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Performer of the Month - Readers' Choice Most Outstanding Performer of June - Tyler Blackburn

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This article was written by Alison D, Ellys Cartin, and Jamie Coudeville. The article was edited by Donna Cromeans (DJRiter). The open and close of the article were written by Ellys Cartin. Prepared for publishing by Aimee Hicks.

Roswell, New Mexico may fly just under the radar, but the show has quickly accumulated fans who are drawn to the courageous characters. The development of Tyler Blackburn's Alex Manes has particularly gripped our readers, who have rooted for Alex to overcome his family's traumatic legacy and navigate the risks of letting himself be vulnerable around the people he loves. Season 2 was a journey full of heartbreak and discoveries, especially for Alex. He reunited with one of his brothers, took a risk on a new romance, and discovered unexpected betrayals and love in his family tree. This journey led to a desperate last-minute attempt to protect the people he loves most from his father, a journey that concluded with a gunshot that punctuated the most painful storyline of Alex's life. In the season finale, Blackburn delivered a quiet, eloquent performance, providing a fitting coda for his character's search for resolution, a search that was a flight to freedom. For his performance, he was selected SpoilerTV's Readers’ Choice Performer of the Month for June.

Continue reading below to find out our thoughts regarding his performance. After reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Season 2 of Roswell, New Mexico concludes with Tyler Blackburn performing in character as Alex Manes. How did Would You Come Home reflect Alex's journey thus far and echo Can't You Love Me, the Tyler Blackburn and Novi song that played in the penultimate episode of Season 1?

Alison: Would You Come Home really reflects the turning point in Alex's journey. It's him breaking free of his father's "Manes Man" mantra, unmasking the trauma in his life, and publicly declaring that he's in love with Michael (Micheal Vlamis). The performance in the Wild Pony is his loud and proud moment, a public coming out in a town that never felt like home. The exception being when he was 17 and he and Michael kissed. Not that coming out requires grand public gestures. It doesn't. Alex and Michael are in a different place than they were at Caulfield. From the moment right before the prison exploded until Michael walked out during Alex's song, I'm reminded that these two are idiots but look how they've grown. They've grown together, but more importantly, they've done so while apart. Would You Come Home and Can't You Love Me are competing echoes, the former now drowning out the latter. The show, hopefully, is at a point where the pain of the past has been drowned out by hope for the future, at least, where Michael and Alex's journey is concerned. Would You Come Home is their way forward, loving in the present tense. Can't You Love Me was them mired in the past, the shed, familial legacy, walking away, and looking away. With Would You Come Home and Michael's definitive "I think so," it seems these two star-crossed lovers may finally be cosmically aligned.

Ellys: The scene with Alex singing forms a beautiful duology with that earlier scene where Alex tries to save Michael by telling the latter that Alex sees him as his family. The moment he states that truth is as emotionally cataclysmic as anything can get, with Michael being forced to leave behind the family he has searched for his entire life. It seems their love story can't survive under the weight of the reality that Alex's father and earlier Manes generations brutally imprisoned and slowly killed Michael's mother. Worse still, even knowing this, Alex can't break free from his father's abuse. In Season 2, Alex discovers the truth about his family's legacy may be more complicated. Blackburn becomes the emotional core of the series as Alex painstakingly digs up the Manes family skeletons, finding horror and hope for his own future along the way. There is a wonderful symbolism in how the show goes from having Blackburn telling Alex's story at a distance through Can't You Love Me to Blackburn performing as Alex sharing his story and taking power over his wounds in Would You Come Home.

Jamie: In this finale, we finally got the result of what's been building since the start of the show, Alex is finally breaking free from his family and all the prejudice and expectations they laid on him. Alex and his father had an extremely complicated and destructive relationship. No matter what he did, he was never good enough. Throughout this season we've seen Alex break free from his father, which is something he had previously been unable to do. While in Season 1, his father's opinion still mattered to him, now he's finally focusing on what he wants and needs.

Confronting familial legacy is a recurring theme on the show. What stands out to you from Blackburn's performances that brings authenticity to Alex's struggles in this area?

Alison: Going from an Alex Manes that incapacitates his violent, xenophobic father in Season 1 to an Alex Manes who believes his abuser can change in Season 2 was a heavy ask. Not because it was an unrealistic turn, but time wasn't built into the story to make the transformation anything but jarring. To his credit, Blackburn made the viewer believe. Alex has a desperate desire to believe in the people he loves even when they constantly provide evidence to the contrary. It wasn't until late in Season 2 that he articulated the thought, but his actions told the story. Consider episode 9, Alex tries to convince his father, Jesse Manes (Trevor St. John), that perhaps drinking isn't the best idea for someone recovering from a recent hospitalization. There is warmth in the way he speaks and in the slight upturn of his mouth. He genuinely cares. In response to Alex's overture's, Jesse slams the whiskey bottle down on the table, Alex retreats, not in fear, but as a soldier reminded of the enemy before him. Softness is replaced by someone alert and prepared for what usually comes next. Blackburn's quick turn from hopeful son to cautious soldier shows the struggle between a son clutching at acceptance from his father and a man remembering that he never was nor wanted to be a "Manes Man." The audience also witnesses the pull away from legacy when in the same scene he gets a message from Michael. There is the fastest of smiles, and he quickly leaves his father behind. In the season finale, once again Blackburn moves between emotions as his father holds a gun on Michael, but in this instance, there is no question about the sacrifice he's willing to make. Alex's season ends with him finally dismantling his familial legacy, literally. As he destroys the shed, the place where his love story with Michael took a sharp turn, Blackburn lets out a yell that encapsulates the torment and the hurt and the fear that kept Alex running and hidden. He emerges a new man, on the other side of legacy, when he sings at the Wild Pony.

Ellys: Of all the Roswell, New Mexico characters, Alex is the most often shown to have a near bottomless capacity for love and forgiveness. Blackburn illustrates this repeatedly through the compassionate frankness that Alex brings into every interaction with his friends and family. He doesn't merely wear his heart on his sleeve; he displays it constantly. Blackburn's face establishes this reality for Alex. His character is always absorbing every emotion that others throw at him, yet he only tosses the good emotions back. Alex's heart is his strength and weakness. He believes that there's a way to be everything that everyone needs or wants him to be, often placing blame on himself when these relationships aren't what they should be, which results in him offering people multiple second chances they don't deserve. In this episode, we see Alex finally hit a brick wall with one of these relationships, and heartbreak gives way to relief in a moving journey to acceptance that Blackburn approaches with respect and sincerity.

Jamie: Blackburn really shows just how painful this all is for Alex. When it comes to toxic relationships we always say "Oh, just leave them." or "Why do you care what he thinks?" but it's not that simple and Blackburn shows that in pretty much every scene. Whenever Alex is in a scene with Michael or Forrest (Christian Antidormi), until recently you could see that there was always a little bit of himself that Alex held back. I hope that in future seasons we get to see Alex be able to fully give himself to someone.

Blackburn shares a key scene in the finale with Michael Vlamis. What character interactions involving Alex have stood out to you this season and which ones are on your wish list?

Alison: Without a doubt, Vlamis and Blackburn are extremely magical when they share scenes, so many of Alex's best moments involve Michael, but not all. A few of Alex's interactions with other characters stand out for terrible, horrible, no good, awfully bad reasons, but we'll focus on two that brought joy. Alex's relationship with Kyle (Michael Trevino) was a highlight in the first season, and while fans hoped for more of the same in Season 2, the friendship was unfortunately sidelined. Though they shared a few scenes, one of their best interactions came near the end of I'll Stand By You (2x5). It's a quiet moment easily overlooked in what was a packed episode, but it's especially poignant considering earlier Alex commented to Maria (Heather Hemmens) that Kyle wasn't his friend. Oh, the irony. Michael's voiceover plays as Kyle sits above the surgery room. He's risked everything for his friends, but as they scatter, he sits alone and forgotten, his purpose served. When Alex arrives, he quietly passes a flask, Kyle takes a drink and passes it back to Alex who takes a drink of his own. The smile on Blackburn's face tells a simple story about Kyle Valenti—this is a good man and a good friend.

In American Woman (2x10), Blackburn and Tanner Novlan who plays Gregory Manes shared a heartfelt scene. For a long time, Alex has felt like this show's favorite punching bag, like his feelings don't matter, so it was beautiful to see a character acknowledge not just Alex's trauma but how they failed him. Novlan's speech was heart-wrenching, but Blackburn's expressions and subtle movements convey how overwhelmed Alex is, as well as his relief. It's in the way he looks away or down, clears his throat, and allows tears to slowly well in his eyes. He is overcome by this outpouring of love and doesn't know how to react. Blackburn affects the innocent and bashful gesture of shoving his hands into his pockets when talking about his father. Alex wants to believe that an abusive, homophobic, monster of a man could be better, but there is also fear that he is being played the fool.

I have just a few wishes for Alex Manes. I'm ready for Isobel (Lily Cowles) and Alex to take Roswell by storm, for Alex and Kyle to grow their repaired friendship, and I'm more than ready for Malex to rise. For its part, the show has rooted their queerness and their love in violence and trauma. Enough. Time to tell another story. It's time to stop treating Alex Manes like a "Very Special Episode". Michael and Alex together and happy is real rebellion, so let them kiss, get a dog, make waffles on Sunday morning, stay in bed all day, do crimes to ensure the good aliens survive, fight about the superiority of Star Trek over Star Wars, be emotionally articulate, and love one another in the present tense. Blackburn and Vlamis' preternatural chemistry is the absolute highlight of this reboot, but it was mostly squandered in a messy and disjointed Season 2, so let's make sure that never happens again. And on a final superficial note, Blackburn is very pretty, so let Alex Manes be pretty.

Ellys: One of my favorite characteristics that Blackburn gives Alex is his ability to snap out a quick retort. The use of humor to deflect and defuse is a subtle form of self-protection that gently reminds us that Alex is a survivor. How often Alex uses it when he's around someone else helps us gauge the importance of that person to him. He also uses it less successfully in situations where there are high emotional stakes. Blackburn turns in some of his best work in the tense scenes Alex shares with his father Jesse, although nothing can hold a candle to how Vlamis and Blackburn carry years and years of conflicted longing into every look and word their characters share. My wish list would include more scenes between Alex and Kyle Valenti, as they are uniquely situated to understand each other's family legacies and present-day responsibilities.

Jamie: Any scene with Michael has always been emotionally charged. The same goes for the scenes with his father but in an entirely different way. Since we won't be getting those anymore, I'm hoping for more interactions with his brothers. And not just Flint (Kiowa Gordon) but also Gregory, who has accomplished what Alex is trying to do now, break free of his family. Overall, Alex has been mostly separated from the other characters. Only recently have we seen him interact more with others like Isobel, but I'd like to see him interact more with Liz (Jeanine Mason), and maybe even Rosa (Amber Midthunder).

Including this episode, what are some of your favorite Alex scenes from this season?

Alison: Stay (I Missed You) (2x1) – Alex and Kyle being partners in crime when trying to retrieve Noah (Karan Oberoi)'s body from the morgue. Bonus points for Kyle's face when Alex gets rough with the lab tech. I think we both enjoyed the moment. What If God Was One of Us (2x4) – Alex and Michael in the barn on the Long farm. Alex's sass when commenting on Michael smelling like rain beneath the grease and bourbon to then comforting him about his mom not releasing him from the pod. Alex and Michael sitting on the fallen tree talking about how he knows Forrest. Alex realizes there are layers to Michael Guerin. Sex and Candy (2x6) – Michael cleaning Alex's wound. It was a great way to end the episode. That's where the episode ended, right? Say it Ain't So (2x8) – Alex and Forrest on their paintball date. I'm not a fan of keeping two people apart by needlessly pairing them with other people; there is something to be said for working on yourself by yourself, but it was wonderful to see Alex so happy, smiling, and free. The Diner (2x9) – it's a short exchange between Alex and Michael, but it encapsulates their journey. Michael is surprised—but not really—that Alex came when asked. Alex, who has always wanted to be asked to stay, says it's because Michael asked. Bonus points for Michael's cowboy lean during that scene.

Ellys: The introduction of Alex's brother Gregory Manes added another dimension to Blackburn's performance. Meeting a sibling who had successfully made it out from under Jesse's control clarified how severe Alex's predicament was concerning his father. Blackburn's scenes with Novlan underscored how forgiving Alex is and how he would never be able to give up hope that Jesse would finally accept him. The scenes between Alex and Gregory were brief, but they had to set up the season finale, not only to sell the turn of events but to make Alex's final scene this season carry that cathartic gut punch.

Jamie: I really enjoyed the paintball scene with Forrest. It was nice to see Alex have some fun for a change. And the scene in the finale where he and Michael take a hammer to that cabin, I think that might've helped Alex release some tension. The song he sang in the finale was probably my favorite. The amount of tension conveyed by Michael and Alex without them interacting was insane.

Give us a one paragraph pitch for Roswell, New Mexico to explain the show to TV fans who haven't discovered it yet.

Alison: Ten years ago, Liz Ortecho left Roswell, New Mexico in the wake of a tragedy, leaving behind her family and friends. When she returns to her small town, she uncovers hidden truths, but those answers come with unexpected dangers. She returns to a town divided between those sympathetic to immigrants and violent xenophobes. The unwelcoming nature of the town takes on a new meaning when she discovers that the 1947 UFO crash wasn't a hoax. Lines are crossed, secrets are revealed, friendships are tested, and love is messy. What happens when aliens walk among us?

Ellys: Years after surviving the crash of their spaceship, three adult siblings may not be able to conceal their alien origins much longer when their past and present collide. A serial killer, a brilliant scientist, and a forbidden love complicate their lives; the darkest secrets about Roswell's oldest tragedies are beyond the reach of mind-reading, telekinesis, and supernatural healing. Foes become friends. The hunted become the hunters. Humans and aliens, alike, confront their inner demons and reckon with the threat of extinction.

Jamie: Even if you don't know the show, you've undoubtedly heard the term "Roswell". Basically, aliens live amongst us and none of them are straight Max (Nathan Parsons) did not seem that opposed to riding a cowboy). We have a badass Latina main character who is almost too good at science, a psychic bartender, a doctor who does way too much for his ex, and an ex-military gay man who's performance was so good he won Performer of the Month. And if that does not do it for you, there are weekly reviews by me where I call everyone idiots.

What are your final thoughts on him winning this recognition?

Alison: This reboot has flaws, but some of the best choices it has made center around Blackburn as Alex Manes. He simply feels like Alex Manes, disappearing into the role and becoming an abused boy turned Air Force Captain and a gay man who finally realizes that what he wants does matter. Blackburn always strikes the right note as Alex. Whether he is clasping his hands and trembling as his father wields a hammer, crackling with confidence as he apologizes by sliding into the bed of a pickup truck, commanding the room as a no-nonsense military man whose men don't ask questions, breaking into the softest of smiles when Michael charms him with the sweetest kiss, being wide-eyed and eager when a cute blue-haired boy pays attention to him or lighting up when his song is heard by the person he loves most. It all works so well. Kudos to you, Tyler Blackburn.

Ellys: It's still rare on TV shows, particularly dramas, to have a male character who is gay and not there to solely exist as the quirky dramatic one or the placid, supportive best friend to one of the leading ladies. Alex Manes has backstories, traumas, hopes, and victories that are just as complex as the other main characters on the show. I appreciate how much Blackburn has championed all sides of his character, including who Alex loves, and I look forward to the show breaking more ground in the third season now that Alex and the Manes skeletons are out of the closet.

Jamie: This honor is totally deserved. Blackburn has been a standout performer since the very first episode and I'm glad to see it rewarded. Let's face it, he was one half of the reason for this show's initial popularity. And let's not forget that it's no easy feat stepping into an already beloved character and making it your own. I fully expect that it will not be the last time he wins POTM.

As Tyler Blackburn sings in Would You Come Home, throughout Season 2 we see him break down Alex Manes' walls stone by stone. Alex measures himself against his father, grandfather, uncle, and brothers, but he isn't trying to measure up. He is looking for where he came from, why his values and heart aren't what he's told they are supposed to be. When Alex first hears about Tripp Manes (Jason Behr) and Nora Truman (Kayla Ewell), he immediately rejects his father's interpretation of that relationship, choosing to hope that they had a love story. Blackburn paints Alex as hopeful and romantic, fiercely loyal, and sacrificially brave; most importantly, as a survivor, Alex finds and receives the strength to stand alone and choose his own family. Blackburn plays this role with compassionate dignity, giving us a hero whose emotional battles grip us as strongly as his physical ones. For all the reasons discussed in this article and the many more they have shared, our readers voted Tyler Blackburn as SpoilerTV's Performer of the Month for June.

Please use the comments to discuss all your favorite parts of Tyler Blackburn's performance in Mr. Jones.

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