Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Alien Who Would Be King: Christina's Character Study of "Roswell's" Max Evans

By Christina Sizemore

Topolski:  Okay, let's play a relationship game.  Tell me which character in this picture is the most like you and tell me what they're doing at the park.
Max:  Probably the kid behind the tree.

People tend to pick on the shy kid in school.  The one that hides behind everyone else, doesn't talk very much, gets his work done as fast as he can so he doesn't have to ask any questions...the one that works very hard to stay hidden.  We've all known a kid like that growing up.  We might have been that kid.  It's common to hear the very truthful statement "Don't judge a book by its cover" when it comes to these quiet types; you never know what they are going through to make them this way.  How many have hard family lives?  How many might be suffering from depression?  How many might be considered odd because they like the geeky things and therefore don't have any friends because people think they are weird?  How many might be half human-half alien hybrids with special powers and destinies to rule an entire planet and have to hide their freaky lives from the rest of their classmates?

Oh...so...the last one doesn't happen that often?  Well.  Hmm. 

Today I continue my study into the TV show Roswell by beginning a multi-piece character study into some of the shows best characters.  We start off with the hybrid alien's reluctant leader and resident recluse, Max Evans.  Spoilers ahead, just so youre aware.  

A person's first impression of Max Evans can only be described as "confusing."  You see him as the kid that sits and watches Liz, seems shy and unwilling to talk to her or respond to attempts at conversation in any way, and someone who doesn't wear very much emotion outwardly.  Then with one gun-shot in the Crashdown Cafe Max's demeanor changes in a flash.  You see reaction, panic, yet an immediate and unquestioned need to help when the object of his hidden affection, the Crashdown waitress Liz, is shot by one of the two arguing patrons.  And this is only in episode one.  In that first episode and in that first scene, however, I feel you get a detailed encapsulation of what and who Max really is.

Max spends quite a bit of the show being the man that tries very hard to hide, and not just in regard to his alien powers.  The only people he chooses to be close to are Michael, his sister Isabel, and his adoptive parents.  The ultimate introvert, he hides "behind the tree" regularly, almost as if his attempts at blending in to hide his alien origin are only half of his need for personal protection, with the other half being an extreme human shyness and fear of judgement.  Or ever worse...fear of acceptance.  The problem that develops with this behavior hits a crossroad between the attack in the cafe and his long-standing love for Liz Parker.  It is a secret he has held since childhood and probably would have his entire life for his own emotional safety as well as the secret he keeps for his alien family, Michael and Isabel.  But when he watched Liz hit the ground indecision was no longer a problem.  And that is what you discover quickly about this character; he lives with hard choices every day and while he hates making them, he has no trouble doing so.

Behind his shy demeanor and reluctance to speak or be spoken to lies a man who once rules an entire planet, what was left of his body mixed with human DNA and sent to earth in the 1940s pods that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in a desperate attempt to someday liberate their planet.  While he has no idea about this until later on in the show it is easy to see why Michael and Isabel put him at the helm without even realizing it most times and why everyone in the group follows him without question.  When situations arise that require them to solve a mystery, fight for their lives, or save the day, Max steps up in a calm fashion to take charge.  He gathers the group, motivates them, and in many cases diffuses the situation before it can get any worse.   As the show goes on his ability to take charge and step out from behind that proverbial tree grow stronger; this becomes a blessing and a thorn in the side of his comrades, especially his older sister who doesn't like being preached to or led by her "Boy-King" brother.  In the end, however, everyone trusts his judgement and follows him.  The only times he is ever put in to question on the direction of his mind and rationale is when Liz's safety is called into question, as well he should be.  When she is on the line Max tends to lose all capability to make any sensible decisions.  It takes a village to raise a child and in some cases it takes a group of aliens to smack another alien around when he can't think straight because of his girlfriend, which is exactly what this crew will do.

Max's powers start out like the others; he can manipulate molecules to change objects structure and even melt them down, they require extremely sweet and extremely spicy foods in their diet, etc.  They each have unique abilities as well, however.  Max starts out with the ability to heal injuries, which is how he saves Liz's life in the Pilot episode.  The toll it takes on him physically is obviously painful and leaves a silver handprint temporarily emblazoned on the skin of the person he rescues.  I wish I could ask the writers if they based the powers that they gave each alien on their personalities in some fashion because Max's ability to heal (and later his ability to shield people with a force field) completely reflect aspects of his tendency to be a gentle King.  This is the very tendency that many survivors of Antar and the planet's neighbors agree was the reason he was killed to begin with, which sent not only his DNA into a cocoon earth along with his sister and second-in-command, but also sent the distant galaxy into a full scale and long-standing war.  Max can take the lead when he has to, however he never wanted to.  He is a reluctant leader and hero, preferring his place in the shadows as the shy kid who is never talked to.  When Liz is shot and the investigation starts leading to mysterious questions, however, it opens up more trouble than they expected and as the story evolves from there Max is thrown headlong into the quest to find answers in regard to their origin.  While the others want the answers and to leave as quickly as possible- most times, Max included- the unfortunate truth of the matter is that sometimes innocent people get hurt in the crossfire.  Civilians that know nothing of their world end up stuck in it and need help that only they can provide.  Some of their crew would rather them leave while they still have a shot.  Max, however, refuses to leave anyone behind.   From minute one you see in Max the honor and nobility of a King that puts his people first and the heart of a person who cares about lives.  You see this when he rescues Liz and you see it through his countless risks to save others throughout the show, with his gift or with whatever he has handy.  This tendency, however, can be argued as a weakness.  This soft heart can also put at risk the very people he is trying to keep out of the hands of the Government and alien hunters.  It can risk exposing them to others that, even after being saved, might freak out when seeing what the hybrids can do and turn them in.  This argument is had many times over between Max and others in the group, to which he stubbornly points out every time that if they want to wear the crown and make the decisions they can; he never wanted it anyway.  And while this is true, it was largely considered amongst his people on Antar that it was this soft heart and this light approach to people that cost him in his inability to kill their planetary invader, Khivar, when he had the chance.  He is not looked on too fondly by many that survived the onslaught of Antar because of this trait of compassion as it cost not only Antar their freedom, but many planets in their vicinity theirs as Khivar cut a swath through the entire galaxy.  It is up for the viewer to decide how to weigh in on this trait, but in the end, I personally try to remember one adage when it comes to Max and how he handles the life that he must lead now and even the life he led then:  Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

Max was never my favorite character on the show.  Everyone that knows me knows who my favorite is and you'll all find that out in a later character study.  He is, however, a character that has proven to be an interesting mix of emotions.  At first glance you see a shy and brooding teen of a typical nature and it can get old after a bit.  But as he and the others discover more about their origins, finding out about their royal heritage and finding that more and more on the planet and in the galaxy are depending on them, Max's mantle as King begins to wear more heavily on his head and his reluctant need to take charge is forced to the forefront.  The shy kid spends more time than expected being the leader.  The nervous and awkward teen quickly becomes a man when forced to make decisions that not even most men would have to face. The seemingly emotionally stunted alien becomes all smiles whenever one woman happens to be in his vicinity or a fiery ball of rage whenever she is in danger.  The show rolls out Max's character facets in clever ways, making sure that as the plot unfolds it causes more aspects of Max to bubble to the surface...even aspects that he never knew himself capable of.  The show manages to balance the complicated world of teenage problems, the valley that dips between youth and adulthood, and the world of extreme problems that only lie in the world of the paranormal with trying to hide alien powers and avoid Government Agents and alien hunters.  The progression of the plot is action packed while the progression of the characters is a slow burn, as it should be with anyone who has to grow and change over time.  This is evident with the growth of Max Evans.  Teen, alien, brother, best friend, boyfriend, King.  A man that gives of himself to sometimes an extreme degree, wants to hide but can't, is forced to lead while fears of repeating past failures he doesnt even remember making loom over his head, and whose worst weakness is also his strongest asset:  the love of a good woman.  His complex emotions and attempts to overcome the mistakes of his past life prove that even an alien has the right to be human...even if youre already an alien/human hybrid.

Although I hope you watch the entire show, I recommend these episodes for the best immersion into the personality of Max Evans:

Season One:
The Pilot
1x3: Monsters
1x8:  Blood Brother
1x11:  The Toy House
1x14:  Blind Date
1x16:  Sexual Healing
1x19:  Tess, Lies, and Videotape
1x20:  Max to the Max
1x21:  The White Room
1x22:  Destiny

Season Two:
2x1:  Skin and Bones
2x2:  Ask Not
2x5:  End of the World
2c6:  Harvest
2x8:  Meet the Dupes
2x9: Max in the City
2x10:  A Roswell Christmas Carol
2x16:  Heart of Mine
2x21:  The Departure

Season Three:
3x4:  Secrets and Lies
3x5:  Control
3x9 Samuel Rising
3x12:  Ch ch changes
3x15:  Who Died and Made you King?
3x17:  Four Aliens and A Baby
3x18:  Graduation

Tune in next piece when we discuss Maxs sister, the prim and proper Princess of Antar.  Or as she is known on Earth, Isabel Evans.

Christina Sizemore is trained in only four things:  writing, fighting, paranormal investigating, and being a mom.  At this point in her life she truly feels that she is not qualified to attempt to learn any new field.  A twenty year martial artist, mother of three, and writer who is working on the publication of her first book titled “Finding Your Way: A Guide To Your Path In The Martial Arts,” she spends her days working out, writing, making fanvids, going to DragonCon, and playing board games/video games/out in the yard with her kids and husband who are just as geeky as she is.  She is convinced that one day her skills will be of assistance in the Zombie Apocalypse and that while she is of no use in the kitchen, she can Buffy that zombie for ya or teach you the best way to get the blood stains out of your clothes (Psst…the secret is mixing Crown Cleaner and Shout.  Just sayin’.)

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