The second episode of the CW’s latest hit Roswell, New Mexico, “So Much For The Afterglow” (hey, Everclear!), continues on with the same exciting and mysterious momentum as the pilot. This reboot has certainly proven itself already, drawing in both long time fans and brand new viewers alike. In this episode, we dive further into the death of Rosa Ortecho and the dangerous fallout from long withheld secrets and things left unsaid.
Warning: Spoilers incoming!
The episode opens up with Liz’s internal monologue, contemplating her sister Rosa’s death, as she leaves a rose on her grave in commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the accident. This sets the scene for the rest of the episode, which is heavily focused on Liz’s relationship with her sister and the nature of her untimely passing.
Cue the arrival of Max, and audiences are once again treated to the incredible on-screen chemistry between Jeanine Mason and Nathan Parsons. Even when it comes to small talk, these two continue to prove that they really are the perfect match to play the roles of Liz Ortecho and Max Evans.
Before leaving the graveyard, Max takes one last haunted look at Rosa’s grave. In the pilot episode, it was made clear that Max, Isobel, and Michael know more than they are letting on about the night of Rosa’s death — and this scene is yet another reminder of that.
Max drops off Liz at home, and she comes clean that her return to Roswell is only temporary. An emotional exchange follows:
Liz: “I don’t know why that was so hard to tell you.”
Max: “Maybe the same reason it was so hard to hear it.”
Max takes a shuddering breath and says goodnight, and okay, I am definitely already sniffling at this point in the episode. It is refreshing, to say the least, to see romance where a strong, male character displays such aching vulnerability at the drop of a dime. Max Evans, we love you, extraterrestrial or not. Before heading inside, Liz indignantly reminds Max that she still wants to kiss him and tells him to meet her at sunrise at the old turquoise mines the following day.
Next, we find Master Sergeant Jesse Manes and Kyle in the military bunker again. He discusses the government’s top secret alien task force, Project Shepherd. Manes continues to prod at Kyle, attempting to glean more information from him in regards to the hand print. Kyle, however, remains steadfast in his morals and principles as a doctor, citing his responsibility to maintain doctor-patient confidentiality. He then proceeds to inform Manes that his patient with the hand print is still alive, which does not bode well for any parties involved in this mess.
Meanwhile, over at the police station, Max’s partner Jenna brings him the traffic cam footage from the evening that Liz was shot. Jenna informs Max that the shooter is already in custody, but he is certain that the wrong person was apprehended. Upon inspecting the footage, the pair find themselves a new suspect: Wyatt Long. Wyatt’s sister died as a result of Rosa’s car accident, which gives him an unquestionable motive for his actions.
At the diner, Rosa is awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of intruders downstairs. She creeps into the diner with a field hockey stick to find Isobel and Michael waiting for her. They heckle and intimidate her over Max, even going as far as bring up Liz’s thus far unmentioned (ex) fiancé.
Michael closes in on Liz, bearing down on threats of what will happen if she divulges the trio’s secret. Max then comes bursting in, punching his brother with no remorse. The confrontation then fizzles out as Isobel and Michael storm out of the diner, but not before Isobel stops to confront Max to ask what is wrong with him.
Liz comes downstairs in the morning, ready to work, but her dad informs her that it has become somewhat of a yearly tradition for townsfolk to vandalize the diner every year on the anniversary of Rosa’s accident. In lieu of that, and due to the recent shooting, he decided it would be best to remain closed for the day. Liz then attempts to convince her dad to move to California with her, to leave behind their painful past that lingers in the town. However, her dad sees their home as a reminder of the happier memories with his family. Liz clearly still has a lot to reconcile in regards to the relationship she had with her sister and the subsequent loss of that.
Upon returning to his humble, mobile ranch abode, Michael finds Alex waiting for him. Alex informs him that the government has officially taken over the ranch, leaving him but 24 hours to vacate the premises. Michael begins to taunt Alex and grabs him in a provocative manner, but he is quickly shut down as Alex firmly tells him that there will not be a repeat of what happened between them at the reunion. We then learn that the government has shut down three ranches already, so something is certainly brewing on that front.
Liz visits Kyle at the hospital again, but this time she has an ulterior motive. She explains that she is hoping to see Rosa’s toxicology report, as a way of helping her come to terms with what happened. Memories are mentioned once again (referring back to Liz’s conversation with her father), as Kyle says to her “If you’re going to forgive her, don’t focus on the science. Focus on the memories.”
Later, Max meets Liz at the church. She tells him that she wants him to share any memories that he has of Rosa, which he immediately blanches at, stating that he barely knew her. Despite his discomfort, Liz pleads with him and he eventually gives in.
A montage of memories of Rosa and Liz together, from Max’s point of view, are shown. Max eventually pulls away, but Liz desperately pulls his hand back. A brief memory of Rosa angrily pushing Max is shown, before that quickly fades as well. Liz, having seen what she needed to see (happy memories of her relationship with her sister and the love Rosa had for her), is overcome with emotion. What is certain to be a tender moment between her and Max is interrupted as he is paged by his partner.
Meanwhile, Isobel finds Michael at the bar, and she tries to recruit him to help her figure out what is wrong with Max. But he is clearly dealing with his own issues at the moment. We are then given some insight into Michael’s past. He explains that he is so attached to the ranch because he constantly returned there as a child; it was the last place he saw their family, and he thought maybe someone would show up to bring him home eventually.
Elsewhere, we come back to Max as he and Jenna seek out Wyatt. Max’s anger flares up once again, as he tips on the brink of spiraling out of control. He regains his composure though, and his partner and Wyatt have a target practice challenge as a result of noticing the gun that their suspect is carrying. Jenna smokes Wyatt by a mile, and tops it off by blowing out one of the tires on his truck. Once Wyatt and his gang clear out, they collect the leftover bullet shells and are able to confirm that they are indeed the same bullets that were found at the diner.
Back at the bar, Alex shows up and there is a warm reunion between him and Liz. We learn that Maria is hosting a 90’s night at the bar in memory of Rosa. (And not to be overlooked — all of the episode titles for the first season are hit song titles from the 90’s!) Shortly after, Liz sits doodling at the bar as Maria works. She hands her friend a piece of paper, on which the words ‘a fraudulent zodiac’ are written (the same phrase she saw on Rosa’s hand in Max’s memory). Unaware of the connotations of this seemingly insignificant piece of information, she casually questions Maria about it. Maria is confused and upset, as she explains that Rosa wrote those song lyrics (from Third Eye Blind’s “God of Wine”) on her hand the night that she died.
Liz, distressed and upset, storms into the hospital in search of Kyle. When she finds him, he shares with her the autopsy that was on file for Rosa. They come to the conclusion that it is a fake, as it incorrectly marks Rosa’s appendix as present when she died. He then pulls out a confidential folder, which Liz quickly snatches from his hands. As Liz opens up Rosa’s real autopsy report, Kyle confides in her that Rosa’s death was not an accident; he believes that she was murdered by an alien. So much for keeping Project Shepherd mum, huh?
We return to Isobel and Michael, as she continues to urge her brother to talk to Max. We learn more about the siblings’ past, which further explains Michael’s peculiar demeanor. He blatantly refuses to call Isobel and Max his family, as he was separated from Max and Isobel when they were adopted first (and together) from their shared group home.
The duo then overhears Wyatt talking to his friends at the bar, boasting about the evening that he shot up the diner. The crew heads out with plans to enact further revenge on the Ortechos, much to the dismay of Isobel. She forcefully tells Michael that they need to follow them, purely out of fear for what Max will do if he is pushed too far. Michael remains stoic as Isobel leaves him behind with a parting question: “Is there really nobody in this world that you wouldn’t risk everything to save?” The camera, mimicking Michael’s point of view, pans to Alex sitting on the other side of the bar. Seriously guys, work out your issues!
Over at the diner, Max is parked across the street in his patrol car, watching and waiting. He soon hears the sounds of a fight nearby, and arrives at the back of the diner just in time to rescue Liz’s dad from the onslaught of attacks by Wyatt and his crew.
Cut back to the hospital, and Liz continues to flip through the photos in the real autopsy report. Distraught, she comes across a photograph of Rosa’s hand with the song lyrics written on it. With her suspicions now confirmed, she storms out.
Max chases down Wyatt and quickly loses control once he catches him. Wyatt eggs him on as Max staggers near the edge of no return, beginning to channel his powers to inflict further damage upon the man. Michael and Isobel show up just in time though, as they stop the fight and confront Max once his guard is finally down. He admits that he knows something is wrong with him, explaining that it has felt like there has been a poison inside of him ever since he healed Liz.
Liz storms into the diner to find her injured father sitting inside, though in seemingly better shape than when he was last seen in the back alley. He tells her what happened and proceeds to praise Max, not just for his heroic efforts that evening, but also for the respectable man that he has proven himself to be in the time that Liz has been gone.
The following morning, Liz and Max meet at the old turquoise mines, just as planned. Max immediately tells her that he lied to her, which was seemingly a lead-in to further information about the night of Rosa’s death. However, he instead explains that he is not okay – something has been wrong inside of him since he healed her and he is only able to fight it when he is with her. She quickly shuts him down, telling him that he was right in saying that she would realize her feelings were not the same once the hand print faded.
Max’s face crumples (as did the hearts of viewers near and far) as the sting of her rejection settles in. Liz carries on, though, and asks Max when the last time that he saw Rosa was. The lie that he responds with is yet another nail in the coffin for our beloved pair, as Liz is clearly on to him at this point.
Later, Michael is shown packing up his trailer in preparation for his eviction from the ranch. He comes across an old photo of himself with Alex, and then he proceeds to look at the remains of a burn injury on his hand (yet another mystery to hopefully be explained). In the background, Third Eye Blind’s “God of Wine” begins to play.
On the other side of town, Max shows up at his partner Jenna’s house. Their relationship, which was lightly hinted at in their first scene earlier in the episode, is clearly more than a professional one. Jenna’s offhand comment seems to define it as physical, rather than romantic, though.
Back at the ranch, Alex shows up, and the tension between him and Michael comes to a head.
Michael: “Where I stand, nothing’s changed”
Alex: “Yeah, including the way you look at me. That’s a problem for me, Guerin. ‘Cause every time you look at me, I’m 17 again. And I forget that the last 10 years even happened. And then you look away, and I remember all over again. And it almost kills me every time.”
Michael: “I never look away. Not really.”
Something visceral shifts between the two of them in that poignant moment, and then Max turns and heads into the trailer with Michael quickly following.
The next scenes jump back and forth between the two separate heated moments occurring, and we see the stark contrast between both sets of lovers. With one, there is old love and adoration being reawakened and found again. With the other, it is an orchestrated distraction, indulgence for temporary relief. The last close up on Max’s face conveys the pain that he is fighting to forget.
In the final scene, Kyle finds Liz at Rosa’s grave. Though she is still unsure about the mysteries surrounding the night of her sister’s death, she is certain about one thing: she is sticking around in Roswell to find out who killed Rosa. In a shocking turn of events, her final line is “Even if it was Max Evans.” Roll credits, as viewers are left reeling over the fact that Liz has not only begun to distrust Max, but she has now completely betrayed him by outing him to Kyle.
I am excitedly looking forward to see what further secrets are unveiled throughout the rest of the season – and truly hoping that Liz and Max manage to get past their currently doomed trajectory!
Roswell, New Mexico‘s next episode “Tearin’ Up My Heart” airs on the CW on Jan 29 at 9/8c.