Alphas "Alphaville" Review: In the Woods

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Alphas S02E06: "Alphaville"

At the end of Alphas's first season, Dr. Lee Rosen changed the world by loose-lipping the secret of Alphas' existence. Well, we thought he did. His brave speech before congress confirming the presence of people out there with special abilities was transmitted across the world, but before Season 2 the writers decided that was a bit too much, a bit too soon and—let's face it—copped out by having Rosen painted as a loony person. As a result, Season 2 reset the series and things went back to normal, with the only difference being that more people were curious about them and the Weekly World News had more fodder for tabloids. I can't be the only person who was slightly disappointed by that.

That's why it was such a relief to see that Rosen's speech DID have an impact somewhere in last night's Alphas episode, "Alphaville." Normal-powered humans may consider Alphas a thing of folklore from Rosen's speech, but for the Alphas themselves, his blabbermouthing meant more persecution and nagging from regular people. It's a bit confusing the way Alphas is handling the secret; if the secret stayed in, why is there now more persecution? With Alphas Alpha-ing all over the place, why aren't there more eye-witness reports? And are there really no Alphas who want people to know they have powers? If I could shoot fire from my hands, you better believe I'd be joining a live-action Street Fighter II tour and Hadoken-ing all over the place. Whatever, we just have to pretend those questions don't really exist and enjoy the show's kickass fight scenes.

But the relationship between Rosen, who isn't an Alpha (or so he says, though it was seemingly confirmed when he didn't hallucinate last week), and the Alphas who aren't on his team is something that is fun to explore. This episode, Rosen went after Skylar (guest-star Summer Glau), who had holed up in a hippie commune for Alphas somewhere in the woods. The hippies had gone off the grid to live in peace and quiet and to avoid people like Rosen, and his presence wasn't well-received, particularly by Bee Man Claude and Mr. EMP Hands (and yes, I know they're not EMPs because they floored Rosen, but I don't know what else to call him). While Rosen's plan with his Season 1-ending speech was driven by good intentions, the fallout wasn't happy for some. Mr. EMP Hands was thrown out of his house by his wife, who took his kids and ruined his life. He conveniently blamed Rosen for his mess, which actually sounded more like a domestic issue (marry a cooler chick next time, bud), but it's great to see that Rosen's speech did SOMETHING, even if it wasn't what he intended.

But that circle was never really completed in the episode. Rosen and his team entered this utopia of sorts, and his snooping around to figure out the function of the photic stimulator he acquired last week brought some other bad elements with it, in the form of Stanton Parish's henchmen. One thing led to another, and like the ending of all bad parties, the whole community burned to the ground. There was no resolution to the angst toward Rosen from the hippie Alphas, and that's fine. But the notion that some Alphas were really pissed at Rosen was never revisited, even when he was indirectly responsible for turning their vegan village into ash. Rosen got off easy, didn't he? Claude missed a perfect "I told you so!" moment that he may never get back.

We'll excuse that because the long-term implications of Rosen's speech will serve the story well. There's a war for Alphas' allegiances, which was touched on a bit in Season 1, and free-agent Alphas are going to have to pick a side: Team Parish or Team Rosen. The more hurdles that Rosen has to go through to earn the trust of rogue Alphas the better, and showing us that Rosen's speech was not well-received makes the story kick. We trust that Rosen is doing the right thing, but the more we have doubts, the thicker the central mystery gets. There were brilliant moments in Season 1 where we all thought Red Flag might not be so bad after all, and the same might be true for Parish in Season 2. It's a debate that Alphas should make us squabble over for as long as it can.

Before he committed second-degree arson, Rosen did get some research on the photic stim done. Skylar wasn't a whole lot of help, though, as Rachel discovered the unit had been tampered with and then accidentally zapped herself with it (butterfingers!). The stims can amplify Alpha powers greatly, which is obviously of interest to Parish and whatever his plan is. The pieces are coming together slowly, but thankfully the series is interesting enough that it doesn't impede the pacing at all.

This week's Alpha fight involved Hicks taking on the sister of the super-agile chick he previously fought back in Season 1. It seems Alphas doesn't have a problem with settling for "super dexterous person fights super dexterous person" Alpha fights to save on special effects, but given that this is Syfy and Hicks can still look super badass by shooting a gun out of someone's hand while vaulting off of a balcony, I'm okay with it. And I'm even more okay with Bill turning into the Kool-Aid Man and busting through the wall to bear-hug Hicks' attacker. Oooooh yeah!

The obvious attraction in tonight's episode was Glau, but I'm not sure her character was necessary in this one. Rachel did most of the legwork in figuring out the machine, Skylar just kept on saying she needed more time to figure it out. So they went to see her because...? The episode did give her a pretty decent story involving her kid, though, and it's nice to see a recurring character have a lot of depth. And what did you think of Parish approaching her at the end? Is she going dark side, or is she going to remain neutrally evasive?

"Alphaville" was a decent episode of Alphas, but it didn't really further the stories of our characters a whole lot. Consider it a mid-season breather before the second half of the season starts.



NOTES

– Everyone is still shitting all over Nina! I expected it from Rachel, but not from Bill.

– Where was the Alpha who could shoot water of his butt to put out the fire?

– I'm a big fan of Rosen finally understanding that someone close to them has ties to Parish and is warning him about their actions. That's going to open up the door for some really great stories in the second half of the season.

– Claude, the man who can control bees! It is not a good sign if the show is coming up with powers like that.

– Which Summer do you prefer: Rebel Glau with tattoos and dyed hair, or conservative single-mom Glau?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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