Monday, August 22, 2022

REVIEW: 'Roswell, New Mexico' - Liz's Friends Offer Her the Tough Love She Needs About the Alien Mist in 'Follow You Down'

The CW's Roswell, New Mexico - Episode 4.11 "Follow You Down"

As Liz begins to see the error of her ways, she is quickly faced with a new threat which forces her to make a difficult decision. Max finds himself in an intense standoff. Michael begins to lose hope of ever reuniting with Alex.

"Follow You Down" was written by Steve Stringer & Danny Tolli and directed by Heather Hemmens

Alex has been missing for the majority of the season. Michael finally finds him. And then, it's revealed Alex is dying. The pocket dimension is toxic to humans. Alex felt those effects right away. Michael, Dallas and Bonnie felt completely normal. They were oblivious to the danger. They all moved towards the same goal. They want this couple reunited. That finally happens here. Alex gets to explain how he was able to reach out to Maria. She unlocked something in this dimension that has never been present before. Theo built this world to hide his secrets. Dallas was the only person who could unlock all these mysteries. That path was laid out for him. However, he fears just how dangerous it can be. Pursuing what his father demands of him seemingly puts the people he cares about in danger. He can't reckon with that even though many of them have powers to defend themselves. They are still vulnerable to traps and exploitation. Everyone in this world is powerful in their own unique way. Jones told Clyde that Liz was necessary in order to counteract the traps Theo set for any of his followers. Liz's brilliant mind had to be nurtured and forced to comply to these demands. She's tempted by the alien mist. Her loved ones see her as an addict who has lost control. Rosa is willing to give up her life in order to stay in Roswell to support her sister through this arduous time. Not everyone has that benefit of family. Shivani has all the resources in the world. So much is possible for her. And yet, she can't obtain the one thing she wants more than anything else. She can't save her daughter. She doesn't know where her wife is either. She will risk everything by taking the mist in the hopes it will bring her closer to answers. That even includes working with Clyde. That possibility is simply too tantalizing. She's on the cusp of getting what she wants. She's not reaching out with empathy and calling out the toxic behavior in others. She's indulging it. She encourages people to threaten everything in the name of scientific discoveries. All of this has to have a profound personal cost. The show has always prioritized its romantic couples. So much of that tension has come from two people being at odds. It's been a struggle to present stable couples who have disagreements without that threatening to tear them apart. That extreme sense of doom is never the best way to build up ongoing success or even convince the audience that it's possible. Instead, it's drama for the sake of creating conflict within the storytelling. That means Alex escapes one uncertain fate only to jump into a more lethal situation. Michael thinks about the future he and Alex can build as a married couple. And then, he's asked to mourn the love of his life. It's all whiplash despite the phenomenal science that is so easily accessible to all these characters.

Alex's condition is fatal because those in the pocket dimension have no way of returning home. They were hopeful briefly because a forest has been growing the fruit to power the alien technology. They need that portal active in order to escape this dull, lifeless landscape. Alex provides confirmation that the possibility exists. He has mapped out this world. And yet, Dallas and Bonnie return with nothing. The forest has been destroyed and a storm looms on the horizon. Things aren't happening as expected. That shows how little control these characters have over their fates. Sometimes it's easier just to embrace the safety of friendship instead of acting on more. That hasn't been nourishing for Kyle and Isobel. They receive encouragement from their friends not to close the door on the possibility of love. It's obvious for everyone to see. They simply have to act on it. That's good advice. It doesn't exactly pan out. The same is true of Alex's wish to get married right away. His fate is inescapable. It's better to accept that. Marriage is a possibility because Dallas has the power to bond Alex and Michael. It's still all about setting expectations and delivering on them. One version of events is promised only for things to twist around into something else entirely. Liz never should have been expected to help Clyde. The storytelling tries to convince the audience it's possible because she is desperate for the next hit of the alien mist. She receives that boost. She creates the alien formula he seemingly wants. And then, she quickly acts to disarm him of his powers. He's not gone as a threat. Again, he teams up with Shivani. That should keep him as a very daunting threat against the pod squad. All of this damages Liz's character in a way that doesn't quite feel genuine. Part of that is meant to be blamed on her altered brain chemistry. Not all of that works. It's reassuring when her friends save her life and the other people they care about. However, the damage remains. Liz reaches out to break Clyde of his devotion to Jones. He refuses to see the error of his ways. He found a way to be happy and part of something larger than himself. His leader required immense sacrifice from him. He's simply fulfilling that promise. It has come at the expense of so much. With Tezca, it was easy to change her mind because Jones altered her reality. Clyde is a true believer. It's proven to be very costly not just for him but for Oasis. That same fate could befall Earth as well. That's the potential power these aliens can wield if they harness it. That's not the fate any of them want - which potentially makes Max smart for removing his powers. Of course, that was done for selfish reasons. Everyone seeks out the freedom to set their own destinies. They've fought against these identities for so long that it has grown tiring. That narrative provides consistency. It also reads as the same conflict happening over and over again with slightly different circumstances each time. And so, it's hard to believe in the promise of things changing so these characters can possibly feel happy and content with their lives. The twisting of the knife for dramatic effect is simply too tantalizing.