Now that Liz has entered into a world full of magic and rule-changing mystique, it’s this one truly human event that forces her to come to grips with just how different her life has now become. Leaving Normal tackles this issue with a surprising rawness that puts everything into perspective. The episode itself deals with some strong issues, but a few misplaced plots make it less than perfect.
There’s a lot of depth to this episode that I never really took the time to appreciate when I first saw it. When Max saved Liz, he broke the rules of, not only physics, but life and death, breaking Liz out of what was supposed to be her untimely demise. It takes something as normal as the death of a grandmother to make Liz realize just how odd an occurrence that has to be. He can’t save life just because he wants to. Liz’s death was before her time, at the hands of something cruel and senseless, while her grandmother’s was natural and a part of being human. It’s a tough lesson to learn, and one that will forever change Liz’s view of life, preventing her from ever returning to normal.
Kyle’s role is so standard during this first stretch of episodes that it’s hard to really take him seriously as a character. This was the first episode to break that cycle, nipping the obviously doomed relationship in the bud. I loved that Liz was the one who did the nipping, not waiting for their relationship to collapse on its own, maybe an asset of the controlling aspect of her personality, explored as recently as Monsters. Despite his faceless role as “the other guy”, Roswell always takes time out to make him seem a lot more human that he would appear otherwise. That father son bonding scene between Jim and Kyle makes things seem a lot more complicated. They may seem to be out to get the group, but they’re only doing it for the right reasons.
There’s a few out of place scenarios thrown into this episode, like Isabel’s jaunt into the service industry. So far she’s not been given much of a chance to shine on her own, being over-shadowed by everything Liz and Max, and this episode didn’t necessarily paint her as anything different than she already was. I like that her crashdown stint reaffirmed the new bond between her and Maria, but it just felt a little out of context, even if it was all done in Liz’s interests.
Michael’s revenge of sorts on Kyle’s posse was a fun spin on these guys being young and clueless teens bestowed with godlike abilities. It’s also in character for Michael to take such rash action against Max’s assailants, but the whole jealous boyfriend thing has already gotten tired, and these faceless brutes getting their comeuppance wasn’t really all that necessary, even if it was a little satisfying.
Leaving Normal was an interesting exploration of the moral intricacies of the situation Liz has found herself in, and despite the slight garishness of the side-plots, the episode still delivers.