So here we are, the beginning of the end for Roswell, New Mexico. I wish I could say it was a good start, but alas “Steal My Sunshine” hits odd emotional beats and saves its only interesting visuals for the episode’s final sequence (but what a sequence it is!).
The title for Season 4’s premiere is apt, though. Last season left most of our characters on a happy note (we still see you, Kyle)—Alex and Michael finally are together, Liz and Max found their way back to each other, Maria’s dating Greg and has a plan to cure herself, Isobel and Anatsa are going strong, and the alien trio has now become a quad with the arrival of Dallas. It makes sense the happiness wouldn’t last but the relationship dynamics in this premiere belong more in the middle of a season than the start of one.
It’s not clear how much time has passed, but it’s been long enough apparently that Max is ready to propose to Liz, and Michael is moving in with Alex. Anatsa tells Isobel she loves her, sending Isobel into an emotional tailspin as she weighs telling Anatsa her alien secret. I know this is an alien soap opera, but this episode is crowded with relationship drama right off the bat, barely leaving any room to breathe. There are even some hints at a Maria/Dallas pairing, and honestly, this was the cutest part of this whole episode.
It’s clear corners were cut to get us to where we’re introduced to the characters during the season premiere. Season 3 was the best season of Roswell, New Mexico and that’s because the character drama drove the alien seasonal plot, which made the character growth we saw feel earned by the season’s end.
To jump immediately into a different place emotionally for these characters without seeing any of the changes leave the audience adrift, trying to catch up without any guidance from the show. It’s an emotional whiplash. A proper beginning to a season had to ground us first; instead, Season 4 threw us into the deep end without any warning. Michael’s insecurities about moving in with Alex aren’t surprising but it still feels like a major step back from where we left them last season.
On a slightly more exciting note, Jenna Cameron is back. She’s FBI now and calls Max in for a case involving bank robbers who she believes to be aliens. It doesn’t take long for that to be confirmed as the robbers, Bonnie and Clyde (Zoe Cipres and Andrew Lees), easily make their escape with Cameron and Max on the scene. Max’s powers are too weak to stop Clyde, but this quick chase scene gives some life to the episode. It’s good to see Riley Voelkel as Cameron again, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she has to offer this season.
The staging and framing of scenes leave a lot to be desired. This isn’t a new criticism of Roswell, New Mexico, but it’s really noticeable in this episode. Every one-on-one scene between two characters is staged in the exact same, static way—mid-body, profile side, with no movement from the actors to give the scene mobility.
You know when you’re reading a book and your only reaction to the dialogue is that no one actually talks like this? That’s how these scenes feel—no one just stands face-to-face with another person without moving while in conversation. There’s always some sort of movement, and without that flexibility, everyone just ends up feeling remote, isolated and disconnected from the drama taking place. I know how good these actors are, but there’s got to be some variety in how scenes flow together and within the scene itself.
Maria is on the mend from her vision headaches, which Kyle and Liz solved by taking some samples from Jones’ body and doing scientific things to cure Maria. With Maria’s final injection, Liz is done with alien science, a huge step from her obsession over the past two seasons. She’s moved on to teaching a GED class. Kyle seems stuck in place though, his unrequited feelings for Isobel keeping him at work at Deep Sky. Alex, Eduardo, and Kyle work well together, though I’m hoping we get more from Deep Sky this season, and Alex in particular, who despite being our in at Deep Sky last season, got dropped from that storyline in the finale.
Season 4 introduces three new aliens to the lineup. One we met in the final moments of Season 3 who appeared in Mexico after Jones got his call out to the stars. In this episode, we learn her name is Tezca. There are also our bank robbers, Bonnie and Clyde. Tezca is leading that endeavor but for a larger purpose—after its first reference in Season 1, the Alighting is finally happening. We still have no idea what it means but the sky did light up purple to the tune of “Black Hole Sun,” so that’s something I guess.
Despite the lackluster start, “Steal My Sunshine” still has exciting moments, and it’s great to see everyone again. Hopefully, things start to look up in quality because I don’t think I can handle a poor final season of Roswell, New Mexico.
Absent from this episode is Rosa. That’s not totally surprising since Eduardo doctored up some ID for her so she could get out of Roswell and explore a little. Plus, there’s art school. Hopefully, she returns soon!
Really loved seeing Dallas and Michael’s friendship still going strong. Dallas has been experimenting with his powers and might also have a bit of psychic ability of his own. I did wonder where Heath was though. Dallas and Heath had a great connection last season, so I hope Steven Kruger comes back as well.
The aliens call their birthday “Hatch Day.”
I really do love Isobel and Anatsa. I’m rooting for them honestly, though I suspect the show will go the Kyle/Isobel route. Isobel agonized a lot in this episode about telling Anatsa her secret so that will probably be the center of their falling out.