In loving memory:
When I was a young teen, my best friend and I had a favorite thing to do. We'd dress all in black, and go walking around the neighborhood at night. Whenever we'd hear a car, we'd rush for the trees, the ditch, the shadows. Anywhere to hide. We'd convince ourselves that we were secret agents, on a vital mission. We considered ourselves very successful if the car never slowed, and in mortal danger if it did. I remember crouching deep under a large bush, the two of us, trying hard not to breathe or twitch, as someone actually got out to investigate.
We'd also sit for hours, talking about our fantasy future lives…in exotic locations, with our current favorite rock stars or celebrities. In our dreams we were beautiful, and famous, and talented and adored.
There was, in both of these games, something of what I think all humans crave…danger, excitement, the belief that you're more important than you are really. The longing for a life greater than the one you have. We were on the brink of the rest of our lives…and it was the great, scary, exhilarating unknown that we were about to leap into. Every thing seemed of stellar importance, every occasion was an omen or a portent.
I lost touch with my friend many years ago, but I sometimes still get flashes of that wistfulness, that awareness that something *important* is just around the corner…the perfect passionate love, the chance to save the world, the do-or-die moment that would catapult us to stardom. I sometimes think it's all about magic.
That long lost, nearly forgotten exhilaration is the vein that Jason Katims tapped into with the show Roswell. The show is all about that longing come true, in the form of love destined, aliens in dire need of safety and understanding…and of finding, if only for a little while, a place to trust and show vulnerability. A place to blossom in safety. A place to belong, when you just know there is no one in the world who could really understand.
There was Max, the displaced and beleagured king, noble in his suffering. He tried his best, even though just a teen in our world, to keep his people safe and together. He grew up too fast, because he always knew he had to be the one to take care of the others. It was his duty, and he couldn't bear to let them down. He loved Liz from afar, and silently…from the time he was just a little boy and saw her playing. Even though it threatened exposure for both himself and his fellow aliens, he couldn't allow her to die…and so, he saved her. Magically.
Liz never knew how Max felt for her, until the day she was shot & he somehow healed her. As he held her life in his hands, as they looked into each other's eyes, they got a chance to see something deeper. The loneliness they unknowingly shared was suddenly there, clear. It was a door opening, that bit of knowledge that forever after changes how you see the world. They had a connection.
Like Max, Liz too, would learn to sacrifice…but for her it wasn't duty. It was love. It was the fact that she would do anything to get Max back to his rightful place…even give him up. When his future-self came into her teenage life, and he told her of their life together as he'd experienced it, even knowing the beauty and love she would miss by her her choice, she pushed the young Max away and toward what she thought his destiny was. It wasn't just his destiny…it was the only way for him to fulfill the promise of his heritage and who he was. There's a phrase that Lois McMaster Bujold uses in reference to Aral Vorkosigan, "To turn away from the task, merely for one's own ease, would be unconscionable". That sums up, to me what Liz saw in allowing Max to stay with her and have their life together. Though his path would be harder without her, he wouldn't be the man she knew he could be if she allowed it. So she brutally pushed him into the arms of his destiny. As she danced with Max's future self, and dreamed of what could have been, the hand that had been holding hers disappeared from one heartbeat to the next. He was gone, as was the future that she had lived, from his perspective, with him.
I'm a sap and I fully admit it…and this episode hit me in my sappiest spot. Like the very first episode, after I saw it I could only rock myself and weep. Even now, listening to the Roswell soundtrack, tears come to my eyes for their story.
I'm also a sucker for opening credits, and the Roswell credits are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. For probably the entire first season, I couldn't watch the opening without crying.
Remember Mulder's poster & assertion, on the X-files, "I want to believe"? I want to believe that somewhere there are aliens like me, who I'll have fantastic adventures with…who need my help and who will love me without bounds. I want to believe in Roswell, still.