Remember the first rule of Fight Club…
The name of the game is conflict in this week’s Alphas from Syfy. Over the course of an hour, we bear witness to possible mind control, two attempts to grow up, a whole lot of fighting, and the potential results of careful study. Who said being an Alpha was easy?
Following up on a dead Alpha, Doctor Lee Rosen (David Strathairn), dispatches Bill Harken (Malik Yoba), and Cameron Hicks (Warren Christie), to track down the possible murderer. Their trail leads them to a fight club of Alphas.
It is impossible to tell if all of the people in the room are Alphas or not, but as a precocious young woman informs Cameron: “All the fighters [have a special talent.]”
Bill and Cameron are not safe, however, and Bill is soon dragged in to fight. He gets his butt handed to him, and the precocious young woman, (whose name is Kat [Erin Way]), takes him under her wing to train.
She is soon revealed to be an Alpha, and the effect she has on Bill is dangerous – seemingly removing the heart condition he has had and enabling him to use his ability with no downside. This comes in mighty handy later when she is captured and Bill frees her, after which she begs to join Rosen and the team.
Meanwhile, Rachel Pirzad, (Azita Ghanizada) and Gary Bell, (Ryan Cartwright), are undergoing their own fights for independence. Rachel is overwhelmed by her parents and vents frustratedly to Rosen, before taking her strong opinions about a terrible smelling cologne to Bill and Cameron.
The culprit, however, is one John Bennett, (Steve Byers), the new lead tactical and hopefully series regular. As Rachel is often the one to be protected, she gets thrown together with John a lot, and despite her initial extreme dislike of his perfumed scent, she begins to warm to him. He helps a lot by buying a ton of soaps and offering for her to choose what he smells like. By the end of the episode she tries to ask him out, but he refuses.
Gary is in the grip of severe PTSD, both from Anna’s (Liane Balaban) death as well as the pressure of working for the NSA and his subsequent time spent in Binghamton. His method of dealing with it is to scream full-throated for ten seconds a day – something that dearly rattles his mother Sandra Bell, (Jane Moffat).
Rosen cannot get Gary to talk much about what is happening, so he suggests Gary find a different way to deal with it. Gary’s response is to move out of his house and into the office, an idea that Sandra and likely Rosen both hate but are willing to let him go through with to see if it helps.
Rosen has devoted most if not all of his resources to tracking down Stanton Parrish, (John Pyper-Ferguson), the supposed leader of Red Flag and the go-to guy for the Binghamton Building 7 escapees. It is too good to be true that he finds both the medical records and journals of the man who treated Parrish back in the Civil War – and at the end of the episode he comes face to face with Parrish himself, who reassures him that a war is coming.
First this week, we are going to go back to Bill Harken. As the constant control freak, his sharp words to his wife Jeannie hold a lot more meaning to us as the watchers than her as the recipient. “I got this.” Bill has been holding a lot together both in body and mind, but even the gentle giant is going to need a break soon. (Yes, he is a gentle giant – his earlier temper from season one seems to have mellowed somewhat, most likely due to the fact that he is in constant pain from his Alpha ability).
Admittedly, after his first heart attack, we are left with the idea that Bill is really on a countdown clock, and that impression gets more powerful every episode with the pills he has to take. Before his encounter with Jonas Englin (Garret Dillahunt), Bill was a dangerous machine. Now, he is a fairly broken man – which only makes the end of this week’s episode that much more potent. Bill is going to be dangerous again – only now the question is raised: is it all in his head?
Mind control is a common technique used in ‘endgame’ stories, mostly because we as humans have a hard time believing there is little that can be done when we cannot even hold a coherent thought in our minds.
But is this really the case with Kat? What is Kat’s ability, truly? It is several times hinted that she is a speed learner, though she can only retain perhaps a month’s worth of information before her brain goes into a hard reset and she loses everything, (she did not remember ever having had a turkey dog).
However, she at one point uses a calm, soothing, almost hypnotic voice that lures Bill into an almost meditative state – except when he breaks out of it, the room he is in is destroyed and she, flicking her metaphorical tail and washing her metaphorical paw, says with great satisfaction: “Told ya.”
The effect on Bill is alarming. He announced to Doctor Rosen that he has absolutely no downside to using his Alpha ability, and gains a measure of almost overconfidence. He certainly has an effect on his wife as he seduces her in his office (with the blinds open, Bill, really?). But the scariest part comes at the end of the episode when he returns to the ‘fight club’ of Alphas, clearly wanting more of something he is not even aware of.
Kat has had a hypnotic effect on him, and what is worse is that she does not seem to need to be around him to keep it going, unlike Jonas. If this is her ability, she is a dangerous Alpha indeed – and perhaps a great one for the team, (as she shouts after Doctor Rosen: “I’m awesome!”)
Kat is extremely likable – I am actually relieved that no matter what she has done to Bill, she seems to be a ‘good’ Alpha. She has a tough little facade she puts up, though it did not take much for it to break and us to see her vulnerability beneath.
She has formed a father/daughter bond with Bill and there is definitely a brother/sister vibe coming up with Cameron Hicks. She is living life on the edge because of the drawback to her Alpha ability, and she is perhaps even more fragile than Nina Theroux, (Laura Mennell, whose absence was dearly felt and missed this week).
Either way, she is definitely drawn to the concept of ‘Alphas secret agents’ and is angling to be a member of the team. We will see how her power and her drawback come to affect her performance and the team in general!
Our little caterpillar has broken out of the cocoon and is stretching her large, bright wings. Rachel Pirzad has come so far from season one that she is nearly unrecognizable as the soft-spoken little mouse she was and is now a bright and opinionated, (and somewhat troublemaking) young woman. She is furious with the way her parents are treating her, being the overprotective creatures they were when she first was seen. At one time, Rachel simply bowed to everything they did and kept all of her pain and frustrations inside.
Now, however, she is openly talking – almost shouting – about them to Doctor Rosen as they walk through the building. Rosen suggests she should try to get her own apartment but Rachel is hesitant – for safety reasons, not for the fear of being on her own. She also has absolutely no problem whatsoever verbally attacking both Bill Harken and Cameron Hicks on possibly ‘reeking’ of cologne, (her calling Bill ‘Old Spice’ had me in fits of laughter).
It is wonderful to see the kind of woman Rachel is capable of being, and her character is going to continue to be a favorite of mine throughout the series as she comes into her own.
Rachel continues to try and walk the line between sweet and outspoken when introduced to the handsome John Bennett, the new tactical leader.
However, when on a mission later on in the episode she finally loses her temper with him and shouts at him for ‘stinking’. Remarkably – and sweetly – he shows up later having bought almost ten different kinds of soap and tells her that she can choose what he smells like. It is a lovely little moment that definitely hints at a possible romance for Rachel – and we are holding our breath when she nervously attempts to ask John out at the end.
Yes, Rachel makes the first move. Sadly, she is turned down by one of the most common excuses: “We work together.” Never fear, viewers, I am ninety-nine percent certain these two are not done making eyes at each other. Of course, I have been quite wrong about things before! We will check back in midseason to see if there are any new developments on this front.
Speaking of development, did anyone else’s jaw drop at Gary’s insistence to move out of his house and into the office?
That being said, did anyone else’s jaw drop when Gary began screaming upstairs? As a fan of horror movies, I give Ryan Cartwright props – the man has a set of lungs and knows how to use them. After two episodes of the season, we are finally addressing the extremely severe PTSD that Gary is undergoing not only from the eight months he spent without Rosen and the team, but the death of his Anna. It was clear they were falling for each other, and Gary had undergone far too much to keep all of it under the surface for long.
His only method of saving his mind from complete insanity is to give voice to all of the agony he felt during that time – for ten seconds a day. I suppose we can be thankful that Gary has chosen something as nonthreatening as screaming, but still…Gary will take a long, long time to heal from what happened. His mind was almost literally broken in multiple ways several times within a short span of time.
Still, though, Gary’s story will have a whole new element of curiosity added to it now. Will not there be people around to hear him scream that early in the morning? How will he react when someone sits on his couch, (which is now his bed)? Where will he brush his teeth and bathe? It is a fascinating strategy for him to choose, because moving out changes your entire life and Gary is not one who enjoys change. He is taking a step towards independence.
It is possible Doctor Rosen and Sandra Bell, are going to let him figure out how difficult it is to live on his own by himself, but it is also possible that Gary will rise to the challenge and adapt himself to fit his new circumstances. He is certainly smart enough, and has plenty of people around him to help him adjust. Before long, however, he may find that screaming does not help him grieve, or give enough voice to the terror of mind control or the rage of being left alone. When that happens, the team, Doctor Rosen, and all of us viewers at home will be there to catch him, I am sure.
Many people have assumed Doctor Rosen mad because of his claim that Stanton Parrish is alive. After all, who can be alive for two centuries? Who else but an Alpha? Since people do not like believing Alphas exist, (hence Rosen being locked up for eight months), it is easy to believe that he could be mad – except that we as viewers know differently.
Regardless, the meeting between Rosen and Parrish at the bar is breathtakingly tense – two leaders of opposite sides settling in to discuss. The scene is played beautifully by David Strathairn and John Pyper-Ferguson, suggesting an almost uneasy friendship between Rosen and Parrish.
This despite the fact that both of them probably want to kill the other – and it is the first time they have seen each other since the events of the season one closer approximately eight months ago. We are left, of course, with the classic uneasiness of Rosen knowing there is a great danger coming and having even greater fear that he cannot stop it.
Of course, Rosen may have some healing of his own to do before he can tackle the problem of Parrish. Check out the video below to see what kind of trouble our beautiful Nina Theroux is getting herself into in the next great episode of Alphas ‘When Push Comes to Shove” on Syfy!
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