After episode eight’s huge reveal about the true identity of Sanders, we thankfully jump right back in at the beginning of episode nine, “The Diner.” Sanders tries to avoid talking about his past but Michael not so nicely demands answers. Isobel reins him in and offers to buy Sanders drinks as long as he keeps talking. Sanders obviously agrees.
Cut to the lab where Liz is doing more experiments with alien DNA. This time she is aiming to cure all illness on earth, so a typical day for Liz Ortecho. She posits a few hypotheses and begins her clinical analysis, but she is interrupted with a phone call from Arturo asking her to close the cafe that night and she reluctantly agrees.
Alex returns to the bunker to find Jesse Manes’ open bottle of pills and bottle of liquor on the table with a box of his other possessions including his purple heart and a photo of Uncle Tripp.
Max wakes up next to his car to find Sheriff Valenti ready to arrest him. She’s got him in handcuffs on their way back to the station and his anger at the entire situation is palpable.
Meanwhile at the hospital, Kyle and Steph are having a make-out session in the surgery room theater. When the chair pokes Steph, Kyle laments that he can’t take her outside of the hospital, but Steph says he can. So, even though it’s midnight, Kyle takes Steph to the Crashdown Cafe for burgers. When they arrive they find Liz, not Carl, closing up. This makes for an awkward moment when Steph asks if she’s “coat closet girl,” reminding us she caught Liz and Kyle in her father’s office closet. Liz invites them in and whips up some curly fries and burgers for the couple. Liz continues to read the Caulfield files as she cooks. When she emerges with fries they joke about Kyle and Liz’s awkward relationship (including their shared sister) and Steph asks for something stronger than soda. As Liz raids her father’s secret stash, Kyle meets her in the kitchen and asks her not to serve alcohol. Kyle reveals that he read Steph’s patient file and knows about her fatal blood disease.
Liz advises him to tell Steph what he knows. She also confesses she’s resumed her experiments with alien DNA against Max’s wishes and is lying about it. Steph serves as a prime example of Liz’s main goal: to cure illness and save lives. The fire alarm sounds reminding Liz of the burgers still on the grill and Steph appears asking if she should call 911. Kyle and Steph both return to the table. Liz attempts to improve their date with milkshakes and makes a hasty exit, stopping to lower the lights and turn on the jukebox on her way out. Their date really begins and Steph asks Kyle what’s the worst thing he’s done and she reciprocates with her worst thing. Their date seems to improve until Kyle come clean about reading her medical records. Steph is furious and abruptly leaves after accusing him of just wanting to “give the dying girl one last thrill.” Liz comes downstairs, and offers to try and help Steph. Kyle reminds her she can’t go public with her research without exposing the aliens in Roswell. In walks Isobel who is furious with Kyle over Max’s latest predicament.
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We rejoin Isobel, Michael, and Sanders for midnight drinks at The Wild Pony where Sanders tells them about Louise and Nora. Sanders begins his story in 1947, when he ran away from home at age eight and ended up at the Roswell diner. There he met Bronson who let him work on the Long farm and cared for him. When the crash happened Bronson again took in and cared for total strangers, Louise and Nora. They became a family. Walt hid while overhearing an argument between Nora, Louise, and Sanders about attending the local fair. Nora feels they are still in danger, but Bronson thinks they are safe and her pumpkin launcher (Nora has a proclivity for engineering, just like Michael) would win. She comments that only Louise can “protect the child” so she must protect her at all costs. In the end Nora agrees to go.
Following the fair, Walt overhears Tripp and another soldier in the cafe planning to raid the Long farm after they see the photo of Nora in the paper. Walt hurries to warn them, and they agree not to leave right away when Walt asks for one more night as a family. Unbeknownst to them, the military arrived that night. In the dark they encircle the barn, with Walt giving just enough warning for Nora to slip something into his pocket, tell him “x” marks the spot, and hide him in a wooden box. Walt heard the gun shot that killed Bronson followed by rapid shots into the barn. A piece of shrapnel hits him in the eye and we now know why Sanders wears an eye patch. He reveals that Nora had built and escape hatch and Walt is able to get out of the barn before it explodes. Outside he sees Louise on the ground and the voiceover of Sanders laments not helping them. The soldiers left no survivors, killing everyone including neighbors who came to help put the fire out. Walt ran to a truck parked far from the barn. Sanders says he left Roswell and never wanted to return, but the paper Nora gave him was a map to the three pods location. He checked in on them from time to time until one day they were gone and no longer his problem. Before leaving, he tells Isobel that Louise was a firecracker just like Isobel.
Isobel and Michael argue over whether Sanders is telling the truth. Michael also makes the leap that “the child” refers to Max and therefore his mother sacrificed herself to save him, the savior. Isobel is irritated with Michael’s sudden regression to blaming everything on Max, again, and when she suddenly hears Max reaching out telekinetically she chooses to go on her own.
We reset at midnight, this time joining Alex and Manes in the bunker. Alex questions why he never told Alex about Tripp to which Manes replies, “men don’t cry in front of their sons.” As he tells the story, a young Manes joins Tripp at the cafe in 1987. Tripp decides to entrust Jesse with information, but Harlan interrupts and sends Jesse home. Before he leaves Tripp tells him, “justice must never be served until disaster has struck.” This was their final interaction. Manes tells Alex that at Tripp’s funeral he was told an alien got in his head and seduced Tripp for revenge on their family. Manes shows Alex the paper with odd symbols Tripp gave him at the diner, but Manes still can’t decipher it. Alex gets a text and leaves when Manes refuses to stop drinking.
At midnight, Sheriff Valenti and Max arrive at a diner. She hopes he will divulge the truth even if he did kill Noah. Another piece of the puzzle falls into place when Max denies having a troubled past. Sheriff Valenti reveals she was the responding officer when Max, Isobel, and Michael were found. She checked on them at the shelter and saw Max screaming and coloring on the walls. Michael took the crayon to calm Max down, and that’s the moment the Evanses arrived. That’s the moment they chose Max and Isobel. Max is unwilling to accept the Sheriff’s version of the story and his temper flares when she asks for the truth. She moves on to the Gunther twins’ property cameras catching Mimi getting out of a hunting van. The same van was seen on a camera near Cam’s car the night she disappeared and again at the hotel where Max was arrested. She believes Max is responsible. Max reaches out to Isobel when Valenti places him under arrest.
At the station, Isobel is chatting with one of the deputies as she feigns surprise when she sees Max and Valenti walk in. She attempts to use her powers on Valenti and immediately fates. She revives quickly and tries to pass it off as being “a fainter” and leaves to find Liz. What she finds at the diner however is Liz and Kyle, the very person she knows is responsible for her inability to change the sheriff’s mind. Kyle confesses he put pollen from the lab (this explains why Michael couldn’t find it!) and put it in the perfume he gave her so that she would be protected. He refuses to let Isobel change her mind but leaves to “take care of it.”
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We find out the text Alex received was from Michael asking Alex to come to The Wild Pony. Once inside, Michael tells Alex about Sanders. He doesn’t want to resent Max, but he can’t reconcile the idea that his mom sacrificed herself. Alex questions if the story is true and offers another version of events based on his conversation with Manes. What if Nora was involved with Tripp, who was trying to protect her. If Harlan ordered the raid earlier than Tripp warned Walt at the diner, Tripp couldn’t interfere without suspicion. Instead of Tripp shooting Bronson, Harlan shot him from behind and Tripp set the barn on fire to give Louise time to get away. Michael points out that either way Tripp failed. Louise was shot and Nora went to Caulfield. Alex highlights Tripp’s final words to Manes and the difference from what Manes always told Alex. Again Michael says it doesn’t matter and leaves.
Kyle arrives at the jail and asks Max to tell the truth. Not the whole truth, obviously, but a truth. When Sheriff Valenti interrupts their conversation, Max shows her his scar from heart surgery and tells her he was unconscious when they disappeared. He withheld the information “for personal reasons” and wanted to move forward and to make her proud. He also tells her that Noah likely killed 14 people and abused Isobel. She’s clearly moved and releases Max. “There are people in this county who deserve the protection of honest police officers like you,” Max tells her. “He’s was not one of them.” This isn’t our usual Max Evans speech but Nathan Dean delivers it beautifully with raw emotion visible throughout this entire episode.
Alex ends up at the cafe with Liz and Isobel searching for Tripp’s favorite booth. They find it and Liz discovers a brick with an x. Behind it she finds a photo of an aged Louise and a note reading “thank you Tripp” with their alien symbol. The realization that Louise survived the raid hits them all and Alex says he knows where to go next. Cue the moment we award “worst human ever” to Jesse Manes (again) as we discover he has bugged Alex’s phone and overhears everything. He gets up to leave the bunker, positively springing up the stairs and proving he’s not the least bit injured. He even turns around to grab his cane so he can keep up the charade. Worst. Human. Ever.
Now sunrise, (6 a.m. to be exact), Sanders arrives at the garage to find Michael already hard at work. Michael confesses that he has stolen copper wire from Sanders over the last few years and suggests he keep real hours and Sanders to garnish 25% of his wages, but that’s as much as he says before Sanders cuts him off. He tells Michael he knows all about the wire and doesn’t care. Sanders also tells him that he tried to adopt Michael twice from the group home, but they wouldn’t let him. The realization of that fact plus everything he’s learned in the last six hours hits Michael full force, and as Sanders walks away Michael breaks down. Vlamis gives another powerhouse performance. There were certainly no dry eyes in the fandom after that scene.
At the cafe, Max arrives fresh from jail to find Liz is still closing the cafe down. They briefly discuss Charlie’s possible abduction, and Max asks to leave so they can sleep. Liz agrees but not before she bags Steph’s straw for the DNA and what’s sure to be some interesting experiments.
Roswell, New Mexico airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on The CW.