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Roswell, New Mexico — Down in a Hole — Review

Dear people in charge of Roswell, New Mexico, coherent storytelling is your paid job. And you all get so many other things wrong when it comes to this show, like characterization, arcs, story, tension, exploded tropes, inclusive storytelling, and those scenes and beats that dig into the emotional center of your core characters, that the least you could do, and I mean the least, is give the viewers a plot that makes sense. A plot that doesn’t pretend facts established in previous seasons don’t exist because you need to give your veritable army of side characters boring plot lines. A plot that doesn’t fill the short season with unnecessary detours and filler episodes because you either don’t know how or don’t care enough to effectively use the 13 episodes you’ve been given. Honestly, as a viewer who saw so much potential in season one, only to be disappointed time and time again, the cancellation is starting to feel like a mercy killing. None of this is to say that I won’t miss some of these characters because I will. I’ll miss Alex and Rosa, Kyle, and Michael, but I’m also grateful that in three short episodes these characters will no longer belong to you. They’ll belong to the fans that have sustained and loved them despite the mess you’ve made.

Now, let’s get to it.

What I Cared About

Kyle Manuel Valenti has returned to town. As the true heart of the show, episodes always feels a little hollow without him. After journeying through Mexico with Uncle Eduardo, he comes bearing gifts. Since viewers didn’t get to see any of his journey, you know it wasn’t plot relevant. In fact, there was nothing that happened in Mexico that couldn’t have happened in Roswell. Sure, Kyle brought back a box full of console pieces, but let’s be honest, that box and those pieces could have been uncovered somewhere closer to home.

Fortunately, Kyle’s return also meant viewers were gifted with Michael and Kyle pairing up to save Alex. How many of us wish that saving Alex had been in Kyle’s hands all along? Love you Michael, but you’re too easily swayed by the clowns you call friends. Kyle wasn’t just there to save Alex, he was also there to save Michael from his spiraling thoughts, and unlike everyone that’s been saying no, Michael, Kyle stepped in and told Michael that the time is now.

Also, I may have imagined it, but did Michael acknowledge Kyle’s inherent hotness? It was sly, but I swear it happened. If that didn’t happen, don’t tell me. It was one of the few moments where I wasn’t sighing deeply, wondering how 43 minutes could feel like being trapped on the subway during a blackout.

Michael “Never Look Away, Not Really” Guerin finally stepped through the looking glass and into the pocket dimension to find Alex Manes. Not that we saw Alex. Dallas and Bonnie are accompanying him because otherwise the writers would have to figure out what to do with them, which we all know they can’t do. I have to say, Michael has really lived up to the “not really” part of that iconic phrase this season. It feels like he spent more time trying to save Bonnie, find a way to Oasis, trick Clyde, have drinks with his ex, and help everyone that wasn’t Alex this season. There was more “not really” this season than there was during that pocket season where he was having sex with and being demeaned by Maria. I think the writers called it dating. At least during that pocket season, he spent most of the time staring at, talking to, fighting with, and drinking with Alex. There was also that one time he tried to kill Forrest with his eyes. Sadly, I try not to acknowledge "the season of spite" because it was the worst-est.

Also, Isobel staring at Kyle’s face, and Kyle’s noble pining. I wish their relationship had been given the space and time to let the viewer take the journey from friends to something more. So much chemistry, so much wasted opportunity.

What I Didn’t Care Aboutt

Bad Girl Liz begins the episode telling Max he’s stupid; she ends the episode telling Max he’s a barrier, a roadblock, a wall, a genius killer, a joy stealer, a terrible human, and a suck alien. It’s possible some of those thoughts came from my mind and not Bad Girl Liz’s mouth, but inferences were made. Here’s the thing, I didn’t mind Liz laying down some truth, but I also didn’t need it. No one needs to give me reasons to have bad thoughts about Max. I do wonder if Liz will issue apologies for her truth bombs or if that’s just for the Michaels of the world.

I should mention that Max was not fooled by Bad Girl Liz and caught her stealing amniotic fluid from the pods. Granted, since he was on the roof with Bad Girl Liz and Irksome Liz, he should have known last week that Bad Girl Liz was in charge.

Look, we all know I’m no fan of Max’s, but I have a problem with Liz helping herself to the alien pod goo in service of her pursuits. The pods aren’t hers to do with as she pleases. I’m not siding with Max, but I am gawking at the almost complete character assassination of Liz Ortecho. Bad Girl Liz is Liz. She’s just the unethical, amoral, arrogant part of Liz’s personality that she never hid particularly well, but once upon a time there was balance even when she was at her worst.

We also had the privilege of watching her team up with Shivani. They decided they were going to cure death right after vaping some more alien mist. There’s part of me that wants a pseudo reverse Flowers for Algernon moment for Liz. One where her post alien mist intelligence is less than her original intelligence because her actions should have consequences. It won’t happen. Everyone will forgive her in three minutes or less. Besides, we all know the Roswell, New Mexico writers don’t make the straight kids suffer consequences.

While playing God, they Dr. Frankenstein a frog. Alas, the frog lives for a little while, but at some point starts bleeding from its head and dies again. That’s all it takes for Liz to pump the breaks on scientific resurrection, deciding instead to focus on curing all known and unknown diseases using the alien pod goo. Shivani is none to pleased by Liz’s sudden change of direction and puts on her menace face.

Much later, when we were all wondering if a second bottle of wine was advisable, Liz crossed all the lines by digging into Rosa. Nobody messes with Rosa. Well, I messed with Rosa last week when she messed with Michael, but that was about Alex, and I have made no secret about being here for Alex. If Rosa had kicked Liz in the back when she turned to leave, I would have stood and cheered. I also would have spent less of the episode focused on what type of underwear I should don for my full body scrub and wrap. This has been an energy vampire of a season.

More Stuff I Didn’t Care About: Pocket Dimensions, Liminal Spaces, and Bad Wigs
Here’s where the writers decided to try to sound smart and failed. There were so many words spoken during the Dallas/Bonnie and Rosa/Maria scenes. So many words strung together in the most boring and nonsensical of ways.

I do not care when Bonnie cries. I do not care when Tezca cries. I do not, cannot, will not care about Bonnie and Tezca’s tears. You’ve wasted time telling viewers their backstories, Chris. Whatever. Bonnie cries because she’s a taker. Yes, Bonnie, you are. You are taking time away from the characters that matter. You are also taking the remaining pieces of my soul. In a not at all surprising or profound moment, baby Bonnie decides that she is more than a taker.

Tezca cries because she was a brainwashed murderer being haunted by her victims in zombie form. Tezca decides she’s more than a murderer and is going to help the children of those she betrayed. Good for you, Tezca. How about you start with telling everyone where Alex is and how to get him back without wasting more of our time.

Here’s the down low on the pocket dimension. Theo built it. It looks like he built it to hide pieces of the console. I feel now is the time to mention that season one established Michael’s dedication to scouring Foster’s Ranch and the area surrounding for pieces of alien glass. Those pieces eventually formed the partial console we’ve all been wondering about for four seasons.

The rest of Dallas and Bonnie’s time in the pocket dimension involved a scavenger hunt left behind by Theo. There were words said and floating music notes, but I don’t think they actually mattered. The outcome was the discovery of another metal box with the final pieces of Michael’s console. I won’t at all suggest that the completion of the console was exactly what Clyde wanted these resident geniuses to accomplish. I also won’t suggest that Michal literally could have jumped into the alien sand pocket four episodes ago thereby avoiding giving Clyde and those loyal to the cult of Ophiuchus what they want. It clearly is easy to navigate the pocket dimension since Dallas left the cave system and found his way into Other Roswell with nary a scratch. Bonnie even found snacks.

Did Theo, Norah, and Louise know that Michael would find the pieces that they didn’t hide? The ones scattered throughout the desert? I doubt it. I think it’s more likely that the writers and showrunner want you to forget that Michael happened upon those pieces after years of searching. I think they’d also like you to forget that Michael’s searching was likely driven by the abuse he suffered and his being left behind at the orphanage while Max and Isobel were adopted. Both of these pivotal events solidified for Michael that he didn’t belong. Of course, you can totally go with the idea that Michael found the console pieces because it was preordained, as was the eventual unearthing of two metal boxes that he wasn’t looking for and didn’t know existed. The sloppy writing is so unprofessional.

Remember how Bonnie pointed a flare gun at Dallas in the pocket dimension? Let me set the scene, after yelling Dallas’ name into the uninhabited vastness, she pointed a flare gun at him. I have to love that even in the pocket dimension a Black man walking is perceived as a threat. A little racism in the pocket dimension is so on brand for a show that cares little about optics. It’s not at all like Bonnie's a telekinetic alien that could have knocked the perceived "threat" off his feet.

An Aside: The Morse code situation. I for one did not learn Morse code at any summer camp or at Outdoor Education, which took place during the school year and involved getting stuck in bogs with angry beavers and trapped beneath overturned canoes. Apparently, Roswell's got the world beat when it comes to Morse code aficionados.

Isobel and her new bestie, Tezca, fought mindscape Jones, played by Max in a bad wig. They killed him again and again. It’s desensitizing therapy. Sounds good. It seems to be working until a zombie hoard of Tezca’s victims come to torment here. I only saw the kids at first and thought this was some type of Lost Boys Peter Pan situation, but then some bigger people arrived. Tezca runs away because she’s irredeemable, but then she isn’t, so everything is okay.

Another Aside: For some reason, Isobel only remembers three of the people Noah killed. It was 14 when Cameron, Kyle, and Alex were in the bunker during season one. He then killed Mr. Green, the radio guy, and racist Hank, so it’s at least 16. I guess the others don’t matter in season 4. This concludes my aside.

While Isobel is trying to Gandalf Tezca, Rosa is trying to Yoda Maria in a desperate attempt to give them all something to do. Maria “Sorcerer Supreme” DeLuca goes to her Roswell defined liminal space, which involves getting on all fours to touch the ground and banging a metal sculpture, that no one else has ever found in Roswell, to reveal the opening to the pocket dimension. I love that the writers tried to pretend like the term doesn’t have an actual definition. Once again, whatever.

One More Thing

I miss when Jesse Manes was the bad guy.

One more boring, do nothing episode down.