Monday, June 27, 2022

REVIEW: 'Roswell, New Mexico' - A Devastating Loss Distracts Liz and Propels Maria Onto a New Mission in 'Dear Mama'

The CW's Roswell, New Mexico - Episode 4.04 "Dear Mama"

Liz's work to find out more about a found skin sample hits a roadblock. Michael continues to gain Bonnie's trust, but Clyde may not be as easily persuaded. Isobel finally finds the courage to be honest with Anatsa. Maria suffers a devastating loss.

"Dear Mama" was written by Ashley Charbonnet & Onalee Hunter Hughes and directed by Ben Hernandez Bray

It's damaging for Maria to hide the loss of her visions from Liz and for Isobel to conceal her alien nature from Anatsa. Those concerns have been stated multiple times this season already. However, neither situation changes by the conclusion of this episode. Maria is distracted by the sudden death of her mother while Anatsa speaks up about love not having to be this complicated. It's the show embracing tropes in the hopes of producing meaningful drama. It's still the narrative going around in circles without offering much clarity. These actions can have purpose. The show is simply meandering along as it gets to that point. It's fascinating to see Maria look into the past for information instead of relying on her visions for all the answers. So much is accessible to her. Her visions also forged a strong connection and understanding of her grandmother's ordeal. That was special. Liz and Kyle were determined to cure her from dying. They succeeded. They have simply been denied a reaction to learning the true cost of their actions. Instead, they seek agency elsewhere. Mimi's death hits Liz hard too. She was always like a mother to her. Of course, the show has to use flashbacks to make that point understood. Throughout the series, Mimi has largely been unable to engage on a lucid level with the other characters. She's been a burden for Maria. It's still devastating when she dies. She tries to deliver a message. It just happens to be the last thing she ever does. Maria needs to know what was so important. The lack of visions allows the show to delay answers and fulfillment. It's no longer easy to introduce the truth and move on to solving the next problem. It builds up the severity of it all only to lack the follow through later on. It's very jarring. The same is true of Isobel and Anatsa's connection. They may have always been doomed because of the continued focus on Kyle's feelings for Isobel. They are constantly paired together as well. His feelings are always noticed. Meanwhile, she's the one spiraling because she's in love and can't handle how her heart is breaking. She wants to tell Anatsa the truth. She simply waited too long to do so. She also pushed her away because that made her feel better. It's not what she wanted. It's the ultimate outcome though. And so, everyone is left distraught. That's not a new storytelling impulse. In fact, it's all still driven around some new scientific discovery Liz must make to confront the latest threat. She has to realize an alien is capable of regeneration before that plays out in appropriate horror through shapeshifting in the climatic moment. Everyone is on a level playing field in that regard. It's still complicated to the point where parts of the narrative are left stilted for no genuine reason.

All of this is done with the intention of bringing Jones back to life. That appears to be the alien triad's goal. That's their grand plan. Of course, that action robs them of their own agency as the villains for this season. Instead, they are moving to bring back a figure who dominated the narrative previously. That can be fun. However, the show has already exhausted its narrative intrigue with Jones. And so, bringing him up again produces a questionable feeling. It's as if the creative team isn't confident with what it could be doing. Michael receives a glimpse of his home world for the first time. He can't even be overjoyed by that revelation because it's all done with deceit. It's all meant to reveal how these aliens are looking to gain something from him. Clyde operates with that steadfast purpose and devotion to the mission. Bonnie simply got caught in something she doesn't want and doesn't know how to leave. Meanwhile, others are robbed of their agency by Tezca who takes over their minds and bodies. It's more than that though. They become figures in her arsenal of undercover identities. As such, no one can trust that they are talking with the right person. It could always be her in disguise. The alien tattoo is a constant in every form she takes. The blue eyes are called out constantly. These patterns have become known. Max is the only person currently in danger. He's facing off with Tezca over Jones' body. He gained control over his powers once more thanks to Liz grounding him. He needs that focus and strength in order to prevail. In the desert though, he doesn't have her. She's reaching out to share the discovery she's made. Meanwhile, Kyle's in Mexico also stumbling upon Tezca's body. All of this is much more complicated than anyone truly knows. That's always been the nature of life with aliens. They strive for answers. They yearn to understand the nature of their abilities and their place in this world. They never feel confident and secure. That's true even when they have found personal happiness. They want to nurture it. They need it to grow. They have found their place in this world. And then, threats constantly pop up to threaten everything they hold dear. It's a familiar pattern. One that's been incorporated on plenty of shows. As such, this drama isn't doing anything out of the ordinary. The pacing remains troublesome. All of this will eventually feel purposeful. At the moment, each discovery plays as a piece of the puzzle meant to become something greater than it currently is. That patience can be rewarded eventually - as is often typical with this show. Some emotional beats still work wonderfully. It's just not the most graceful way to build the story week-to-week.