The Flashback Episode On 'Roswell, New Mexico' Explains So Much About Who Alex Is, Says Star Tyler Blackburn

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If you already hated Sergeant Manes on Roswell, New Mexico before, the Feb. 26 episode may be the nail in his coffin. Alex and Michael's teen flashback includes a lot of shippy moments, but it ends in heartbreak after Manes catches them together. Watching him violently attack Alex — then breaks Michael's hand when he tries to intervene — is a hard scene to stomach, but one that Roswell, New Mexico star Tyler Blackburn says explains a lot about how his character came to be who he is.

"It really shows why [Alex] lost so much of his innocence," Blackburn tells Bustle. "[It shows] why Alex and Michael's relationship took a turn ... but it also just shows you the severity of the situation for Alex growing up, really."

Who Alex was in the past is a stark contrast from the man we've come to know him as today. Whereas present Alex is subdued and not one to provoke, young Alex is a rebellious punk. And, Blackburn explains, it's not just that his fashion sense changed.

"I think I always knew from the get-go that [Alex] changed a lot after high school," Blackburn explains. "So I knew that he had to have been basically the antithesis of what we know him to be thus far. There was originally talk about him being like a skater guy, but then [series creator Carina Adly-MacKenzie] was basically thinking he should be as rebellious as possible against his father." Instead, they opted to have Alex wear black nail polish and eyeliner — two things not considered traditionally masculine, and that leaned into a counterculture that likely drove the homophobic, straight-laced sergeant up a wall.

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This was how Alex chose to push back against his father for not accepting who he is, and while the sergeant may have stamped out that spirit all those years ago, a decade into the future, things are finally starting to turn around. Take, for example, Alex's relationship with Kyle. The previous episode revealed that they were close as kids, but grew apart when Kyle started hanging out with a homophobic crowd. Now, those old wounds have started to heal, and not only are Kyle and Alex becoming friends, they're forming "a team," Blackburn teases.

"That turns out to be pretty important to the rest of the season," he says. "They're unlocking information and they start to actually come together and work together."

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Another hope, of course, is that Michael and Alex's relationship continues to thrive. "I just didn't know that the 'ship ... was going to be quite so big," Blackburn says of the pair. "It normalizes a gay relationship in a way that is very necessary and the response to it being as good that it is just really warms my heart because it makes me realize there is growth happening — you know? Especially in younger audiences."

So, harsh as Alex's upbringing was, Roswell, New Mexico is slowly building him the life — and love — he always deserved, the sergeant be damned.