Are the rose-tinted glasses finally off? I’m struggling with this season of Roswell, New Mexico. Despite last week’s improvement from the Season 4 premiere, Episode 3 “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” a nonsensical title if I’ve ever heard one, lacks the energy of a good episode. You can feel them treading water, waiting for a direction in the story to present itself. Yet Roswell continues to hit repetitive story beats and fumble basic character progression.
What makes a good Roswell episode? Last season’s “Angels in the Silences” is hands down the best episode of the show. The episode’s basic premise required our alien crew to figure out how to unlock the information from Dallas’ father in order to defeat Jones. To make that interesting, “Angels in the Silences” focused heavily on the friendship between Heath and Dallas (necessary to understand both characters in the present day) and built a connection between Michael and Dallas as a way to fold Dallas into the ensemble and establish him as the missing piece to Michael and Isobel’s triad. The episode worked so well because it led with its characters first and foremost—the plot just happened to follow along.
“Subterranean Homesick Alien” meanwhile has the same issue the premiere did. A lot of the emotional drama—Max disagreeing with Michael, Michael bonding with Bonnie—is oddly paced within the seasonal structure. It’s all feeling like paint-by-numbers; things are happening simply because something has to happen here, and it might as well be this, instead of being dictated by what the characters need.
I have no idea why Isobel is lying to Anatsa except that the show wants Kyle and Isobel together so they concoct this scenario in which Isobel has to mindscape her. This is Season 1 Isobel at her finest, someone who didn’t care about violating someone else’s mind as long as her secret stayed a secret. But we moved past this already. We’ve seen Isobel use her powers for good (giving Arturo his daughter back, saving Max) and we’ve seen her use them for not-great reasons but to retread this in Season 4 is regressive.
The entire double-date storyline in this episode was incredibly boring and contrived. I’m sure Anatsa is great at her job but this felt like a caricature of what a reporter does. Kyle’s date was useless. No one would risk their job like that for the sake of sounding interesting. All of these scenes only exist to create drama around the Kyle-Isobel-Anatsa situation, but it’s painfully obvious how they’re going about it like they don’t trust their audience to pick up on things on our own. Instead, they’re leading us by the hand when they don’t need to. Isobel was moments away from telling Anatsa the truth in the premiere episode. Why exactly are we dragging this out in such a regressive narrative choice?
The Star Trek-themed wine tasting is a great idea though.
Because Alex said he was going to be gone for six weeks finding weather balloons, no one has noticed he’s missing yet. I guess Michael and Alex don’t do regular check-ins. Instead, Michael bonds with Bonnie, first on accident, then as a ploy to go undercover with Bonnie and Clyde. I do like this, but again, I don’t understand why Michael wants to do this. At first, he plays it off as wanting to pay it forward; Bonnie is clearly on the fence about what she’s doing with Tezca and Clyde, seemingly lost on planet Earth. Michael can relate. But the episode had a much more interesting character dynamic in Max and Michael being at odds with each other for the first time in a while. That was a great set-up from the early days of Roswell, New Mexico, one that could have explored that sibling relationship more thoroughly now that Max and Michael are different people than they were in Season 1.
It also makes a lot of sense for these characters. Their initial tension comes from what to do about the two alien bank robbers. Max wants to puts them in prison, but Michael doesn’t want to lock them up. That’s definitely coming from what he saw at Caulfield in Season 1, and the trauma of watching his mother blow up. It doesn’t really go that far, though. The tension resolves itself pretty easily, and Michael establishes him in with the robbers. Hopefully, as this story progresses, it levels itself out.
There needs to be a balance between character growth and making your characters look stupid. Liz has grown a lot when it comes to finding her own balance between her research and the people she loves. I admire that about her. But this entire episode Liz is trying too hard to not involve herself. There are clearly things going on right now—the sky lit up purple two episodes ago and there are alien bank robbers with ties to that. But when Liz is presented with a chance for answers, she puts it off because she needs to have a night in with Max. I’m sorry, but what? No, you don’t Liz! Work-life balance is important, yes, but I know Liz knows when something needs immediate attention. This just feels like a way for the show to drag things out, instead of making logical story decisions based on character.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense because Liz is actively working on the St. Elmo’s fire until she randomly decides an answer she was waiting for can be put off because it just happened to come a little late at night. What??
The best part of the episode is Dallas. Quentin Plair is acting circles around everyone. His undercover work with Graham Green was fun, and I enjoy all of his scenes with Michael. They’re a great team-up! Dallas also is very malleable in these episodes, easily moving through various storylines with intention—he always feels necessary. He has wonderful chemistry with Maria, too, though I could do without another ‘Maria’s visions issues’ storyline. Let her have her powers!
Maybe it’s because I know it’s gonna be all over soon, but this season lacks so much energy at the moment. Despite interesting set-ups to expand its worldbuilding, Roswell isn’t character-focused enough to handle it yet.
Speaking of inconsistent character growth, Michael is wearing the handana in one scene. I thought it he gave that up unless I missed that he’s only wearing them in public but that hasn’t been totally clear.
Eduardo is taken by Tezca too. Maybe this means Alex won’t be gone that long? Another person going missing creates a bit more urgency than Alex’s six-week timeline.
We definitely think Ally, Shivani’s wife, is Shiri Appleby, correct?
Why does Max call Michael “Guerin”? It’s so weird.
I really want Jones’ body going missing to mean that he’s alive again. He was a great villain last season.
“I’m about to ask it to do my taxes.”
“I’m making a withdrawal!”