Alphas "Alphaville" Review: In the Woods

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

Comments (44)
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I think bee controlling is a very very dangerous ability.. I would not want to mess up with such an alpha..
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Two words. Summer Glau! Nuff Said. Loved it. More Skylar. Nite Nite.
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After watching the season premiere, I was disappointed that the world (or for the purposes of the show, at least the US) didn't change because of Dr. Rosen's speech. But I've come to accept it. Still a tad disappointing, sure, but I can also understand the "nothing really changed" angle to it -- if I saw or heard some crazy looking old dude on TV news stations or something telling me super-human people existed, I'd laugh and change the channel. So, being able to understand both sides, I'd just like Alphas to be a bit more consistent with it. If the world was barely affected by the speech, how exactly did it cause the Mrs. to leave Mr. EMP Hands? Did watching the speech on TV cause him to involuntarily EMP things all over the house? Was she aware of his power, but only decided to leave him when she found out others like him existed? The only thing I can reason out is that she knew of his powers and accepted them, but was afraid their neighbors and friends and law enforcement would find out about him... but I would think that'd be the case even if Dr. Rosen didn't make his Alphas speech. His power wasn't exactly subtle.



Anyway, fun episode, nonetheless. I didn't think Bill's comments to/about Nina were all that bad... they felt like little jabs, not punches -- or uh, to follow your terms, they felt like squirrel turds, not elephant ones.



As for Rosen and Bill's suspicions about the leak/mole, I have a feeling their search will (wrongfully) lead to John, the new head of tactical -- it just feels like there needs to be a reason why he joined the cast this season, heh -- which will lead to Rachel getting mad at people or something. Then, after a while, they'll realize it was Rosen's daughter.
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I loved this episode. I think you're overanalyzing a couple of things:



1) Minor powers are necessary in the world of Alphas. Every power isn't gonna involve being able to start fires or controlling people's minds for crying out loud! "Bee man" probably didn't show all his cards. Who knows how big a swarm of bees he can command, and do you have any idea the havoc a swarm of bees can do? Think about it.



2) Rosen's speech did affect people, just not everybody. You really expect the ENTIRE WORLD to take that seriously?!! If you're talking Weekly World News, that's basically code for bullcrap journalism, fairytales, etc. The fact of the matter is some people will believe, but most people won't. The idea that the some john or jane doe should become famous from "supposedly" seeing some Alpha is crap and you should know that. Besides, that person would be considered just as big an enemy as Rosen. His/her life would be over!!



Nina has a lot of bridges to mend, so Bill talking at her a little didn't surprise me at all.



Skylar was just as big a help as Rachel, it just took her longer. Practice makes perfect, and like she said, she's been out of the game for a while.



I really like the way season 2 is coming around, and Danielle being the mole as well as Parrish's intentions are going to make this season great to me.

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Ok, how does the super silent guy thing work? I mean, I can understand him not making a sound, but how do twigs and leaves in the forest not make a sound when walked on, or how do his clothes not make a sound when he moves, or the knife?

Can he absorb sound or something? It was just weird..



Liked the whole episode, but not of the highest quality.
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I enjoy this show. But in my view, it's losing quality by the episode. The writing seems to be getting lazier and lazier.



- That guy that beat up rosen, loses his job and family over him revealing that alpha's exist? Who forced him to tell his wife who he was after rosen declared alpha's exist? Random drama.



- Summer glau's episode was wasted on her being a disoriented mommy. seriously? she 'fixes everything' by building a fire extinguisher that works automatically AND standing on the floor? LOL. why does she not like the idea of working with rosen and living an alphas life but when the bad guy does it it's suddenly cool?



- one of the worst things so far... what is gary's purpose on this show anymore? being gary? he only has a comedic factor nowadays, and is only remotely autistic. Don't get me wrong, he still makes me laugh, but the character has stagnated.



- how did skyler get to go back so quickly that she even meets the bad guy in a random nearby barn before anyone notices. barn which conveniently for the sake of drama, burns and puts everything else to fire. Random.



This show had so much potential, instead it has so many flaws. Enjoyable? Definitely. Could it be a thousand percent more awesome? Hell yes.
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"OH, you speak Bee". Priceless!
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No Tim, you weren't the only person disappointed by the wimp-out they pulled with season 2's opening undoing the end of season 1.



I can only assume that "the truth" was seen as the general population as goofy bunko, while those who already might have suspected someone close to them was an Alpha now had confirmation and a label. It worked for me, although Rosen not spelling out WHY he outed the Alphas was disappointing, that's lazy writing that other shows suffer through, Alphas used to be different - it wasn't afraid to sit down and have a conversation with its problems.



I couldn't be more grateful that they didn't cheap out and make Rosen an Alpha, that'd be the laziest turn of events possible and would undo the point of the show. It's bad enough his daughter is one AND works for his mortal enemy.



Mr. EMP Hands' tale of his wife leaving him felt like the way a loser would see it, that's fine and they cast the right kind of actor to suggest it - the guy who would have a beer in his hand sitting around fuming about how the world has hosed him - but I would love to see him take his ex wife to court and have her argue he's an Alpha as the reason she wants sole custody. Maybe her lawyer could subpoena Dr. Rosen now that he's the loony tunes face of the Alpha phenomenon, and Rosen would see she's an assface and a bad parent and have to choose to testify like a crazy person to help EMP Hands.



Claude probably didn't want to have a conversation in the middle of an evacuation, especially with someone actively helping on-the-ground with that. BTW, anybody else think Claude is going to be able to help Gary since they have the same power (and gestures)? Claude isn't controlling the bees via his main power, he's affecting the magnetic environment around them to get them to do his bidding, he's Gary but with more skills, with a z.



Yeah boy, Bill going Kool-Aid on that wall was awesome! I think you have too many "O"s and not enough "H"s there though.



Skylar was a snore and a waste, they even cheaped out on her tattoos, and she ended up discovering nothing. Wah wah, your kid is a pain in the ass - welcome to adulthood! Do some friggin' WORK! And Parish is ridiculous thinking after his people put her kid and her in mortal danger that he can just play nicey nice afterwards, that was plain STUPID writing.
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Absolutely! Decent sums it up perfectly (and it's only decent because last season was great, it's difficult to go from great to abysmal in a couple of episodes). But give this new hack of a showrunner enough time and he'll get there... Seems like most everything they've been doing this season has been retconning, cop-outs and cheese-fests... Ugh.
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Liked the episode... decent. Now I really want to know what Gary is doing "to honour her dead friend" ... It was funny he discovered signals in nature. I think that was the part I enjoyed the most... But I also wonder if they are going to make something out of that later on...
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I don't get your complaint about why there are no consequences after Rosen speech. I disagree on that. I think it's more realistic that nothing happened actually except may be some crazy headlines in tabloids. And showing Rosen in loony house. Remember Carlin - People are dumb! Reality doesn't change in one day. Even Obama can't do it) And Alphas outraged by Rosen speech may be THINKING that people would persecute them. They are just feared about it. They just went away not willing to risk. That's all. I don't see a hole in this. Some people may be start to look at each other suspiciously. Reality doesn't crack that quick. I see it here in Moscow when three girls sentenced to two years in prison for dancing in church)



It was decent episode but I don't like chaotic movements of our characters. I didn't understand why they left Gary first time and didn't convince him enough to go. He is on the team he can't stay in hippy alphas commune. And Rosen running around somewhere at the same time. It's kinda sloppy and implausible. Sometimes there is some action going on and one character is out the picture. Where is Nina when Rosen Rachel and Skylar dealing with parish thing? Chilling? They got on purpose why they are not sticking together?

But it's just details (or nagging))

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Because of my love for Eureka I tried to watch Alphas thinking "hey, SyFy really proved it can produce a solid show with Eureka." But I was sadly mistaken about Alphas. I thought it was awful based on the first twenty minutes of the pilot. The beauty of Heroes, for example, is that it DIDN'T rely on some stupid FBI or police crap to make it interesting or great.
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1st season of Heroes was brilliant. The rest was trash, and SO SLOW!!! Sorry...

I think Alphas is pretty good, much better than Warehouse 13 and Haven. It could give Eureka a run for its money so to speak...

And Alphas a has a really cool intro! LOL!
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keep watching. it gets better. the showrunner admitted that the pilot was off
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Not saying that Eureka sucks, but Alphas is way more interesting and better in terms of story and characterizations. I don't think it's a problem to use cops or feds to make things interesting. Just look at Fringe. No harm done there.
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Fringe was basically X-Files, where the feds didn't have the powers they were investigating...though they did give a bit to Olivia off and on. Alphas is basically X-Men as feds. I don't like that fed angle either, but it doesn't completely ruin it for me.



What does bode poorly for the show, however, is the "everyone knows about us, and it's now us against a world that hates and fears us" angle. That never ends well for a show. What are people gonna do, accept them? Ever? No.
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Maybe Stanton P. wants to make everyone an alpha ...

At least that's what I hope because you're right the direction of the main angle worries me too.
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Again with another parallel to The 4400.
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1. Nina can go take a long walk as far as I'm concerned.

2. LOL!!!! Seriously. I feel guilty for encouraging this.

3. Yeah if they do more espionage/intrigue/super powers and less soap opera.

4. When the one who can control the weather and the one who controls plate tectonics shows up, things will really get interesting.

5. Neither. I have never gotten the appeal. The kid was good towards the end.
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How about "Defibrillator Guy" instead of "Mr. EMP Hands"?
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I like the Rachel love story but wouldn't the super-enhanced senses make her less likely to touch him rather than more? (Although I suppose pheromones would work better on her.)



I also liked that Gary's powers worked on nature as well but he hadn't noticed before because he was too focused on the man-made. "I wonder what his power is... he can open the door!"
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-I can see Bill getting upset. I'd imagine there are some weird-father-type figure thoughts that go through his mind about the rest of the team.

-No comment.

-LOVE this development. All kinds of great for the show.

-I have no problem with this. Not everyone can have a cool awesome power. Look at "X-Men". There were essentially 5 completely different classes of mutants. Some people just have the genetic mutation of long, skinny, weak legs. Other people have a runner's physique. It's life.

-"Firefly" River Tam Glau. But, given the choices here, Conservative Single-Mom Glau, because I do.
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so is this episode not on tv.com?
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I have a thing for girls with tattoos and dyed hair, but actually I prefer Summer without. Can I see her with tattoos but without dyed hair?
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I don't understand a) how Skylar had enough time to build a fire extinguisher from scratch? and b) why Gary didn't just do his 'Kool aid man' routine and bust through a wall so they could get out of the house? And before anyone says 'they were in a basement' I could definitely see sunlight coming through a window! :-D
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Skylar built a stunning machine which stunned everyone in the DCIS office back in Season 1. She took about 10 minutes to build the machine using materials found in the office, including the wires. She is not just genius. She is an alpha who is capable of building all sorts of things.
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I get that, and I m not doubting her alpha ability but more the slowness of the fire. I have videos of (much larger) fires and they can spread within a few seconds to a couple of minutes, and with the smoke it would've generated I'm surprised that they would've been able to hang on for the 10 minutes it took her to build the machine.
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LOL at Claude's spiel to Dr. Rosen. No, Claude, an upper-middle-aged Jew knows nothing about hatred or discrimination.
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This episode was missing something...it needed...Justin Timberlake.



"Bring it on down to Alphaville!"
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Well, for starters - like with any conspiracy, true or false, there will always those who believe it.

And even though Rosen was painted as a lunatic, certain eyes would no doubt be more open.

So, even if he didn't blow the whole thing open, there would of course be consequences for some Alphas.

As for you wanting to go public IronMan style - that's on you..of course that would make you a target for the Government, other Alphas and intolerant extremists..I reckon that's what everybody wants to avoid..except Rosen



Moving on - as far as we know, No one knew Rosen(Probably not even himself)

was "responsible" for the fire, so there would really be no need to bitch on him for that.

Besides, they had more important things to tend to - like fleeing the goddamn fire!

BeeMan's "Haven't you done enough" was probably just a quick FU because he doesn't like Rosen for his speech - not the fire.



And more so, Gary says "You can speak Bee" to which he replies "Basically"

Never stating that speaking to Bees is his ability.

Like Gary soon discovers - more or less everything has a signal, and if you look you can find it, understand it, and control it. I reckon BeeMan's ability is something along those lines(He seemed to be signalling rather than speaking to the bees)



I for one liked the episode, though I felt they really teased us with Hicks' ability - when Bill pointed towards the window, I thought for sure we'd get to see some sweet parkour-moves, but we only got a cut to Hicks entering. The fight made up for it though:)

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It was a good episode of Alphas. I like that there are more this year and their allegiance is up for grabs. However this was another wasted episode with no Kat. Why bring on a new character when she has no role. Hopefully the second half of the season will rectify that. But it still feels as if she is being wasted for no reason other than they haven't figured out how to write her into the story yet.



Notes:

Well Nina did kind of go low. So it is understandable that everyone will have a reaction to it. But I agree that Bill is a bit forced. I can see Hicks and Rachel. But did she really do anything to Bill?



The garden? Watering the veggies? It did seem a little contrived that there wasn't a balance to the fire guy. Or at least yet.





I agree, the reveal of his daughter being an agent for Parish is going to be a great episode for Rosen, Hicks and I would think Nina. Nina because of the reason she liked/ still likes Hicks. And Because Nina is the obvious fall guy, because of her issues and she has always been open to the whole red flag mission.



The bee guy? Are we sure that is his only power? I have no problem with a bee guy.



I prefer either. In fact I would probably watch a Skyler and Zoey show. I thought their interactions were fun for the most part. I do wonder if she is going to go to Parish's side. Given that one of his people almost killed her and her daughter.



The rest.



The box is kind of a foolhardy device. Did Parish really think that something like that could have been kept secret. And Why not let Rachel look at it initially. And how is it that Rosen couldn't figure it out by himself. It seemed a little forced. But it was ok overall.
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I think you're good sticking to Mr EMP Hands. The Brain and heart are electrical essentially so he could disrupt them with EMP Hands, like a defibrillator would. No?
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I actually like the idea of some people having useless powers. It'll give the writers the ability to make some really funny moments too. I loved the episode of "Misfits" with the milk dude, it was such a ridiculous power and I loved it!
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Milk dude rocked.



"There was a guy who the power to control milk, and he was a total psycho!"
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I really hope Rosens daughter gets found out soon. She's annoying and I want Hicks and Nina back together. Don't care if its too obvious and easy!



Why cant Summer Glau be in every episode?!
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Because then the show would get cancelled.
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:D Good one! Totally haven't heard that one before, gosh, do you write your own material?
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Nope, I steal it all from the internet.
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I wonder if Rosens daughter will start to question her loyalty now that she almost killed her boyfriend.
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That thought also crossed my mind when she apologized to him at the end, there.
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claude did have an "i told you so" moment. during the fleeing, rosen asked if he could help and bee man said "have you done enough?".



anyway, it was a good episode, but i agree, skylar didn't do anything. besides, rosen had already thought that the machine enhanced alpha abilities, so why ask anyone else in the first place?



i think the vetting of close people will make them suspicious of gary first, after what he did last week. they're sooo gonna drag the fact that it's rosen's daughter.
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I'm pretty sure that talking to the bees is only a tiny aspect of Claude's ability. I suspect that he is Gary, only with natural signals instead of manmade, being the focus.
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My guess as well, though I went for the more "I don't mind some Alphas having super minor abilities route". Both valid arguments.
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