Monday, July 26, 2021

REVIEW: 'Roswell, New Mexico' - A Jump Ahead One Year Shows How Little Things Have Changed for Liz and Her Allies in 'Hands'

The CW's Roswell, New Mexico - Episode 3.01 "Hands"

While Liz is settling in to her new life and career in Los Angeles, Max, Isobel and Michael are figuring out if the stranger in the cave, with the familiar face, is friend or foe.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of The CW's Roswell, New Mexico.

"Hands" was written by Carina Adly Mackenzie and directed by Lance Anderson

This premiere wants the luxury of picking the main characters up and dropping them off in new lives a year after the events of the second season. It's a familiar device used to indicate a dramatic amount of change following traumatic events. The events of the former finale certainly qualify as such. And yet, the previous season also ended on a major cliffhanger. Max, Isobel and Michael found another alien who looked exactly like Max. That discovery is essentially put on hold so that all the major answers that come from this newcomer actually happen onscreen. That's lackluster and disappointing. That is even more apparent once the actual story of this premiere follows the same storytelling patterns that dictated the previous two seasons. Now, it's comforting to know that a show has a distinct voice and way of conducting its business. Shows still need to challenge themselves and grow over time. It can't be the same story told over and over again. And yet, those patterns are all over this series. It's clear for the audience to pick up on before the story makes it part of the actual text. A foreboding energy looms over this premiere. That comes first from Max writing letters for his loved ones to read after he dies. That sets the expectation that it might happen soon. Now, the premise of Max dying isn't new whatsoever. The second season was devoted almost entirely to Liz and her allies refusing to accept that. They don't know everything about alien physiology. However, they put enough pieces together to bring him back to life. And then, he continued to make choices he thought were in the best interests of his loved ones even though he purposefully kept them in the dark about the burden he constantly felt. He wanted to decide how much others could handle. He never trusted them to be a part of the process. That behavior hasn't changed after a year. Max professes a desire to be nothing more than a simple man from Roswell. That has never been true. Moreover, the alien mythology seems to profess some savior complex onto him that makes him special in comparison to his siblings. That has yet to be explored fully as well. All of this greatness has been flung onto Max. The same was true in the scope of the narrative in having him as this grand love interest for Liz. They are always pining for each other. And yet, his behavior was always objectionable. That was true long before he burned down her lab with all her precious notes on her alien discoveries. She is still capable of greatness elsewhere as a scientist and researcher. She doesn't have to be bogged down by Max. After a year, she is still waiting for him to arrive in Los Angeles to be with her. She only decides to move on when it seems likely the story will send her back to Roswell soon. Of course, things with Heath are immediately much more easy. The audience can handle it because Heath actually wants to present as a trustworthy person. No one should have any reason to question his intentions. Liz's guards are always up. That's the trauma she has endured from a life in Roswell. She is happy in many ways. She has saved lives. She doesn't always get the credit she deserves. That can make her reckless on occasion. She doesn't always think through the consequences of her actions. That too may contribute to her Roswell return. That doesn't happen here. It's not for a lack of drama in that location. Rosa is attacked by Wyatt Long. That forces her to drug him just like her mother did to Charlie. That's not great and may only ensure that patterns continue to repeat themselves. That's in addition to Alex choosing to stay in town to uncover the mysteries from a new government agency while Maria is constantly told that her visions may ultimately kill her. This premiere wants to pronounce Max as dead. That doesn't occur though. As such, it feels like the same fundamental story that has already happened. Max isn't actually given an opportunity to live. He has no true identity at his core. That makes him a frustrating and flawed character. At this point, it may be easier to cut bait and actually kill him off. It wouldn't mean the departure of the actor. He will still be necessary as Jones. That may be a better utilization of his skills as he could openly embrace being the antagonist. But again, none of this has any clarity. Isobel and Michael believe they can once again save their brother. They hope that's true because they have a new alien they can seek answers from. That's a risk they are willing to take. But again, Maria's visions only ensure that patterns are repeating as the aliens once again are forced to cover up a murder. That mystery has been solved. Max regrets what was done. Rosa is the one still living with it. And now, that burden will be spread. Hopefully, the consequences and trauma are adequately explored. At the moment, the show is desperately trying to embrace new lives for the characters while still being attracted to the ways their stories always repeat themselves. That's not all that entertaining though.