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Throwback Thursday - Roswell - Blind Date

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past.

If you love angsty teenage aliens, welcome to Roswell, a series developed, produced, and co-written by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood). The series ran from 1999 to 2002 on the now defunct WB and UPN networks. For this week’s Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look at “Blind Date,” the 14th episode of Season 1.

You know it’s a funny thing, revisiting the past. There’s this air of nostalgia but with a side of cringe. There were one or two moments in this episode where I literally cringed and hyperbolically facepalmed.

“Blind Date” comes on the heels of another non-breakup breakup for our star-crossed lovers, Liz and Max. While their cosmic connection takes center stage, this episode also featured some fun pairings and managed to ever so slightly advance the alien mythology. Granted, in many ways, it felt like a filler episode, but sometimes you need a break.

It all begins with a radio station contest. The prize, you ask? A blind date for Valentine’s Day and tickets to see a mystery band. Not only is there a blind date and tickets, but one lucky local band is going to have the opportunity to open for the big time mystery band. I had to Google “bands popular in 2000” to even begin taking guesses.

Maria decides to enter Liz in the contest because everyone knows finding a new man is the best way to get over the old one. Her heart is in the right place, which is what matters here. Of course, Liz wins and is the radio station’s “Queen of Hearts.” Maria is thrilled. Liz is less thrilled. Later, Maria lays down some harsh truths about her relationship with Max, reminding Liz that he dumped her. She left off the again. Max dumped her again.

It’s not long before we run into Alex. He was so underutilized. Apparently, the lead singer for his band got a touch of the mono. We get a little joke about the former lead singer’s hedonistic ways in the form of some early 2000s slut-shaming. Maria volunteers herself as the new lead singer. Alex scoffs at the idea because the band needs a professional. Does it, Alex? Maria uses some faux sadness to manipulate Alex, which works. Maria manipulating Alex? That feels familiar. Also, I love every incarnation of Alex.

Elsewhere, the other half of our star-crossed duo, Max, is staring longingly at Liz when Kyle approaches. Kyle attempts to commiserate with him, but Max, stoic as ever, declares that he’s fine while eating what seems to be Takis before there were Takis. Kyle doesn’t really believe that Max is fine without Liz, but the alien leader doubles down by declaring there is nothing to get over because they were never together. Kyle doesn’t believe him. No one believes him. After all, Max is lying to himself. Honestly, Max spends a lot of the series lying to himself.

School’s out, and Alex’s band, The Whits, is rehearsing. Maria comes in being a bossy know-it-all and handing out her songs. She’s taking over. This will not end well. Maria explains that the band needs to play music from the radio instead of doing original songs. Look, I’ve never been in a high school band or entered a radio contest to open for a big deal band, but this sounds right. I’m just thinking you have to be a pretty great high school band to get away with impressing using your own songs.

Back at the Crashdown Cafe, Michael is fixated on the cave painting from a previous episode. He thinks it’s a map home. Max thinks it’s nonsense, but he’s in a mood. Full disclosure, Max was frequently in a mood. So is reboot Max. So, Michael wants to believe that Nasedo is a good alien man, the father figure he doesn’t have, but Max thinks they need to be cautious. I’m with Max here. And as we all know, Max was right about Nasedo. He was not a good alien man. Michael doesn’t want to hear all of Max’s negativity. It’s here that he delivers the line of the episode, “Fine! Both of you sit here with your cherry colas and your high school fantasies.” Michael always delivered the best lines.

After Michael and Isabel have left, Max continues to torture himself by hanging out at the Crashdown. Conveniently, the radio station DJ appears because it’s time for Liz Parker to describe her dream guy by answering a series of questions. Would you believe that her dream guy is a brunette from out of town, smart, and mysterious? She knows, and we know, and he knows that she is describing Max Evans.

The Whits show up for their audition, but no Maria. They perform “Love Kills” and no one is impressed. Here comes Maria in a pair of absurd shoes, ready to save the day. She almost kills herself getting to the stage, and once there, she says, “I’m Maria Deluca, and this is my band.” Alex calls her on the usurpation, but she justifies her actions with some nonsense. It’s like watching Season Two of Roswell, New Mexico. Turns out there is a precedence for Maria taking things that don’t belong to her or, more specifically, laying claim to things that belong to Alex. At least Alex Whitman was allowed to call her on her crap. Alex Manes never was. Never forget, even if you want to.

Time moves, and we’ve arrived at date night. We get a scene with Alex, Liz, and Maria guessing the identity of the mystery band. Maria and Alex fight about clothes and song choices, but Liz reminds them that their night will be so much better than hers because the whole town won’t be staring at them. I think they probably want the whole town and the record executives to stare at them, or else what’s the point?

Michael turns up at Isabel’s window. He’s figured out how to read the map. Adventure time. Isabel wants to bring Max, but Michael dismisses him. I know Isabel is trying to play peacemaker, but why would Michael want Max there? Max was completely opposed to the idea. Michael needs this.

Liz looks great and takes a moment to fantasize about Max declaring his love before putting his mouth on hers. It was a good kiss, but it’s time to return to the real world where her date is the unfortunately named Doug Shellow. He is allegedly a freshman at UNM, but I have my doubts. Also, does studying ancient languages lead to a job as an archaeologist? Why isn’t he an archaeology or anthropology or history or art history or something else major? I say this as someone who wanted to be a paleontologist and took a good handful of archaeology and anthropology courses. I mean, I switched to English and art because there are bugs outside, but I don’t recall meeting any ancient language majors in my classes.
Back at home, Max listens to the radio show when a drunk Kyle shows up with his drunk friends. Kyle says they should put the past behind them and go check out the concert and Doug Shellow. Max ends up driving Kyle and his friends back into town. Once there, Kyle’s pleading and his own curiosity lead Max to become part of the crowd watching Liz’s date with Doug.

Based on the conversation, Doug is lame. He doesn’t want to date the girls in the archeology department because they are nice but so serious. Doug doesn’t realize that people can have layers like onions. He’s going to feel incredibly stupid when he finally sees Shrek.

Kyle and Max watch long enough to see Doug lay a kiss on Liz at the radio station’s insistence. Did anyone see consent happen here? No? Okay. That kiss is all it takes for Kyle to peer pressure Max into drinking. One sip leaves him more than a little drunk. And now the real fun begins.

Max and Kyle decide to race. Max takes off early and uses his powers to climb the side of a building. It happens off-screen, and Kyle is left confused. Good thing he’s drunk. Once he climbs down, Max moves close to Kyle and tells him he’s going to reveal the real Max Evans. In comes the obligatory early 2000s gay joke. Do the actors and writers cringe when they take a trip down memory lane, witnessing when people used to think it was okay to use someone’s sexuality as a punchline?

Outside the library, Michael explains to Isabel that some ancient alien urge and hocus pocus science let him interpret the map. I want to make a joke about ancient alien urges, but I’ll just say they play an important role later in the season. It’s like Spock’s pon farr, but less cool and more angsty.

More Kyle and Max shenanigans ensue. This pairing is delightful. Kyle is always hysterical, and it’s good to see a different side of Max. He’s always so stoic or making moon eyes at Liz. Don’t get me wrong, I was all about Max and Liz, but mixing up the platonic pairings is always welcome. It expands their world.

And we’re back to Liz and Doug. The least successful pairing of the episode. Doug disses the entire population of Roswell before coming in with the smooth “What’s good here? Besides the waitresses?” Ewww, Doug. Stop.

Still outside the library, Michael and Isabel are vandalizing the grass by burning an alien symbol into it, hoping that Nasedo will see it and come to them. Isabel is worried that if Nasedo comes, Michael won’t need them anymore. Isabel should be worried about surviving Nasedo.
Outside Liz’s bedroom, Max decides to commit his own act of vandalism by graffiting the wall outside of Liz’s bedroom with an homage to their love. Inside, Kyle compares Liz’s bedroom to Mecca. Downstairs the radio station has found Liz and Doug, so she takes him to her bedroom where they find Max and Kyle. Liz is worried once she realizes Max is drunk. She tries to cover by telling Kyle that Max lies when he’s drunk. Max, incapable of lying while drunk, it seems, doesn’t back her up. Kyle and Doug wrestle a bit so that Liz can talk to Max. And despite Kyle’s bragging, it looks like Doug might be winning. Just as Max runs off with Liz, the radio station DJ excitedly makes his way to Liz’s bedroom. For why? Were they hoping to report college student Doug’s conquest of a high school sophomore?

Over at the concert, things aren’t going too well for Maria “Alanis” Deluca. She’s doing some deep breathing because she’s nervous.

Meanwhile, a carefree Max is running down the street, Liz following behind. He suggests they run away together, but Liz knows better, mentioning that he’s drunk, so nothing he’s saying is true. But Max amps up the charm, telling Liz that it’s magic when they’re together. Then he uses his powers to make lights twirl, sirens blare, and music play. It’s a lovely gesture, but do people not drive down streets and look out windows in Roswell? Liz is over the moon. You can tell by the glazed over, liquid look of her eyes. Then Max goes in for the kill, asking her, “what’s so great about being normal,” turning the parking meters into sparklers.

Nasedo didn’t show, and Michael’s sad. If only Michael knew what I know. Isabel uses her powers to clean up the mess because Michael doesn’t have full control of his powers. I always felt like this was a confidence issue rather than an actual truth. Either way, this is a sweet Isabel and Michael moment. I can see why they had a small but dedicated group of shippers. I’m not down, but I get it.

Getting a ride from the KROZ van, Liz and Max arrive at the concert. At the concert, The Whits have come on stage, but Maria’s nerves get the better of her, and she runs off the stage. She takes the time to question who she thought she was in that outfit. I was asking the same question, Maria.
With Max, Kyle, and Doug standing on stage, KROZ wants Liz to pick her man. The annoying DJ says she owes it to the listeners. She doesn’t, but here we go. Boring Doug is boring. Funny Kyle is funny. Max convinces Liz with a sexy kiss. He also uses his ability to show her images of the two of them together. Who needs words when you can share memories. Sadly, it sobers Max up. Was it the kiss or the cheering or just the passage of time? We’ll never know. He apologizes for ruining her date before running away. Liz catches him and wants to know if he meant everything he said. Max says he doesn’t remember. I don’t believe you, Max. Liz whispers to herself that he didn’t ruin her date. Once again, our star-crossed lovers are thwarted by circumstance.

Maria saves the day by singing “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins and capturing the audience’s attention. As she sings, we see a heartbroken Liz remembering her night and a lying Max revisiting their initials on the wall outside her bedroom. Just then, the music shifts to something ominous, and Nasedo appears outside the library, revealing the symbol Michael burned into the grass and burning a picture of our alien trio.

With that, the episode ends.

You know, sometimes it’s hard to see how loyal a reboot stays to the original, but this episode was eye-opening. I don’t know that fundamentally the characters from Roswell, New Mexico are all that different from their OG counterparts. Sure, they’ve been aged up chronologically, but there remains something of the old in the new incarnations.

Do you watch Roswell, New Mexico? Do you prefer the old or the new?