Roswell, New Mexico: So Much for the Afterglow
January 22, 2019 7:53 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

On the anniversary of Rosa's death, Liz and Kyle make a shocking discovery; Michael and Isobel fear Liz will expose their secret.
posted by oh yeah! (7 comments total)
I'm home sick so decided to follow up on my promise to give this show a chance (and because it doesn't require my full attention) but I've made it ten minutes in and am still cringing -- mostly because the actor who plays Max is so one-dimensionally terrible that I kinda hate his character. He gives me those bro-y vibes that I never would normally associate with Max, based on how much I loved the original version. I also don't sense any of the chemistry between Max and Liz that apparently all the reviewers in the linked articles are talking about.

Plus, I'm all squinty-eyed about Alex, just in case they follow what happened to his character in the original version. It's great to have a disabled gay guy be represented, but if he takes on the same role from the 1999 version, then... yeah. (I do love him and his Michael angst and that he's still BFFs with Maria. But. It feels like they swapped the Alex/Isobel love-line for Alex/Michael, which is totally great, except, y'know... *squints*)

Bizarrely (compared to how I felt about their original counterparts), I'm really liking Luke, and also adoring Maria, who's miles better than the original version. And Liz's father who is just <3. But the main cast is so... CW in that "I'm pretty so I don't need to worry about doing a convincing line reading and if I just grimace or look like a sad puppy dog then that's all the emotion I need to show, right?" A little subtlety would be appreciated, but maybe I'm just unused to the CW smash-you-with-a-hammer exposition and sexy-smolder that solves all problems.

I made it to the end of the episode and I'm still going to give the show a chance, but I'm mad at whomever cast Nathan Parsons because he's a huge detriment to my potential enjoyment of this reboot. I'm mentally swapping him with Michael Trevino, who I not only think has better chemistry with Jeanine Mason, but can also convince me he's acting.

Despite my cranky get-off-my-lawn negativity, I do really want the show to find its footing and succeed. There's great potential here, especially focusing on the parallels with illegal immigration. I'm just not totally sold on it as of yet, even though I'm plan to give it the four-episode test.

(The nail polish thing is still stupid, though.)
posted by paisley sheep at 11:08 AM on January 23, 2019

My only problem with the immigration subplot is it that it seems like everyone in town already knows Arturo is undocumented, and if they hate him so much over the deaths Rosa's car wreck caused, how is it possible that nobody ratted him out to ICE already?
posted by oh yeah! at 6:18 PM on January 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I actually liked this episode more than the first, but I do agree that the secondary characters seem more interesting than the main characters.

The thing that bothers me is why you would schedule these meetings like out in the middle of the desert. It seems unsafe for someone to go out in the middle of nowhere to meet an alien that she barely knows, and besides seems like a huge hassle. I mean why not meet at the restaurant? Also, aside from being in the middle of nowhere wouldn't it have been easy for her to just call bullshit on him about the last time he saw Rosa? I guess then the show wouldn't be able to drag out the drama for another ten episodes.

At any rate I will keep watching for a while longer at least. Oh and regarding my complaint that the first episode was too dark, episode 2 was only too dark for me in like 30-40% of the scenes, so that's an improvement I guess.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:22 AM on January 24, 2019

The nail polish thing is still stupid, though.

In the original show, there's Tabasco. Nail polish seems more ... chemical.

I'm watching the original show in tandem with the new version, and it's fun. The original show is so very late 1990s, so seeing the "flashback night" in this episode with the 90s music makes the two shows feel like story lines from adjacent universes. In the RNM universe, it's all happening in the Present Day of Donny's Wall and ICE deporting anyone who looks Mexican.

The original Roswell is (so far, 1.5 episodes in) missing that underlying level of tension, but includes some gratuitous male-gaze moments that seem to be missing from the new show. The make-out scenes in this episode were shot and paired well, in that I didn't feel like a creep, watching high school girls change (OG Roswell), but instead saw people in some form of passion (Max having feelings, if not towards his partner, Jenna Cameron, who clearly has feelings for him, where both Michael and Alex Manes have shared love/ longing/ lust). And I really appreciate that same-sex relationships are just a normal part of the episode, not called out as different or unique, directly or indirectly.

New Mexico nitpicking: When Liz asked "Meet me at the old turquoise mines?" I was confused. I'm pretty sure there are no turquoise mines in Roswell (list of New Mexico Turquoise Mines doesn't include anything, and from my recollection, it's generally not found in the southeast part of the state) -- though that landscape (without any old-looking mine openings) was so New Mexico, which made me happy. Also, that church, which once brought Liz comfort but where she said she didn't believe in god, looks like it's from an old Spanish town, which is not Roswell (IMDb only lists Las Vegas, Santa Fe and ABQ, NM as generic filming locations, FWIW). The actual Roswell, New Mexico is a pretty dull Anytown, USA + UFO kitch (Google streetviews). Per Wikipedia, "Van C. Smith, a businessman from Omaha, Nebraska, and his partner, Aaron Wilburn, constructed two adobe buildings in 1869 that began what is now Roswell." American settlers didn't bring those Spanish churches with them.

Still, I love the fact that the show is (completely?) shot in New Mexico, even if they found the actual Roswell less visually interesting than northern New Mexico. Las Vegas, NM, is quite charming, Santa Fe is pretty big and has a wider diversity of buildings, and Albuquerque is the biggest city in the state, so it'll have even more shooting options.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:48 AM on January 24, 2019

"Are you... sassing Jesus?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:55 PM on January 26, 2019

I like that this is going in a different direction, with Liz not trusting Max, and trying to solve mysteries. I like Alex/Michael substituting for the problematic Maria/Michael. And I'm glad we're leaning on that more heavily for our romance than on a ten year (possibly unrequited) crush. At least Alex and Michael had a relationship then.
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:30 PM on January 28, 2019

One last appreciation for the New Mexico-ness of this episode: when Liz's dad, Arturo, asks her if she wants red or green, she says "Christmas," with no additional explanation. This is (uniquely?) New Mexican, and refers to how you take your chile - red, green or both. Both is Christmas.

And now you know :)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

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