Alphas "The Devil Will Drag You Under" Review: Action!

By Tim Surette

Sep 25, 2012

Alphas S02E09: "The Devil Will Drag You Under"

When a magician is doing a card trick, he'll often do something distracting with his off-hand while the other hand slips out the Ace of Spades or grabs the scruff of a rabbit's neck. When people are caught in a lie, they'll often change the subject. And ladies know that a little cleavage goes a long way in diverting the attention of horny men from whatever shortcomings they're trying to hide. Sleight of hand and diversionary tactics are designed to put the focus somewhere else to create an illusion. Sometimes it works. But when it doesn't, you're just a person with your boobs hanging out.

Last night's episode of Alphas, "The Devil Will Drag You Under," had its boobs out, and while that's always a good time, the reason was mostly to hide minor flaws the show didn't want you to see. Now wait just a second before you throw rocks at your computer screen! It was a riveting episode of Alphas—in fact, one of the most gripping of the season, if not the series. I don't think there's been an episode that was as full-throttle as this one, and several of the action sequences stood out as stellar and exactly what we want from the show. There, you see? I did like it. I just didn't love it because I couldn't help but think of some of the shortcomings it was trying to hide.

There were two very interesting things going on in "The Devil Will Drag You Under." First, the switcheroo with Hicks as a man who'd turned and was working for Stanton Parish dominated the early part of the episode in great fashion. But it was easy to see that Hicks was acting strange, even for a man whose girlfriend was just tossed into a dangerous undercover assignment by her father. Hicks was reduced to a Terminator looking to protect Dani without regard for anything else, and given what we know about this show and its superpowered characters, it didn't take a genius to guess that Nina was somehow involved. So when it was revealed that Hicks was pushed into going after Dani by Nina in order to make him a flawless double agent, it didn't carry the same shock value as it could have. Instead, it became a convoluted bit for the benefit of trickery, without all the trickery. But that's also a side effect of establishing great characters. Because we know Hicks so well, we know he wouldn't do something like switch sides as quickly as he did. Had we seen a few episodes with him stewing, it would be a different story.

Second, we were all being unconsciously prepared to feel the pain of Dani's death through fond flashbacks and the events of the previous episodes. I'm not going to lie, it worked. Dani had been transformed from that chick who was Parish's mole and who emotionally toyed with Hicks into a caring girlfriend and loving daughter in just a few hours. There's a lot of irony here, since Dani's power is essentially the ability to manipulate and manufacture emotions, but I'll give Alphas credit for hitting all the high notes when it mattered. Nina trying to push Dani into not dying might just be one of the most heartbreaking television moments of the year. Silly me actually wondered if it would really work for a second there, but when Dani gave her last breath in Rosen's weepy arms, it was devastating. If you know you're being manipulated and it still works, it's good work on the show's part.

But despite the thrilling action and neck-snapping pace that really carried the episode (I could have down without the thrash soundtrack, though) and turned it into a mini action blockbuster, some of those aspects felt forced in the name of accomplishing greater goals. I had a hard time with Parish's actions in this episode, specifically his overly complicated and nerdy plan to dispatch an electric blast through Manhattan via power wires to kill millions of New Yorkers. Despite being painted as a villain, I've always had respect for the man, and I've even felt sympathetic to his stance as a rebel leader for the oppressed. But Parish pulling this scheme out of his back pocket undid a lot of that in a second. It's important for us to not trust Parish, but we can get that same mistrust from smaller-scale actions such as Parish hurting someone who we and Rosen's team care about, not the attempted murder of millions. I suppose that was accomplished by killing Dani, but the idea of him ready to toast New York takes away a lot of his... what's the word I'm looking for... classiness?

Thankfully, "The Devil Will Drag You Under" won't be remembered for minor beefs. We'll look back on the episode and think of Firehands burning the shit out of things, fights between Bill and Evil White Bill, Dani's death, and the episode's true intention: to send Dr. Rosen and Hicks into a fit of rage so that they'll finally rip Parish's head off. And put it in a box so that it can't rejoin with his body. That's how you kill immortals, right?


– Was there something more to Dani, as she was dying, doing that last emotional transfer to Nina? Or was it just a "her light is fading out" moment? Did Nina just get a peek at what the emotional state of a dying person is like? Whoa, dude.

– It felt bad to laugh at Gary when he was celebrating saving the city and telling Lorenzo the janitor that they won, given that we knew Dani had just been 'sploded to death. But damn, it was funny.

– Ahhhh! Chick from Battlestar Galactica (Kandyse McClure)! Your eyes! YOUR EYES!!! That was like looking into the bottom of a Goldschlager bottle! Absolutely mesmerizing.

– I wish Gary got to be in the field more this season.

– So... Kat's literally off for a few weeks to attend training?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • bluemorphotat Oct 01, 2012

    Liked the episode, 'twas very poignant looking at Rosen with his dead daughter in his arms. Granted the thing about Hicks was very very predictable but what other strategy could be used? Maybe the problem was in the delivery... I mean it should have been explained to us from Rosen's and Hicks point of view... not pretend that was not happening...

    Apparently Dani didn't get much love from the fans but I did like the character. It rang true. And it also explains why Rosen is so driven when defending the Alphas. I mean it is one thing to be aware for instance of autism and another to actually have an autistic child. One thing is to show solidarity for a minority and another to end up being part or the minority or having a child, brother, sister, etc. being part of that minority...

  • DavidJackson8 Sep 29, 2012

    This is one of those odd times where I technically disliked quite a bit and could gripe about certain aspects, but while I was watching, I was pretty well entertained. It was fun, albeit slightly stupid.

    I didn't have a problem with the Hicks thing. Obviously I knew that he hadn't fully "turned" or whatever, but I thought the 'Nina pushing him' thing was a fairly cool surprise.

    The only thing I'll say I really groaned about was having Nina try and push Dani not to die. I can understand that if someone you love is dying, that you'd try ANYTHING and would grasp at straws to keep them alive, but still... that felt really stupid as I was watching.

  • tv_gonzo Sep 28, 2012

    Although i liked this episode i agree it had some flaws. I think it was the intend of the show to show that Perish isn't just the advocate to the opressed. Maybe he was a little bit too sympathetic and they needed him to be more villainous. Also it might have given us a little more insight to what his endgame will be. I was always wondering about that. So, even though not the best episode it was still a strong one.

  • CathodeRoy Sep 27, 2012

    I feel like the music supervisor had been waiting all season for a car chase, just to have the opportunity to track "White Limo" to it.

    They'd better do something interesting with Dani's last emotional transfer to Nina. Big opportunity there.

  • MiraTellia Sep 27, 2012

    I preferred Alphas when it was a lot less black and white on who the good guy leader was. Parish had a lot of good points in the beginning and Rosen kept making very questionable decisions. Now Parish is a sociopathic terrorist who is all evil all the time, which to my mind is a lot less interesting. At least Rosen is still quite often a dick

    And I definitely think Dani transferred something of herself to Nina, maybe her feelings for Hicks? That shouldn't be too hard, right? Considering Nina's own feelings for the guy?

  • tnetennba Sep 27, 2012

    I don't understand all the complaints. I don't even like this show. I watch a lot of TV shows, and Alphas is the worst one. Every week I'm asking myself if I'll even watch the next episode. I didn't find this one any worse than a typical episode. Maybe it had a larger number of stupid plot points, but it was less boring. So I think I actually liked it better than most episodes.

  • MichaelZeiger Sep 27, 2012

    I really enjoyed the episode, and while not perfect it hit on a lot of really good notes and passed the time very nicely. I am thankful I am able to just sit back and enjoy shows and not pick them apart.

    Seriously... what do some people even want from a show like this? It's well acted, paced, and written. It doesn't insult you like a lot of other shows do, and it rewards your investment in it. It's consistently entertaining SUMMER television.

  • Ankh49 Sep 27, 2012

    Does having an alpha ability make people stupid?

    Stanton - Dani is an EMPATH. Look it up in the dictionary and then you may understand why she wasn't on board for you killing millions of people.

    Dani - You are trying to stop a sociopath from killing people by standing in the bomb he is about to detonate. Bearing in mind that you are banking on his affection for you to stop him pulling the trigger. Perhaps "Sometimes sacrifices need to be made" was not the best choice of words?

    Writers - I know you are going for maximum emotionl impact but are you seriously expecting us to believe that Rosen's immediate concern would be for the people practically standing next to him, a few metres away from the bomb, as opposed to his OWN DAUGHTER who literally just jumped out of the bomb? :-D

  • DavidJackson8 Sep 29, 2012

    When Dani said "You taught me that sometimes sacrifices need to be made", I kind of had a puzzled look on my face. Like, really? What exactly was her point with that line... that Stanton should sacrifice his want to kill people? Derp. Like you suggested, all that line basically means is "blow me up"... not a logical thing to say there.

    I was also puzzled with Rosen getting up after the explosion and asking about the health of everybody furthest away from the bomb before his daughter, who was closest to it. I'm not sure why the writers decided to do that.

  • bluemorphotat Oct 01, 2012

    I feel that Rachel was written as Rosen's surrogate daughter since his biological daughter had run away (well plus junkie, compulsive lier, etc.) and so I guess after something like this Rosen thinks about his team first with Rachel at the top... and then remembers Dani.

  • bicelis Sep 27, 2012

    I don't know, I liked the episode. Surely not perfect, but very good.

    I started to like Dani in this season, I think they made a good job and it didn't feel too forced. The death scene might have been better without that "hey, this shit's emotional mr. viewer, please cry now", but at least nobody shouted Noooooo!

    And Parish was always clearly an evil guy and as Tim pointed out in previous reviews, we like our villains who make us doubt. And he raised good points today when he talked to Dani. Overpopulation, no food, basically millions and millions will die because nobody did nothing. He offers to kill millions to make a future that has a chance. He knows it's vital. Should millions in the future be forced to die and have a miserable future ahead of them just so we could keep our humanity?? Stanton offers to make himself the biggest villain of the world, to take on that burden. If he succeeded, in theory, he would go down as the biggest mass murderer in history. And you know that long long after the dust settles and the world turns for the better (if Parish's plan is actually good) at least some people who are not afraid to think will start to question that maybe the terror and horror that was Stanton was actually what the world needed...

    So to me, only showing Stanton saying those things but not actually trying would seem fake and he would not feel real or dangerous. Honestly it would have been very very interesting if his big electric bomb would have worked. The universe of Alphas would change dramatically so obviously that was not an option. But at least they made it look like maybe it was possible.

  • klotensen Sep 26, 2012

    Bad episode. They tried hard, it was an important episode but they failed miserably in my eyes. Stanton is a stupid jerk now instead of an undying genius, thanks for that and the McClure character was ... I mean come on: "You did all that for her? Awww, just go and enjoy your love!" WTF, way to go Stanton, there you have your bunch to conquer the world! lol

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