Surprise – Review from


Roswell – ‘Surprise’
By Scott O’Callaghan
Special to
posted: 06:30 pm ET
17 October 2000

Isabel flees her 18th birthday party when she has visions of Tess in danger. While everyone looks for Tess, suspicions abound.

(Originally aired October 17, 2000)

Written by Toni Graphia
Directed by Frank K. Keller


Gretchen Egolf – Congresswoman Vanessa Whittaker
Sara Downing – Courtney
Jeremy Davidson – Grant Sorensen
Mary Ellen Trainor – Diane Evans


Isabel runs through someplace dark and industrial, searching for and finding a badly battered Tess. Isabel helps her friend up, half-dragging her from some unseen pursuer.

Isabel brings Tess into a room and locks the door. Unfortunately, the locks slide open in a display of alien power.

The door swings open, and Isabel says, “It’s you.” (spoilers)


Consider this episode a gift to Katherine Heigl.

Too often, Isabel has been written as the Cold and Distant Alien Goddess, afraid of getting too close to others or her own sexuality, the object of Alex’s not-completely-requited love, caught between the often-clashing Max and Michael. A character who looks good and does little else. Not so this week.

Here, Heigl shows that Isabel can have romance. Isabel can have action and adventure. Isabel can hold her own, kickin’ butt and takin’ names. That final conflict between Isabel and Congresswoman Whittaker even allows Roswell — which all too often has revolved around its male leads — to spotlight at least one of the women.

Trouble brewing?

But the episode raises more questions than answers, especially when it comes to this new dimension of Isabel’s past. Did she actually betray her leader and planet?

The episode also highlights a romantic conflict in Isabel’s life. With Sorenson emerging as a romantic interest, what will happen to poor Alex?

Colin Hanks (Alex) delivers in two key scenes here, first performing in front of a crowd and then adding much-needed counterpoint to Maria’s argument with Courtney. Hanks’ comic timing is wonderful; his striptease is broadly funny even while it showcases Alex’s devoted warmth to Isabel.

But what will happen when Alex learns of Sorenson’s intentions? Alex was off preparing his “act” when the geologist arrived carrying expensive roses. The big surprise Alex may yet be in for could rival that of this episode’s title.

For that matter, surprises are lurking everywhere. A conspiracy show has to raise these questions, manipulate reactions and raise doubts. This one delivers.


Skins can only stay in their forms for 50 years — at least on Earth.

Isabel’s birthday is October 25. She likes Sterling roses: purple, rare and quite expensive. As an alien princess, her name was Belandra. She may or may not have betrayed her people in the war that consumed their world.


What’s a granolith?

Did Pierce and Whittaker know each other were aliens, since they were apparently romantically involved?


Isabel finds Tess at the “Chavez” County electric power facility, but the name of Roswell’s county is actually “Chaves.”


Whittaker brings us up to two. What did The Carpenters say about “we’ve only just begun”?


A history project sends the gang back in time to learn what really happened in “Summer of 47”.