Roswell, New Mexico” (Mondays, CW) returns with an excellent Season 2 premiere that smoothly reminds us of the threads from the long-ago Season 1 while also moving things forward. “Stay (I Missed You)” is written by showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie, who continues to tap into the spirit of the original “Roswell” – the small-town haunts, the star-crossed romances, the alien mysteries, the ’90s tunes — while making a show that is often slicker and even better than its forbearer. Even though I love the original series more, I admire the way “RNM” is walking that fine line.
Joss Whedon said back in the “Buffy” days that if you’re going to resurrect a dead character, there has to be a price. While it can be debated whether he always adhered to that, it’s good advice, and “RNM” is determined to wade deeply into the waters of “the price.” Almost all of the drama in “Stay” revolves around resurrection (Rosa’s), the possibility of resurrection (Max’s), and a dead guy who won’t go away (the villainous Noah).
The episode’s delightful highlight is seeing Liz and Rosa reunited – the combo of Jeanine Mason and Amber Midthunder is among the best sister casting ever in terms of looks, and the actresses have sisterly chemistry to boot. In an amusing throwaway line as the girls enter a hotel room on their journey away from Roswell, Rosa – or “Lllllrosa,” as Liz would pronounce it — says she gets the shower first because she’s older. Liz says “Not anymore you aren’t.”
To Rosa’s mind, no time has passed in the 10 years she was dead. But that’s the least of her problems, because Max’s handprint on her chest (from where he healed her) won’t go away. This is because the spirit of Max (Nathan Parsons) resides inside her, and the spirit of Noah (Karan Oberoi) seemingly resides in Max. And also in Isobel (Lily Cowles), who feels like her ex-husband is crawling under her skin. Noah is dead; indeed, Liz and Kyle (Michael Trevino) pull his withered alien heart from his corpse, with Liz intending to science the s*** out of it and implant it into Max, whose heart was shredded in a heart attack while healing Rosa.
But Noah is nonetheless still the central villain. This is a good choice by MacKenzie because Noah’s villainy was played for a twist at the end of last season; we never had time to absorb what his powers and goals are. Now we can.
Michael-and-Alex posts seem to comprise more than half of the content on the “RNM” Fans Facebook Group, which makes me want to be a contrarian and say it’s an overrated relationship. However, Michael Vlamis (as Michael) continues to be the best actor on the show (even though I adore Parsons and Mason as the leads), and “Stay” gives us an important scene where Michael makes it clear he is saying no to Alex (Tyler Blackburn). While he loves Alex, the relationship has hurt him too many times.
A classic love TV triangle is being set up. Michael-Alex is obviously the endgame. In this age of diversity and political correctness, the gay relationship can’t be the one that doesn’t work. Yet at the same time, Vlamis’ chemistry with Heather Hemmens’ Maria is just as sizzling as it is with Blackburn. So in any scene with Michael and Maria, it seems like they are the predestined couple. (Honestly, when Michael is flirting with a random girl at the pool table, it seems like Michael and Random Girl are perfect together. There’s something about Vlamis.)
As I said, I love “Roswell.” But after its amazing first season, its ideas outstripped its execution. For example, the Season 2 premiere is capped by a dire warning about the Skins, villains who end up being bland and beside the point. On “RNM,” the phrase “the alighting” keeps popping up, originating from Noah (or Noah’s spirit, as it were), who knows about the aliens’ home planet and its war. I trust that MacKenzie has learned from the missteps of the original series, and the mysterious elements of “RNM” will have genuine weight.
We all know Max will live again, since this is TV. But “RNM” is adhering to that Whedon advice and making it really hard to bring him back, especially given “Stay’s” conclusion: Max’s dream spirit tells Rosa it’s important that Liz not resurrect him. As if things weren’t complicated enough already.