This was certainly an hour unlike anything we’ve seen through four seasons of Roswell, New Mexico.
Sure, we’ve seen mindscapes a time or twenty, but this wasn’t a two-minute scene of the chaos in Max’s mind when he was dead or Michael and Isobel talking about their love lives.
Roswell, New Mexico Season 4 Episode 9 was a whole hour spent in the old west, with Liz and her doppelganger playing a game of cat and mouse while her friends tried to keep her alive in the real world. So, to put it mildly, this installment was a TRIP.
Here’s the thing about these kinds of episodes; you either love them or hate them.
There usually isn’t much in-between when it comes to bottle-like hours that see the show shrunken down to its most basic parts to create an experience that allows a deeper exploration of the characters. The slower pace is often cheered or jeered depending on how well the show can craft a compelling narrative with far fewer frills.
This isn’t a bottle episode in the sense that the main cast is mostly all there, and there are tons of actions pieces, but it does have the feel of one as the action predominantly takes place between Deep Sky and the wild west and the only character genuinely getting that deep dive is Liz.
Everyone who’s a part of the story currently makes at least an appearance in the wild west mindscape, but this journey is only ever about Liz. And while it takes nearly the whole episode to discover precisely what Liz is supposed to understand about this world, you can figure things out early on if you’ve been paying attention.
Liz is a scientist at her core. And that piece of her has always been at odds with Max and the fact he’s an alien. We watched this play out in real-time during Roswell, New Mexico Season 2, when Liz went behind his back to continue studying his DNA and even went as far as to create a cure for Steph’s illness in the finale.
Their breakup was a culmination of many things, including distrust and an inability to compromise. And their reconciliation and much of their time this season has been spent trying to understand each other better.
And for Liz, that has meant moving away from wanting to save the world by any means necessary.
It makes the end of Roswell, New Mexico Season 4 Episode 8 so interesting because Shivani is basically spouting off all the things old Liz thought about when the alien cells were introduced to her, and she understood all the potential good they could do.
At Liz’s core, this is what it all comes down to in so many ways; how she balances the scientist in her with her relationship.
And Outlaw Liz is a manifestation of that very debate.
Outlaw Liz creates this universe for Liz to see what’s right in front of her face and has always been there. Liz is afraid of herself and not only failing but what she could ultimately be capable of.
The idea of ‘the other shoe dropping’ is an excuse to hide behind when you’re afraid to move forward. If you constantly wait for everything to go wrong, you’re not really living your life.
So, while at the moment, perhaps Liz thought she was doing the right thing in turning down Max’s proposal (and she probably was considering her complicated feelings at that moment), Outlaw Liz was there to force her to admit the truth and take a closer look at herself in the process.
The whole time Liz was navigating the mindscape, she knew there was something she needed to confront, and once she figured it out, she had quite the choice to make.
She was essentially choosing between this Liz, who’s decided to forgo particular aspirations and exist with her fear, and this other Liz who can change the world and never worry again.
There are a lot of different ways the show could have gotten us to this point, but choosing the mindscape was a neat way to kind of flip Roswell on its head for an hour and gave Liz a lot of time to explore herself and the woman she’s become since moving back to Roswell.
And I can appreciate them allowing Liz to have this journey without Max around.
So much of Max and Liz’s story is co-dependent on each other, and it makes sense why that’s the case, but I liked that she had to figure this out on her own. And even though things as always hinged on Max needing saving, Outlaw Liz forced her to confront herself in a way that made it feel way less about Max than it often does.
No, this was about Liz, her fears, and what kind of life she wanted to lead.
Michael Trevino directs this hour, his directorial debut, and while they throw a tremendous amount at him, he does a lot with the direction of that final confrontation. There are sharp cuts back and forth between Liz and Outlaw Liz, truly highlighting their differences.
It all leads to Liz deciding to change her life forever.
I love that the Liz reveal comes as the cliffhanger, with the camera focusing on that poker chip seamlessly flipping back and forth between Outlaw Liz’s fingers. Succumbing to the alien mist is both a surprise and not a surprise because deep down, everything Outlaw Liz was saying is what Liz has always wanted.
She doesn’t want to gamble with the lives of the people she loves. She wants to enact change and live free of fear. But this is a choice that will indeed have crazy consequences. And with only a few hours left, Liz’s choice will most likely come out sooner than later.
With a choice like this, where do Liz and Max go from here?
The wild west aspect is fun in that it’s neat to see everyone don their cowboy hats and bolo ties and even throw in their very best accents. But because this is all about Liz, we don’t spend too much time with everyone in the mindscape.
And that’s a shame because it would have been fun to see them all get their moments in this alternate reality, but that’s not what this whole installment is about.
Though, there are a lot of highlights throughout, from Allie’s surprise appearance as the voice of reason, Kyle’s introduction as Liz’s steadfast horse, and the big showdown between Clyde and Outlaw Liz and everyone else.
The set-up is there for Liz and her family to win. Liz is searching for the meaning behind her predicament, and the idea that she stops going at it alone and leans on her family makes sense. It’s wrong, of course, but they stage the showdown in a way to make you believe she’ll finally have a breakthrough.
Clyde continuing to reanimate and kill everyone in increasingly nasty ways is a bit jarring. Roswell never shies away from death and elaborate kills, but seeing all your favorites die was a very odd experience. You know it isn’t real, but you still don’t ever want to see Maria get her throat slashed, and Michael get shot in the stomach!
NO, THANK YOU, ROSWELL!
While everything is going to hell in the old west, everyone is back at Deep Sky trying to save Liz’s life. And while they’re going about it, they all get a couple of minutes to muse about their own twisted existences and the struggles they’re currently having. We love to see the crew multi-tasking!
Heath shows up at Rosa’s request, and it’s hard to say he’s welcome back because no one missed him, but his presence here is fine. He’s been off living his life, and I like that while helping Liz, he also has these moments of utter devastation when he talks about Dallas and feeling like he’s failed him.
Dallas is so integrated with all things alien and Roswell now that you almost forget about his longstanding relationship with Heath. They’re brothers, and Health does seem shattered by the knowledge that something may have happened to him.
The Heath and Rosa reveal rights itself after Michael jumps to conclusions about their relationship after witnessing one hug. Considering Heath and Liz’s past relationship, it would have been a little weird if the two were romantically involved.
Their friendship blossoming in New York and him helping Rosa control her powers is a cool and clever twist that allows Heath’s reintroduction to occur flawlessly. I know many people were wondering how Rosa became such an alien savant, and now we know some of that was at least due to time spent with Heath.
If he’s going to stick around to help with the Dallas situation, I like that he and Rosa have this connection and can help one another through another difficult time.
For Isobel, she gets kicked out of the mindscape immediately, which is a pity for us all because you know Isobel Evans would slay a wild west look. But she gets her time to lament the current status of her love life and also what she feels is her ability to ruin things.
It’s wildly inaccurate, but considering what’s happened to her as of late, it’s very relatable. She’s had a series of unfortunate events, culminating in finding that Tezca’s very existence is much more complicated than any of them know.
But at this point, all Isobel can do is learn from her information and try to make things right in whatever way she can. For her and Kyle, that probably means just being real with him about her feelings and perhaps taking things slow. Considering how raw she still is from Anatsa, that feels like the smartest way forward.
And with Tezca, all she can do is offer her help and hope that she wants to take it because there’s a lot more to Tezca than meets the eye, and it feels like she’ll be a key participant in these final chapters.
She has so much of the knowledge that Jones would never want them to know, and they will need it if they’re going to stand a chance against Clyde.
Cowboy Michael with the olden-day drawl, may not get his time to shine in the desert, but he’s nothing if not committed to saving Alex in the real world.
Much can be debated about Michael’s storyline this year and whether or not he should have noticed something was wrong with Alex earlier (I’m not one of those people), but since finding out Alex is missing, finding him is clearly his only personality trait.
Michael: Max jumped into a mindscape after the woman he loves. The least I can do is jump into a sinkhole to save my soulmate.
Rosa: But do you remember what happened the last time that you abandoned all logic? You threw me in a car and then blew me up. Don’t make the same mistake twice.
Soulmate…the man he loves…the love of his life. If I didn’t know any better, I would think Roswell is trying to tell us something here. Perhaps it’s something we’ve all known from the beginning, no matter how many times they tried to throw a distraction in our face; Alex Manes and Michael Guerin are meant to be together.
Their love transcends everything else, and that devotion and all-encompassing love will lead Michael to Alex. I can feel it in my bones.
That final scene with Michael and Maria was an excellent way to remind us that at the heart of it all, the one thing they will always share is their feelings about Alex. They both love him and want to bring him home, and with Liz back, they can really start developing the plans to do so.
Operation get Alex (Dallas and Bonnie) out of the Underground is on!
- Kyle being a horse was funnier than it had any right being. But if we couldn’t get Kyle Valenti in his human form, that gorgeous steed was the next best thing.
- Adding Sanders to the mindscape was unexpected but always welcome.
- While I can enjoy Michael and Maria now, it’s crazy how much the show ignores they ever dated. It almost makes you wonder why they ever went there in the first place when now it’s apparent the only thing they have in common is their love for Alex.
- They mentioned Shivani here and there as being okay but do we believe that?
- The style in the wild west was terrific. The costume department took everything to the next level; everyone looked fantastic.
- Mindscape Allie seems chill, but who wants to bet real-life Allie won’t be near as chill when she runs into Eduardo and Kyle?
- There were a lot of clever lines here, but I really enjoyed Clyde’s line about there always being a villain to replace the last one. Ain’t that the truth.
- Does Liz have powers now?!
We only have four more installments left before it’s all over, and the team now has an outlaw in their midst! Just how long do you think it will take them to realize that Liz is hiding something?
And what’s the realistic plan to save Alex, Dallas, and Bonnie?
There is so much to discuss and still so many questions that need answering, so please find your way to the comment section and let me know what you think! Remember, you can watch Roswell, New Mexico online anytime, so you’re all caught up as we near the end!
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.