Personal responsibility is the theme of the day in this week’s episode of Roswell, New Mexico season three. Finally. There’s been a lot of blame thrown around town for various things—burning down a lab, keeping more alien secrets, unethically using someone’s DNA for experiments without their permission, etc. “Black Hole Sun,” the third episode of the new season, allows our characters to finally express not just that they’re still mad, but also why. Taking this step toward clearer communication lets them air out their grievances with each other; at the same time, this gives some of them, notably Liz, Michael, and Max, a chance to look inward at themselves.
Last week’s big reveal about Michael’s lineage permeates the whole episode. He’s mad, but he’s mostly exuding an unhealthy amount of self-loathing. His downward spiral after learning he’s The Dictator’s heir (note: “heir” might not mean the same thing as “son”) has him firmly believing he’s the one in the coffin in Maria’s vision. As Alex tells him, the perfect information came along for him to justify his low self-worth.
The Michael and Alex reunion at the drive-in was a long time coming. Alex said things that Michael needed to hear. I’m glad he called Michael out on them. These two have a long history of hurting each other and they’re never on the same page. This scene, while still basically boiling down to another love declaration with no follow up, feels like a new start. The parallel between Michael believing he’s no different from his father and Alex struggling with the same thoughts last season is a great moment of clarity for Michael, who’s spent the last two seasons pushing Alex away because of how much he’s associated with the hurts his family caused Michael’s family. It isn’t fair to Alex, but understandable on Michael’s part.
This scene comes right after a very important conversation between Greg and Alex, the first true bonding moment we’ve seen between two Manes brothers. Greg is mostly okay with the fact that he killed his father, until he remembers it was still his father. Alex, in his attempts to never become Jesse Manes, ended up following in his footsteps anyway, as pointed out by Greg. Jesse Manes might be dead, but the mark he left on his sons is still there.
The episode’s other reunion between Max and Liz covers similar areas as Malex’s one scene. Max and Liz dance around each other in both of their major scenes together. However, this is Liz’s episode, and she faces some hard truths from multiple people. Kyle and Liz’s fight is a long time coming—as the two resident scientists of the group, they both understand the ethics of medical and scientific work, which makes Liz stepping over that line so incredulous to Kyle. No matter how much good Liz thinks she can do with her research, Kyle rightly points out that having good intentions isn’t always enough—at some point, you’ll start balancing the scales to justify what you’ve done.
While Kyle’s scene with Liz was really satisfying, the conversation between Liz and Rosa carries more nuance and compassion. It’s easy to play the blame game, but one tends to not notice the role they’ve played in a situation. For Liz, the good that could come from her research blinded her to the wishes of someone she loves. The success of Steph’s treatment only proved to her that she was on the right path. In a way, Liz is right. In a completely different way, she’s also wrong. I love how Rosa has this conversation with Liz—she has her own history with Max that isn’t great, and for multiple episodes in season two, did not like him very much. But sitting on top of the Crashdown roof, underneath the billboard, Rosa uses her empathy and compassion to show Liz that from their mutual perspectives, Max believes he is right and Liz is wrong, and Liz believes she is right and he is wrong. Rosa explains what she’s learned in NA about personal responsibility, that no matter how angry you are at someone, it doesn’t erase the things you have done. Max is one hundred percent responsible for what he did. Liz is one hundred percent responsible for what she did. The sooner they recognize that, the sooner they can move toward forgiving each other.
One of the great things about this episode is how much talking happens. Secrets are revealed in conversation a lot earlier than expected. Michael tells Isobel and Max about The Dictator, Isobel and Michael tell Max about Jones, Max tells Kyle about Jones, Maria tells Liz about Max, and Jones tells Isobel that she’s an empath. Michael also finds some alien stones that he carries around, which Jones explains are amplifiers. We see Isobel use one to better understand the emotions of Maria and Michael, though it’s not clear on how they work exactly. They didn’t seem to amplify any of Michael’s powers.
I’m not a huge fan of playing the “who’s in the coffin” game, but we should talk about it. Michael believes it’s him, which actually is one of the saddest bits of this episode. He’s totally resigned to this fate, even before Maria gives him more evidence it could be him. This is likely a red herring. In the same conversation, Michael fails to realize the same evidence points to Sanders.
Everyone else thinks it could be Michael, as well, especially with the rising racial tensions in Roswell. Michael’s had very public beef with Wyatt before, and in “Black Hole Sun,” he openly confronts Jordan, the mayor’s son, in the middle of an attack on Bert (La’Charles Trask) at the drive-in. Two things on this—1) this is the second time Michael has used his powers out in the open, and this time there were definitely witnesses and 2) Michael being a white savior I’m not excited about. The scene plays mostly as just another way that Michael’s downward spiral is manifesting. While Michael calls Jordan’s group out (though I don’t think he explicitly calls them racist), the scene is still more about Michael than it is about Bert. Bert appeared briefly last season as part of Maria’s Warrior Woman class, and again at Forrest’s open mic night, but bringing him in for an extended role just to put him in scenes of racist attacks (two this episode) is just another reason this storyline makes me nervous. It also appears to tie into the “who is in the coffin” plot line, as Maria’s vision references something Bert said this episode, that if the Sheriff’s department did something sooner, they could have avoided this. We’ll just continue to keep an eye on this plot, and hold our breath for a decent outcome.
In 2000, a film starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel called Frequency premiered. The film follows a son who discovers a cross-time radio link that connects him to his father from 30 years in the past, giving father and son a chance to save the father’s life. In 2016, it came back as a TV show. In 2021, Roswell, New Mexico takes a spin on the concept with Kyle and his father, Jim. Or so it appears. The Lockheart Machine turns on at the same time Ramos said it would, but this time, Alex is there with an alien stone given to him by Michael, which amplifies the frequency on The Lockheart Machine enough to connect with the radio in Kyle’s office, which his mother gave him last week. Kyle hears his father’s voice, along with some old music that could be a connection into the past. If so, we might be talking about alternate timelines in the near future.
“Black Hole Sun” continues season three’s strong start. There’s still some questionable story choices, but so far, the sci-fi and character dramas are matching up nicely.
Cosmic Afterthoughts and Notable One-Liners
Wyatt still has amnesia, and only barely stepped in to talk Jordan down in the first scene involving Jordan and Bert. Sigh.
Max finally gets to talk to Jones. It goes so badly that Jones ends up walking free. Figured this would happen sooner or later. Let’s see what kind of mischief Jones will cause next week.
Maria and Isobel’s main lead on the coffin investigation goes up in flames, literally.
There’s quite a few background references to nearby forest fires. Michael is for sure going to run into one at some point this season. In fact, he pretty much admitted he was going to do just that.
“You two were never headed in the same direction.”
“Has everyone forgotten I have a day job?”
“If you miss him, we can go egg his statue in the town square.”
“You decide who you are. If you give up, it is on you.”
“If it were you, I would not cover it up. I would burn the entire world down first.”
Roswell, New Mexico season three airs new episodes every Monday, at 7 p.m. CST on The CW.