It’s been 20 years since Max saved Liz in the Crashdown Cafe and kicked off the improbable run of Roswell, a sci-fi teen drama that launched the careers of Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr, Majandra Delfino, Katherine Heigl, Colin Hanks, Nick Wechsler, and Emilie de Ravin. Saved from the brink of cancellation twice by its devoted fans, Roswell is just as beloved today as it was in 1999. In honor of the anniversary, several staff members share their most memorable episodes.
Sarah’s Favorite Episode: Season Two, Episode Three “Surprise”
It’s Isabel’s 18th birthday. She goes to the Crashdown Café, all dressed up and finds everyone there for a surprise party. They ask her why she is dressed up if she had no idea, it turns out Isabel had a date with Grant. During the party, she keeps getting flashes of Tess calling out for help like she is in trouble. Maria drives Isabel to where she saw in a flash, while Liz stays behind and covers for them all. Alone, Isabel goes into the warehouse to find Tess and escape. While trying to leave, Congresswoman Whitaker appears demanding to know where the Granilith is, Isabel has no idea what she is saying. Whitaker tells Isabel that she knew her in her alien life, but as Vilandra and that she betrayed her family for love. When Whitaker catches up to them, she threatens to kill them, Isabel uses her powers to defend herself and Tess and kills Whitaker. Wanting to be left alone, she goes to the pod chamber and talks out loud to her mother. She sees the light behind the pod and crawls through the hole and finds the Granilith.
Rachel’s Favorite Episode: Season Three, Episode 18 “Graduation”
As the group prepare for graduation Liz develops a new alien power of premonitions of the future. Liz sees several visions of Max, Michael, Isabel and herself being killed in 12 days time, so the four of them plan to leave Roswell after graduation. All through the episode we see the shady alien hunting government group gathering evidence of who to target. Max proposes to Liz on her rooftop using “a trick I learned of Superman” to turn a piece of charcoal from the BBQ into a diamond and she accepts.The others attend graduation, realising once they’re there that that is where they will be killed. Max takes to the stage as a distraction to give everyone else time to escape and is rescued at the last minute by Michael, who remembered the message from the psychic. The teens meet up in the desert and Jesse turns up with a van for them and wants to go as well, but Isabel wont let him. They run into Jim Valenti as they’re leaving, he’s a Deputy now and has laid a false trail of their escape and a safe route for them to get out.Liz and Max get married and we see Jeff, Liz’s dad, reading her diary that she left for him. Explaining everything that has really been going on in her life for the last three years. She tells him to let her mom read it and for Maria’s mom then to “Take it and burn it our in the desert by the ruins of the pod chamber where my husband was born.”
I love this episode because its a beautiful culmination of the season and the series as a whole. All the secrets that the teens have been keeping from their families are finally revealed and we get to see Liz and Max getting married and know that the group of teens are out in the world facing everything together.
Julia’s Favorite Episode: “Summer of ’47”
When Michael is forced to interview a military veteran for a school project, he begins to learn more about the Roswell Incident of 1947 (the real unexplained event that inspired the series.) The best part? As Hal the veteran narrates his story, the regular cast plays the various people in his memories, giving them the chance to play completely new characters. It also sets the scene for the huge reveal that there are four other pods that landed in Roswell that day — four other aliens are out there. I love this episode because it starts off as a comedy, with the odd couple duo of Hal and Michael trading barbs. It’s even a novelty for a while, seeing the actors we know and love as 1947 citizens. But it slowly becomes an episode about how much the aliens owe to the humans around them, not to mention important to the series mythology as a whole as the duplicate aliens are introduced. It’s wacky, it’s dramatic, it’s quintessential Roswell.
Best Episode of Season One: “Pilot” (Julia)
Is there any other choice? The series pilot is excellent, with more iconic Roswell scenes packed into one hour than any other episode. It instantly gets the audience emotionally invested in the characters and world of Roswell. It gives us the “Max Saves Liz” moment, the “not of this Earth” reveal, and of course, the “Crash Into Me” scene at the festival that promises much more to come between Max and Liz. It’s a great episode to kick off the series, and it has a special place in my heart.
Best Season Two, Episode Six: “Harvest” (Sarah)
The group discover that someone is covering up Congresswoman Whitaker’s death by saying it was a car accident. During their search in her office, they see that she was from Copper Summit, Arizona and a member of the Universal Friendship League. They decide to go there, while Michael and Maria stay behind to see what information about the skin Courtney there is. Meeting Whitaker’s parents, they remain the night to go to the memorial the next day. Nicholas, Whitaker’s little brother, seems to know more about what is going on and is interested in Isabel. He gets her to follow him down to a chamber where glass containers are with the Skins husks are kept. Nicholas calls her Vilandra and that she is supposed to be with them. At the memorial, Liz touches the body, and it breaks, Max and Tess notice that everyone there are skins. Michael and Maria come and save Isabel and before everyone leaves, and grab Courtney’s husk.
Best Episode of Season Three: “I Married An Alien” (Rachel)
This episode stands out for me because of the way they really lean into the comedy with constant switches between the reality of the Roswell universe and a alien version of the 1960’s Bewitched. The cartoon version of a spaceship we see and the visible strings moving objects that are reacting to Isabel’s “powers” really give the episode the retro vibe. I loved seeing Jesse protecting Isabel, Michael and Max despite not knowing their secret and the fact it was his friend that he was protecting them from.
Roswell is currently streaming on Hulu. The reboot Roswell, NM will air its second season on the CW in 2020, and the first season is available for streaming on Netflix.