Thanks to Jeff for this:
Max and Michael search for the perfect Christmas tree, following directions from an as-yet unidentified “Christmas Nazi.”
Michael wants to go to the hardware store to find the perfect present for Maria. Max suggests that he shop elsewhere.
A car skids through the lot, headed towards a young girl. Max looks on as her father pushes her out of the way, but is struck himself.
The next morning, we learn that the man is dead, leaving behind a wife and two children.
Isabel — the Christmas Nazi revealed — finds fault with the tree Max bought. While she goes on about his mistake, Max wanders to the washing machine, where he sees the ghost of John, the man who died.
The ghost asks, “How could you let me die?” (spoilers)
The WB Network has alternately billed this episode as “A Roswell Christmas Carol” and “Roswell: The Miracle”. Both titles are apt, but each resonates in a different way.
References to Dickens’ holiday novel are common enough, and this episode is no exception. A ghost returns to change a life. An opportunity to reflect on what is truly important. Gifts given in the spirit of the season.
But Max Evans is no Scrooge. The ghost does not lead Max to consider what might have been (a motif shared by A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life ) but simply asks why he acted as he did. Why save one life and not another?
Max’s response to the question is the miracle of this episode’s second title. Max has the power to heal, and so he does, spectacularly. Cliched as it sounds, Max Evans gives the gift of life itself.
But there’s an additional element here that few Very Special Episodes explore: religion. Max Evans does not believe in God. What is a miracle without God? What is religion to one not of this world? It’s an interesting question, and this episode gives it some serious thought.
Is religion the answer? Is love? Family? These questions are not answered here, but that the questions have been raised is itself an accomplishment.
Balancing light and dark
This episode manages to avoid pathos while remaining serious, keeping enough humor in a thoughtful episode.
Brody Davis becomes a man with a past, more than a rich dot.com guy who settled in Roswell after being abducted by aliens. He has family. He suffers, but here he’s given a beautiful gift as well.
Meanwhile, Katherine Heigl is given the over-the-top acting task of comically insisting on a “perfect” holiday while simultaneously staying focussed on the meaning of the holiday itself.
She does well. The image of the Christmas Nazi is perfectly nuanced, adding a welcome dimension to the holiday fare.
Tess brings her own brand of the holiday spirit by transforming the Valenti household. From Meaty Meals to real turkey — who would have thought?
In Roswell, Christmas is a season of surprises.
WHAT WE LEARN
Isabel has a Very Special Holiday Nickname: the Christmas Nazi.
The Valentis have only two dining room chairs.
Brody has a five-year-old daughter named Sydney; she does not ordinarily live with him.
Max does not believe in God.
DANGLING PLOT THREADS
We know that Max’s healing changes people. How will these children be affected by this?
What did anyone else get or receive for Christmas?
John is hit by a car and dies, bringing this season’s count to 32. But Max heals some kids to help restore the balance.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ AT THE CRASHDOWN?
The Crashdown Cafe has a Christmas special: $7.95 All You Can Eat Turkey Dinner.
ROSWELL (OR REALITY) CHECK
Mrs. Evans is reading the daily paper, the Roswell Tribune. The opening credits feature a newspaper called the Roswell Daily Record, which is also the newspaper that serves the real Rowell, New Mexico.