Season One Last week, Maia and Dan held court all on their own. This week, it’s the H2O crew in place to discuss Jessica Jones while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes a week off. The new Netflix show is dark, gritty, and would look just fine in black and white with its noir sensibilities. Definitely the darkest […]
[photos: Russ Martin/Syfy]
So your Mr. Harvey returns to Alphas after missing a week, to fill you in on his thoughts on the last two episodes, which, conveniently for this writer who is trying to play catch-up, function pretty well as two parts of the same story in some ways. Or at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.
So sit back, and let me spin you a tale of the latest installments in the saga of Alphas, “Gods and Monsters” and “Falling”.
SPOILERS. AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT.
The important things to take away from “Gods and Monsters” is that A) Stanton Parish is, indeed, a Bad Guy, and B) Dr. Rosen is going to go through a lot of Hell to stop him. When Jason, last seen awaking from a coma in “Gaslight”, begins to use his artificially heightened abilities to control his family and classmates, Rosen and the team find themselves racing against time, as prolonged exposure to Jason’s influence ultimately results in brain damage and death. Along the way it become clear that Jason’s abilities were shaped deliberately by Parish, and in order to save his “victims” and the young man himself, Rosen and Parish will join forces.
It’s an uneasy alliance, and quickly Rosen realizes that it’s less about saving Jason, and more about recruiting Rosen to Parish’s cause. When clearly that isn’t going to happen, and Rosen and the team imprison Parish, it becomes clear that they’ve actually been playing into his plans, and that there will be no chance of coming to any kind of alliance. And to make matters worse, when Parish directly assumes control of the neural network that Jason has created, Rosen enters it as well, and is able to see some of Parish’s memories, revealing the mole in the Alpha team: Rosen’s daughter, Danielle.
If any of the grey areas we’ve seen in Parish this season have caused you to wonder if there might be something of the noble adversary in him, well, this episode should put that to rest. Here we see that Parish has deliberately designed Jason to be a weapon, and if that weapon leaves everyone it touches dead, well, so be it. It also becomes clear that all his talk to Dani about recruiting her father to their way of thinking is something he never really saw as realistic. Oddly, or perhaps it’s all too planned, the sticking point for Rosen is Parish’s not too veiled threat to hurt Dani, used to coerce Rosen into working with him. Oh the webs we weave.
We do get a lesson from Parish on the importance of following orders, as he uses his regenerative abilities to trick his guards at the Alpha offices into thinking he’s dead, opening up his escape and leading to their deaths at his hands. Clearly they should have heeded Rosen’s warnings about staying away from the prisoner. Also clear, they need better communications at the office, since it would have made a lot more sense to stay out of the cell and call for Rosen, but hey, then Parish wouldn’t have gotten out and we wouldn’t have the reveal of the mole… ah, no, actually, this was just one of those writer things, where logic goes out the window and people do stupid things to advance the plot.
That said, here again we see that the way Rosen is handling things is leading to all sorts of unintended consequences. From letting Jason return to his life without any apparent supervision, to letting Parish into the Alpha offices and exposing his team to him, to having Nina repeatedly push Senator Burton, until her mind begins to be affected, Rosen seems to be making some pretty interesting mistakes of late. In a series with less connection between the episodes it wouldn’t stand out so much, but with the detail in which the writers of Alphas are putting into the story arc, it’s adding up to Rosen pretty much making it up as he goes along. From not bringing Cley in on his fears of a mole in their midst, to going off on his own with Parish, and not bringing his team in, Rosen clearly has trust issues that go beyond the ones we’ve seen with his government handlers. And then to see on of Dani’s paintings fresh in the memories of Parish…
Which leads us into “Falling”, a title doing double duty as both referencing Kat’s first field work for the team, investigating a drug which makes its users indestructible, and the state of both Rosen and Dani, as a father tries to deal with the fact his daughter is allied with his enemy.
Kat finally gets something to do aside from hang out in the office and annoy Gary, when it turns out that one of the people using the drug Jump is Duncan Renfro, someone she apparently used to know. Of course, with her Alpha ability leaving her with only a month or two of active memories, that’s news to her, but she still manages to convince Bill to let her go in undercover, to reconnect with this man she used to know and try and track down the source of the drug. When its discovered that repeated use of Jump causes cardiac fibrosis and death, it’s even more important to find out where it’s coming from and get it off the streets. Kat finds herself in the odd situation of having someone know more about her than she does, and even causes problems with Bill when she begins reconnecting with Duncan. But when she tries to warn him that the government is coming for him, she discovers the source of the drug in Duncan’s apartment: an Alpha named Shelley. It’s her Alpha indestructibility that Duncan is using to create the drug, drawing her blood and refining it. Of course this doesn’t go over well with Kat, and with Gary’s help she stops Duncan and shuts down the distribution of Jump. Her reward is Bill sending her off to get actual agent training at Quantico.
Our second main storyline deals with Hicks, as he struggles to be a good father to his son. Tyler has come to stay with Hicks for a few days, and it’s awkward, and made more so by the presence of Dani. When Tyler casually reveals what may be Alpha abilities like his father, Hicks freaks out just a bit, unsure how to talk to his son about it, or what to do at all. When Dani tries to get him to just let it go for now, Hicks instead tries to get his son to demonstrate the abilities again, leading to Tyler getting frustrated and angry, and wanting to go back to his mother’s. Dani, loving Hicks and caring about Tyler, admits to the boy that she is an Alpha, and uses her abilities to show father and son how they feel about the situation, and each other. It’s a nice moment, and we see that Dani and Hicks really love each other and are really good for each other. Which only makes what’s to come all that much worse…
Because the DOD was able to briefly hack Parish’s communication network, and came away with a list of encoded phone numbers he’d called. Their analysts are close to breaking the encryption, with Cley assuring Rosen that they’ll have the identity of the mole soon. But of course, Rosen already knows who the mole is, and it’s tearing him apart.
Racing against time, Rosen has Gary apply his abilities to the encryption, and, needing to know for sure, he drops by Danielle’s place under the guise of a normal visit. They talk about her relationship with Hicks, and how she’s afraid she’s going to screw it up, and Rosen tells her that nothing is inevitable. When she goes to make him some tea, he searches her phone for any of the numbers Gary found on the list, coming up with nothing, until he finds a second phone, and confirmation of his fears.
Here Rosen pretty much decides on a path that would likely land him back in prison. Desperate to keep Dani out of the hands of the DOD, and get her away from Parish, he talks to Nina about getting her out of the country with a fake passport, but as Nina reminds him, Dani used to be a junkie, and sending her off on her own, on the run, might send her back down that path. Still, Rosen knows that Cley and the DOD will find the same numbers that led him to Dani, and the thought of his daughter being an inmate of Binghamton is not exactly filling him with joy. But ultimately, Rosen uses his knowledge of the secret phone to set up what Dani believes is a meeting with Parish, only for her to find that it’s a setup, and she’s taken in by the DOD.
It’s… kind of awful. But you can understand Rosen making that decision, as ultimately he wants to protect his daughter, and the only way he can see that happening is if she is out of the reach of Parish. And to some degree she understands, even asking him to have her sent to Building 7 and having the suppression chip placed in her head, so she can disappear and forget the contradictions her life has turned into. Of course the last thing Rosen wants for her is that, and as the episode closes, he begs her to listen to him, and find another way forward. It’s a little heartbreaking, to see a father make the horrible decision Rosen has to make, and David Strathairn does an excellent job here, and again, I think that the argument that Dr. Lee Rosen is the main character of Alphas can easily be made, ensemble show or not. His decisions, his choices, his hopes and fears drive this show, far more than any other character.
Cameron Hicks, by the way, is not pleased at all, to no one’s surprise, and with the next episode seeming to imply that Hicks will ally himself with Parish, there are sure to be more of those pesky consequences unfolding in the weeks to come. Oh, and there’s a subplot about Rachel taking John to meet her parents, which compared to the other plotlines of the episode feels pretty thin. Still, it shows the continuing evolution of Rachel, and has some nice character moments.
So there we are. Clearly we are headed towards a confrontation between Parish and Rosen, and the way it’s building, it isn’t going to end without major consequences for everyone involved. And it’s likely that it will all end in tears. Frankly I couldn’t be happier, since the character driven storytelling on this show far outweighs the occasional Alpha of the Week standard. I’m looking forward to seeing where they take this.