When it comes to making the most of flashback episodes, Roswell, New Mexico really is the model you want to follow. In the sixth episode of our new favorite show, we were dealt an epic game-changing, revelation of an episode that felt more like a two-hour event than a 43-minute episode. There were so many revelations and new layers to relationships revealed that there was never a moment to sit back and relax. And that’s exactly how I like my television.
This episode, which focused mostly on the events in May 2008, was a revelation in how it presented all of the answers to the mystery of Rosa’s death while also managing to raise new questions that left you satisfied but wanting more. It also showed why it was smart to focus this story with these characters as adults rather than their teenage selves. There’s so much story to explore with these characters as individuals and the many different relationships. Every episode feels like a game-changer. But there was no episode more astounding than “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Here are 8 things we can’t stop talking about in this game-changing episode:
1. A Glimpse at the Teenage Years
If anything, this episode solidified my belief that this show is better done with these characters as adults rather than following them through their teenage years. Not only would it be taking a similar path to the original in that aspect, but having these characters as adults and with so many experiences and layers to peel back, there are so many more amazing opportunities for character growth and exploration. Not to mention the flashback aspect, like this episode, allows unique glimpses into the past that feels so incredibly unlike the present. This episode opened the door for more potential flashbacks — maybe not entire flashback episodes, such as this, but flashes that provide more context to the continuing web of mystery.
2. Liz & Max
The parallel between how Liz and Max were as seniors in high school and how they are in the present is quite alarming. It’s definitely a deviation from the original show, which allows for much more angst and downright pain. Getting to watch Liz and Max back in 2008 was refreshing and a little alien (pun not intended), mostly because we haven’t gotten moments in the present with them just being, well, happy. And after watching this episode, it’s easy to see why they’ve changed into the people they are today.
Every time I watch these two I get goosebumps. Jeanine Mason and Nathan Parsons have that kind of chemistry that you can’t force. This show is extremely lucky to have two leads that with a single look can speak a thousand words. A look is all it takes for the goosebumps to start. Watching these characters as teenagers brought all the feels. Getting to see how Max looked at Liz — how Max has always looked at Liz — how much he’s always loved her, even when she never noticed how he looked at her. The way they confided in each other with compassion and trust.
And that scene where they just took a day to have fun. It was so pure and so revealing and oh so damn accurate about how their timing hasn’t been right. They were going to kiss right then and there — and they both wanted it so damn much. Only Liz didn’t want to kiss him and leave. THEY WERE GOING TO GO ON A ROAD TRIP TOGETHER. THEY WERE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE TRAVELING OUTSIDE OF ROSWELL TOGETHER. THEY WERE GOING TO KISS BY THE OCEAN. And then that fateful night happened, and those dreams of riding off into the sunset together went up in flames.
Back in the present, Max told Liz the entire truth about happened, hence our flashback episode, and Liz was shook. Max protected his sister at the expense of Liz’s sister — letting the town believe Rosa killed those girls and subjecting her entire family to hatred for a decade. I can’t help but ask a question that applies to my other OTP on this show: ARE LIZ AND MAX EVER GOING TO GET TO BE HAPPY? Because for most of this time “Echo” has been synonymous with pain. I’m sure it’ll all be worth it in the end — angst and heartbreak allows for growth — but give our hearts a damn break already!
3. Michael & Alex
Speaking of pain…our poor Malex hearts feel like they’re being ripped from our chests over here! Pain in the present, pain in the past. For the love of all that is holy, please don’t let the forecast be for pain in the future. But it wasn’t all pain and torture, as far as the 2008 flashbacks are concerned. At first, we got to see how the connection and that spark ignited a flame within both Michael and Alex. Sharing their first kiss, first love, and first connection. Sure, they’d hooked up before. Just not with another guy. And “not with someone that I like as much as you.” DEAR GOD MICHAEL. LET ME RIP OUT MY HEART AND GIVE IT TO YOU.
The way they look at each other. The way they’ve always looked at each other. In the present, you could always sense there was a lot of backstory we had no idea about. Those shared looks that spoke of a complex history. And this was the episode that revealed that backstory. That beautiful yet heartbreaking backstory. But it’s a part of who they are. And that’s beautiful in its own way.
Getting to see Michael and Alex as teenagers who were figuring out their feelings — and knowing that Alex almost stayed for Michael — really amped the feels up exponentially. Young Michael was so pure and so innocent, and we saw the experiences that really, much like Max, took away his innocence. Seeing how Alex’s dad beat his son for being with Michael, Michael standing up for Alex and receiving a beating of his own, seeing how it broke him. And then there was the Isobel stuff. Watching his sister murder three girls — as the shell of herself — and having to take the blame amongst the three of them and having to cover it all up…that’s something that sticks with you.
4. Isobel & Rosa
Who would’ve thought that we missed all of that with Isobel and Rosa? But when you start to put the pieces together — that mystery relationship Rosa had — it explains the mystery of it all. We got to see some of those moments where Isobel and Rosa really connected and depended on each other. The interesting thing about Isobel’s blackouts is how Isobel blacked out all of those moments with Rosa. At first, it appeared as if Isobel was just pretending not to know Rosa. But the truth was, she really didn’t remember knowing her or the moments they shared.
But, as we know, everything changed in an instant. Isobel killed Rosa, in what appeared to be another blackout of sorts. She said something about Rosa not being trustworthy, which hints that Rosa discovered what Isobel really is. Not that it was any excuse for her to kill Rosa. But, much like we’ve seen, it wasn’t really Isobel. But all of the backstory that we got with Isobel and Rosa somehow makes Rosa’s death all the more heartbreaking.
5. Kyle & Alex
The previous episode shed some rough backstory on Kyle and Alex’s friendship, or lack thereof. When the two met up at their father’s old cabin, they bonded over their silly history and the people they’d become. They had more regrets than they could name. But we also heard a bit about how their relationship turned sour. How the rumors of Alex’s sexuality scared Kyle — not because he didn’t accept Alex but because he didn’t want to be subjected to what came with being Alex’s friend. Of course it was incredibly selfish on Kyle’s part. And we caught a glimpse of how Kyle treated Alex — and how different Kyle was back then. It was brutal to watch. I’d like to see that dynamic explored some more and see if that friendship can be rebuilt. They’ve both lost something that meant a lot to them, and it seems like they could both use a best friend.
6. Young Writer Max
I want to bask in the beauty that was teenage Max. Max Evans, the clean-shaven, brilliant writer with so much appreciation for the beauty of the world. He understood exactly what we all crave: The kind of writing that can take us on a journey; the kind of writing that, for a short while, can help us escape our lives. The difference between Max Evans in 2008 and 2019 is astounding. Teenage Max was full of life and optimism and was a dreamer. Then watching the events that happened that forever changed all of these characters’ lives — no wonder Max is the person we know today. His innocence was taken the night his sister murdered those girls. Oh, how I ache for that sweet teenage boy who saw a bright future.
7. That Tess Mention
It might’ve been slight, but you bet your ass I caught that whole Isobel telling Max he should’ve taken “Tess” to the prom in high school. TESS. THE TESS? Of course it’s THAT Tess. When you go through that emotional turmoil with the original series it’s something that stays with you. I’ve been expecting it, but maybe that drama will be diverted? Did all of the Tess drama already happen? Do we get to skip it? Unlikely. But a girl can dream, right? It doesn’t appear that Max, Michael, or Isobel had any idea that Tess was just like them. That’s a storyline that needs to play out. So I would bet money that eventually — be it this season or next, watch it be the season finale — Tess returns just when Liz and Max are getting back on track. It’s the way of the angst television gods.
8. What’s Happening With Isobel?
Following last episode’s shocking revelation that Isobel was responsible for the deaths of Rosa and those two girls, we were left to speculate: WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? It couldn’t be as cut and dry as Isobel killing Rosa and the girls. It had to be something else. Someone else did it? Something else happened? Some kind of explanation where Isobel didn’t murder those three girls.
And yet, despite all of the speculation and reasoning trying to justify what happened, it turned out that it was in fact Isobel murdering those girls. Only it didn’t seem like Isobel. That scene where Isobel killed Rosa and said it was because “she can’t be trusted” was like an out-of-body experience. Almost as if Isobel wasn’t herself. So what’s the deal? Is it simply bipolar disorder or is there something more mystical responsible? Whatever it is, we need answers. Because that isn’t the Isobel we know.
Roswell, New Mexico airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.