This Roswell review contains spoilers.
Roswell: Season 2 Episode 13
Roswell’s finale absolutely cruised through a rapid succession of events in the first ten minutes to deal with last episode’s fiery madness in order to leave the rest of the episode to tie up season-long arcs, before ending on a big twist. This season feels like it just began last week, and yet Roswell managed to cover so much ground in a short space of 13 episodes.
Alex Manes had a great story this season that worked best when played with a light hand. He and Michael literally destroying the place where Jesse Manes brought violence and shame into their world was the emotionally resonant metaphorical death we needed to accompany Jesse Manes’s less cathartic literal one. It’s going to be strange for the show to be less one Jesse Manes (and it sort of feels like we might have said goodbye to Tripp?) but I can’t say I’ll miss him.
Most importantly, it was so good to see Alex fearlessly play a song about a boy he loved, in a cowboy bar while his brother cheered him on. It took him a long time to get to a place where he could live his life out loud and it feels like his song, regardless of who it’s about, is genuinely for himself. The song itself was lovely, especially his voice, although it definitely sounds like something tumblr and some sentient fan cams wrote together. As far as the ballad of Michael Guerin is concerned, it’s definitely time for our favorite bisexual alien cowboy to be on his own for a bit. When your love is cosmic, there’s no need to rush it.
Self-acceptance is a hard thing to write because it’s hard to show without looking schlocky, but this season Roswell managed to achieve that for three of its characters: Alex, Isobel, and Rosa. One key aspect is that it’s not a destination; Rosa isn’t fully healed, but for now, choosing to go back to rehab is a huge step. It’s a sign of choosing her own well-being. Another sign? Finally being able to step into the big sister role by telling her mother to get herself healthy and drawing some boundaries, without letting her mother drive her into emotional instability.
Isobel’s development was largely front-loaded but got a couple nice references here, including the great opening image of her teaming up with Liz to control the fire, one with her mind, the other with science. It says so much about how they’ve changed that Isobel wasn’t willing to leave Liz by herself, to her peril. The other nice touch was Max’s saying only knowing half of himself as being only half-living, drawing a parallel to Isobel’s coming out (which has naturally been part of a broader coming into her own), and telling her how proud he is of her.
The idea of only knowing half or part of oneself and needing to live one’s full life ran through the episode. The final reveal, of course, involves a kind of duality that we don’t yet fully understand. Charlie’s decision to stop running comes down to wanting to own her full life instead of trying on new ones all the time. Maria, meanwhile, cannot run from the alien part of her, and finally seems to have realized that there’s nothing wrong with her mother. Maria’s breakup with Guerin may have felt contrived and plot-driven from a timing standpoint and more so because she skipped over articulating the best reason for them to breakup: Michael doesn’t know how to sit back and watch her go on a journey that might hurt her, so she has to cut him loose and do it herself.
While we’re on breakups, Liz felt far too forgiving of Max’s murderous tendencies, his lying, his burning her lab. Does she still really not know he took her serum? It seemed like the empty bottle tipped her off. He seems rather addicted now and without a supplier. This episode had Liz giving an even better explanation of how her life came to revolve around Max and why she needed to keep up the science experiments in order to assert her own identity. Jeanine Mason is always wonderful, but her performance of that monologue was particularly moving and made it even harder to stomach Liz eagerly awaiting Max’s grand gesture.
There’s still so much we don’t know about what the final twist means – who made the portal? What has Jones been up to all this time? Is Max a clone but good, created to be everything the bad version wasn’t? But after a season that started with no Max, it’s fun to have two Maxes, in a manner of speaking. Thematically, the entire season has been building to this, with Max constantly discussing the darkness within him and some sense that he had done wrong or was drawn to do evil. Perhaps he is, or maybe they’re memories of the other person, predictions of the future, or some sort of Noah-like projection into his mind, guiding him toward a darker future. Whatever it is, putting Max’s face on Mr. Jones is one of the few options that guaranteed a million different possibilities, all promising.
- It’s been great to have the original Max, Jason Behr, on screen all season, and on voiceover once again for the finale.
- Kyle ruminating on death, his father, Socrates and saying goodbye to his girlfriend was truly lovely
- “I don’t doubt your capacity for love.” Let Michael Guerin be poly, y’all!
- Don’t think I forgot about Kyle Valenti, whose redemption arc shout-out from childhood victim/current BFF Alex. Kyle came through with a no-BS attitude toward vengeance and it was good to see the writers make the time to have Liz save his girlfriend.
- Diego and friends need to get a lot more interesting if they’re going to stick around next season
- “I’m vaguely uncomfortable with his description of my mom tasting ice cream for the first time” – Michael
- “Ugh dude, you look like me” –Guerin to Max, in case you don’t believe me that Max is addicted to alien steroids
- I love Iz for calling Max a Hufflepuff, as well as his delayed reaction
- Michael finally showing Max his matching tattoo really got me in the feels
- “It was as if we were built from the same star. Drawn together by something cosmic.” So Malex is a through-the-generations thing, huh?