to Rosa. It’s helpful to remind ourselves at this point that a full month has passed since the last episode (which ended in Liz confidently telling Max that they weren’t meant to be together) and that watching Max miss his own sister in that time must have softened Liz’s resolve. And honestly, when the chemistry’s this strong, I’m not about to nitpick, because that kiss was worth the wait!
I’m glad this moment comes after Liz gives voice to the fact that Max’s decadelong obsession with her is a little unsettling, because it suggests he’s in love with a concept of her rather than the real person. “I don’t know what to do with the way that you feel about me,” she tells him, which, word! But Max swears that he sees her fully, and believes in her as she is now. Liz grabs him and kisses him to a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” (a nostalgic musical choice by which I feel personally victimized), and you might say all Liz wanted all along was for Max to know who she is.
On the subject of long-awaited climaxes, fans have been waiting on tenterhooks to see whether Michael and Maria would become a Thing in this iteration of Roswell, given what an iconic couple they were in the original series. And while their back-and-forth screwball banter was adorable, and their alfresco desert hookup was sexy, it doesn’t feel like they’re being set up as much more than friends with benefits. Maria swears Michael to secrecy about the whole thing, not knowing that he is in fact something of an expert in this arena. (“I hate secrets, but sex secrets are the exception.”)
In other secrecy-based news, Cam turns out to have way better judgement than we’d been led to believe by her previous interactions with Manes, and ends up taking her investigation straight to Alex instead. “If I were smart I’d stay in line and follow his orders,” she says, but she’s not ready to just throw Max under the bus, especially now that Max is a suspect — thanks to Noah — in the disappearance of Isobel. With a little help from Kyle, they figure out that Rosa’s was not the only body that was found bearing the alien handprint; there are at least 13 others, all of which were covered up. Their autopsies were all signed by a nonexistent person named “Dr. Holden,” which appears to be Jesse Manes’s pseudonym. The big reveal here is that Holden also signed Jim Valenti’s death records, but the most important moment from this storyline for me is that Cam figured Max was a wizard, and is stunned to realize he is instead an alien.
Arizona, despite being a fraud, is right on the money when she tells Michael that in order to heal his hand injury, he has to confront the psychological injury that went along with it: i.e., the horrifying trauma of his boyfriend’s homophobic father beating and mutilating him right after they had sex for the first time. And fortunately, Alex is finally ready to have a real conversation too; he’s tired of walking away. “I loved you, and I think that you loved me, for a long time,” he says, being truly open with Michael for the first time since 2008 and pointing out that they never really got to know each other very well. They had a connection that was so instinctive and powerful (Michael calls it “cosmic,” which, nice) that it was easy to forget they were essentially strangers. Alex wants to change that, because if everything is made to be broken, he just wants to know who Michael is. What if I recap the rest of the season using exclusively Goo Goo Dolls lyrics? Michael, though, is not too lost in the moment to ask the million-dollar question: “Do you want to know who I am, or what I am?”
• I’m still putting my money on Wyatt Long as the mysterious and dangerous fourth alien. Noah is way too obvious (and surely, given her psychic abilities, Isobel would have sensed something by now).
• “Sometimes the world ends with a whimper, Guerin.” Alex is really out here trying to quote T.S. Eliot at Michael in lieu of having a real breakup conversation, like Michael didn’t grow up with Max as a sibling! Bleak literature holds no fear for him, Alex!
• Noah finally gets some answers, and sees Isobel inside of her glowing egg, but surprisingly does not seem confused or freaked out. He calls off his missing-persons case and plays into the cover story about rehab, so … what is his endgame?
• “Is angry cowboy your type?” Kyle is low-key the most perceptive character on this show. I like how we’ve gone from “nobody knows about Michael and Alex” to “is there anyone who doesn’t know about Michael and Alex?” (The big answer, I guess, is Maria.)
• Maria aggressively singing Alanis Morissette at Max to get him to cheer the F up was a true delight.
• “Thoughts and prayers won’t save her liver.” A+, Michael. A+++.
• Extremely pleasing to see Liz and Michael: Science Bros return for its sophomore run this week.
• “We don’t put people in eggs, Liz, no matter how much they suck.”