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What Is Wrong With the Ending of Roswell Season 2?
Roswell Television series 1999-2002
Roswell was a television series which ran from 1999 to 2002. It was based on the premise that aliens survived the alleged crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The most important are four clones of the “Royal” family from their home planet. They were stored in pods, which began to develop on a delayed timeline after the crash, eventually hatched and were adopted by human families. Max and Isabel were lucky to get the Evanses as their parents. Michael was not so lucky, he had a trailer-park drunk as his guardian until he applied for official emancipation. This unlikely, but creative premise allows the Roswell aliens to masquerade as contemporary teenagers in 1999. The show was created by Jason Katims, although there are some credit references to a book series entitled “Roswell High” by Melinda Metz.
Too slow for series television
When Roswell was on television, I only watched it occasionally. It was very slow moving, more soap opera than science fiction and made even more tedious by the weekly wait for another episode. Alien sightings and clues to their background were few and sparingly offered.
The aliens looked disappointingly human or else featured as balloon animal style figures common to Hollywood representations of extra-terrestrial visitors. These were mostly mocked y the show in the local tourist gimmicks, the UFO Centre and the Crash Down Café, however, they were taken seriously in at least one episode: Season 2 #Episode 4, “Summer of '47” (aired 23 Oct. 2000).
More watchable on DVD
However, with the advent of the new genre of ‘television on DVD’ which became available and increasingly popular as technology advanced, I concluded Roswell was watchable. Being able to control the speed of events by putting another episode on in quick succession made the plotlines of Roswell seem more connected and timely.
"Great Millennium television"
I would view the DVD releases as one of the great cultural products of the turn of the millennium – that unique period spanning from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, when people seriously believed the world might change on December 31 1999, and we might never see January 2000. Or alternately, if we did see the New Year, it would be with all electrical equipment and other machinery fried because of programming which was unable to interpret dates without an assumed 19__ in the front.
This was an interesting, very speculative period culturally speaking. A second similar emotional crisis occurred in 2012 when the prophecies of Nostradamus and the Mayan calendar carved into rocky walls were assumed to come to an end. However, the 2012 crisis was less widespread – partly due to the fact that it was open to interpretation. Nostradamus’ ‘prophecies’ were actually long poems, highly interesting and speculative, but about as predictive as Shakespeare (who was, by the way, a thinker way ahead of his own time). Archaeologists disagree when to begin counting on the Mayan calendar, and it is possible that the method of counting should continue even after the pyramid walls are exhausted. (If you are interested in this sort of thing, check my references.)
Now as to the problems with Season 2:
The Season Two finale is disappointing for a number of reasons.
1) The toxic relationships continue.
The Romeo and Juliet star crossed lovers theme appealed to teens the world over and helped the series acquire a following. However, Max and Liz became well and truly tedious before the end of season 1. Max is dark and dangerous, being hunted by killers and unable to offer Liz a ‘normal’ future. MOVE ON LIZ! However, they swing back and forth endlessly – they can’t be together – they love each other so much – they can’t be together – oh no, the corpse is not dead yet – they want to be together again.
The diamond in the rough bad boy tries to be a good boyfriend theme applied to Maria and Michael also wears thin. Has anyone noticed how nagging Maria can be? Even when Michael does nice things like polish up a new bumper for her car “A Roswell Christmas Carol”, (S2, Ep10, aired 18 Dec. 2000), she doesn’t appreciate him. Oh it is cute that Isobel has smuggled an alternate gift of pearl ear-rings into his room to give Maria, but romantic tokens aren’t everything. How can a girl look at a major item like a car part and ask where her real gift is? Why wouldn’t a boy-friend stand up for himself over this? (Come to think of it, whose car is it anyway? Maria has begun to refer to it as hers…but occasionally it is still reclaimed by her mother.)
2) Max has no sense of adventure.
Max ought to be curious about his home world and eager to find his way home. Occasionally he approaches this mood, but too often this is left to Michael – and even Michael is developing too many ties to earth. If this show is to blossom and turn into real science fiction, we must have at least a short visit to the home planet. Max ought to go, see and conquer. He can choose Earth again as his permanent home if the producers want to send the message that earth is great! A friend said to me “it is about where the space-ship crashed, not where they came from”. Well, I tell you, that space ship didn’t just crash – it got thoroughly bogged.
3) Liz’s twisted sense of destiny.
I don’t remember exactly which episodes, but Liz keeps saying Max is her destiny. No! Four alien pods were hatched and Max is a married man. Maybe Isabel and Michael don’t have to get together; they were only engaged and there are indications Isabel had other relationships in her previous life. However, Max and Tess did love each other and were happy in their previous incarnation.
I would say Liz’s destiny was meant to be Kyle. They were dating before Liz met Max, and Kyle certainly has all the goods – clean living, muscled school sporting hero and all that. A guy who would just like to make his girl-friend happy. At the end of season one, Kyle almost gave his life for the group, despite their generally excluding him from their activities. Max healed Kyle, and as Liz observes when she asks Kyle to pose in bed with her as a ‘favour’ to shock Max, they have both been brought back from the dead by aliens. This plot-line could have been exploited and their special status made into a major bond.
4) No one has fun in Vegas.
In Season 2, Episode 15, “Viva Las Vegas”, (aired 26 Feb. 2001) Michael is having nightmares and decides he needs a holiday. He asks Max to go to Vegas. Well, the rest of the gang find out and all insist on joining the trip. Michael distributes the $50,000 he was giving for looking so much like someone’s Grandpa among the group. Michael cheats at dice using his powers and ruins his own fun. Alex does the math and loses everything on the first bet. Maria auditions to be a stripper (which is truly comic) and Isabel gets to be some random person’s bridesmaid. Liz and Tess are rejected from the gaming room because they appear young, even though Tess could easily give an illusion of any appearance she wanted. Max and Michael fight. The money runs out and they are almost glad when the Sheriff appears to shepherd them all home again. The only good thing is that Max tells Liz he would never marry her in Vega “in this lifetime”. Maybe Liz got her Vegas dance, but I would rather have seen Max accidentally marry Tess in Vegas.
5) Liz claims she “saved herself for Max”.
In “The Departure” (S2, Ep21, aired 21 May 2001), Max makes an unnecessary stop to tell Liz he is going to his home planet, and by the way, he got his wife pregnant. Liz, whose trouble-making has been tedious for a while, coughs out the claim that Max had betrayed her because she “saved herself” for him. Not only does Liz lack any understanding of what moving on is all about, she also does not have a clear understanding of what saving herself for someone might entail. Perhaps she did not sleep with Kyle, but she has been making-out with Sean de Luca!
Liz has also dragged Sean so far into her schemes that he has been arrested for breaking into the school and violating his parole. (S2, Ep18, “It's Too Late and It's Too Bad”, aired 30 Apr. 2001). Sean has to do extra community service and in “Off the Menu” (S2, Ep20, aired 14 May 2001) took a knife wound protecting her. Oh thanks Sean, you are not Liz’s alien obsession, she would just like to use you for a while…
6) No one seems to remember there has been a revolution on their home planet.
The alien four all make plans to return to their home planet without discussing how they will evade capture when they get there, contact the rebels and organise a campaign to free the planet from Nicholaus and Cavar. Apparently, Tess does have a deal struck by Nasedo for her, if she returns pregnant with Max’s child. I don’t blame Tess for this, because she was abandoned in the pod by the other three and brought up by Nasedo. Even at this stage, it is not too late for Max and Tess to declare their true love and make a plan for him to evade capture or take advantage of having an insider in the new regime. Towards the end, Tess is painted as the villain, but she does nothing to make Max, Michael and Isabel forget there is a war going on at their home planet. This appears to be their own naivety and poor planning.
7) Everyone turns against Tess.
The Sheriff has practically adopted Tess and in “Heart of Mine” (S2, Ep16, aired 16 Apr. 2001), Kyle realises he perceives her as his sister. Did my ears delude me or did I hear Tess finally call the Sheriff “Dad” near the beginning of “The Departure” (S2, Ep21, aired 21 May 2001)? Despite all this as soon as Liz suggests Tess killed Alex and mind melded Kyle, everyone hates her. These are people who were supposed to have taken her into their hearts, but they can just turn around and revile her on the spot! No one says, ‘but she is my sister/daughter/lover’ and defends her.
At least Max allows her to take their baby home. He doesn’t shout or hit her either, but he does deny everything they had together and go running straight back to Liz. Not even a proper mourning period for the break-up, if that is what it is!
I was very fond of Alex, he was my favourite human character, but the killing was an “accident”. And anyway, the aliens could heal – if there had been no cover-up and Alex was healed immediately he would have survived. What made even less sense was that Alex always used his technical skills to help his friends. If Tess had asked him to use the supercomputer to decode the alien guidebook, he would have done so willingly. All the aliens wanted to understand the symbols, so Tess had no need to hide this from the other three. CONTRIVED SET UP ANYBODY?
8) The killer was already found in Season 2, Episode 19
Remember the trail that led to the University in Santa Cruz instead of Sweden? And the Swedish girlfriend who coincidentally attended that University instead. The photographs had clearly been Photo-Shopped, but the person was there. And acting quite suspiciously. Remember the creepy abandoned, cottage looking ready for demolition… computer, monitoring equipment and a red glowing pyramid? Rival aliens have followed them before, and some of them have looked like human girls.
Later, Liz says Tess is to blame, but Tess is not causing these events, she is sweating on the couch almost losing her baby. Max is present mopping her brow, and he has used his healing powers to scan the baby, so it is clear she is not faking her illness. No matter which females’ side you are taking in this interminable love triangle, there is a small life involved here.
9) No one listens to future Max
“The End of the World” (S2, Ep5, aired 30 Oct. 2000) is many people’s favourite episode. In this well-crafted and beautifully filmed episode, Max returns from 2014 to tell Liz that she has to cease hanging onto present Max. Future Max and Liz followed their desires to their ultimate culmination in a seedy Vegas chapel and thus hastened the end of the world. Future Max tells Liz that the aliens need Tess because she has the most essential powers and without her, they are helpless against future events. And without a relationship with Max, Tess will abandon them, changing their ultimate fate.
Now this may be personally disappointing to Liz, however, she has a number of choices about how to go about breaking up with Max. The first speech is okay and has some basis in truth, her desire for self-preservation and a normal family life. Max should listen. However, he doesn’t, so she asks her bitter, but otherwise extremely obliging human ex-boyfriend Kyle to strip off and get into bed with her, without completing the act, just so they can get caught.
Now here’s an alternate plan? Liz could have told Max the TRUTH. (Shock, horror, rarely done on television.) Present Max and future Max cannot meet without consequences, but Liz can speak to both. Why not tell present Max he needs to treat Tess with more respect? The pod three all neglect their fourth in a heart-breaking manner at times. No wonder she gets pissed off in the future. Tess was created for Max too. Max should learn all about himself and explore his feelings for Tess properly, not with the shadow of Liz always hovering in the background – and stopping so low to demand a date for the Prom because she ‘even bought a dress’ (“Heart of Mine”, S2, Ep16, aired 16 Apr. 2001).
10) Only Tess goes to the home planet.
This is the ultimate disappointment in Roswell Season 2. The space capsule has its engines all revved up to go, discovery and adventure await… even a visit to their home planet would have made the science fiction element of this saga more satisfying. I remember when I had this episode on VHS tape, I edited it so that they did all go to their home planet…
Watch the Season 2 Finale
Worth watching Season 3 anyway...
Now I am going to contradict myself and say that Roswell on DVD is worth watching anyway. I am currently watching season three, which has always been a bit rarer and harder to obtain. Some people say it is no good, but I am finding it patchily satisfying. The alien boys are growing rougher and tougher; Liz’s father is acting as the voice of reason and reminding everybody why Max and Liz really don’t work as a couple, and Max has not completely forgotten his son. A few viewers don’t like Isabel’s ‘normal’ marriage, but I think it works…
"The Mayan Calendar", (2008) Calendars through the Ages, Web Exhibits, http://www.webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-mayan.html
"Roswell (TV series 1999–2002)", IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0201391/episodes?season=2&ref_=tt_eps_sn_2
"Roswell High", wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roswell_High