Roswell, New Mexico‘s Isobel Evans has been through a lot over the past few weeks.
First, she discovered that her husband was not who she thought he was, and was secretly an evil alien who compelled her to kill someone a decade ago. Then he died, and her brother Max died, and the girl she had been compelled to kill came back to life. Then she discovered she was pregnant thanks to her evil dead husband, and as an alien trying hard to keep her true identity a secret, that left her with very few options.
“She’s already got a lot of grief and trauma she’s dealing with, which she’s doing very much alone,” Lily Cowles tells E! News. “And then to find herself pregnant, I think, puts her in a really bad situation, because first of all, she is an alien so she can’t go to a doctor and see medical help that she needs to deal with the birth, or the pregnancy, or handling the pregnancy however she would want to do it. But also she’s really isolated. I don’t think she has anyone she can turn to.”
Isobel ultimately decided to use the very dangerous alien-killing serum that Liz had developed last season to attempt to give herself an abortion, planning to eventually use the antidote to save herself. In last week’s episode, she nearly died in the attempt, and had to be saved by Liz after she had already passed out, and only because of some tenuous connection to Max in his alien pod.
This may be a tale of aliens with alien superpowers, but Isobel’s tale isn’t all that unfamiliar.
“I think Isobel really serves a sort of allegorical function here for the story of people who face unwanted pregnancies and don’t have access to medical assistance, whether it’s because they don’t have the finances to support it, or they’re underage and they don’t have support from their families, or if they’re illegal citizens and they’re facing the risk of deportation, or they live in a state that does not support it,” Cowles says. “So I think Isobel, like so many women across the globe, finds herself in a situation where she has an unwanted pregnancy.”
Cowles says Isobel is a person who wants a family, but “not like this.”
“The fact that this pregnancy came out of a relationship that turned out to be really abusive mentally and physically, that he had taken over her body and used her to commit murders, that he’d been lying to her…it’s being forced on her in a way that she does not want, and so it’s a fight to save herself, save her future,” she says. “I think she just has this sudden revelation that maybe this is her only option, to try to handle it herself, and unfortunately this is a reality that many women actually face when they are denied access to health care. I think this is a consequence of barring women from having access to proper health care and reproductive rights.”
Isobel is determined, Cowles says, to not have a child that will be the legacy of trauma and abuse.
Isobel also has quite the journey ahead of her, now that her alien abortion seemed to have worked and she’s free of Noah hopefully forever. She gets a chance to define herself by something other than just the men around her, as she always has before.
“She’s been a sister, she’s been a wife. Her identity has always been tied up in the identity of other people, specifically men,” Cowles says. “Now, it’s the worst thing that could happen to her to lose both of those people at the same time and in such horrible ways, but in a way, it is also an enormous opportunity for Isobel to redefine herself on her own terms, and have agency in her own life in a way that she never did before. So it’s harrowing, the journey that she has to go through. And yet I think ultimately, it’s very hopeful because it offers her suddenly a chance to empower herself and to redefine her life from an authentic place that’s coming out of her own desires and, you know, her own self interest rather than someone else’s.”
So what’s next for Isobel? She’s taking her life into her own hands.
“At this moment, the number one priority is figuring out how she can arm herself against ever being victimized again,” Cowles says. “I am realizing that I’m my own protector, but I have agency over myself, so I think it’s first, I’m going to arm myself and protect myself, and second, I’m going to figure out who I am when I feel safe, when I know that I feel safe within myself, who am I? She’s never really had the opportunity in her life before to really question who is Isobel outside of these relationships with men? And where do I come from? Why am I here? I think it’s gonna hit her pretty hard.”
“It’s perfect. It’s really a wonderful storyline,” she continues. “I was thrilled as an actor to be able to take that on for her because season one, she’s so buttoned back and restricted and living in this glass bubble, this golden cage that she had built for herself. But it was a cage and, you know, in episode two, she talks about setting herself free, and it’s like the emancipation of Isobel Evans. So hold on to your hats!”
Roswell, New Mexico airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on The CW.