You never know when Roswell, New Mexico is going to hit you right in the heart with an emotional episode that leaves you sobbing on the floor. Whatever I was expecting in “I’ll Stand By You,” it wasn’t the perfection that was this fifth — that’s right fifth — episode of season 2.
As I’ve mentioned countless times, Roswell, New Mexico never has a dull episode. But the really emotional ones have a way of hitting at the perfect time — even when you’re not expecting them.
And considering the high stakes of this episode — and the fact that Michael Guerin was at the center of it all — it made for easily my favorite episode of the season.
Let’s breakdown this incredibly emotional episode of Roswell, New Mexico — and how basically most of this review is a love letter to one Michael Guerin (and Michael Vlamis).
Michael Has Always Depended On Himself
Michael Guerin is someone that not a lot of people understand. Because in order to understand Michael Guerin, you have to understand what happened to him and how that’s shaped his entire existence.
From the time Michael woke up from the pods and wasn’t adopted with Max and Isobel, Michael was alone. He was forced, even at the tender age of 7, to take care of himself. And given his troubled past — in foster care, the physical and emotional beatings — it’s a miracle that Michael didn’t collapse under the weight.
But Michael Guerin is also a lot stronger than people give him credit for. Because some people see broken as weak. And that’s not exactly the case. There’s no denying Michael is broken — how could he not be after everything he’s experienced and continues to experience? But Michael has put up armor around himself to prevent people from hurting him. And he’s become stronger for it.
Even if those are people that love him, that care about him. And contrary to what some people might believe, there’s no weakness in pushing someone away. Especially when it’s someone that you love.
While Max and Isobel have always considered Michael to be family, it hasn’t been as easy for Michael. After all, he didn’t get the perks of family. The safety, the love, and the comfort that families typically provide. No, Michael had to suffer on his own. Michael had to be his own hero.
It’s not that Michael likes being alone, it’s that he’s gotten used to it. All his life, he hasn’t known security, stability. Love was temporary. Words were merely broken promises. Friendships weren’t reliable. Family let you down. That’s
So Michael did what he had to do to protect himself: He pushed people away. Michael would test their love — just how much they cared — until they got close enough to hurt him. Then, he’d push them away. He worried about himself, because no one was going to.
At least, that’s what Michael believes.
But the thing is, Michael was so intent on keeping the bad stuff out, that he failed to realize that there was some good that was getting lost in all of the pushing away. Max. Isobel. Alex. Maria.
While there were countless people that let Michael down, that hurt him, there were people that chose not to give up on him.
Michael is a man of action. Words mean nothing. You can say everything you want — make promises of love, commitment, forever. But Michael knows better than to trust words. He’s been let down by words too many times. Ultimately, it’s actions that will show someone’s true intentions.
Max Was The One Person That Never Gave Up On Michael
The one thing that’s been touched upon, but not really explored, was how Max and Michael’s relationship deteriorated after the Isobel/Rosa incident. While “Smells Like Teen Spirit” showed us a more laid back Max and Michael — friends that were just living life — we saw how quickly things changed.
Suddenly, they had to lie to everyone. They stopped hanging out, they grew apart, and that only served to increase Michael’s determination to keep trying to push Max away. While anyone else would’ve caved, Max never did.
We saw that in the flashbacks — how Max tried to make things work with their friendship after the accident, how Max became a cop in case he had to bail Michael out of trouble he couldn’t get himself out of. These are those actions I mentioned earlier — showing Michael that Max cares about him. That’s never changed. Even if their relationship has.
And as Max was dying, Michael was starting to understand. While Michael has tried to protect himself by isolating, he’s only kept himself away from his family — from Max and Isobel. And as Max was dying, Michael was realizing that he might never get a chance to make it right. That he might never get a chance to be a family — a real family.
You saw that in the seven hours of dedication Michael used to make a pacemaker for Max’s heart. You saw that in the way he embraced Isobel at the hospital, as family greets each other. And you saw that in the way Michael collapsed upon himself in pure grief at the belief that Max was truly gone forever.
As Michael was letting everything off his chest as Max rested in a coma, he spoke about how Max had showed up just in time — as Michael was getting used to being alone. Michael had known exponential amounts of pain as a child, and Max was always by his side. Refusing to give up on him. It wasn’t about playing the hero, as Michael used to joke with Max, but rather about protecting someone he cared about.
While Michael was trying to protect himself by pushing others like Max away, Max was protecting Michael by refusing to leave. So, yeah, Max saved Michael.
And how fitting that Michael also saved him. Now, they’re even. Which is exactly what someone would say to his brother.
“Loving Michael Guerin is the easiest thing in the world.”
Petition to make the above quote the tagline for Roswell, New Mexico moving forward. Because not only is it impossible not to love Michael Guerin, you’re heart is made of ice if you don’t.
Michael Guerin is by and far my favorite character on this show, and that’s been true from the start of the series. This episode shined a light on everything that makes Michael Guerin, well, Michael Guerin, and the beauty of his flaws and more importantly, his heart.
So it’s no wonder that pretty much everyone on this show is in love with him.
Whether that’s Maria, who was more surprised than anyone that she ended up falling for Michael. Or Alex, who has never stopped loving him.
But let’s be real, Malex is the endgame here, folks. And it’s moments like the flashback scene post-Isobel/Rosa incident. As Alex recounted the moment he’d realized Michael had changed — what we all know as the night when he watched Isobel murder three girls — all he could do was marvel at how easy it is to fall for Michael Guerin.
I’d always wondered exactly why Alex decided to leave Michael behind in Roswell and go into the military. This provided the context I needed — and it proved to me that their love story is one worth fighting for and one worth waiting for.
Nothing worthwhile ever came easy. And Michael and Alex’s relationship is about as opposite of easy as you can get. They’ve had every obstacle thrown their way — including obstacles I wasn’t even aware of, including his family’s involvement with the capture and murder of Michael’s mom.
When you’ve reached the point in your ship when you’re asking “Is anything ever going to be right?” you know that — not only are you in this for the long haul — but the answer is yes. Because anytime there’s this much conflict and story to work through, you know that there’s something worth fighting for on the other side.
Max Is Back — But What Does That Mean?
It only took five whole episodes, but Max is finally back. Well, at least the shell of Max is back. Which, considering how he was acting when he woke from his coma, isn’t exactly a comfort right now.
So, scratch that, Max isn’t exactly back. Not yet.
After Max essentially pulled the cord on his life support, Liz, Michael and Kyle had to work fast as Max was set to die in a matter of hours. Naturally, Liz sprung to action, setting to put Noah’s half-dead heart inside of Max’s chest. The heart wasn’t set to be fully healed or ready for another couple of months, thus the heart wasn’t expected to hold up for too long. Maybe long enough to say goodbye to Max.
While Michael is someone that’s been known to give up in his life — the opposite of Max — the experience of losing Max and then the thought of permanently losing him ate away at him for this entire episode. Eventually, he realized that Max was the one person that never gave up on him, and he spent seven hours crafting an alien pacemaker that would help that heart keep beating. Leave it to a mechanic.
But considering that Max had essentially absorbed 10 years of dark energy, he knew that he couldn’t return without hurting anyone. Which is why he was so adamant on letting go — to protect those he cares about. That’s what Max has done his entire life — protect those he loves. And, even beyond death, he was continuing to do the same.
Although try telling Isobel and Liz to give up. That’s not in their vocabulary. So they march forward with a plan — knowing that Isobel, who’s grown stronger over these last few months, has to be the one to absorb whatever darkness Max has to expel.
And we got a taste of that when Max woke up — far away from everyone — with Isobel waiting for him. Only, he didn’t seem like Max anymore. He had all this darkness inside of him. And Isobel was prepared to fight it out of him.
Basically, we’re about to get some alien on alien — and brother on sister — violence in the next episode. Hopefully, Max is still inside of there. If not, Isobel is prepared to follow Max’s wishes — and kill him.
As Rosa continues her journey of short circuiting electronic devices, questions continued to swirl about exactly what was happening with her. What we learned in this episode was that Rosa has…powers?
I always thought it was more about the psychic connection to Max. I didn’t really make anything of it. But once the handprint started to fade — and when Max was dead and Rosa literally shot lightning out of her hand — I knew for sure.
Liz mentioned some scientific stuff that I have no idea about, but I got the gist. Turns out during her 10 years in the pod that her DNA might’ve changed, which might’ve given her powers of sorts.
Well, it’s a good thing, because Rosa was the one that was able to jumpstart Max’s heart when all else failed. Now, how this affects Rosa going forward should be interesting. Because she’s going to need to get some control.
Roswell, New Mexico airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.