Lee Rosen - David Strathairn
Cameron Hicks - Christie Warren
Bill Harken - Malik Yoba
Nina Theroux - Laura Mennell
Gary Bell - Ryan Cartwright
Rachel Pirzad - Azita Ghanizada
OTHER ALPHAS SEASONS
OTHER ENHANCED PEOPLE SHOWS
Bionic Woman (2008)
No Ordinary Family
Now and Again
There are ordinary people out there with extraordinary abilities. Noted brain doctor Lee Rosen leads a small team of 'Alphas' who use their abilities to solve crimes whilst he helps them with the downsides to their conditions.
ALPHAS aims to be what HEROES promised, but ultimately failed to deliver; the ordinary superhero show that was good. This opening episode sets up the scene with a group of eccentrics who barely get on with each other using their powers to take on superpowered enemies. In this case, it's a man with the power to control the minds of others and make them do whatever he wishes them to do. Since one of the good Alphas has exactly that same ability there are early fears that the imagination is running thin already.
In order to provide a gritty background to the superpowered stuff, all of the Alphas have their own foibles. Cameron Hicks (initially considered a bad guy since he kills someone) has hand/eye co-ordination that is amazing, but also unpredictable. Nina has the ability to make people do what she wishes, but it doesn't work on everyone and her selfish streak can lead to issues. Gary is autistic and finds it hard to relate to anyone. Rachel has heightened senses that make it hard for her to be around people. Finally, Bill can boost his system to become superstrong, but that can overstimulate him and could lead to death if he does it for too long.
The feature length pilot gives us a chance to get to know all of these people, but not enough to actually get to like them and that could become something of an issue in the longer term if they do not become more likeable. It is, however, early days.
The introduction of a nefarious enemy group (Red Flag) and making the team themselves the target of the bad guy so early in the show could be a miscalculation since we haven't had time to bond with the chracters and thus the threat to them is reduced.
The cast are competent enough, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will be given enough material to make more of an impact with their characters.Top
CAUSE AND EFFECT
An ex-patient of Doctor Rosen escapes from secure transfer and sets about a series of murders that will inevitably lead to a confrontation between himself and the Alphas team.
The villain's skill is an ability to size up a scene and everything in it and then affect the smallest detail to create a domino effect leading to a desired outcome. It's an old idea that's been used before in other shows and is dangerously close to Cameron's ability. If this is the most original idea that they could come up with then the show could be in trouble right from the start.
The characters still don't much like each other, which makes it difficult for the audience to find much empathy with them either.
The episode does at least play the past between Doctor Rosen and his failed patient with a certain nostalgia that threatens to invest it with some depth, but finally the empathy just isn't there.Top
An Alpha is causing outbreaks of mass violence and the authorities turn to Rosen's team. First they have to find the identity of the Alpha responsible and then contain them without being turned violent themselves.
Continuity alert! In the last episode, Doctor Rosen was introduced to a handler played by Valerie Cruz and now we're back with the original handler called Don Wilson. Since he is killed in this story it is obvious that the episode order has been switched, which can't say a lot about the respect with which the show is being treated.
The violent outbreaks in the show are shot in a stylised fashion that heighten the surreality and brutality on display. This makes them stand out, but also unbalances the show, making the rest of the storyline seem pale and flat by comparison and accenting the fact that the aftermath of the violence isn't really dealt with.Top
Trying to take down a cell of criminal organisation Red Flag, the team discover a woman who can understand any language, but speaks in a language all her own. Gary is drawn to her as she seems much like him, but whilst the rest of the team tries to prevent an attack, he finds himself in danger.
The characters are starting to soften and like each other, making them easier to like and the show much more accessible as a result. The larger picture of Red Flag as a group of Alphas fighting at what they believe to be supression of their kind by the authorities harkens back to X-MEN movies and the conflict there.
Aside from that, it's fairly standard police procedural with a few tweaks into superpower territory. Gary, however, becomes a more rounded character in the process.Top
NEVER LET ME GO
A small town is suffering a spate of deaths with very suspicious circumstances. Rosen and Nina discover a town gripped with fear and the rest of the team arrive to narrow down the suspects.
Almost completely a police procedural with only a few moments of special powers thrown in. This story concentrates on Nina and rounds out her character a bit more, but the identity of the murderer is clear from an early stage and the rest is pedestrian.
Having Lyndsey Wagner appear as her CDC character out of WAREHOUSE 13 is just a distraction, all the more so because she is given nothing to do and the tone of the shows is so utterly different.Top
BILL AND GARY'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
Bill gets his chance to regain his place in the FBI when a rich man's daughter is kidnapped and Gary provides a critical clue. He will need the talents of his Alpha colleagues to save the day, however.
Bill and Gary are quite a double act in this episode, concentrating mainly on Bill and his desire to get back into his old job. It's a straightforward kidnapping plot with a twist that can be seen coming a mile away.
The similarities between the set up of ALPHAS and PAINKILLER JANE is made all the more obvious by the presence of Alaina Huffman in the guest cast.Top
CATCH AND RELEASE
Dr Rosen is already having second thoughts about the role that his team plays in the capturing of other alphas, so when an old friend of Nina's with the ability to create intricate machines in minutes, shows up on the run, the entire team in conflicted as to how to help.
Summer Glau shows up as the guest star in this tale, giving her character of a smart, but nervous, girl on the run more depth than it really deserves. Her performance is a mixture of her previous roles, but with a touch of maturity that has been hitherto lacking.
The rest of the plot is predictable, right down to the final scene. You could almost write the dialogue yourself.Top
A SHORT TIME IN PARADISE
Cameron and Nina are affected by a troubled alpha who believes that he can create a sense of nirvana in people, but there is a deadly side-effect to his skill and Dr Rosen finds himself trapped and with only a short time to prevent a tragedy.
Hostage dramas and cults make for compelling viewing usually and there is a frisson about this episode that has been lacking from others. This comes, in part, from Dr Rosen's fight against not only time but also those that he considered friends and in part from the debates about free will versus peace.
In the end, though, it all goes down a little too obviously and the subplot about Rachel's father is annoyingly trite.Top
THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS
The deaths of a number of high ranking officials leads to the whole team being taken in for questioning by the authorities. The only way they have to clear their names is to break out and go rogue.
This is a closed box episode in which everyone is put in a small space and the characters get to bounce off each other and melt down. This is a bit repetitive, but as the story develops it becomes more and more interesting. The plot mcguffin of a potential traitor in the team's midst becomes more and more likely and the twists start to come.
Concentrating on the characters rather than another 'Alpha of the week' chase makes this one of the better episodes of the series.Top
Intelligence shows that a group of Red Flag activists are holding a meeting to decide the future of their group. The police want to move in. The Alpha Team are divided on the morality. This will not end well.
Immediately the set up for the season finale is over, the whole episode stops and everyone sits around to discuss what they think about it all before finally the action kicks in at the end. It's an odd and not very effective structure that undercuts the pretty explosive final shoot out and the game-changing cliffhanger ending.
It remains to be seen whether the show has done enough to merit a second season in which it might find its voice more clearly.Top
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