I’ve just finished watching Roswell for the first time. The episode “Samuel Rising” stood out to me as a testament of the integrity of the show. Roswell is the story of three human/alien hybrids who are trying to live their teenage human lives while finding out why they were created and sent to earth by their alien parents; it is also an exploration of what it really means to be human. These human/alien hybrids have diverse gifts and one of Max’s gifts is the ability to heal. An on-going conflict in the show is how Max should use his gifts: merely to hide the truth of his identity or to help others in need?
Earlier in the series, Max conceived a son who taken from earth before birth and is now trying to contact him. When Samuel, a child with autism, comes up to him in a restaurant and says, “Daddy,” Max believes his son is using Samuel as a conduit to contact him. After a failed attempt to achieve mutual communication, Max’s human girlfriend suggests that maybe Samuel talked to Max for Samuel’s sake, not for Max’s.
In an effort to help Samuel for his own sake, Max sneaks into Samuel’s house late at night and tries to heal him. Afterwards, he expects Samuel to talk to him, but he doesn’t. Frustrated, Max returns to his girlfriend at a loss. This is what happens next:
She says, “So, what happened?”
“It didn’t work,” he says. “I couldn’t heal him.”
“Well, maybe he didn’t need to be healed. You heal people who are sick or hurt, but Samuel isn’t sick or hurt. He’s just different.”
After some thought, Max says, “Maybe I was trying to heal the wrong person.”
The next thing Max does is have his sister, who can walk in people’s dreams, try to bring his parents into it Samuel’s dream. Samuel’s dream proves he does know what Christmas despite his father’s earlier assertion that he didn’t (represented as a tree, train, presents, and love). When the dream-version of his parents arrive in his dream (versus the “real” ones watching) he says, “I love you, Mommy. I love you, Daddy,” just as he would do if he could use words outside his own head.
When they wake, Samuel’s daddy calls his (ex-)wife and asks to come over. Samuel gets to live a part of his dream and he gets his daddy back.
I’ve watched many television shows that include an episode on autism or another disability. Most are disappointments. A few come close to getting it right. I’m glad to find one that really, truly gets it right.