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Mr. Harvey: ALPHAS Is a Gas… Or Is It?

Episode 2.05 “Gaslight”

When Adam, one of Dr. Rosen’s former patients, loses his sister to a drug overdose, he’s called in to identify the body. But when he sees and hears his dead sister calling out for help, the team finds themselves in a hospital where both the dead and their fears take on all too real forms.

Here Begin The Spoilers.

Alphas steps a little bit into the horror genre on “Gaslight”, and while there are a few missteps along the way, pretty much everything that happens to our intrepid band looks to have far-reaching effects. We also get an episode where everyone gets a moment, although the main focus is really on Gary and Nina, and we also get another reminder that Rosen is something of a right bastard when he wants to be, and when he feels the stakes are high enough.

The horror-esque portion of our program is handled well enough for a show that is more or less a PG-13 program. We’ve got the creepy hospital, the dead seemingly coming back to life, and the fears of our team made flesh. It’s not much that would impress the hardcore horror fan to be sure, but when you have Hicks and Bill clearly aware of the standard horror tropes, and the more “realistic” portrayal of mutant abilities, you really aren’t expecting  it to be going into the supernatural world, are you? Not that they don’t dance up to that before the big reveal at the end, but unless you’re new to the show, one is expecting a “scientific” explanation involving an Alpha more than something from the spirit realm.

Still, they keep it pretty open until the end what the source of the phenomenon is, and while I’ll talk about that in a moment, it’s the effects on our team that make up a significant part of our story, and drives the biggest moment. So let’s just dive right in there with the elephant in the room: Anna Lives!

Get your attention? Good, but bear with me as I lead you there. You see, in the hospital is a young Alpha named Kevin, and when he nearly drowned and went into what appeared to be a vegetative state, his abilities emerged, sending out an infrasound signal, screaming out that he’s drowning. Infrasound can’t be heard by the human ear, but it still affects the minds of those in its range, especially Alphas. The effects, for the most part, involve causing someone to see and hear their worst fears, and we see Hicks experiencing his son being taken from him and tortured, as well as Bill’s fear that he’s just a creature of pure violence, personified by facing an even more violent version of himself. Rachel finds herself facing a murderous version of Nina, symbolising her pain and fear that she’s lost her friend. All of them are overcome by the effects of the infrasound, and all barely escape with their lives… and then there’s Gary.

When Gary is exposed to the effects at the hospital, he sees, hears and feels Anna. Once one of the leaders of Red Flag, Anna was set up by Stanton Parish and died at the hand of the DOD, but before that, she and Gary became quite close. Despite the fact that she was one of the “bad guys”, Anna’s own disabilities and Alpha talents gave her and Gary a unique connection, and her death was an extremely painful one for him. Earlier in the episode, Rachel took Gary to the unveiling of Anna’s memorial, an experience that didn’t go terribly well, although one does have to congratulate the writers on that nice bit of Jewish tradition, and we see that he’s far from over her loss.

Here though, Anna walks beside him and talks to him in a way that she never could have in life, and even when Gary knows that she’s just the way the infrasound is interacting with his unique mind, he simply doesn’t want to give that up. He has a great moment with Rosen, as the rest of the team is close to death, acknowledging that he knows he isn’t thinking straight when it comes to Anna, but not caring, because she’s alive for him again. But just as the fears that threaten the others are creations of their own minds, Anna is a creation of Gary’s, and thru her, he knows he has to save the comatose Kevin, even though it will cost him Anna, again.

Or will it? There are some interesting visual differences in how Anna manifests here, versus the other apparitions the team sees, and both she and Gary have unique ways of dealing with the information of the world… one has to wonder if this is the last we will see of Anna. Certainly the experience has an effect on Gary, as in the final moments of the show we see him “becoming” Anna online, creating a Twitter account to speak for her, and her vision of a world where Alphas can be who they are without fear.

There is also a nice touch when Rosen shows up at the hospital, after the team has begun to see things, where you might wonder if it’s the real Rosen. His behavior seems a little off, and for a moment… but no. Rosen is a little off here though, as his fear of what Parish will do causes him to use the newly returned Nina in a way that is, let’s be honest, pretty awful. Nina is still dealing with her unraveling in the previous episode, and is desperate to try and prove herself, something Rosen clearly takes advantage of here, as he tries to figure out Parish’s next move. Oh, he tells her that she can say no to what he’s asking, but under the circumstances, he knows she won’t. Ah Lee… you are such an interesting character.

What he asks her to do is use her “push” on Senator Burton, a woman who has connections to Parish through a charitable foundation called the Llamrei Foundation. It looks like she may have done something for them, and since Parish seems to be behind Llamrei, Rosen would really like to know what that was. When Nina’s first attempt yields nothing, Rosen decides to see if her ability can be used to pry forgotten memories out of someone… hey! Who could we test this on?

That’s right, our resident memory-challenged Kat. And it seems to work, pulling what appears to be a long-lost memory of Kat’s mother out of the black hole that is Kat’s past. This will lead her to acquire drawing skills and trying to capture that memory, and raises the question of just how lost Kat’s memories really are.

It also leads Rosen to the next clue, as when Nina tries it on the Senator again, she can manage to get out the word “August” before they are interrupted by the Senator’s staff. This in turn connects to the hospital, as Rosen sees a nurse using a photic stimulator on the comatose patients there… a device manufactured by August Medical. With a couple thousand of those devices in use, Rosen is left to wonder how they fit into Parish’s plans.

But there are still more questions. What happened to Nina when she was helping Kat remember that woman that led her to grind her nails into her palm so much she drew blood? And how will Rosen’s manipulation of Nina affect her going forward? It’s a bit of a bastard-y move on his part, and certainly not good for her recovery. And just what is Rosen willing to do, or not do, to stop Parish? Certain paved roads are dangerous paths to go down…

As I said earlier, there are some missteps here, and one of them is pretty major. When Adam thinks his sister is alive at the beginning of the episode, he displays his Alpha ability as the hospital staff tries to hold him back. It’s not a subtle one, as when he breaks free, he scales the wall and runs back to her across the ceiling. This… is never mentioned again. Somehow it seems unlikely the staff is used to seeing that sort of thing, or so jaded that they would just go “Huh. Don’t see that everyday.”

And it’s a little pat that the Senator storyline and the hospital storyline come together the way they do. It’s not a stupid convergence of the two threads, but it is a little bit neat. So between those and the horror-lite tone, I have to say this is one of the weaker episodes of the season so far, saved in the end by the Gary and Anna scenes, and the ethical gymnastics of Dr. Rosen.

So there you go… just in time for the next episode, “Alphaville”, where Summer Glau’s Skylar Adams returns. Somehow I see her and the good doctor butting heads again…

So what did you think? Is Rosen too close to becoming what he’s fighting against? Is Anna as dead as she seems? Is Gary on a path that will bring him some unwanted DOD attention? Interesting times ahead.

Be seeing you.


[Official Show Site at Syfy]     [Previous recap: “When Push Comes to Shove”]

Timothy Harvey

Timothy Harvey is a Kansas City based writer, director, actor and editor, with something of a passion for film noir movies. He was the art director for the horror films American Maniacs, Blood of Me, and the pilot for the science fiction series Paradox City. His own short films include the Noir Trilogy, 9 1/2 Years, The Statement of Randolph Carter - adapted for the screen by Jason Hunt - and the music video for IAMEVE’s Temptress. He’s a former President and board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City, and has served on the board of Film Society KC.

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