COMMENTS ON TESS
We know many of you are scratching your heads wondering why we would bring Tess into the storyline when she was the cause of so many of the problems that ensued after the network interference. The major reason is, based on information from interviews, we're pretty sure Tess was planned before the interference, therefore we feel that had the network not interfered she still would have been introduced. What they had planned for her originally we don't know (other than being another alien), but we intend to show that she could have been a positive addition, not a negative one. We are hoping these individual commentaries will assure you that, although there may be some similarities, our Tess will not be the same as the show's Tess.
The following were comments I made previously in a Roswellian discussion group about the show's Tess, based on the show's storyline. Although our storyline will differ, it will give you an idea of how I would have preferred that the show had written Tess and therefore give you an idea (without spoilers) of the kind of Tess I would prefer.
My impression when they introduced Tess was that she came off as a manipulative b***h. Someone Max would never be attracted to. I think it would have been a lot more interesting if she had been portrayed as a nice, innocent, intelligent young lady (someone with similar qualities to Liz) who had spent her whole life preparing for the time she would meet her future mate, a specific person whom she had been led to believe would be expecting and waiting for her. When she discovers that her future mate was not only NOT expecting her but had found someone else, someone he had no intention of giving up, the audience would have felt her pain, would have sympathized with her; at the same time the audience would not want to lose the relationship Max and Liz had formed, so they could sympathize with Max who is now torn between doing what might be construed as his duty or following his heart, but at the same time he wouldn't want to hurt Tess, who (in my scenario of the show's storyline) did not deserve to be abandoned (emotionally). I just think it makes for a more interesting dynamic when the choices are not black and white. They tried to make her seem more sympathetic in season 2 but by then it was too late; we didn't trust her, her motives were suspect. [End of discussion comments.]
I believe that Max and Liz are soul mates and although they may face obstacles which separate them physically, and which they have to overcome to get back together, nothing can separate them emotionally, nor destroy their trust in one another.
How did I hate the show's Tess? Let me count the ways.
It was not an easy decision to include a character named Tess. We spent quite a long time discussing this one; we have the virtual equivalent of huge stacks of e-mail devoted to the topic. Yet despite our antipathy to the aired show's Tess, you are seeing a character called Tess in episode 122. We are doing this because we are trying to be true to what we believed was planned, and Tess was planned.
Does that mean that RWMHB's Tess must be the same person as the aired show's Tess? Of course not. As we write in our "About the Characters" section, "Any character that hasn't appeared by the end of "Sexual Healing" may not turn out to be what you expect." Without introducing any spoilers, it should already be clear that there are differences between RWMHB's Tess and the aired show's Tess. So why include her at all and why her, of all characters and plot twists, and not others?
Again, we believe that she was planned. Other things about the show seem to us to have been a response to outside pressure. The elements we see as unplanned we are not going to include. There are also plots that don't seem to follow from the first sixteen episodes; those things will not be included. Our inclusion of someone called Tess means that we see the character as one that we can write so that she follows the logic and premises that were set forth in the first sixteen episodes and in the six RWMHB episodes that we have written so far. To be very clear, one of these premises is that Max and Liz share a strong, enduring and beautiful love. To overlook that fact would be untrue to the foundation of the show.
COMMENTS ON OTHER ASPECTS OF THE EPISODE
As with any story, everyone is going to have their own likes and dislikes. I thought I'd share some of the beta tester reactions we got on this episode. First the "likes". We got some very positive feedback from our betas, such as: (listed basically in order of appearance)
Max & Liz's "important to be safe" scene.
Establishing the healing stones as a power source for the pods.
Using the items found at the pods as clues to when they should have "hatched".
Pairing them with non-usual partners for different dynamics.
Sensing other aliens.
Maria's babbling shape-shifter theories.
The dance lesson.
The discovery of the shield power [which was "borrowed from "Ask Not" ;-)], and testing its strength.
The breathing lines [note: these were also my favorite part ;-)].
The sewing machine "explanation".
The photo taking by all the parents, and Maria's reaction to Amy's picture taking.
Kyle's "what the hell look".
Having enough romance for all the shippers (Dreamers, Candies, Stargazers, and Untuckables).
Amy and Valenti's dancing scene [I wanted to make sure I got in a kiss for Amy and Valenti at the dance because Bill Sadler was so upset that his kissing scene in "Heart of Mine" was cut. ;-)], as well as Maria & Kyle's reaction.
Max & Liz's shared flash.
Liz's participation/help with the dreamwalk.
Michael showing Maria his new power.
The character relationships and teamwork.
Mixing normal teen stuff (going shopping, the dance, the revenge scheme), with searching for their alien origins.
The humor and quirks of the different characters.
Keeping Larry, Jen, & Milton in the mix.
We also had some questions about some of the scenes (in addition to the Tess addition, which has been explained above), so I thought I'd share my answers in case members of our audience have the same (or similar) questions. :-)
Q: Liz didn't actually buy her dress years in advance, right?
A: Correct, she just knew that she wanted to go to a dance with Max years ago, so each year she would have in mind what she wanted to wear and then she got her dress as soon as she knew there was a good possibility they would actually go. :-)
Q: When Liz told Isabel that Maria had "a tendency to exaggerate" what was she referring to?
A: Liz is referring to what Maria said just prior to that statement, about how Liz felt about Max: "She was always talking about him, wondering what he was really like." :-)
Q: Why didn't Maria have more of a reaction to Isabel telling her Michael dreamt about her?
A: At one point we did have Maria react to Isabel saying that (she wanted to know all the juicy details), however Isabel chose to do the right thing and not reveal what she saw and heard (but assured her they were positive). The scene went through many metamorphoses and since no information was given, and the flow was better without it, that part was cut. :-)
Q: In Michael's flash with Isabel he is a young boy cowering before Hank; wouldn't Michael have been in far more than one foster home?
A: I agree that it's probable that Michael would have been in more than one foster home, however, the first 16 episodes never indicate when he was left with Hank, nor how long he was with him, but imply that Hank was his only foster father. However, there is no reason you can't assume that he was cycled in and out or sent to Hank when a little older like 10 or 11. In the flashback he shares with Isabel we just say "young Michael", so the age imagined is really up to the reader--he could be 6 or 7 or he could be 10 or 11 and still be considered "young". :-)
A: I was confused by the reaction Michael and Isabel had to the flash they shared. It wasn't intimate enough for them to run out, or did I miss something?
The flash wasn't about sexual intimacy it was about personal intimacy. Both Isabel and Michael are very private people, afraid to let others get too close. Each one saw something about the other that the other didn't want revealed to anyone. This was very frightening to them--that someone could see inside them like that. :-)
Q: Why have Valenti and Owen's investigation as a flashback instead of in real time in a previous act?
A: It can't be done in real time because Valenti would not be able to justify that he was still "investigating" such a minor thing as the "bat signals" after almost two weeks, since no one was hurt by them. The flashback scene is supposed to be suggesting that as Valenti watches Max and Liz dance he is remembering the spiral signal in the desert and that he thinks they were responsible for it. When he approaches them, there should be some uncertainty as to why, like is he going to question them about what he may have found out there during his investigation? :-)
Q: What were Nick, Chris, and Marcos talking about?
A: That scene was our way of telling the audience that Alex told his band members why they didn't get the gig: because Elana and Vanessa threw their votes so Isabel could go to the dance with Alex, and that he asked them not to make a fuss about it because some people might blame Isabel too, for E&V's behavior. Nick, Chris, & Marcos, overhearing others wondering why they didn't get the gig, want to be able to say something, but agree that they shouldn't say anything to protect Isabel. :-)
Q: Would Alex actually remember the very dress that was in a dream he'd had months ago?
A: I agree that most random dreams are forgettable, sometimes even immediately after waking up, but then there are others that are so vivid you remember them in detail years later. Also you have dreams that aren't random, but more like reproductions of day dreams that you've had many times, so once again you would remember the details of those dreams, so yes, I believe Alex could remember the dress from that dream. :-)
Q: Would the diabolical plan really work, and would it really bother either Elana or Vanessa that much?
A: Yes, Elana & Vanessa care very much about their status at the high school and would care very much if something were to tarnish it. They think they are God's gift to the school (and maybe the world) and don't want to know that the other students don't worship them. So although they will brush it off, saying they don't care because these other students are beneath them, they do actually care. And it's their arrogance that would make the plan work. They would assume they deserved the award, so they wouldn't question when they overhear that it's being awarded, and their anticipation would be so high that they would speak out when it's not mentioned at the dance. :-)
Q: Why aren't they angry at Maria and Liz?
A: They are angry with the two girls that led them to believe there was an award being given, but they don't know that it's Maria and Liz. Maria and Liz do not run in their circle, they barely know them, so they would never recognize their voices without seeing their faces. :-)