Welcome back Alphas fans!
The family is broken.
After the breathtaking season finale that took place far too long ago, Syfy’s Alphas have returned almost in real time – eight months later – and the fallout from Doctor Lee Rosen’s, (David Strathairn), very public revelation continues to bleed through their actions, minds, and lives.
We have returned to a family splintered, broken, and frightened. The visceral agony they all feel at being separated leaks through the screen into our senses – and that is before any of the really exciting action begins.
Before continuing my analysis of “Wake Up Call”, courtesy of Syfy, we include the promotional trailers for the next great episode of Alphas “The Quick and the Dead” for your enjoyment.
Wake Up Call:
Doctor Rosen, the psychiatrist, has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the irony of which does not escape him. His call to action for the Alphas has touched on the basest human instinct: fear of that which it does not understand. This is a common theme running through many shows, especially ones about evolutionary matters, (I’m looking at you, X-Men).
The concept of fearing that which we do not understand, however, has several questions attached. Are we really afraid of things that are new to us, or are we afraid of how drawn we are to them? Are we jealous of those things that are greater than us, so to speak, and so we manifest our frustrations as fear? Are we afraid of the facets of us those things reveal? Civilization in general has always struck me as one of humanity’s biggest defense mechanisms and indeed, it is the exact opposite of what we call “human nature”.
Most would have us believe that at our cores, we are nothing more than animals and, if you follow the theory of evolutions, that would be the case. We are afraid of what we were, (animals), because we consider ourselves to be greater now that we can think and reason, and consequently we put on the mask of ‘civilization’ to hide from what could be our true instincts. (Yet, as irony would have it, we still call our animal side ‘human nature’).
Consequently, we are afraid of what we could become if we sought to use more than ten percent of our brains. Doctor Rosen mentioned in a previous episode that Alphas are nothing more than humans who have access to more than ten percent. This concept frightens us because it gives ‘power’ to those who we once considered our equals.
Again, however – are we afraid or jealous? Are we afraid of being hurt or afraid of the competitive and envious sides that power brings out in each of us? If our DNA is meant for us to survive, then seeking power would be at the goal of every human – and once it is revealed we have the ability to gain power we are driven to stop at nothing until we get it. This is a hard theme to process and accept because we, as humans, do not like to address such basic issues of our minds, (what Freud would call the id).
We are almost incapable of understand exactly what we are capable of as individuals, and Alphas represent a step towards that understanding. Which means, in the end, that Doctor Rosen’s speech could only bring about one outcome: silence. He asked for transparency. He got opacity.
Eight months of it, to be honest.
Doctor Rosen is in hell, the psychiatrist now the patient. Sadly, he exhibits the same attitude and conversational topics that we associate with those that are mad – and it is twisted to watch him play off the woman who is meant to help him. As he heads back to his cell, however, we can see that he is truly tormented.
On the outside, people think he is insane, with delusions of grandeur and persecution, but we as the audience can see beyond that. Doctor Rosen is almost shamanistic in his emotions, with the ability to feel what others are feeling, (instinctively more than literally, however I suspect ‘literally’ may be part of the case here). He is suffering from his eight months of imprisonment, especially since he is unable to help those Alphas he silently thinks of as family, and unable to touch those he knows are in need of help. The pressure is evident as the scene closes, and we are left hanging in worry and panic for him.
In a touching nod to the pilot, we are happily reintroduced to Cameron Hicks, (Warren Christie), in a supermarket – the very place we first met him, (however now he has hair. Yuck! Shave it off, Cam!).
This time, however, he is not trying to kill anyone, but rather capture rogue Alphas that are climbing out of the woodwork since Doctor Rosen’s announcement. He is not working alone, however. Out of all the Alphas to team up with him, Fate chose Bill Harken, (Malik Yoba). Of course, it makes perfect sense that these two would team up.
At the start of season one, Bill was the man with the plan, the cop with the bad record, the man who did not like surprises or unpredictability. Cameron, as the lone wolf, was the wild card, the capricious hair trigger set to go off at any moment. He was the action of Bill’s hot-headed mind. As their world slowly fell apart with Rosen’s disappearance, Bill and Cameron have banded together to remain the only Alphas to really continue his work.
Of course, they are also the two Alphas who remain weakened by Jonas Englin, (Garret Dillahunt). Cameron’s hyperkinesis is spotty at best, and Bill’s adrenaline-fueled rages continue to weaken his heart. When the two go up against three rather dangerous Alphas, (one word: OW.), they only manage to grab one of them – the only one, in fact, who is completely helpless.
They return her for questioning as we see that they are now in the service of Nathan Clay, (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), who has taken over the Alpha HQ. On orders from him, they take the imprisoned Alpha to Building 7 of Binghamton, which has (for this episode), sadly lost its personification. Within the confines, however, Bill and Cameron – as well as we audience members – receive a huge shock.
Settled in the main room of Binghamton’s Building 7, dressed in the customary red jumpsuit and immobile with the pacifier chip, is Gary Bell, (Ryan Cartwright).
The implications and horror of what this could mean for the transducer’s fragile mind is almost sickening. Bill and Cameron immediately begin questioning how he got put in there, and the answer reveals that Gary’s special needs were not taken into account when he started working with the NSA. Cut off from Doctor Rosen and thrown into a high-risk job with a bunch of strangers, it seems amazing that Gary continued to function in his role.
He did eventually succumb, and now he is trapped, unfairly, horribly. Bill and Cameron do their best to break him out, but he remains unresponsive to them. Whether it is because his mind has been broken or because he is consumed with fury remains unknown, but Bill does everything he can to break through. We have suspected that there is an intense bond between Bill and Gary all through season one, and here we see just how powerful it is. Bill genuinely cares for Gary.
On the subject of ‘caring’ it is clear that Cameron Hicks and Nina Theroux (Laura Mennell), are having some serious problems. With Rosen’s disappearance, Nina has returned to her old ways, using her ability to get anything she wants at any given time. She is clearly seeking to fill her time with material things in order to forget being apart from the others.
While Nina has been one of the more distant members of the Alphas, she is also one of the most fragile and most strongly affected by the dispersion of the group. She is one of the most easily wounded as well – she is a well of passion and emotion and holds herself together only through a thin shred of sanity that, somewhere in her life, she will be justified for her actions or she will find a safe haven. She had that haven with Doctor Rosen – and no more.
Whatever happened between her and Cameron seems a little one-sided, (maybe it has a basis in that mop he is trying call hair on the top of his head?). She is cold and distant to him, and Cameron only seems hurt and guilty around her. Hopefully we will find out what happened to them – and get them back together, (because frankly, they are awesome for each other).
Last season, one of my recurring questions was just how much power Doctor Rosen had over his Alphas. This season opener has revealed much about that. Without him they are lost, frightened, and retreating to their own devices. Bill and Cameron continue his work. Nina has reverted to her old ways. Gary has become a a prisoner of Binghamton. But perhaps saddest of all is the beautiful Rachel Pirzad, (Azita Ghanizada). We learn that she has gone into some kind of seclusion, hiding herself in her room, refusing to see anyone or even leave as though she is no longer able to control her senses.
Doctor Rosen for her – for many of the Alphas – was literally the reason some of them were hanging on to sanity and now with him being gone we can see the glue holding them all together is melting. It is my hope that part of the season will be devoted to their healing process and their learning to live without him – with him. But the writers may have a different idea about that.
Rosen’s almost psychic ability comes true when he is pulled out of the psychiatric hospital and then reunited with his Alphas. The rejoining of the group after eight months is not joyous either – but rather awkward, serious, and even sad.
Everyone’s hurt and pain is evident, and they are not even so thrilled to see Rosen as they could be. Only Rachel seems to light up when Rosen walks in the room, and in truth only Rosen could get her to move.
Just like near the end of the episode, where only Rosen is able to talk Gary out of his self-imposed stupor by guiding him along the most basic, (and suddenly most obvious) route – his normal schedule for a day. Gary’s return to the real world is bittersweet and while everyone is relieved to see him, it is clear there is still some drastic healing and trust to be rebuilt.
Of course, that is all from the character side. The world is still in a quiet uproar (oxymoron I know) from Rosen’s announcement, and the Alphas Bill and Cameron are chasing soon find their way into Building 7, setting the Alphas within it all free.
Rosen’s transparency just got complicated – almost literally as it is quietly revealed that everything being shown on the TV screen is nothing more than illusion as the Alphas struggle to flee into hiding.
They are successful – and Rosen’s theory about why he is freed is proven. The government is afraid of what he has revealed – but they are unable to handle it without him. Now with Alphas revealed to the world, Rosen is tasked with pulling his team back together to capture them – and to continue doing exactly what he was doing eight months ago.
Rosen scoffs, saying: “They’re called the old days for a reason. Because they are old.” We are not sure where Rosen can go now but back to his old job is not it Season two, however, will show us what the good doctor has planned, and we would do well to hold on for the ride.
Class is back in session, folks. Put on your thinking caps and raise your hand when you have a question…and I certainly hope you went to the bathroom, because if you walk out at any point now, you are going to miss critical information.
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I and the WHR team look forward to and will be Seeing You on The Other Side“!