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Mr. Harvey: the ALPHAS Have Trust Issues


Episode 2.02 “The Quick and the Dead”

With Dr. Rosen back in charge of the Alphas team, and new authority from the DOD to deal with the Alpha Phenomenon as he feels is best, it seems the biggest issue the team faces for the moment is keeping the new DOD staff from using Gary’s shelf in the fridge. But when a man vanishes in front of his wife’s eyes in a crowded restaurant, the team finds themselves hunting for an Alpha whose ability is killing him and will do anything to find a cure, even murder.

Warning. Herein be SPOILERS.

Well, I am pleased to say that the strengths of this season’s first episode has carried over into its second, and while it’s too soon to say how the whole season will play out, the initial direction is promising. They actually run several plot lines this week, and the balance works quite well, giving us more of the broader Stanton Parrish storyline, an Alpha Of The Week, and, something that was a particular strength of the first season, the personal dynamics of our Alpha team.

Let’s address that AOTW first. We saw a lot of these during the first season, and some worked better than others. Like THE X-FILES, ALPHAS used an accumulation of stand alone episodes to build a larger storyline, and like that classic show, one sort of got the sense sometimes that the larger storyline wasn’t all that clear in the minds of the writers. Here though, with the Stanton Parrish arc, there is a clear connection and the integration makes a lot of sense.

So who is this new Alpha, and what’s his story? Well, for genre fans it’s a nice treat, as C. Thomas Howell joins the Alpha ranks as Eli Aquino, whose suprachiasmatic nucleus is uniquely enlarged. This gives him the ability to move at roughly 10 times the speed of everyone else, but also causes him to age at an increasingly accelerated rate. Howell does a fine job of playing a 22-year old, and we have a nice shot of an old publicity still to give us an idea of what he should look like, instead of the 45-year old playing him, and at the heart of the character is a young man’s desperate fear of aging. There are real questions raised about what has been done to him, with Stanton Parish’s fingerprints all over it. Yes, his Alpha ability is burning up his life, but experiments on him, under the guise of “treatment” for his condition, have accelerated it, and behind the doctors at the clinic that are his targets, stands the man who runs the clinic: Stanton Parrish.

Also important here is the continuing evolution of David Strathairn’s Dr. Lee Rosen, and it’s driven in part by the tragic resolution of Eli’s story. While he is trying to help Eli, the concern of his team escalates the situation, and without the timely arrival of Rosen’s daughter Dani, the DOD assault team would likely have killed Eli to save Rosen. While she uses her ability to alter emotion to calm him and ease the physical trauma he feels, all seems headed to a positive resolution, and maybe some answers about Parrish. When someone kills Eli, that opportunity is lost, and Rosen’s anger at both the murder and the questions around it drive him to question just how much he can really trust the new authority he has with the DOD.

Rosen is also having some adjustment problems since he’s been back with the team, especially with Bill (Malik Yoba). While he was in the mental hospital, Bill had been effectively running things, trying to keep what remained of the team together. With Lee’s return, Bill’s resentment of his decision to go public about the Alphas, without consulting the team, comes rising to the fore. While the two men reach an accommodation by the end of the episode, it’s actually good to see that Rosen’s actions have an effect on the people he cares about, and those effects aren’t always good.

Relationships are the strength throughout the episode actually, with the changed dynamics of the months Rosen was away being quite critical. Rosen’s daughter Dani (Kathleen Munroe) and Hicks (Warren Christie) have begun a relationship, and the feelings between the two of them have gotten quite intense. The fact that they haven’t told her father, or the team, will lead to that secret coming out, especially complicating the already fragile return of Nina (Laura Mennell). While she has come to regret her using her ability on Hicks and pushing him away, he’s moved on to Dani, and when Nina wants to try again, she doesn’t react well to being told no. Not surprising really, since she’s been on a tear of using her “pushing” abilities for months now, and here, the woman who can make people do what she wants finds that isn’t possible this time. When Rosen tracks her down later, trying to bring her back, she uses her ability on him, leaving us with the final image of the episode: Rosen sitting alone in the bar.

And then there’s Dani and Stanton Parish. She’s in an odd place now, with her feelings for her father and Hicks both real and complicated by her alliance with Parish. When he tells her that she needs to cut it off with Hicks, because “sacrifices” must be made, she tries, but she doesn’t want to give Hicks up. Even pushing him away by claiming that what he feels for her is juts a side effect of her Alpha talents doesn’t change the fact that both of them seem to really love each other. When she tells Parish that she really wants to make it work, he seems to understand, but since we’re still not seeing his full plan, and, let’s face it, he is the bad guy, one does have to question how much he’ll let his mole in Rosen’s camp follow her heart.

And who is this guy anyway? They’re doing an interesting thing here… yes, we know that Parish is building up to an all out war between Alphas and regular humanity. Yes, we know that he’s a murderer and, based on his confrontation with Rosen last season, distinctly short on empathy. Or is he? His weird concern for Rosen’s well-being, his seeming understanding of Dani’s feelings for Hicks… these could just be him playing his still vague long game. But then they bring in his granddaughter, dying of old age, the last of dozens he’s seen grow old and die as he remains the same. He really seems to care about her, to feel pain at her coming death… until he suffocates her at the end. Is it a mercy killing? Or is it Parish just ending his last connection to regular humanity? I really have to give it to John Pyper-Ferguson, as his performance here is really giving us a villain who is quite interesting. That’s something I appreciate.

So! With Rosen not really trusting the DOD, with Nina off on her own, and with Dani working with the enemy, it’s looking like this season has some interesting places to go. Two episodes in, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s nice to see layered storytelling in a genre show, especially, and who would have guessed, especially these days, one the Syfy Channel is running. I’m ready for the next episode.

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[Official Show Site at Syfy]     [Previous recap: “Wake Up Call”]

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.

One thought on “Mr. Harvey: the ALPHAS Have Trust Issues

  • Woot to find an Alphas blog. Lets see my only problem with the show is Bill reaction to Rosen returning. Which isn’t really bad writing but establishes that Bill’s an alpha a-hole even though he is no doubt one of the good guys. Only a season before Bill was worried that Rosen will simply take the easy way out, and now that Rosen hit a ball out of left field, a ball he didn’t expect to hit himself, the consequences of not doing things the easy way is what Bill is mad at Rosen for? ARRG. But yeah great show, Stanton Perish hasn’t done much to impress me yet, the thing about villains like him is that they rarely end up being villains in the end, which may or may not be satisfying.

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