‘Roswell, New Mexico’ Season One, Episode Six Recap: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
This week’s episode, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” picks up where we left off two weeks ago. Liz continues her confrontation with Max, demanding he tell her the truth about the night Rosa was killed.
Max goes further back though, describing as we watch a young Michael, Max, and Isobel celebrate their “birthday” (a.k.a. the day they were found) by camping in the desert. As they discuss their newfound abilities, Isobel leaves the tent, and shortly thereafter Michael and Max hear muffled screams. They race out to find a man with a knife dragging Isobel away.
The boys run after Isobel, and Michael uses his powers to toss the man away from Isobel, who collapses. Max tackles the man, using his powers to kill him even though he did not know it would work. Michael and Max try to comfort a terrified Isobel who refuses to speak or look at them. They plead with her to tell them what to do, and Michael ultimately uses his powers to bury the body.
Flashing forward to present day, Max explains to Liz that was the night Isobel was broken and also what made Isobel begin having blackouts because of the trauma. “Context matters,” Max tells an impatient Liz.
April of 2008 sees seniors Max, Michael, and Isobel, who clearly have much better control of their powers as Max and Michael practice shooting. Michael announces that he received a full scholarship to the University of New Mexico. Max congratulates him as they discuss Max’s plans to save up and travel the world to focus on writing, but Isobel looks less than pleased and storms away.
While Max, Liz, and Alex chat in the parking lot, Kyle runs up and kisses Liz announcing that he got into the University of Michigan. Max leaves to find Isobel who is ditching class and uncharacteristically says she does not care about getting banned from prom. Also hanging out near the bleachers is Rosa and her two friends, who threaten to ruin her life if she does not reveal her drug dealer’s name so they can get high at prom.
Back at the Crash Down Café, Liz works on her project while Rosa and their father argue. Rosa storms out and meets up with Isobel on the roof of the café. Isobel grabs Rosa’s hand to show her Ophiuchus, her favorite constellation. They continue to hold hands, hinting at a potentially budding romantic relationship.
Back at school, Alex catches Michael playing a stolen guitar from the music room. Alex spots a pillow and sleeping bag in the bed of Michael’s truck and confirms that Michael actually lives in his truck. Alex reveals that his home life is also bad and tells Michael about the shed where he seeks refuge and offers it to Michael.
At the Crash Down Café, Isobel teases Max about his crush on Liz. They order food, but Isobel corrects it since she is on “a prom dress diet.” Max is understandably confused, considering she previously said she did not care about prom and that she is banned from extracurricular activities. Isobel’s expression suggests she completely forgot, but she jokes about using her powers to change the teacher’s mind. When Isobel is rude to a confused Rosa, it becomes clear she is forgetting half of her actions. Rosa, upset by Isobel, runs headlong into Liz who is carrying milkshakes that crash to the ground. They begin laughing and dancing to the music, and we see again the memory Max shared with Liz in episode two.
Prom evening arrives, and Liz’s father threatens a teenage Kyle about treating Liz right and bringing her home on time. He takes photos of them, and they leave for prom.
Max, Isobel, and Michael arrive at prom and take photos together, but Isobel leaves when Max starts to talk about high school ending. Alex walks outside with Kyle, and his football buddies following him. They argue about Kyle calling Alex something derogatory as Liz, Michael, and Max witness their ensuing fight. Liz follows Alex, yelling at Kyle not to follow her and that he needs to grow up.
Rosa quickly packs her backpack at the cafe with a photo of her and Liz and a train ticket. Isobel arrives, and she tells Rosa she wishes she could be this version of herself all the time. Rosa explains her plan to leave Roswell, and Isobel tells her they should run away together.
Max finds the upset Liz sitting under the gazebo. She divulges that she and Kyle won’t work things out, and she is sad about her mother’s absence. Max comforts her, but Michael arrives saying, “Isobel straight up vanished… and I have a bad feeling,” hinting at the blackouts and possible danger.
They find her the next morning, her hands covered in red spray paint, in a broken bus at the garage. They argue about her behavior as well as their futures, and Isobel ultimately leaves, saying that she can handle her own problems by herself.
Two months later, Alex shows up to the shed to find that Michael accepted his offer and is now living there. He brings him his brother’s guitar, and they discuss Michael’s love for music. “I have all this chaos going on inside me all the time, and all I want to do is get away from myself. Then I play and my entropy changes, everything goes quiet,” he explains. Michael rejects Alex’s attempt to kiss him, but it’s clear the crush is not unrequited.
Isobel finds Rosa looking at her vandalized car, and Rosa theorizes that Kate and Jasmine did it, because they are angry she has stopped partying. Isobel offers to help clean up and approaches an upset Rosa without her realizing. Rosa exclaims that Isobel is just too much for her and runs back inside. Now alone with the car covered in red spray paint, we see Isobel smile slightly at the car, suggesting that maybe she was behind the vandalism.
Inside the café, Max and Michael discuss Isobel’s odd behavior. Max thinks that Isobel is having blackouts again, but Michael shoots down the notion that there is reason to worry. They move on to discuss Max’s plan to ask Liz out. Rosa and Liz storm into the café, arguing over Liz needing the car for a school project. After Rosa leaves, Max offers to give Liz a ride, but she suggests going on an adventure instead.
Max and Liz buy a six-pack of beer with a fake ID and drive out to the desert to drink. They discuss their fake ID alter egos, laugh together as they drink beer, and Liz attempts to teach Max to dance. They dance together, and Liz confesses that she does want to kiss Max but it is too late for them. She does not want to be the kind of girl that leaves people or the kind that changes her plans for a boy. As they watch the sun set, Max offers to change his plans for Liz and go with her on her road trip.
Michael finds Alex at his summer job and asks for a moment alone when he abruptly kisses Alex. They go back to their shed where they nervously make out and ultimately have sex. However the moment is short lived, when Alex’s father shows up to exact punishment on them for being gay “under my roof.” He picks up a hammer menacingly, and when Alex tells him it’s none of his business, his father pins him to the wall by the throat. Michael jumps between them and pushes Manes backwards, but Manes grabs his hand, pins it to the table, and smashes it with the hammer.
Later that night, Max goes to the café to leave a note for Liz on her car. Rosa catches him and warns him to stay away from Liz, and he realizes that Rosa is drunk. When he leaves, Rosa takes the note off the car.
Michael, alone in his truck, has wrapped his severely damaged hand and is drinking acetone when he is suddenly hit with a mental image of the back of a blonde girl’s head who is face down in the dirt. Max is hit with the same image, and they both assume it is Isobel and race away to find her.
Michael finds Rosa’s car, runs up the hill, and kneels next to two bodies. He discovers that the blonde is not Isobel but Rosa’s friend. He checks for a pulse and realizes they are both dead. Michael sprints to the cave where he finds Isobel with her hand over Rosa’s mouth yelling, “I did this for you. Everything I did was for you.” Rosa’s body drops to the ground, and Isobel faints almost immediately.
Max arrives and runs to Isobel’s side as Michael tells him that he saw Isobel kill Rosa, and he believes she killed all three girls. Max tries to resurrect her in the same way we saw him revive Liz, but he is too weak. Panicked and terrified, Michael suggests calling Max’s parents or the police, but they realize doing so would get Isobel arrested.
Slowly, they come to the realization that there is too much evidence, and their only option is to cover up what happened. Michael levitates the bodies into Rosa’s car, and Isobel comes out of the cave just as they are buckling in the bodies. Isobel asks what happened and, in an attempt to protect her, Michael says it was his fault. He claims he was drunk, couldn’t control his powers, and accidentally killed them. Isobel refuses to leave their sides, and Michael and Max continue with their plan. Michael uses his powers to drive the vehicle and crash it, as all three terrified teens watch. Isobel feels this isn’t enough and tells Max to set the vehicle on fire, which he does using his powers.
In the present, Max explains that he and Michael changed their future plans to leave Roswell and could no longer be around each other because of what they had done. They watched Isobel closely, but she never had another blackout, and so they were left with too many questions, the biggest of which is why Isobel killed Rosa and her friends.
At the garage, Michael confronts Isobel with the truth. She is completely shocked by the news, and Michael tries to tell her it was not her fault. She was clearly not in her right mind, and the way she looked at him was like she was a different person. Isobel begins to question if murder is in their DNA, if that is truly what their species is about.
Liz is horrified by the realization that Max and Michael covered up their murder, that he was willing to let the town believe that Rosa killed her friends in an accident, making her family a target. He argues that he was just a stupid kid, but Liz points out that he was brilliant in his plan. Max says he wanted to tell Liz but when he went to see her, she was leaving town and so he chose to let her go. Appalled by everything she has just heard, Liz tells Max she never wants to see him again and leaves without another word.
Isobel tells Michael that if the blackouts are happening to her again, then she is a threat to them and to everyone in Roswell.
Roswell, New Mexico airs Tuesdays on the CW at 9 p.m. EST.