Who is the traitor?
This very question is at the heart of what is likely the darkest hour so far for Doctor Lee Rosen, (David Strathairn), and his Alphas. This week on Syfy’s Alphas, both the writing and the story take a twisted turn that pits the Alphas against one another, forcing well-hidden secrets to light, and having potentially dangerous repercussions on the relationships that have been forming so precariously over the past few weeks.
We as humans in general despise the concept of a ‘tattletale’, (which could be consider a level 1 traitor for you gamers out there). Tattletales are generally distrusted, avoided, and mocked. As they grow up, they become more secretive in their behaviors, taking on titles such as ‘informants’ or, (in some cases), ‘spies’, ‘double agents’, or even ‘mercenaries’, (I use the definition loosely). The term ‘traitor’ is often thrown around depending on the emotional level of the person doing the accusing but the truth is, at the endgame, ‘traitor’ is truly the last ‘level’. It is sometimes considered the worst title that can be given to someone, because betrayal can often cut deeper than any other crime. Even Dante Alighieri, in his Inferno, places the traitors in the lowest level of Hell (the ninth circle), and the greatest Biblical traitor of all in the central mouth of the terrible Cocytus. They are unforgivable. They are dangerous. They are….traitors.
According to Nathan Clay, (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), one of the Alphas fits the bill. He is so convinced, in fact, that he kidnaps the entire team and plants them in The Place, (also known as Binghamton). We have heard about this ‘rehabilitation center’ at least once an episode every week. We have glimpsed it. We have heard the disgust and fear in the voices of the Alphas who have been there and the Alphas who are trying to avoid it. Now, we are in it.
We are not getting out.
MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
The Alphas wake up in what Clay calls: “soundproof, signalproof, escapeproof, Alphaproof cells.” Through dialogue with Rosen, we learn that the entire team has been moved to Binghamton, and over the course of the next few minutes the Alphas are each interviewed, (read: “questioned”), individually, each with the sole purpose of being revealed as the traitor. Someone has been aiding Red Flag in tracking down and killing the Cold War-era Alpha researchers. Clay uses an Alpha of his own: Eric Latreaux, (Tom Barnett), whose ability enables him to read micro-expressions, effectively a human lie detector.
He focuses a lot on Nina Theroux, (Laura Mennell), because of her aiding Skylar Adams, (Summer Glau), previously, but nothing is revealed – save for the fact that Eric himself was formerly a patient of Rosen’s and he evidently has a thing for Rachel Pirzad, (Azita Ghanizada). Eric pastes Cameron Hicks, (Warren Christie), as the mole purely on a guess, though he does call him ‘too handsome’.
The next stage of questioning puts the Alphas in a room together, forcing them to sweat it out on the threat of going to ‘Building 7′, (the next level of Binghamton, and the one place no one wants to go). The Alphas turn on one another, identifying faults and snapping over minute details. Only Doctor Rosen is able to stop things from escalating by pretending to fake lower back pain. He is not actually faking; the pain is real, but he is able to use it to tell the others they need to escape. They do so, and hole up in an old warehouse. Here, things explode. Rosen reveals he knows who the traitor is, and after nail-biting seconds of waiting, he also pins Cameron Hicks.
Bill Harken, (Malik Yoba), attacks Cameron and, in the resulting confusion, Rosen sneaks Gary Bell, (Ryan Cartwright), out. The two head back to the office, where Rosen attempts to get Gary to erase the files on the main computer that started all of this. At the same time Rachel realizes that the blood coming from a wound Rosen received is not his. Rosen – or rather someone who looks like Rosen – is the mole.
The shape-changing Alpha almost gets away with it too, if not for the real Rosen waking up, escaping his own prison cell, (near the Alphas’ office building), and essentially getting in a fight with himself, (which he loses). The shape-changer, (who we never see but who is voiced by Rafal Mickiewicz), tries one last time to get free but in his haste does not properly fully change into Gary. He is caught.
It seems like things are going to turn out well for our Alphas this week, with Eric soon to sign on as Rosen’s newest member of the team. But Bill is still recovering from the loss of his powers, and in the final shots of the episode we watch as the amped-up Alpha collapses to the floor, victim of a ferocious heart attack.
Most of the Alphas finish strong this week despite the terrible challenge that has befallen them.
Bill and Cameron are even joking around despite the fact that a few hours before one of them was nearly trying to kill the other. Gary has bounced back from his panic attack. Rachel and Eric already have the possibility of something brewing between them. However, Rosen is deeply troubled both at the way Clay handled the situation and with the concerns as to what Red Flag will do next. Despite working for DCIS and despite all he has seen and even done, Rosen still feels unprepared for the assault Red Flag is focusing on him. He also feels betrayed in his own right by Clay, who he feels handled the situation ‘dangerously’. Clay defends himself by quoting Occam’s Razor, that all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one. In this situation, Clay was correct in that there was a mole on the team, even though that mole had not been there for long. But no matter how it is worded, It is still a slap to Rosen’s face by someone he trusted, and he may be feeling like he and his team really are just as much a threat to DCIS as any other Alpha. That kind of realization brings consequences – which we may see in season two. If Clay always operates on the belief of Occam’s Razor, what could be in store for Rosen and his Alphas when they come under fire again?
Before we move on to what was revealed about the characters and their growth this week, I would like to take a look, finally, at the silent menace that has been growing all through the season and finally, this week, became a character in its own right. Binghamton. (It deserves the bold).
On the outside, Binghamton is a rehabilitation center for the most dangerous Alphas, (though the worst of the worst go to a place called ‘Building 7′). Doctor Rosen seems to have freely sent many Alphas there himself, believing them to be going to place where they will be safe. Such does not seem to be the case. Binghamton gained its first true level of infamy with Marcus Ayers, (Devon Graye) revealing to Rosen that ‘experiments’ were conducted behind its walls. Since then it continued to be mentioned at least once an episode. We have glimpsed its inner walls and Nina, especially, seems to be particularly terrified of it. Now that we have been inside, we can all see why.
Binghamton, in its prisoner hall, sports a Spartan, (read: nonexistent) decor and bleached walls with only one tiny window to suggest a world outside. Much like a mental hospital, it is meant to emphasize nothingness, no stimuli to affect the people placed within its walls. The tiny cells contain a bed that is more like a cot and a stainless steel toilet and sink with no suggestion of nearby toilet paper.
On top of that, the cells seem to be able to be programmed to suppress each specific Alpha ability, as we can see Gary attempting to access signals. The cells can be accessed with a key code, (that Rachel is able to get off her handler’s glasses), but otherwise there is no clear handle or lock to pick.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, however, is the interrogation room. This is the room we glimpsed in the second episode, and it has not changed at all in its disturbing appearance. Huge, vast, and empty save for one white table and two chairs, the room is darkly lit by deep yellow light, a tough color to handle for any length of time. From a technical standpoint, the color is warm but oppressive, meant most likely to push the weak-minded into admitting anything just to get out. Symbolically, yellow is used in the third Hindu chakra to mean willpower and achievement, and as been noted by psychics as the color of a scientific mind. Outside the metaphysical, ‘yellow’ is also the color of cowardice and deceit, all too appropriate for the episode and for the facility itself, given the rumors of its two-faced nature.
The effect Binghamton has on the Alphas is stark. Nina and Rachel are both equally terrified, with Rachel nearly in a full-blown panic and Nina wound tighter than a violin string. Cameron and Rosen are both equally calm, representative of their respective backgrounds. Cameron knows the side of the law he is on now, and has slipped into old habits. Rosen, (fake Rosen), as the mole, actually has the most pressure on himself, but he bears up well and only begins to fall apart as his Alpha ability begins to affect his body chemistry. Bill, as a special agent, (do not call him a cop), alternates between amped-up agitation and relative calm. He does not like being on this side of the table, especially as he knows the methods that are being employed and how well they work. He believes in the system, but with his own troubles going on he is low on patience and high on adrenaline.
Speaking of Bill, his subplot in the second half of season one is reaching a head – almost literally. He is the only Alpha to have lost his ability while under the effect of Jonas Englin, (Garret Dillahunt). From the looks of it, Rosen’s forced countermeasure is having severe side effects as Bill appears to amp up without being in control of it. In addition, the countermeasure seems to be serving as a pacemaker in that it is simulating Bill’s ability more than restoring it and, as with many artificial methods, there are bugs. Yes, a heart attack is a pretty big bug. What is going to happen to Bill?
Finally this week, we have another secret exposed from Gary Bell. While it has been suggested that Gary has kept up with Anna, (Liane Balaban), this week he admits it out loud. This is a clear surprise to the rest of the Alphas, none of whom support his decision. However, none of them outright forbid him to stop talking to her, which is a reflection of how Gary has grown throughout season one and how each of the Alphas have changed their opinions of him. That being said, Gary shows an almost frightening naivete in his assessment of Anna. He points out that she hurt him, but that she apologized. She may be the leader of Red Flag, but he insists they do not talk about work. Is Gary hiding something? Are he and Anna really only keeping their conversations friendly in nature? Or is the deviously clever Anna using Gary in ways Gary does not realize yet?
We include the promotional trailer of the season finale “Original Sin” which Alphas airs Monday, September 26, 2011 at 10/9c on the Syfy Channel. Enjoy!
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