Episode 2.09 “The Devil Will Drag You Under”
Episode 2.10 “Life After Death”
With the last two episodes behind us, we have both Rosen’s daughter Dani undercover in Parish’s organization, betrayed and killed, and the aftermath unleashed upon everyone involved, and all I can say is…
Ok, there’s a pretty big one there if you aren’t watching Alphas, but since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you are. Yes, Dani is dead, and it has, in fact, all ended in tears.
Look. If you’ve followed my reviews in the last few weeks, you’ll be keenly aware that my writing is trailing behind a bit. Part of that is your Mr. Harvey being a busy monkey, and part of that is my tendency to watch the episodes of what I review, over and over.
Sometimes episodes of a series are basically two-parters, even if they aren’t billed that way. Or, in this case, even in a show that is more and more one continuous storyline, a three-parter, if you include “Falling”. There we saw Dani get exposed as Parish’s mole, and her father’s painful decision to turn his daughter in. This, of course, did not end well.
First, lets talk about the B-stories. Rachel and John move closer together, have a rough first time in bed, find their way into that honest place where their love can bloom, and become bunnies. It’s very cute and sweet. Next!
Second, a woman brings a baby to the Alphas offices, and leaves him with Gary. When people claiming to be his parents come for him, Gary doesn’t trust them, and a new subplot is born, as we discover that there is a lab making Alpha babies, and a mysterious Murphy has dispatched the false parents to retrieve the baby taken from it. Bad guy Alphas get their butts handed to them, and Gary gets to bond with baby Adam, whose Alpha ability causes those around him to be extremely protective of him. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this lab and this Murphy. Next!
Ok, here’s the meat of things. First, we finally get a sense of what Stanton Parish has in mind, and for you comic fans out there, here is the Ra’s al Ghul that we didn’t actually get in Batman Begins. Yes, he’s also kind of Magneto, but with his plan to wipe out a significant portion of humanity to keep the planet from over-population, he’s also the weirdly noble monster that the Dark Knight has faced over and over again, who believes that in order to make a paradise of the earth, that pesky humanity needs to be trimmed down to a reasonable number. Well, a reasonable number with Alphas in charge of course. It’s good to finally have a sense of what Parish’s plans are, and to see how far he’ll go to achieve them. If there was any question left, and there really shouldn’t be, about what kind of monster Parish is, well, it’s gone now, as when his plans to kill millions of New Yorkers is foiled, he detonates the bombs anyway, knowing full well that it will kill Dani.
And then there’s Lee Rosen.
It’s interesting, how the character in Alphas who has the most influence on the story, and, with all of those around him with extraordinary powers, has proven to be the main character, is the all-too-human Dr. Rosen. Sure, we have our team and their stories, and they are people we have come to love. The lives of Gary, Hicks, Bill, Nina, Rachel and now Kat, their struggles with the downsides of living with Alpha abilities… these have been at the core of the series, true. But it’s been the man who brought them together who has been the focus of the second season, where every decision Dr. Rosen has made in his fight against Stanton Parish has come with increasingly tragic consequences.
In “The Devil Will Drag You Under”, after Dani is revealed to be Parish’s mole, Rosen is able to get her a deal with the DOD to keep her out of Binghamton, by going back to Parish, and spying on him from within. This sits not well at all with Hicks, whose love for Dani makes Rosen’s decision to send her back into danger an inconceivable one, and seemingly leads to Hicks leaving the Alphas, and joining Parish. Seemingly being the operative word, as it is revealed that Hicks is working as another mole in Parish’s ranks, sent by Rosen to pull Dani out. While Hicks is both successful at convincing Parish of his commitment to his cause and rescuing Dani, it’s all for naught when Parish’s plan to destroy much of New York is revealed. And while the Alphas are able to stop Parish’s plan, the bombs he was to use end up being the instruments of Dani’s death. But the cause of Dani’s death? Ah, that may be a different question.
You see, Rosen makes a LOT of decisions that have unforseen consequences here, and the price for those decisions is his daughter’s life, and some of the trust of his team and the DOD. It would be easy to blame Lee for all of this, because he turned his daughter in to the DOD, and he brokered the deal that kept her out of Binghamton, and he sent her back into the lion’s den by sending her back to Parish. He kept the knowledge of the ruse of Hicks’ joining Parish from everyone on the team, except for Nina, who he needed to “push” Hicks into being capable of withstanding a mental probe that could have revealed the true nature of his “defection”, as well as the DOD. Easy, and quite a bit justified, at least in Rosen’s mind. There’s a moment in “Life After Death”, when Cley is debriefing Rosen, where Cley asks “Who do you hold responsible for your daughter’s death?”, and it’s clear that Rosen isn’t sure how to answer the question. Of course Parish is the one who killed Dani: He’s the one who detonated the bombs, knowing full well that she would die, but who put Dani in the position that made that possible? Rosen could have let Dani go to Binghamton, horrible as that would be, but she’d still be alive, or perhaps he could have let her run, helped her run, from the DOD closing in on her. Maybe he could have come up with a different deal other than sending her back into Parish’s organization.
But he didn’t. And we watch him pick out her coffin, sort through her things at her apartment, and sit, broken, watching the old family movies he has of her as a child.
So who’s responsible? Hicks certainly blames him, at first anyway. But Hicks carries his own guilt, realizing that he could have stopped Dani from her final confrontation with Parish, and we see that more than blaming Rosen in the end, the two men are brought closer by their pain and guilt, as well as their desire to stop Parish. And by stop, you should be hearing the word kill, as both men think that prison will be nothing like the punishment Parish deserves. Only his death will do.
So who’s responsible? In the end, it’s all four of them together who must carry that weight. Parish for preying on Dani when she was weak, Dani for giving in, and then agreeing to go back to him, Hicks for not getting her out when he could have, and Rosen for sending her back. But a lot of that responsibility does rest on Rosen, and it’s clear that he isn’t about to absolve himself of the guilt he carries. And he shouldn’t. He DID make those decisions, he did keep things from his team, his friends. He did keep information from Cley and the DOD, and he did let his desire to stop Parish blind him to the worst consequences of those decisions.
And Dani, his daughter, is dead because of it.
And I’m loving it. Folks, the last time I can remember seeing the ordinary man in the midst of extraordinary beings handled this well was Farscape. Like Ben Browder’s Creighton in that much missed series, David Strathairn’s Rosen has the best of intentions, and he doesn’t always succeed. Both men inspire those around them, those stronger than them, to follow them in a greater path. Both men become obsessed with finding a way to stop their enemies, enemies who need to be defeated to save millions, and both lose the trust of those around them in their obsession. And when they fail, when both men failed, the cost was often almost too much to bear.
Rosen is a little more alone than Creighton though. John had Aeryn, to fight for and beside, where Lee has only his team. Yes, they are his friends, yes he loves them, but the closest thing he has to an Aeryn was his daughter, not in the same way obviously, but still. There isn’t anyone who can be there in the long dark nights of the soul, nights where Lee will be alone with his guilt and his pain, and the path he’s already on leads only to vengeance, and that, well, that my friends, means that it’s all far from over, and odds are good that it will, again, all end in tears.