Written by Chad Evans (Nitpickius Roswellian)
"The Dark Times" have begun. In my humble opinion, this was a great way to start the season. Jason Katims really outdid himself with this episode. If I ever meet him, this episode will definitely be on my discussion list.
Just about everyone has undergone some changes over the summer. The first thing I noticed about the cast in general is their hair. Everyone’s hair either changes style, gets longer or shorter, or thicker. Maria especially. Her head has been quite busy (in the season three episode "So I Married An Alien", we learn that her hair had a bit of help courtesy of Isabel’s powers.) Isabel’s looks about the same. Max’s hair seems a bit thinner. Michael loses the spike look. Liz’s hair is thicker then it was in season one (and the most improved of everyone if you ask me) and Tess has added some length and de-emphasized her curls somewhat. I’ll mention other things after the character reviews.
The opening recap with Max in a psychiatrist’s office was a good way to start things off. If Maria is right and he has been "ining-pay" all summer, he must be miserable indeed. (I love that line of pig Latin from "Into the Woods." It’s so reusable.) I feel sorry for everyone he’s been around all of this time because he’s probably been sucking all the happiness out of life. But not only has Max been brooding for three months, it appears he and Michael have been arguing all summer over what the next step is. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much that could have been done, which Michael admits to Valenti. I guess these two just fight for lack of anything else to do. Katims said in an online chat that they fight because of "testosterone." That will do it too.
When Max asks Maria about Liz, she tells him that Liz "blew him off" before leaving for Florida. Was Maria trying to hurt Max’s feelings here? Liz did not "blow him off." She honorably, yet unwillingly, walked away from Max because he was refusing to accept his destiny i.e. be with his former wife, Tess. I don’t believe that Liz would have told Maria to tell Max that either. Liz isn’t that cruel.
It would have been nice to see some of the bonding that occurred between Max and Maria over the summer. I’ll bet that would have been an entertaining episode.
I’m not sure I understand Liz’s reaction here. It seems that Liz believes Max actually has feelings for Tess and is staying away to make it easier for him. Where did she get that from? Max told Tess no in "Destiny" after hearing the mom-o-gram and went straight to Liz. He told her at the beginning of that episode that he loved her. Max even tells her again in this episode that he doesn’t have any feelings for Tess. (That’s another scene I would have liked to see. Max telling Tess how he feels and where things stand between them.) Liz is clearly not comfortable with having to keep Max away. She’s not a hindrance to him. She’s the girl he loves! While walking away from Max was noble, her reactions to him in this episode don’t make a lot of sense in some places.
I also thought Liz’s line of "I’m not a dork. I just love science" was unnecessary. Max knows Liz is an aspiring scientist. That’s the one thing about the whole episode that is just not in character for Liz Parker and that’s odd on Katim’s part as he knows the character better then anyone. I think maybe it would have worked better if Liz said "Max, remember Mr. Seligmen talking about the new accelerator last year?" It’s just…odd. I also don’t remember Mr. Wanna-be Bill Nye, the science guy saying anything about a particle accelerator in season one so it must have happened when we weren’t looking (Don’tcha hate it when that happens?)
Along with her usual sedatives and vitamins, Maria must have started taking obnoxious pills. Even though I found her exchanges hilarious, some of them are a bit over the top. I’ve already mentioned her comment to Max about Liz blowing him off but how about her comment to Michael about ex-cons being great in bed? It was definitely an attention getting statement if that is what she was trying to do but man. She wasn’t really propositioning him was she? It’s strange that she can’t take her own advice. She is going through the same thing with Michael that Max is experiencing with Liz. Maybe her own sufferings have fried her neurons. I did like that once she realized the joking wasn’t going to work, she honestly told Michael that she missed him.
What the heck happened between Alex and Isabel? The last time we saw these two, they were a couple. Not a rock solid couple but Isabel appeared to have dropped her walls around Alex. Now, after watching one government broadcast, Isabel gets scared and tells Alex they can’t have a relationship. Gee, and I thought Max had commitment issues last season. His sister has now picked up the trait. This is very unfair to Alex who has been nothing but supportive to her. To make matters worse, in comes Grant Sorenson and Isabel starts making goo-goo eyes with him right in front of Alex. Apparently Isabel doesn’t mind having a guy in her life as long as the guy has no emotional attachments. That’s so unfair.
Speaking of this Sorenson guy, how old is he? Diane Evans asks the same question in "Surprise." Apparently Isabel doesn’t mind having a guy in her life as long as the guy has no emotional attachments AND is much older then she is. Again, this is unfair. Isabel is only 17 in this episode. For someone of Grant’s age to be interested in Isabel worries me and it certainly isn’t legal. Isabel must only like older men. In season three, she marries a man eight years her senior. I do feel a bit sorry for Isabel because Grant is killed in "How the Other Half Lives" but that’s what happens when alien parasite crystal queens take over your body. Someone is certainly going to tell me that age isn’t an issue in love but when you have crystals growing in your chest, age is the last thing to worry about. Just to let you know, in this episode, the gandarium queen has not possessed Grant’s body yet.
When Nasedo plays the part, he really plays the part. So he’s been having "relations" with Congresswoman Whitaker. Let’s take ourselves a little looksey at this. Whitaker is a Skin. At the moment, all Skins are peeling and shedding. Nasedo sees a piece of the husk laying on the ground at the end of the episode and recognizes it for what it is. So during all of his "diddling", he didn’t notice any loose skin? Michael finds some on Courtney in "End of the World" with one touch. I think Nasedo may have been too distracted by his session of hot alien sex to be fully aware of things. The other thing about this is even more important. In "Wipeout", Courtney explains the "plug" that all Skins have in their lower back. If opened or hit too hard, the Skin dies as they cannot survive in our atmosphere. Do you think that if a hand went over that spot that the Skin would not react to that? In Whitaker’s diary that was posted on silverhandprint.com, she talks about realizing that Pierce in season two is a shapeshifter. She also doesn’t understand how Nasedo didn’t know she was a skin. Perhaps taking the form of an FBI agent inherited him the moron aspect of the FBI which is so prevalent in this show.
I guess it was just a matter of timing but after Max asks Nasedo about cadmium X, the shapeshifter says he must kill everyone with that information. Liz is the first person to express real objection to this course of action. When I first watched this scene, I was annoyed that Max didn’t immediately say no. Then I started thinking about all the killings that Nasedo did in season one and the ease that Max showed in letting him go to Washington. Max does this after spending several episodes telling Michael that the shapeshifter was a murderer. Max doesn’t like that Nasedo kills. You’d think that hearing that the shapeshifter wants to kill again would force Max to say something in protest immediately. Instead, Liz beats him to it. Once Liz expresses her disapproval, Max orders Nasedo not to kill. This is a prime example of how Max and Liz compliment each other’s characters. They think along the same lines but Liz appears to "be faster on the draw" then Max.
There is a nice touch that the actor playing Pierce does in this episode. As Nasedo / Pierce enters the Café, a tourist recognizes him and tries to get his autograph. Nasedo tells him to move and then raises his hand as if to kill him. He then stops himself and runs into the restroom. That was one lucky tourist.
When Max hesitates to take action, Nasedo gets lippy calling Max a pacifist. Max then turns and puts him in his place ordering him not to kill anyone. Nasedo pauses for a moment as if to argue and then submits to Max’s authority. (I wonder what Nasedo was thinking at that moment. "How dare you tell me what to do you snippety little prince. I’ll show you when we go home and our enemies shoot your ass while my Tessy raises your child." Hey, it could happen.) In season three’s "Control", we learn that the shapeshifters are required to obey any commands Max gives them as it is encoded in their DNA. This puts Nasedo’s backing down to Max into a whole new light. Too bad Max didn’t try ordering the guy around before now.
One last Nasedo moment. Nasedo asks Max how he and Tess are getting along. In "Departure" Tess will reveal that Nasedo made a deal with the man who usurped the throne from Max, Kivar. The deal was for Tess to return home with Max’s child which would give Kivar an even greater claim to the throne and the others would be executed. Presumably, she would be allowed to live (though I suspect Kivar would not be willing to take any chances and slay her after the birth.) This information puts Nasedo’s comments into a whole new light. He was checking out the progress of his deal! There is no other reason why Nasedo would even care about whether or not the two aliens were getting along. His job is to make sure they are safe until they can return home. I will explore this a lot more when I review "Departure."
My favorite moment in this episode is the look on Sheriff Valenti’s face as Nasedo says he must kill everyone with information on cadmium X. It’s a look that says "What in the world have I gotten myself in to?" I also loved the frustration he went through as his "eager beaver" deputy kept doing his job to perfection. He couldn’t stop Hanson from doing his duty without raising suspicion and actually letting him do his job would raise even more suspicions.
I thought it was nice of Tess to spend time with Michael to help him develop his powers. I believe Tess offered to help him with them because Michael isn’t one to ask for help. He’s only asked for help twice before (it was in "Independence Day" and "Crazy" for you trivia lovers.) There is another reason for this. In season one, Tess attempted to get into the group by concentrating on it’s weakest link, Isabel. Once she got in, she moved to her next target, Michael. Michael is the only one in the group that wants to explore his alien side so by helping him with his powers, she hopes to gain his trust (as best as she can. Michael isn’t that trusting to start with.) Her next target is of course, Max. She’s good, isn’t she?
It’s obvious Michael doesn’t enjoy keeping Maria away from him anymore then she hates being away from him. With Courtney giving Michael the eye, the story between them is going to become a lot of fun as we watch them both move closer together again.
One of the great things I love about Michael in this episode is that Katims didn’t just drop the fact that Michael had killed Pierce in "Destiny." It could have been very easy for the aftermath of this to be forgotten but he actually took the time to let Michael reflect on his actions. This could also be an explanation as to why Michael has been arguing with Max all summer. He’s trying to hide his feelings by taking his anger out on Max. He tells Valenti that he doesn’t know what to do next and that he’s been busting Max’s chops when he doesn’t know any more then he knows. When Isabel kills Whitaker in "Surprise", the creators don’t do the same with her character which is unfortunate. Isabel is not as strong as Michael is and the repercussions would have been more devastating to her.
The awkward look Tess gives Max and he comes to Michael’s apartment is noteworthy. Despite everything that Tess is and will be, rejection is never easy for anyone to handle. She is silent during the entire exchange between Michael and Max refusing to take anyone’s side. But once Max needs her to get into the university to change Pierce’s bones, Tess is right there willing to help. Deep down, I think Tess wants to love Max and she’s willing to go slowly to see if she can make him love her back. As we will see, Tess’s definition of said emotion is a bit distorted.
We aren’t given any dates in this episode. The only thing we know is that the Monday after these events is when school begins. The day and night transitions suggest this episode covers a period of five days. The next episode "Ask Not" will take place immediately after this episode ends. Once I review that episode, I should be able to get a bit more information for a timeline. The only other real time mention is Max saying he hasn’t heard from Nasedo in three months.
At the start of the episode as Max sits in the psychiatrist’s office, the camera slowly zooms in tight on Max’s face. This is the first time I’ve noticed that Max has a pierced ear. When have we ever seen Max wearing an earring? I know actor Jason Behr does but I’m not dealing in reality here.
Can you name the episodes that all of the flashbacks appeared in as Max tells the doc his story? I can! They are:
The pod chamber scenes come from "Four Square."
The scene of the kids walking in the desert and fading into their older versions is from "Balance."
The shot of Michael behind the tree is from "Morning After."
Isabel changing the ketchup to mustard (or from red to yellow) is from "Balance."
Shots of Valenti and Max at the Crashdown festival and Liz being shot and healed are from "Pilot."
The gang having a meeting at the quarry is seen in "Crazy."
Tess walking towards the camera is when she first approached Isabel is also from "Crazy."
Nasedo morphing out of the wall next to Tess is from "Max to the Max."
Nasedo changing from the appearance of an agent into Ed Harding is from "The White Room."
Liz and Max running away from the red humvee appeared in "Destiny."
Pierce and the hooded doctors grabbing Max was in "The White Room."
Nasedo morphing into Pierce came from "Destiny."
The video of Tess putting the statue back together was at the end of "Tess, Lies, and Videotape."
Michael killing Pierce happened in "Destiny."
The Sheriff, Michael, and Max burning and burying Pierce’s body is new footage.
One of the major changes for season two are the title credits. They are completely redone and much better then season one’s title credits. It’s also one of the reasons why I chose to subtitle season two "The Dark Times." There are a lot of dark colors in the images. I do however have one complaint about them. There is a brief shot of Max erecting his force field. This piece of footage comes from the episode "Ask Not" where he stops Isabel and Michael in the UFO Center as they prepare to confront Brody. Fans who were watching this episode for the first time more then likely saw this and sat up saying "What was that!?" I think it would have been a good idea for the creators to wait until after airing "Ask Not" to put that piece of footage in the opening credits. It would have been a nice surprise for us to suddenly see Max using this power in the actual episode instead of in the credits.
One of the other major changes was Emilie de Ravin’s name moving to the main credits. In her season one appearances, her name appeared in the opening credits as a co-star.
The episode begins with the gang watching a congressional subcommittee hearing exposing the FBI special unit. I do not believe this is something that would be airing on national television. It would be an incredible embarrassment to the government and our system of checks and balances. The main spokesmen says that the special unit spent an unauthorized $17 million dollars. That’s not something our elected officials would want to admit to the voters. People lose their jobs like that.
The special unit spent $17 million dollars? Is that all? The unit has probably been around since the late 1950’s or early 1960’s after the crash in 1947 and Nasedo escaping the white room. Surely this unit, which even the President is on a need-to-know basis with, has spent much, much more then $17 million dollars in it’s lifetime.
Just what is that blow up green alien doll doing on the podium next to Nasedo / Pierce? Was this evidence of some kind? Or did Nasedo bring it in saying that the special unit created the item and sold it for extra money to buy more cameras? Eek! Does that mean the entire town of Roswell is just a government money maker? Oh, the horror! (I’m just kidding.)
When the committee decides to disband the special unit, Congresswoman Whitaker opposes. The entire purpose of this committee is to expose and disband a unit of the FBI that is made specifically to hunt down and capture aliens. The public at large would not stand to have their tax dollars spent on such a project. By opposing the vote to disband, Whitaker would be putting her career in serious jeopardy! Since she is no doubt using her position to further the Skins search for the Royal Four (She is a skin you know) would this be a wise move? I wonder what Nicolas would have to say about that.
As season two contains many references to science in the area of physics, I decided to contact a few scientists to help me with the facts that I myself am not familiar with. I’m happy to give credit where credit is due to two people in particular. The first is to Bruce C. Hyman who is a research assistant for the Radiation Effects Facility, Cyclotron Institute at Texas A&M University. My second shout out goes to Robert Hull, the project manager for the Particle Astrophysics Lab (PAL) at New Mexico State University. Both men were kind enough to answer my questions and help as best they could. Mr. Hull gets extra credit because he has actually been to the city of Roswell and gave me some really interesting facts about the town and the state in general to pass along. He’s also a fan of the show and that’s quite a bonus! You both have my heartfelt gratitude. Several members of the message board also helped with a few items. Special mention goes out to "FBI Guy" who pointed me in the right direction. Thanks to everyone who contributed!
In case you are wondering, there really is an element on Earth called cadmium. It’s commonly found in batteries in the form of nickel-cadmium. It’s naturally occurring and is an impurity removed from the element zinc. It is also highly toxic. There is no such thing as "cadmium X" however (as if you didn’t know .) Robert Hull told me that there is a joke amongst his colleagues on what to say if anyone ever contacts the lab and asks about cadmium X. He says it’s amazing the amount of scientific theories in sci-fi shows and movies that the general populace believe are scientifically found. He joked that he gets asked a lot why we don’t have a functional matter / antimatter drive yet (the engine that enables starships on Star Trek to travel faster then light.)
In "The White Room", Pierce reads off a short list of people killed by Nasedo to Max. The dates of the murders are 1962, 1967, and 1999. In my review, I asked if there were any murders between 1967 and 1999. I was sure that there had to be more murders then the ones Pierce mentioned. According to Whitaker in this episode, there was indeed. There was a murder in 1972. I’m willing to bet that there were many, many more murders by the despicable shapeshifter.
Maria orders everyone out of the back room so she can change but Max hesitates a moment wanting to ask about Liz. Maria calls Max "girlfriend." Girlfriend? As in she’s a girl and Max is her friend or the generic meaning? Max isn’t anyone’s girlfriend. He’s a guy! Just one more of those statements you have to run through the "Maria filter" to understand.
If Maria doesn’t want anyone to "see the bod", why doesn’t she step into the bathroom and change clothes? Certainly that’s safer then changing in the back room of the Café with it’s swinging door that could give anyone a pleasant view of "the bod." She could even run upstairs to the Parker’s apartment or is that off limits? I wouldn’t think it would be for Maria.
While I was annoyed that Isabel had thrown up her walls around Alex, I loved how Alex reminded Isabel he was still there by forcibly introducing himself to Grant. This is the second time he’s had to do that around her. The first time was when Tess met Isabel in "Crazy."
This next one is one of those unavoidable plot points. Watching the excavation, Michael hears something and runs after it. After he falls, he finds a shedded piece of skin shaped like a hand. When he picks it up, it turns to dust. Why does the skin wait to be picked up before it turns to dust? In "Harvest", we learn that the husks have been genetically altered to look like human skin. In "Wipeout", Michael tells Courtney that her new husk "feels real." We humans shed our skin too. Dead skin cells come off of you every day. If you are sunburned, as the skin heals, the outer layers will peal off and eventually, they will fall to pieces as the moisture dries up but this takes several days to happen. There are other examples like the one seen here. There’s one in "Ask Not" and in "Wipeout." The husks probably are similar to human skin in some respects. The unavoidable plot point is that if the shedded skins didn’t wait to turn to dust until they were picked up, Michael wouldn’t find it and Nasedo wouldn’t be alerted to the Skin’s presence.
There is one exception to this little "turn to dust" bit. When Maria picks up a piece of Courtney’s skin in "Harvest", it doesn’t immediately turn to dust. Maria is able to hold it and drop it without it evaporating.
Seeing Liz for the first time in this episode, Max leaves Isabel’s side and runs to her. Isabel stands in place and rolls her eyes. Take note of the wall to the left of the screen and the wooden windows. The shot changes to a far shot of Max running down the sidewalk towards Liz. See the windows on the left? They are exactly the same as the ones Isabel was standing next to. It’s a safe bet that Max only jogged about ten feet or so. The funny thing is, and you have to look very carefully to see this, if you look behind Max, you’ll see that Isabel has disappeared! I seriously doubt she could run in that leather skirt and there isn’t time for her to have moved out of the camera’s view. Maybe she’s working on a new super speed power. (I love this stuff.)
Does anyone find it believable that a member of Congress would set up a field office in the city of Roswell? This isn’t a knock against the town but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Roswell in 1990 was only 44,654. In the year 2000, the population for Chavas County, which the town of Roswell is in, was 61,382. The population for the entire state in 2000 was 1,819,046. Compared to some of the larger cities in the state, Roswell holds barely 5 - 7% of the state’s total population. Perhaps this is like a small branch of a main office that is located in a larger city. Of course, the real reason Whitaker is there is to find the Royal Four but her choice of office locations would surely make her constituents scratch their heads.
Maria isn’t the only one with odd dialogue. Deputy Hanson says Michael "Came in peaceably." Peaceably? I think that the rules of grammar would have him say "He came in peacefully." But that’s ok. Just run him through the "Maria filter" and it’s A.O.K.
Max tells Michael that Nasedo told them not to call him unless it was an emergency. This must have happened shortly after the events in "Destiny" because in that episode, we saw Nasedo change into the form of Pierce and leave for Hondo where Tess had sent the other agents via a mindwarp. Perhaps shortly after he left the pod chamber, Nasedo phoned them to tell them not to call.
Where did Michael get Nasedo’s phone number? I seriously doubt Max would have given it to him. Was he listed in the yellow pages under "Mean ‘ole shapeshifters?"
This episode gives us the impression that Pierce kept in regular contact with Whitaker. She has their phone conversations on tape. It makes you wonder why Pierce didn’t report in to her that he had captured Max at the end of "Max to the Max." There are several hours between that and the beginning of "The White Room." You’d think that something that important would be reported immediately. But why is Whitaker recording her conversations with Pierce in the first place? Does she not trust him? We’ll see Whitaker recording conversations in "Surprise" as well but in that episode, it was a necessary plot point to alert Liz to her eavesdropping. In this episode, it’s odd behavior yet it is explained in Whitaker’s diary. She is monitoring Pierce because he isn’t very forthcoming with information as she would like.
The Sheriff tells Michael that he found him and two of his buddies being rowdy out by the old Clovis Highway as a cover story for the knife Hanson found. There is a town called Clovis in New Mexico. It’s northeast of Roswell on highway 70 right by the Texas border. It’s also home to Cannon Air Force Base. According to my maps, there is no "Clovis highway" in New Mexico. Unless it’s another local description like the one the Sheriff makes about "horseshoe road" in "Destiny."
Nasedo / Pierce comes to the Café looking for the "little pod people." Let’s see. Pierce was head of a special unit within the FBI that without authorization spent (read that, "stole") $17 million dollars of the government’s money. Don’t you think he would have been arrested and thrown in jail? It’s possible Nasedo could have taken another form to escape and then reverted back to Agent Pierce upon returning to Roswell but that’s kind of risky. What if some tourist recognizes him? Oops! That happened, didn’t it?
Isabel must dress to make a fashion statement rather then dress for the weather. To visit Grant out at his dig site, Isabel wears her long leather skirt with leather top. She’s wearing that to go out into the desert? Wouldn’t that give her an extreme case of the vapors from the heat?
Trying to throw Whitaker off the trail, Valenti says that they don’t even know if the bones they found are human. DUUUH!!! What else COULD they be? Do those look like tuna fish bones to you?
Whitaker decides to take over the case involving the skeleton because she doesn’t want "a county sheriff" working on it. She says it is now a matter of federal interest. Now I might be mistaken but I don’t think a member of Congress can do that. They are not law enforcement officials. However, I do believe they have the power to call in the FBI and the FBI can take over a criminal investigation if they so choose. In his own county, the Sheriff has jurisdiction in almost any type of criminal investigation. I’m not sure Whitaker can just take him off the case like she does. I also wonder just what kind of interest the federal government would have in an old skeleton.
Just what justification does Whitaker have to place Michael under arrest? Does she have a motive? Does she have probable cause? What about physical evidence? Yes, she has does have the little pocket knife with Michael’s fingerprints but if you ask me, that is not enough to justify arresting him. Bringing him in for questioning, yes. Arresting him, no!
Max and Liz seem to have this unusual quirk about them when they are looking for something. In "Missing", Max and Liz went to Valenti’s house to search Kyle’s room for Liz’s missing diary. They turn on one tiny lamp in Kyle’s room as they search. They do the exact same thing in this episode. While searching for some clue as to where Whitaker has taken the bones, the only light in the small office is the desk lamp. In "Missing", I can understand why they didn’t want a lot of lights on. The Valenti household was supposed to be empty. But in this case, it makes no sense. Liz works in the office. Having the lights on wouldn’t seem out of place while she was there. Maybe they were trying to hide the fact that Max was in there too. Kind of weird how these two constantly work in the dark, don’t you think?
Max says that the residual effect of Michael using his powers on Pierce left an "isotope of cadmium" on them. I put a lot of thought and study into this statement and I can’t decide whether this is correct or not. I think it would be easier to say that when the aliens use their powers to kill someone, the element named "cadmium X" is left on the body and leave calling it an "isotope" out of it entirely.
Hot alien sex must happen very fast. It’s either that or the episode loses some time. The amount of time from the point that Nasedo / Pierce picks up Whitaker at her office until the time Nasedo grabs Max and pulls him into the alley is roughly four minutes. I do believe that Nasedo was going to distract Madam Congresswoman by "diddling" her again. Did he really only devote four minutes to that task? I know some women who would find that horrendously insulting and even less satisfying.
After Nasedo grabs Max, the young king tells him that the bones will be delivered to Las Cruces "tomorrow morning." How does Max know that? Liz didn’t tell him that when she suggested that bones were being taken there. Did they search more when we weren’t looking and come across that information? For all Max knows, the bones could BE there already but of course, they haven’t been. I sense a little plot trickery.
Now we come to part of the episode that prompted me to contact Mr. Hull and Mr. Hyman. The particle accelerator! In order to make this simple, I won’t go into the science too deeply so you may put away your headache medicine.
Liz says that the particle accelerator is at the "Las Cruces University." Mr. Hull tells me that the college where he works is not called the Las Cruces University and there is no college with that name. It’s actually the "New Mexico State University" that is located in the town of Las Cruces. I wonder why the name change.
The sign on the wall of the building that holds the accelerator says "Coleman BLDG, Particle Research Facility, U.S. Department of Energy." According to Mr. Hull, there is no such building by that name at New Mexico State University or at the Los Alamos labs OR at the labs in San Dia. So where the heck did Max and company go??
Mr. Hull tells me that his astrophysics lab does not have a cyclotron nor does any other department on the New Mexico State campus. Hull’s group does not do work that requires such a device. They use helium balloons to do atmospheric measurements in the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. Just in case you don’t know, the terms "cyclotron" and "particle accelerator" mean basically the same thing.
The guard outside the Coleman building (wherever that is) is not very good at his job. He’s supposed to keep people who don’t belong there away. So what does he do? He leaves his post to help a pretty girl find her way. But then, do you really blame him?
I’d have to say that the possibility of a cell phone working inside a building that houses a particle accelerator is just about zero. The shielding in the walls and the magnetic fields from the accelerator would interfere with the signal. Maybe Max is working on that "enhance the ability of a cell phone" power.
Now for the cyclotron itself seen in this episode. It’s a fairly large device that contains a long twisting corridor that Max can walk upright in. Bruce Hyman tells me that most newer particle accelerators built today are called "synchrotrons" and are huge in comparison to a cyclotron. For example, the cyclotron Mr. Hyman uses fits into a single building and the diameter of the inside is approximately 62 inches (1.6 meters.) A synchrotron on the other hand, can be large enough to cover several acres. From the outside, I don’t think what we see in this episode qualifies as a synchrotron. Also, accelerators of any type do not have a long curvy corridor running through them. The bottom line is that Max should not have been able to climb inside it unless he used his powers to shrink himself down to about ten inches high.
In order to accelerate charged particles, a very low vacuum must be created. This is necessary because charged particles won’t travel very far through the air. Before I continue, allow me to mention an idea a member of the message board brought up. Max is a hybrid and thus, may not react the same way to things as a normal human would. So let me tell you first what would happen to you and me inside an accelerator. First of all, there would be no air to breathe in the vacuum so you would quickly suffocate. Second, our bodies are normally equalized to atmospheric pressure. A person inside the accelerator would experience what Mr. Hyman described as "a great out-gassing." In other words, your body would swell up like a balloon until you exploded! I don’t believe even putting yourself inside a pressure tank would save you. In "The White Room", Pierce told Max that everything about him from his organs to his skeleton were completely human. His blood is the only thing that isn’t. It is possible Max is using his powers to keep from being smeared all over the inside of the accelerator because otherwise, he’d be toe jam.
And then, of course, there is the radiation. Mr. Hyman tells me that the highest concentration of radiation exists in the cyclotron itself. While the exposure might not be immediately lethal, it would probably be AT LEAST 1000 times the recommended allowable yearly dose. I don’t have an exact figure but it would be enough to deaden your skin and make you very, very ill. "FBI Guy" said that this would make it very unlikely he could get Tess pregnant. Any human exposed to such amounts of radiation would be sick every day for the rest of his or her life. This is called "radiation poisoning." Again, it’s possible Max was using his powers to keep him safe. I doubt anything else could save the parts of him that are human. It IS possible to work inside an accelerator but you would have to be wearing a radiation suit and you certainly couldn’t be inside it while the thing was turned on! Remember the yellow stickers on your TV that tell you to unplug the set before servicing it? Those stickers are correct!
All three men said that there is a magnetic field inside the accelerator. Max’s disruption of the field as he stepped into it would instantly alert those monitoring the device of his presence. Tess’s mindwarp probably took care of this aspect of it. This magnetic field also presents another danger (as if the radiation and the lack of air and the high pressure aren’t enough.) When the scientists activate the particle flow (the pretty pink stuff that knocks Max on his butt), the electrons would be moving slightly under the speed of light (a little under 186,000 miles per second.) The flow would act like a magnet and if Max had any kind of metal on his person, such as a coin, a pocket knife, a tooth filling, even the buttons on his pants, they would be ripped off and put into a lethal trajectory. It would be like being shot. Again, it’s possible Max is using his powers to prevent this. I think the creators should have given us some indication that this was indeed what Max was doing because otherwise, our dear, sweet Max Evans would be a red stain on the inside of the accelerator.
One of the scientists on the show says that they carbon dated the skeleton. You can carbon date items inside a cyclotron. When adding to season two’s Powers List, I made sure to say that not only did Max remove the cadmium X from the bones, he also aged them forty-two years.
The scientists also say that the fused rib cage is probably from the nuclear testing done in the 1950’s. This is a reasonable theory because there were indeed nuclear tests done in Los Alamos from 1958 to 1961. They were hydronuclear tests to be exact. And yes, radiation can mutate organic structures in such a way.
I wonder why the scientists went to all the trouble of arranging Pierce’s bones into skeleton form just to run them through the cyclotron. Seems kind of tedious if you ask me.
I wonder if Maria closed the Crashdown early so they could have their traditional before-school party. She did it so she could make out with Michael in "Crazy." Why not here too?
Maria may be apologizing because she didn’t realize Courtney was still in the back but if you ask me, she probably doesn’t need to. Courtney is a Skin. She was probably hiding in the back to listening to every word.
I think this episode finally establishes that no one, and I mean no one, has any intention of using the door’s on the Evan’s house. Even Nasedo goes to Max’s window. I say they should just remove the window and put a door there. Then again, that might keep people out of Max’s room since no one uses the doors.
All I have to say about this episode is "She-bang!" Good work. Coming up next, "Ask Not."