After two seasons that ended with tensions high and our characters on different wavelengths from each other, the finale for Roswell, New Mexico Season 3 is a breath of fresh air. Everyone is relatively happy (we see you, Kyle).
However, there’s a lingering tension our characters aren’t quite aware of. Before Jones died, the call he put out through the Lockheart Machine was answered. A mysterious new alien appears in Mexico, with only Liz Ortecho’s name as guidance, and a wild Shiri Appleby might be the connection between this new alien and Liz.
This is by and far the best season of Roswell, New Mexico. There were certainly still some bumps along the road, but the season’s dedication to highlighting the growth of each character raises the quality of this season above the others. The two-part finale only emphasizes that point when everyone has their moment to shine, and every part of it is earned.
We caught up with Michael Vlamis and executive producer and showrunner Chris Hollier about the twists and turns from this season, the lifespan on everyone’s “happiness,” and expanding the show’s worldbuilding to reach even further out to the stars.
Don’t forget to read our review of the Season 3 finale here.
The Young Folks: Season 3 did not shy away from leaving people on cliffhangers week to week. What goes into crafting the perfect cliffhanger, and how did you land on Season 3’s exciting reveal that not only brings Shiri Appleby into the story, but also expands the show’s worldbuilding even more?
Chris Hollier: We started talking about what’s the best magic trick that we could do? And we thought that given our two hour finale, people would be so focused on Jones and how they’re going to slip out of that. And then literally giving all of our characters a moment of happiness, that we might let them think we’re just going to end in this soft, quiet light. So the goal was just, “what can we do that is way out of the box that they won’t see coming?”
TYF: It was really amazing to see two queer couples connect and love each other, and experience joy with each other this season. Those couples being Michael and Alex, and then also Isabelle and Anatsa. I think it still seems like on network shows, it’s more common to see only one queer couple given adequate screen time. What made you want to explore both of these relationships and what can we expect for them in Season 4?
CH: We’re trying to erase the “one of just the thing” idea, right? I understand why that happens on some shows, given real estate and everything, but we wanted to expand that out. We wanted to say, this is what real life looks more like. It’s not just “a one.”
With the Alex and Michael of it all, once we got them together, starting in 3×08, we wanted to start to change how they were reacting with each other. We wanted to say “not everything like that is fraught”. Couples can be happy. That was the goal—to put us into a new storytelling mode. Actually, this applies to all of our couples whether they’re straight or queer, right? You might have the person you love, but what’s the new challenge? How do you continue to build a life? Not just, “I want to kiss you and profess my love to you.”
TYF: Going to Michael and Alex, how did you settle on the timing for that? Because they don’t interact a whole lot in the first half of the season. Then once 3×08 happens, they’re pretty much together until the end of the season. How do you balance the timing of that, especially considering the individual journeys they need to go on first?
CH: I think some of it is to mimic life up on the screen, right? Sometimes it is a thing that happens in increments. And then sometimes you wake up and you say, “This is enough. I’m just going to go and do the thing, and I want to be with this person, and I’m going to commit to that.”
TYF: One of my favorite additions to the season was adding Quentin Plair and Steven Krueger. Can you talk about crafting this friendship in the back half of the season, and also what it means to introduce a new alien that has deep connections to Michael and Isabel?
CH: I was really excited about both of those additions. They did a great job, and they’re lovely people. What we liked about having someone new is it gave us a chance for that person to see the audience, and let things be new and exciting and scary and question everything in a way that sometimes we don’t get to do with our three hero aliens because we’ve been watching them deal with things for three years.
Then we wanted to start to bring in some of these ideas that Max had thought about before, right? What does religion mean if there’re aliens, and just sort of loosely start to touch on some of those ideas. Also, we’ve only shown you a story unfolding from these three people, these three families. There’s more families. We wanted to open up our world so that we just had more opportunities to slide the story left or right.
TYF: I feel like this is the first time we’ve seen a Roswell, New Mexico finale with so much happiness surrounding the characters. It’s really quite lovely to see. What made you decide to give everyone a break at the end of the season, and then what’s exciting about potentially disrupting that calm going into Season 4?
CH: Just looking outside our windows about what was going on in the world, we were like, “people need some happiness.” And to your point, we always look at how we’ve ended before. We decided as a room that the thing that’s different, the thing that’s unexpected, is happiness. So, those two things—being different, and letting hope win out and giving people something nice for a change when there’s some other complicated things going on. It all drove us to “let’s give it this ending.”
TYF: What’s the one thing that you’re looking forward to people seeing the most in Season 4?
CH: I think that in a way, not leaving our main groups with a cliffhanger. [The audience] can wonder what happiness looks like for them. Where will we find them next season? Or it’s like, we knew at the end of Season 2 that Liz and Max parted ways, so we’re going to probably find them alone [in Season 3], because if we found them together, we just skipped a whole bunch of story. So, I want them to wonder what happiness looks like for [the characters]. Can they be happy? And then I want them to wonder about, well, they showed us this brand new alien. Does that mean that Jones called somebody? If Jones is calling them, who and how many did he call? What is the intent of those things? And then ultimately too, we dropped Shiri Appleby there. So what exactly is that relationship?
It’s been a long time coming, but the final shot of Michael and Alex this season sees the two of them walking hand in hand down the streets of Roswell, finally able to fully love each other. This is the result of two characters going on separate but important journeys of self-improvement and growth, eventually finding themselves in a spot where they can acknowledge the hurt of their past, and be there for each other when those insecurities come up again.
Michael Vlamis is aware of how important it is that Guerin and Alex have made it to this point. In fact, he’s just as excited about “domesticated Malex” as we are. For two seasons, every scene between Guerin and Alex operated at an 11, every word spoken a love declaration hidden beneath layers of hurt and accusations. Vlamis is happy there’s joy there now. To be honest, this interview ends abruptly because I lost track of time listening to his very thoughtful answers.
Equally important are the many layers to Guerin as a character, and how they fold together to give us the Michael Guerin of Season 3. Below we talk about this journey, how far Malex has come, and what might be ahead from them in Season 4.
TYF: Michael’s journey this season is probably my favorite one of this season and also the past two seasons.
Michael Vlamis: Oh, thank you.
TYF: There’s a lot of growth that happens. He’s more open, more expressive with his emotions and with being vulnerable. One of my favorite parts was the scene between him and Rosa, when he takes accountability for covering up her murder.
MV: I love that scene.
TYF: What are you most proud of that you were able to explore with Michael this season?
MV: Oh man, that’s a tough question because I really do feel there’s so many things the writers have gifted my character and me so maybe scenes where I’ve gotten to dig deep and think about my self-worth as a human being. And even though, as a person now, I think I’ve grown to a point to really appreciate and love any adversity I’ve faced as a kid or anything I went through.
Michael Guerin is just figuring all that out. So that has been a lot of his journey and every time he’s good, there’s more setbacks. He finds out something else that makes him feel horrible about who he is. And I think, when I can do one of those scenes and I can dig into what it’s like to maybe not live up to expectations in a certain way or your own expectations, or just being hard on yourself or maybe getting made fun of as a kid, or feeling insecure about being so overweight and all these things that are true to form for Michael Vlamis. If I can showcase my real life through this character, that is what I’m most proud of.
Anytime I have an opportunity to dig deep, which I honestly always bring my real life to every character I ever play, but when I get to dig deep into stuff that I don’t even know that I’m feeling, then that is the most special for me.
TYF: That’s lovely. One of my favorite moments in 3×13 is between Michael and Alex, where he’s worried about self-loathing coming up again.
MV: Wait, wait, okay. Are you talking about the scene where I read Dallas’s file or which, which specifically are you talking about?
TYF: It’s in the finale.
MV: Oh, in the finale.
TYF: Yeah. Yeah. And they’re about to go up against Jones and he’s worried that if he kills Jones, then he might take on more self-loathing, which will ruin his relationship with Alex.
MV: Right, right. But Alex supports me no matter what. I do the same thing with his father. It’s a very parallel story. Even though [Greg] ended up pulling the trigger, we have very similar stories, which I think is so cool and so well done by the writers.
That’s Michael Guerin in a nutshell—he’s afraid, he’s scared of not being wanted, not being loved, not being accepted. And he always thinks of excuses for why he shouldn’t be there, or he shouldn’t be around, or someone shouldn’t want him. This self-loathing thing, it started from the first scene you saw Malex together in Season 3, right. In episode three, I think it was. Aprill Winney directed that beautiful scene at the drive-in.
And you know, I’m telling [Alex] I’m dying. I’m done, that’s it. And we played that scene a very specific way because Guerin’s the type of guy that, he might be scared to death, but he’s not going to try to show it. I try to be really vulnerable with [Guerin] who is just this guy that’s like, if he finds out he’s dying, he’s going to make a joke of it.
So, it started with self-loathing, it’s going to end with self-loathing, but it’s getting to a point where it might not be as much, and that has been a beautiful journey for Michael Guerin.
TYF: Michael and Alex have really put us through the ringer the past two seasons. The angst is all well and good, but it’s also important to show the joy of that relationship. Now that we’re at the point where they can experience joy with each other, what does it mean to you to be able to showcase this new development in their relationship?
MV: Oh my God. Well, I mean, that’s like a two-sided question, right? So as a performer, Tyler Blackburn and myself, we’ve been put through the ringer with this relationship and we’ve gotten to show like every side of the spectrum. Now we’re turning into domesticated Malex now, which is so cool. That, as a performer, has been a joy. Now, as just a person, as myself, I still get messages from people talking about how our performance not only … I get messages about people who grew up in foster care and what they went through, and talking about how they’ve related to [Guerin’s] story.
But the most messages I get are definitely from people that are LGBTQIA+ and have had hard times in their lives, hard times with their family, hard times coming out, maybe had to come out, and our show has given them an opportunity to even consider coming out or being honest with the people that they love. That’s like the ultimate. Tyler Blackburn and I, we designed some clothes together this past summer and we donated a bunch of our proceeds to the Trevor Project.
So that’s most important. That’s actually making a difference. It’s one thing about entertaining people, which I love to do. I say the dumbest stuff all the time and always being an idiot and I love having fun, but I have a very, very curious side to me and a very deep, passionate side. At the end of the day, I want to make a difference. I want to do good in the world. I want to leave a mark in a positive light. Those are definitely the ways that, what this relationship means and getting them to see these two characters actually being together, sitting on a couch together, having a drink, being comfortable, like that is something special.
MV: And then, well yeah, you’ve seen the ending. So to publicly be out, to publicly hold hands, to publicly take off that bandana and shed years of trauma. Not that it happens in one sitting, right. He’s had a long time to process this—it’s been gearing up to the point where he can beat that bandana.
TYF: Things are pretty happy for everyone at the end of Season 3. Should we be worried, going into Season 4, about the potential disruptions that could happen?
MV: [laughs] I think in good television, you should always be worried.
TYF: Okay. That’s a diplomatic answer.
MV: You can’t be too comfortable. When things get good, they got to get bad. That’s an arc right there.
TYF: Yeah, you’re right. You’re right. As long as Malex is okay, I think I’m good.
MV: We’re on a roller coaster. You’ll see how Malex is doing. [laughs]
TYF: All right. Well, I don’t know how to feel about the end to this interview.
MV: [laughs] Neither do I. I’m like a politician when it comes to Malex.