‘Roswell, New Mexico’ Season One, Episode Eight Recap: “Barely Breathing”
Last week’s episode, “I Saw the Sign,” revealed Liz had concocted a serum that in theory would neutralize the powers of Max, Michae,l and Isobel, with the latter being the main target. This week’s episode was one that executive producer Christopher Hollier called one of his “favorite episodes to come off the board,” and it did not disappoint.
The opening scene sees a collage of pictures of the sibling trio throughout the years, with a voiceover of Isobel talking about safety; the camera pans to live video surveillance footage keeping tabs on the siblings individually, with Lieutenant Colonel Manes watching from a computer screen. The surveillance footage of Max shows him outside his home, preparing for the arrival of, presumably, the car that is slowly approaching. He sits on the porch with an unknown woman, eventually asking her, “How are you and dad doing?” Yes, that’s right — we’ve officially met Mom. The two spend a few minutes conversing about small town law enforcement hassles (accurately, I might add), and the scene ends on a bit of a cliffhanger when she asks if Isobel is on her way.
Next we see Liz in her lab, joined by Dr. Valenti wanting to talk about Isobel. They have a short but slightly heated discussion about why she had not told him Isobel was the one that had killed Rosa. When Liz says, “I didn’t want to drag you further into all of this,” he stops himself just short of calling Rosa his sister, opting to call her his friend instead. Liz then walks over to where she had stored the serum and reveals it to him, explaining its purpose. While Dr. Valenti has the serum in his hands, he looks to the caged mice in the lab and everything blurs, but only momentarily as Liz quickly takes the serum back to its original spot.
The next few scenes transition quickly, and we get more information on several scenes from earlier in the episode and the start of a new situation. Jesse Manes exits the bunker, turns to see his son, Alex, and attempts to blow him off, resulting in the younger Manes using his crutch to knock his father unconscious. We, then, return to Max and his mother, who begin to talk about Isobel being admitted to the hospital psych ward, leading Max to ask about the infamous unknown symbol. His mother reveals Michael had drawn the symbol numerous times all over the walls of the foster home. Next, we see a short scene in which Dr. Valenti is in Isobel’s isolated room, and he quickly jams the serum from Liz into her chest. (It is ultimately revealed she got in his head to make him do this.)
The Max-and-Isobel twin connection once again becomes apparent when Max realizes something is wrong with her almost immediately after she is injected, even though she does not exhibit any signs of a reaction, at least not initially. While she and her husband, Noah, talk, she begins to cough up blood; the scene cuts to Liz and Dr. Valenti in the lab, revealing Isobel’s cells are rotting.
Liz and Michael have proven to be geniuses in their own right, and we finally get to see them team up in an attempt to save Isobel. They head to Michael’s trailer, and he reveals the entrance to an old underground shelter. Once inside, Michael shows Liz his converted fallout shelter, the place filled with alien artifacts, including covered ones that Liz is absolutely not allowed to touch. (What are you hiding, Guerin?)
Michael explains that he has gotten everything either by digging it up, buying it, or stealing it. Liz quickly figures out he is trying to rebuild their spaceship when she finds drawings and possible recreations lying on a table. Rather than confirm he is working on a rebuild, he confesses to Liz that Isobel did convince her to leave town all those years ago. Michael is tired of all the lies and the secrets, but Liz assures him that, although Isobel may have influenced her, it was always her decision to leave.
Michael then shows Liz test tubes filled with a milk-like substance he extracted from the pods. There is a bit of a problem though: it is practically useless, because once it comes into contact with Earth’s atmosphere, it evaporates. However, seeing as how it is the one thing that will most likely save Isobel, they get to work.
Inside Isobel’s room, Noah wants answers from Kyle. All Kyle can say is, “Talk to Max.” Noah points out that since he is her husband, he is technically next of kin. So Kyle says, “Then let me treat her.” Noah leaves visibly upset, and his anger and possible guilt become apparent when he punches his face in the bathroom mirror. It is only a matter of time before he either starts searching for the answers he is not getting from his family and Kyle, or someone tells him. The question is, how will he react?
In the cave with their pods, Michael figures out what they need to do, but he is unsure how they will do it. He knows in order for Isobel to have a chance, she needs to be inside the pod. Though, again, how do they get her inside? Meanwhile, Kyle is buying as much time as he can by hooking up pure nail polish remover to the IV pump instead of morphine. He and Isobel begin to discuss why Kyle is even helping. He explains that during his internship, he worked a mass shooting, and the shooter was brought in to the hospital along with the victims. He says the best advice he got was to “shut up and do your job.” To him, Isobel is not a murderer; she is his patient, and her past does not affect her treatment.
We switch back to the Maneses, and we see Alex using his skills (and that’s a massive understatement) to hack into the outdated system being used in the bunker in an attempt to get more information from his father, but to no avail. He is convinced Jesse is framing Michael. Jesse in turn tells Alex that he has been blinded and Michael has been targeting him for over a decade now. (Pot, meet kettle.) All the while, Jesse is blinded by his own biased views, convinced the aliens are all monsters infiltrating the human race.
The conversation is doomed; Alex might be getting facts, but those facts are coming from a biased viewpoint, and Jesse will not even entertain the possibility that he could be wrong. The underlying sentiment in this scene is that Alex is finally getting to say things he has held in for years. The emotions range from the time Alex came out as gay, to the when he was sent off to the military, and all these emotions are bubbling to the surface at once.
Back at the cave, Michael and Liz discuss how to penetrate the pod. Michael explains he eventually discovered that a silver needle will remove the substance inside. With this information in hand, Liz tells Michael to go get Isobel, that she would figure out how to get her inside the pod, because even for aliens, time is precious. Touching the pod with silver jewelry adorning her wrists and fingers, Liz gets the answer she needs as the pod bubbles under her touch. She quickly works to remove all her jewelry and dumps everything into a bowl.
In Isobel’s hospital room, emotions rise to the surface, especially Max’s frustrations with Isobel. He paces the room and speaks aloud, though Isobel seems to be either asleep or unconscious. He is angry that she made Kyle inject the serum, and he is angry she would leave him and Michael alone. He says he loves her and that in losing her, he would lose himself; it would kill him. As Isobel opens her eyes, Michael enters the room with news of his and Liz’s plan. Isobel is completely on board, making it clear she wants to live, presumably for the sake of her brothers.
In his father’s bunker, Alex lets him go, but with a stipulation: Jesse is going to train at the facility in Niger, and when it is time to come back, he is to request a transfer out of Roswell. If he does not comply with that and decides to stay in Roswell, Alex will alert the Pentagon about Jesse’s project, because it was shut down by the government, and his continuance of the project went against direct orders. This information getting out would result in Jesse being dishonorably discharged.
One of the final scenes in this episode gives us a true, heartfelt family moment. Michael heads to the cave ahead of Max and Isobel, the latter wanting to say goodbye to her husband. Liz shows him the bowl with the now melted jewelry. As Max and Isobel arrive, there are still many questions at hand, like the one Max raises: if they lost their memories the last time they left the pods, what is stopping Isobel from forgetting everything again? Michael assures him that if that happens, they will remind her. With a promise to Isobel that they will tell her everything, she hands Max her ring for safe keeping and eases to the ground. Liz helps her remove the hospital gown and works to cover her body in the melted silver. Isobel covers her own face with the liquid, and with her body completely covered, she enters the pod.
Michael leaves the cave afterwards, leaving Max and Liz to talk alone. Max thanks Liz, and she tells him he should forgive her, that the loss, however temporary, will hurt less if he were not angry. She continues on to admit that she was glad Isobel made her leave Roswell: she got to see two oceans, and (in a statement that stung Max) she also stated that she was glad se left, because she and Max are not meant to be together.
The episode ends with Jenna meeting Jesse, who is following through with Alex’s warning and leaving on a flight to Niger. But Jesse has a request: he wants Jenna to be his lookout for anything strange, and whatever she finds to tell him. Jesse wants intel on Alex too, and he has his own threats for her if she fails to follow through: he promises to send Jenna’s sister back to maximum security.
Max had mentioned earlier in the episode when talking to his mother that he and Isobel did not know how to ask for more than what they had been given when they were growing up. But by the episode’s end, it seemed he finally figured out how to do just that. He goes to her and, without a word, breaks down crying in her arms.
Next week is bound to answer a few questions and no doubt raise more as Isobel stays in stasis within the pod. What consequences will there be as Noah seeks answers about his wife? And will Max and Michael find out more about their alien natures or home planet? Find out next week! Roswell, New Mexico airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW.