This Roswell review contains spoilers.
Roswell: Season 2 Episode 11
At a time when the world is rightly more focused on racial injustice than ever, television can feel either frivolous or like a much-needed escape. One thing for which I’ve always been grateful to Roswell is that it has never made viewers choose between valuing the full spectrum of humanity, with particular attention to immigrants, LGBTQ people, indigenous folks, and people of color broadly, and entertainment that can be fun, thrilling, romantic, or aspirational.
This episode started with one mystery – Michael hot on the trail of who took Alex – and ended with many, gathering speed as more stories turned into mysteries and revealed themselves as related. We were also treated to valuable flashbacks of Liz’s relationship with her ex-fiancé. The combination made for a worthy red herring in the form of Diego – who I still don’t fully trust. In the end, this episode moved the ball forward on several storylines that we’ve been tracking for a while and even revealed that they have some sort of connection, even if we don’t fully understand it yet.
Both the underlying theme of Liz’s journey as a scientist and the ICE agents serve as a reminder that bigotry and discrimination come in layers. There’s the systemic aspects, like an administration creating policies that immigrants have to be perfect to be Worthy or defunding experiments they see as out of line with their view of the “sanctity of life.” Then there’s the individual actors who can choose to exercise their limited autonomy within that inherently racist system, making the experience more and less acutely painful. There is no “good” ICE agent – the quiet agent is still an ICE agent, sitting idly by while his partner harasses Liz. But they can each choose to make life easier or harder within the system, and here one opts for worse, along with his cognitive dissonance.
There’s a really fantastic moment when the two collide, and the ICE agent calls Liz a waitress. The way Jeanine Mason plays it, you can see the thought cross Liz’s mind that for a second, she thinks about saying, “But I’m a SCIENTIST!” Instead of trying to be more perfect or worthy for them, she owns who she is in that moment, a waitress, and instead pivots to something tactically useful: as an owner, she can kick them out. It’s a small moment, but in the context of an episode about a woman who was once a girl who had no one like herself to look up to, who never dreamed she could be published, it makes it easier to understand the woman who bases her identity on her science, who can’t give it up, even for the man she loves. This is her American Dream.
But then there’s Diego. In flashback he criticizes Liz for always having to “act perfect” and years later, in the diner, seems to want to quiet her when she chooses to speak up to defend herself and her father. While there are merits to a number of approaches to law enforcement, that’s Liz’s choice. Diego might have been able to throw down the trump card that political (and likely financial?) privilege affords him, but that doesn’t mean he gets to tell Liz how to feel or how to handle her business, something the writing subtly put forward.
I could be wrong here, but it reads to me like he’s meant to be someone whose family has been in American longer than Liz’s – and certainly his parents are documented – so even though he’s also Latinx, he simply doesn’t have the same experience as Liz. He is still benefiting, in some ways, from the same system that oppresses him in other ways.
Another show might have placed more emotional weight on Flint offering Michael that Alex could go free, but only if Michael released Flint and turned himself in. The Roswell writers seem to be broadcasting that this is not even a question for Guerin. Instead, the big moment came earlier, when Michael confronted the human form of all his fear, hatred, stigma and shame, as well as Alex’s. But instead of beating Jesse Manes within an inch of his life, which would clearly be his preference, he chose Alex’s route and delivered what’s frankly a bigger blow to the elder Manes: a speech about how loving Alex made him understand humanity and that there’s a better way than violence.
Isobel and Rosa had some much-needed time together. They’re two of the strongest characters, but also two people who have been through so much (wow, all of these characters have actually been through so much. Can they get a group rate on therapy?) Isobel’s willingness to be kind and up front with Rosa beget an openness from Rosa. It’s no coincidence that the conversation we saw wasn’t about Noah, but was instead about the two women connecting over vulnerabilities. Pain doesn’t have to match in order to build a bridge between two people. It’s good to see Rosa in a place where she can stand back from her own and examine it at a distance, as well as see someone else’s pain and have the emotional bandwidth to reach into her own painful memories to extend an olive branch.
Once again, shout out to the emotional glow-up on Kyle Valenti. The poor guy was ready to lose his job and face criminal charges for helping save Max’s life and covering for Liz. He even did everything he could to keep Max from finding out about Liz’s research. Here’s hoping your girlfriend forgives you and survives, and you get to keep rocking out to Taylor Swift for many more raves to come.
Finally, let’s close where this whole mystery winds up. We all knew Elena Ortecho was up to something, but I was hoping it was going to be terrestrial. Who is she really? Where are they trying to bomb? Based on the previews, perhaps it’s some sort of false-flag operation to blame the aliens? When will we run out of Manes brothers? Let us know what you think in the comments.
- It’s a sign of how far they’ve come that Liz saying she loves Isobel was so casual.
- “Are we really still asking that? …My brain picks locks now.” Powerful Isobel forever!
- “We should find you a boyfriend.” “–or a girlfriend. Or a…nonbinary intimate companion?” Max is such a nerd, but I love how the pod squad holds it down for each other.
- I know we’re a long way off, but whenever this show ends or we get flash-forwards to their futures, I now very much need Michael Guerin to be an agricultural engineer, have a few kids, and play in a dad rock band, whatever planet he ends up on.
- “I was deceased when the guest list was created” Ouch Max. I feel for ya, buddy.
- Wow, Rosa literally found out about her biological dad form her unwitting mom during an NA meeting. It’s honestly a wonder Rosa is doing as well as she is.
- At this point, I’m honestly not convinced that Liz still has access to her research.
- It hadn’t occurred to me that Isobel was sitting on a bunch of Noah money until she said it, but using it to help Rosa make the best of her second chance and fully excavate Noah (And any other demons) is such a great use for it. I have a feeling they’re going to continue forging a really special bond.
- I feel weirdly certain that Kyle saying Max “smells like rain” is more than a joke – it’s a clue about whatever he’s getting up to at night.