Everyone has a breaking point…
Throughout much of season one, we explored the newness of Alphas. We studied their connections to each other, their abilities, their coming together and becoming of what they are: a group of people who have made the choice to find more like them and protect them, help them, and occasionally tame them.
They clashed, sometimes painfully so, and latched on to each other as they grew, and by the end of season one it was obvious that they had become cohesive and strong, standing together, albeit terrified, in the face of the mysterious Red Flag.
The season, so far and up until now, has been all about breaking points. The loss of Doctor Lee Rosen, (David Strathairn), tore the Alphas apart and scattered them to the various winds. As we watched, we listened to Gary Bell, (Ryan Cartwright), scream in agony and pain as he relived Anna’s (Liane Balaban) death.
We gasped as Nina Theroux, (Laura Mennell), succumbed to addiction and guilt so great that she attempted to kill herself. We flinched as Rachel Pirzad, (Azita Ghanizada), realized the depths to which people would go for revenge.
Then, of course, most of us howled in anger when Danielle Rosen, (Kathleen Munroe), died despite Nina literally Pushing her to live. This season has been all about breaking points. Finally, after almost two seasons of discussion, pressure, theorizing, and waiting, we have found the good Doctor Rosen’s breaking point.
Doctor Rosen is a patient, healthy, mild-mannered man. While he does seem to have his own agenda and his own choices, at times (he and he alone revealed the existence of Alphas in the jaw-dropping season one closer), Rosen has slowly begun to peel off his layers and reveal more of the chaotic good within him. The old and famous argument made by villains is that the opposing force – the good – is in truth just like them.
They only go about their ways differently. After watching this week’s episode of Syfy’s ‘Alphas’, I am actually in agreement. Rosen has lost his purpose, and is consumed by revenge. He doesn’t want a world where humans are ruled, but he does want a world where only some Alphas live free and others can be rehabilitated (we have seen Binghamton. Do not tell us it is a ‘safe’ place).
Here, we also see another major flaw in Rosen’s character. This flaw has shown up before, but never with consequences quite like this. Despite his intelligence, his forethinking, and his remarkable intuition, Doctor Rosen is frightfully naive.
This is a flaw often found in good characters because they are unable to divine just how far evil will go to achieve its purposes. There is always a block in their minds where they think: “Oh, that will never happen, that is too far.” Then, of course, the evil person will go exactly to that level – and something like this happens.
The strangely ironic thing about this is that Stanton Parrish, (John Pyper-Ferguson), actually feels regret about having murdered Danielle – hugely understandable as he clearly loved her and considered her the closest thing he still to living family. Unfortunately, while Parrish is busy realizing that he has pushed things too far, Rosen is drowning in grief and coffins, and slowly burning for revenge.
He has made the first moves towards that, having stripped Mitchell, (Sean Astin) of Parrish’s memories, placed him in Building Seven, (when he is clearly a danger to no one), and burned down Parrish’s childhood home – all after being screamed at by Senator Burton, (Lauren Holly), that he is ‘just as bad as the Alphas he hunts.” With the death of his daughter, Rosen has gone completely rogue.
Cameron Hicks, (Warren Christie), is not much different. The ‘lone wolf’ of season one has become almost domesticated, falling deeply in love with Danielle to the point that he is willing to sacrifice his own life for hers, (or worse, submit to the divinations of Agnes Walker [Kandyse McClure]).
After terror at nearly losing his son because of his Alpha ability, Cameron has formed an intense bond that is very suddenly severed, and as a man of deep feeling, he is unable to come to terms with Danielle’s death.
Cameron has often been seen as the hothead, the reckless ex-soldier, the ‘man without a plan’ – and as is the case with many in his situation, it is because he is ruled by emotion and not logical thought. Like Rosen, his breaking point comes with Danielle’s death and he is switched over to all thoughts of revenge.
Revenge, of course, is one of the slipperiest slopes in any story. A popular theme, revenge has many definitions. In this season, revenge is most likely defined as: “the desire to seek or take vengeance for wrongdoing to a person.” Some religious texts call it ‘an eye for an eye’, implying that revenge should only be equal to the wrongdoing. Most children call it: “I’ll get you BACK!” We are trained from a young age to believe that if someone hurts us, we have the right and purpose to return the favor, (unless you can convince a child to turn the other cheek, which is good for social interaction but unfortunately bad for storytelling).
As we get older, however, the possibilities for revenge and the hurts that cause it get worse and worse. Eventually, the question comes up: “what price am I willing to pay to one-up this person?” Of course, revenge does not always solve any problems.
It is often credited for creating a sensation of ‘self-satisfaction’ that the wrongdoer now feels the same amount of pain as the victim – but truth be told that is also relative and cannot really be proven. At its core, revenge laces back to primeval desires to be ‘the best’ in any given situation at any given time.
Competition is a basic human instinct, and showing yourself to be vulnerable in any way often got you killed in ancient times. Revenge reverts its own victims to animals. Call it whatever you like: vengeance, retribution, payback. In the end, it’s just one-upping the other person. Worse, as John Mason put it, “Revenge is like a boomerang. Although for a time it flies in the direction in which it is hurled, it takes a sudden curve, and, returning, hits your own head the heaviest blow of all.”
That does not make it any less dangerous, as we can see. The fear of forever being ‘controlled’ by the wrongdoer because of the level of pain they inflicted can drive many people mad. If not mad, it can certainly open up their creative brains to possible solutions as they desperately seek equalization. In this case between Rosen and Hicks, the retribution starts, (at least), in the form of capture and, eventually, torture of Cornell Scipio, (Elias Toufexis).
While they are hell-bent on finding Parrish, it is clear that they are using Cornell to work off some of the excess energy that their grief and rage has wrought. While it can hardly be argued that Cornell does not deserve at least some of what was given to him, (or does he?), we as an audience, (not to mention one Rachel Pirzad), cringe in our seats to see the toll being taken on Rosen, Hicks, and Nina, (who astonishingly agrees to put herself through quite a hell).
Worst of all, it ultimately is no help. Cornell is blocked and unable to provide the information they need. As Bill Harken, (Malik Yoba), and Kat, (Erin Way), close in, Hicks and Rosen bolt, stating they don’t want others to know what they know, though I am pretty sure they do not want them finding out exactly what went down either. Nina and Rachel are left with Cornell, Rachel in shock and Nina in pain.
Nina has gone through some harsh times this season, and I cannot help but wonder if what she put herself through this episode was a form of punishment. Her Pushing of Senator Burton has had painful consequences for her, not to mention is it likely she is beginning to see, (like Rachel), that things are going too far. Regardless, Nina’s willingness to torment herself with her abilities to find Parrish cannot only be seen as a necessary evil to help Doctor Rosen.
Nina is still recovering from everything that is happening, and still, (in my opinion), fighting heartbreak from Hicks, not to mention trying to get the red out of her ledger, (to borrow from The Avengers). Nina has been shown to have regained her loyalty to Rosen and given that the two of them have a close bond it is possible she is trying to work with him in order to work against him – bring him out of this dangerous spiral he is in. We will find out her intentions in the finale, I am sure.
Another slightly horrifying storyline cutting through this episode is the final revelation of Skyler Adams, (Summer Glau). After Parrish asked her to work for him, we were left hanging as to what she said. We are surprised at first when Parrish mentions that Skyler is building something for him, (something we can only assume is very bad at first), and wonder what Parrish offered her in order to get her to take a side. Later, it is revealed that Skyler is trapped by an illusion-generating Alpha. Her designs are all over a dirty little room while she and Zoe, (Skyler Wexler), are in an idyllic little kitchen. While what Skyler is building may be in her head only, the plans are still useable. Thankfully, Skyler is rescued thanks to Gary’s phone call to her chip, but not before she nearly completes the ‘end of the world’. Finale, ho!
The last little storyline buzzing through this episode is the growing bond between Kat and Bill. These two have had quite a fun story, and the third season, (keep your fingers crossed, this show deserves at least one more!) is going to be hard to deal with as we see Kat is coming up to her one-month reset. Kat aced the FBI Academy in about two weeks and has become more of a sidekick to Bill because she understands more what needs to be done.
This will undoubtedly cause more friction with Gary, who is on the verge of losing another loved one this season, (give him a break!) I see a bond forming between them, despite their mutual maturity and buddy-buddy surface, and I think they could be friends or more, (not romantically, more familial), if they are given time to grow.
It will also be interesting to see the effect on Kat if she remembers to stay with the Alphas – perhaps a constant presence might start to form more connections than what her brain allows? Can you adapt and hone an Alpha ability, or is it permanently at the level you are born with? Now there is a question to answer in season three!
The Alphas season finale is coming up next – what repercussions will echo through the hiatus between finale and premiere?  “Definition of revenge” http://www.thefreedictionary.com/revenge”
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I and the WHR team look forward to and will be Seeing You on The Other Side“!