Hello Alphas fans!
“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” -Star Trek: First Contact
The Borg of Star Trek are considered to be one of the greatest enemies of the Federation. They are able to assimilate – essentially brainwash – organic life forms by injecting them with nanotechnology, and ‘connecting’ the brains to an overall network, sort of like ants, termites, or even bees.
The concept of a ‘hive mind’ makes for a serious obstacle to any solution not only because of shared knowledge, but simple instinct and sheer numbers. This week on Syfy’s Alphas, the Borg got a slightly watered down appearance in the form of a group of high school students all linked together to one young, tormented teenager. While certainly no less creepy, the repercussions of exposure to this hive mind may echo throughout the rest of the season. The potential outcomes of being linked together are endless, provided those involved know what to look for – and of course provided the writers of this truly impressive show decide to let us in on the secrets!
We knew from a couple weeks ago that the shy, ostracized Jason Miller, (Connor Price), was going to make a reappearance.
His power of infrasound hypnosis is both far too cool and far too dangerous to just be used in one episode! As expected, Jason, (driven by hormones and years of bullying), has finally learned how to use his power to bring others under his will and exert both a form of ‘belonging’ and a form of ‘revenge’ upon those who have pushed him away his entire life. For a teenager, this sort of control is often only dreamed about. The teenage years are fraught with hormonal changes and are the first ‘identity crises’ humans have in their lives (the second one would be the so-called ‘midlife crisis’).
The teenage years are the bridge between the fantastical and dreamy childhood where all things are possible and the bubble of your parents’ love and protection is never broken, (on average – of course not everyone in the world gets this), and the realities of adult life, where bills needs to be paid and work needs to be done and social taboos become set in stone instead of forgiving faux pas. Suddenly you have to do things in order to get noticed – and other things to not be noticed. Suddenly being noticed is important. Suddenly being accepted as a human being in society (because that is what it is all about) becomes the most important thing to us. For those who are even the slightest bit different, it is a hanging noose.
Jason, an Alpha, is basically screwed. His ability is such that no matter how kind he is, his infrasound causes vibrations around him that set off warning bells in the neural pathways of anyone around him. He literally gives off the creepy vibe, effectively cutting him off from any chance of ever being ‘accepted’. His biological need has been stopped in its tracks. So, like any teenager panicked that they are not going to make the grade, he does the one thing he can think of to protect himself. He hypnotizes everyone he can get his hands on – again literally.
Once he has taken over so many people, he also begins to realize the side effects of his power. Not only can he have friends, but he can make his enemies do anything he wants – even protect him. He can also control other people besides other teens, such as his mother (why he took her is not revealed, but we can guess perhaps it is to make her leave him alone), and security guards (because even if you have an army of minions, a gun still holds the greatest power). Jason, at first, has everything he wants.
So it is a welcome, (though not surprising from a story standpoint), relief to discover that Jason has a conscience. In the final showdown with Doctor Lee Rosen, (David Strathairn), and Stanton Parrish, (John Pyper-Ferguson), as well as hinting n previous confrontations, Jason reveals that he is well aware that his people only like him because he influences them to – and he is equally tormented by the power he is somewhat addicted to, (much like Nina Theroux [Laura Mennell]). He is young and not as worldly as Nina, and he certainly has not had the time to remove morals and ethics from what he does as she has.
Ultimately, even with Parrish reminding him of the agony he is likely to go back to, Jason succumbs to Rosen’s wishes and silently releases each person from the neural link. He has some trouble, of course, with Rosen and Parrish themselves, but is ultimately successful in ejecting them. Of course, now that he is once again alone and left to his own devices, what will happen to this Alpha?
Stanton Parrish is enacting his own ‘resistance is futile’ movement throughout most of the show, as Rosen catches him out near the end of it. The charming and friendly Red Flag leader puts himself almost completely at Rosen’s mercy early on, even convincing Rosen to bring him to the office. Now, we should think about this. The last time this happened, Brent Spiner nearly took down the whole office building. In fact, that was one of the Alpha Lessons of Season One. Always meet the enemy on neutral ground. Just what was Rosen thinking, bringing Stanton Parrish to his office, (and why did the writers not let Gary [Ryan Cartwright] take a swing at him?
No, no, I know it is not in character…)? For being a man in charge of some Alphas but knowing he is no longer popular with many others, Rosen has the terrible character flaw of being far too trusting. The psychiatrist in him is desperate to see people acknowledge their flaws and open themselves up to him. Rosen is compelled to help anyone he comes across, no matter even the cost to himself. It is his idea to follow Parrish into the neural link to try and understand what is going on and help Jason overcome his fear and anger. He is, admittedly, also trying to break Parrish out of the control he has given to him, but Rosen himself admits to wanting to help Jason first.
Rosen has had some harsh realizations the past couple weeks, what with trying to help Nina return from her ordeal assigning Bill Harken, (Malik Yoba), the difficult task of finding a traitor in the midst of the Alphas. He is under a fierce amount of pressure as he begins to realize and deal with more repercussions of opening up the Alpha ability to the world. He also has many more enemies than he ever wanted to deal with as many of the Alphas are furious at him for revealing them. On top of all of that, he got a brilliant look into the mind of Stanton Parrish – enough of a look that he has managed to put together some truly awful things.
I do wonder why the writers deigned not to show us anything of what Parrish saw in Rosen’s mind, however. Given that the two were linked, it is safe to assume that they could see each other’s minds. What did Stanton see that could affect his actions towards Rosen and the Alphas for the rest of the season?
Back to Rosen, I am wondering perhaps if Rosen has bit off more than he can chew and just how much pressure can he take before he starts to bend or even break. The sickening realization now that his own daughter Danielle, (Kathleen Munroe), is affiliated with Parrish will be a great thing to watch in next week’s episode, but the betrayal Rosen must be feeling is deep. What sort of effect will this have on him? Rosen’s flaws and chinks in his armor are coming out more every episode and it is only a matter of time before they are plainly exploited. When that happens, what will happen to our Alphas?
We can actually begin to estimate this. During Rosen’s absence, Gary got a new job that eventually landed him in Binghamton, showing that he was adaptable to some circumstances though not all, and did not simply give up hope. Nina resorted to her ability to take away the pain, going on a pushing spree that resulted in a terrible arc for her. Rachel Pirzad, (Azita Ghanizada), did give up, retreating to her room tormented by her senses and completely lost as to where to turn.
Bill and Cameron Hicks (Warren Christie) teamed up and continued doing exactly what Rosen had been – finding and bringing in Alphas. The control freak and the wild card from Season One have created a very strong bond that make them a powerful duo, a powerful core, and the two to watch once they are shoved to their limits. This does raise the question of why Gary did not remain with Bill after Rosen was put into a psychiatric hospital. Gary becomes very angry and protective when Kat, (Erin Way) officially joins the team, saying that she ‘cannot take Bill away’.
Perhaps he is feeling guilty about leaving or angry because Bill shoved him away. Or maybe he is just overprotective now that he has lost Bill and got him back.
The last plot line that the writers have introduced into this episode seems almost forgotten or thrown away with all of the mental action. But the fact that we are focusing on mind controlling powers this season suggests a deeper theme and meaning that could be explored or already core to the arc of the season.
Nina is determined to get to Senator Burton, (Lauren Holly), who she pushed hard and fought to pull out a repressed memory. It seems that Nina’s powers have grown to the level that she no longer can actively release someone from control, as Senator Burton does not even seem to be able to cross a street without direction.
Given that Nina tried to practice on Erin, are there any effects from that? Also, mind control is proving to be extremely important this season with the introduction of the photostimulator, also making the point that while you can do as much physical damage as you like, it is the mind that must ultimately be dominated for ultimate submission. The power of the mind is a common theme in Alphas, and now it is being weaponized.
We will wait and see.
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I and the WHR team look forward to and will be Seeing You on The Other Side“!