Roswell, New Mexico
The pilot episode of Roswell, New Mexico established the existence of aliens as a simple but potent metaphor for otherness in general and the immigrant experience in particular. Max, Michael, and Isobel’s terror of being uncovered dovetailed elegantly with Liz’s fears as the daughter of undocumented immigrants, while Jesse Manes’s ranting about the threat of aliens echoed a type of alarmist rhetoric that’s become familiar in the real world. The sheer pace of plot over the show’s 13 episodes has created less and less room for that metaphor, and by tonight’s finale it’s completely gone, replaced by religious overtones that have barely been hinted at before. TL;DR: Max Evans is Alien Jesus and I’m unsure how to feel about it!
“You’re the Savior,” Noah tells Max in a speech that explains why our alien trio were given cushy protective pods when other survivors had to fend for themselves. Max was essentially the Chosen One on their war-torn home planet, gifted with special powers he hasn’t even harnessed yet, and now that he’s fully grown, Noah expects “them” (the victors in the war) to come and bring their savior home. “Unlock your mind, and you can be a god,” Noah continues, explaining to Max that all those Bible stories about miracles are actually about aliens. He stops short of actually saying that Jesus was an alien, but the subtext is right there.
By this point in the episode, Noah has already slit Michael’s throat, murdered a random bigot, bodysnatched Isobel, tried to kill Liz twice, and used his psychic powers to play cat’s cradle with Max’s organs, and say what you will about his endgame, you’ve gotta respect that level of hustle. After a healed Michael shows up to temporarily disarm Noah, Max decides to give that whole “unlock your mind” thing a whirl and runs out into the desert to throw his arm into the sky and draw an electromagnetic thunderbolt of energy down from … the heavens? From his home planet? I’m going to be honest, I have no damn idea exactly what happened here, but the upshot is that Max is now enormously powerful and takes the opportunity to fry Noah to a crisp!
As the siblings gather around Noah’s body, Max is already showing signs of being dangerously high on his newfound power: He’s talking very fast, his thoughts racing, and yelling out life advice like, “Quit looking in your rearview mirror, Michael!” More alarmingly, he grabs Michael’s hand and heals it even as Michael’s begging him not to, telling him that he doesn’t need the pain to remind him who he is. That’s a fine sentiment and of course Max thinks it was a loving gesture, but … not your call, buddy! This non-consensual healing moment made me weirdly uncomfortable, although being rid of those scars does seem to push Michael toward a moment of clarity. And it’s not a moment of clarity Malex fans are going to like.
The season started out with Michael and Alex coming back together after a decade apart, and Alex was the one who pulled away. Now he’s ready to lean in, but Michael’s not. He loves Alex, and he always will, but he also tells Isobel that “lately, that love just hurts”; Alex is tangled up in so many of his most painful memories that he can’t separate out the good from the bad. But … I’m not buying it. The reason Michael retreats from Alex is that Alex actually knows him now, and that terrifies him. “Coming back to him, it always feels like a crash landing,” he says, but there’s a reason he’s only feeling this way after Caulfield, after Alex saw a part of him that not even Max or Isobel ever has.
And so Michael goes to Maria, who gives him a soft landing because she only knows the surface of him. I was intrigued by the possibility of Michael/Maria at first, but the love triangle has been so rushed — with so little time spent on Maria’s developing feelings for Michael — that it’s ended up just making her look terrible. We know from Maria’s conversation with Liz that she hasn’t even spoken to Alex about the situation because she feels too guilty, and so having her accept Michael with open arms is such an odd note. Sure, she doesn’t know Alex is waiting for Michael right at the same moment, but she does know that he’s been in love with Michael for a decade. In any case, she notices Michael’s healed hand and is instantly suspicious, so I don’t see things at the Wild Pony going smoothly for long.
Still high on his power, Max comes home to Liz, who runs right into his arms, and they immediately get down to some overdue business. She’s got a knife wound, he’s had his intestines telekinetically tied in a knot, and if those two things in combination aren’t a recipe for sexy times, then I don’t know what is! In all seriousness, it’s a genuinely hot and well-earned scene; the reprise of Novo Amor’s “Carry You” from the pilot is a killer choice, as is the reprise of Max sexily putting his hand over Liz’s handprint so that they can feeling-meld. For a second, it looks like these two might end the season at peace.
Oh, except that Isobel and Michael find Rosa’s body preserved in Noah’s alien pod. And Max, ignoring his siblings’ extremely wise advice, takes it upon himself to bring her back to life because he is The Savior, and also because covering up her murder is the worst thing he ever did to Liz. He can’t pass up this chance at atonement, even if it means giving up his own life so that Rosa can live. And so Liz, looking frantically for Max, instead comes face to face with the sister whose 10-year-old grave she just visited. Rosa’s looking remarkably fresh-faced and cogent thanks to her pod stasis, and after the sisters share a shell-shocked emotional hug, Liz asks where Max is. Rosa’s face falls. In the cave, Liz becomes hysterical when she finds Max dead, his arms flung out in an unmistakably crosslike shape. Happy belated Easter, everybody.
• So Max is dead, and the only person with the power to bring him back is Max! If the show is renewed for season two, I wonder how many episodes Nathan Parsons will actually be out for. It would be ballsy as hell for the show to genuinely kill him for good (and given some other recent TV developments, maybe not out of the question), but more likely he’ll be gone for just long enough for it to have a compelling impact on everybody.
• I regret to report that semi-feral demon Noah could probably get it. More seriously, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Karan Oberoi sink his teeth into the Joker-ish energy of Noah as a full villain, and in making the switch to this from Bland Nice Guy, he’s emerged as one of the more dynamic actors on the show. Sad that he likely won’t be back if the show is renewed.
• How … how long do we think poor Alex spent waiting at Michael’s Airstream before he gave up on him? Did he maybe just set up camp? Does he live there now?
• Liz is approaching Jason Statham–hero levels of death-wish hardiness with her whole “Hell no, son, I don’t need to sit down while my gaping stomach wound is stitched up without anesthesia, just pass me the whiskey” bit.
• I really appreciate that in this jam-packed finale, Carina Adly McKenzie took the time to play out Kyle’s experience at the gun store and fully illustrate the lunacy of this country’s gun laws (or lack thereof). Kyle is a walking red flag: He’s not even trying to hide how much he’s mentally unraveling and is clearly not buying the gun for self-defense, but the clerk is all but salivating and can’t wait to give him a discount. Second Amendment rights, baby!
• Jesse Manes now seems to exist solely to get his ass beaten every time he shows up to attempt a threatening monologue, and I’m here for it. Having discovered that Manes actually murdered his father by throwing him into the cell with Subject N38, Kyle can’t bring himself to shoot him, but can bring himself to inject him with barbiturates and put him into a coma! To what end? Unclear, but watching Manes get owned never gets old.
• Isobel is now telekinetic? Did she somehow absorb that power from Noah when she went into his dying thoughts, and if so, what else might she have absorbed from him? Between this and the loss of Max, the dark side might look real tempting to her next season.