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Alphas "Gods and Monsters" Review: Know Your Enemy

Alphas S02E07: "Gods and Monsters"

Sometimes I think Alphas has an Alpha power of its own: the ability to read my mind. It wasn't long ago that I wondered when Season 2's "super villain" (and the quotation marks are important to note) would sharpen his claws and give us a reason to truly to fear him.

While Rosen had taken a major interest in Mr. Parish and learned some important details about him—like the fact that shooting him in the head is a waste of a bullet—Parish has still been lurking around on the periphery, showing up to Rosen's solo pool parties or encouraging Danny Rosen to pursue her art career through brainwashing and manipulation. We've gotten the idea that he is a bad man, but one with a sense of purpose. And sometimes when we listen to him talk, we think he might not be bad at all, he's just ahead of the curve and a freedom fighter for his pro-Alpha cause. And while we're at it, we all admire his fashion sense, right?

But no matter how many doubts might be lingering in the back of our minds, Parish is our de facto bad guy, and thus he needs to show us how bad he actually is. Blowing up a train, as he did in the Season 2 premiere, was a step in the right direction, but—and apologies to the locomotive industry—it's pretty passé and the kind of thing that doesn't merit a second look. Big whoop. That's why Parish's escape from the DCIS holding cell was, for lack of a better word, so badass and so essential to defining this important character.

Parish, having been double-crossed by Rosen (more excellent fodder for the "Who is the more proper gentleman?" debate), was put in a holding cell with two armed men guarding him. He made a simple request and got it: a glass of water, in a small plastic cup. Then he told a story about how his own men blew themselves up during World War II by walking into a field despite being ordered not to. And then—and this is the good great part—Parish took his crumpled-up plastic cup and SHANKED HIMSELF IN THE THROAT, committing suicide. For a second at least. It was all a ruse by the immortal, who surprised the guards as they came to his aid. He did it with brains, he did it with class, and he did it with confidence. Stanton Parish, you are now a worthy adversary to Dr. Rosen.

And it seems Rosen is up to the challenge. These two do the good-guy-bad-guy dance so well when they share scenes, and the final showdown during their neural connection with Alpha Jason sort of summed up their stances. Rosen is fine with using Alpha powers for good, but not for gaining popularity and turning others into murderous minions. Parish would rather have his Alphas know the full extent of their powers and regularly visit their potential. However, and maybe this is Parish's charm having an effect on me, I don't think it's quite that black and white with Parish. He's a man who goes to extreme measures to attain his goals (you know, like sticking a cup in his windpipe), but he's also careful and calculating. It's true he didn't really care about Jason's well-being and was treating him like a new toy, but the knowledge gained from tinkering with this new supercharged Alpha would have been worth it in the war. Parish is a veteran of like a bajillion wars, so he knows the value of sacrifice.

I didn't love the story about Jason's mind control as the case of the week, particularly how it turned into the typical "nerdy guy uses powers to become the cool kid" routine. But it did signify a strong direction for the series by giving us an example of these super-Alphas that are created using Parish's photo stims. I'm not sure if this means the show won't be about the DCIS chasing after Building 7 escapees anymore so that it can instead explore the idea of looking out for these super-Alphas, but halfway through Season 2 it's apparent that Alphas has something greater up its sleeve.



NOTES

– The idea of super-Alphas is a tricky thing. We don't really know the difference between those who have been photo-stimmed and those who haven't right off the bat. For us normal folk, powers are powers! If the series really wanted to use this device well, it would revisit Alphas we've seen before and show us how their powers have evolved. But I don't think that's logistically possible. It'll be interesting to see how photo-stimming works for the less abstract Alpha powers out there. If Bill were to get supercharged, would he just be stronger? Would Gary have faster download speeds? We've seen the effects on Rachel, and they basically make her senses, which were already hyper sensitive, even more sensitive.

– I loved this exchange between Rosen and Parish. Parish: "This was not what we discussed, Lee." Rosen: "We're only beginning to understand who each of us is." These guys are totally super smart, and Rosen's peek into Parish's mind at the end was more ammunition for Rosen. But did Parish also get a look into Rosen's mind, too? He should have, right?

– There's already plenty of story to tell next week now that Rosen knows Danny is somehow involved with Parish. Alphas does a fantastic job with season-long pacing and keeping things interesting. Not much filler this year at all.

– Kat: "What's up, Stan?" Many hearts toward Kat right now, she's great! I also loved the decision to put Parish in front of the whole Alphas team so they can say "Oh s***, that's the guy." It changes everything.

– The Rachel-Nina thing settled down pretty quickly, didn't it?


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

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Also, I just loved when Hicks slid underneath the blast doors at the last second and looks up at Bill and says that he has the tranquilizer guns and Bill replies "Drama Queen."
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Great review Tim! This episode was very entertaining in certain aspects, not so much in others (the Jason storyline). That is what I like about Alphas, I don't have to LOVE the case of the week story to enjoy the episode. The characters are what is interesting, and the Rosen and Parish back and forth jig was the highlight of this episode. They are definitely fun to watch, and I agree with the fact that is not actually so black and white. They both sometimes do bad things for good intentions. I mean, back in season one Rosen was stuck helping put Alphas away in Binghamton. They are both complex characters and that is what gives their rivalry so much depth.
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Don't forget Parish also killed both guards that were watching over him in the prison, and he didn't have to do that. He clearly doesn't think that killing (non-powered) people is something to be avoided for moral reasons. There are rationale "loopholes" involving how he considers enemy soldiers, a greater cause, death is regrettable but unavoidable, etc. etc.



But still -- dude's a murderer.
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The case study this week *really* reminded me of "The Wrath of Graham" from the 4400. Nearly identical abilities, both nerdy or unpopular kids who go on to basically mind control their entire schools. Although, that aside, loved this episode once again. Really, really enjoyed the scenes between Parish and Rosen, so glad to see those two duking it out face to face. Their scenes really reminded me alot of the Magneto-Xavier relationship from Xmen, as Parish and Magneto share very similar mindsets in regards to their 'brotherhoods', believing that war is necessary and inevitable and alphas/mutants must push for their potential in developing their abilities to that end, while Rosen and Xavier push for peace and coexistence.
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Liked the episode. Alphas continues to deliver great episodes.

I'd like to know if ones alpha ability is enhanced witch the stimulator if the drawback every ability has is also enhanced. Would gary go more autistic for insatnce? I am also missing this drawback concept. It was a very good idea to keep things grounded but lately it's like the writers forgot about it. What is the downside to Hicks' ability again? Rachel's? Perish? Danny?
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So a Dani/Hicks/Rosen WTF meeting is coming soon. About time. And when is Hicks going to realize he has an addiction to manipulative women?
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You guys, this show, seriously you guys.



Rosen v. Parrish is EPIC. For a guy like Rosen with no Alpha ability to consistently wade through trouble and come out the other side without breaking a sweat is awesome. You'd think the main hero of a show called Alpha should himself be an Alpha, but it works.



Even Parrish's Alpha ability isn't outwardly Super. He's immortal, but all that has really done is give him a unique (and somewhat jaded) view of the human race. While his Alpha ability has given him the opportunity to gain this experience, it's his human side that drives his character.



They both use the Alpha's around them to get the job done and realize their vision. These two are opposite sides of the same coin, as the narrative is so fond of pointing out, "we're not so different, you and I". Absolutely love it. Great show.



'That wasn't the lesson, the lesson is you follow orders!'
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Yes, the whole team got eyes on Parrish, but....WTF?!?!?!?!?!? Times a million.



There is supposedly a FLOOR full of govt agents and NOT one saw Parrish. What? Were that ALL out for pizza when he was there? (The 2 red shirts who were guarding him don't count since they can't say squat being dead and all.)



Other than that, great ep. The ramifications of the Rosen-Parrish mind meld are sure to be very interesting.
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Man, this season, Alphas is really hitting on all cylinders to me. Not only did Parrish make an appearance in front of the team, but the guy had the audacity to shank himself to get out of prison, then used a mind-controlling Alpha's ability for his own benefit!! Well done!!! I've known since the train crash (which, by the way, was a devastating move, not passe at all!!) that he was an intelligent bad guy, but what he did in this episode definitely took the cake!!



I did like your observation of Rosen and Parrish at odds with each other. They're intelligent quarrels are very entertaining to watch, plus Rosen finally finding out about Danny is huge!!



The Jason storyline was trite in terms of it being done before, but really, what did you expect?!! He's a 15-16 year old kid whose been bullied most of his life. This was probably the only plausible storyline for him. Has he even had any kind of a normal childhood like ever? I for one kind of liked it, and the bully got exactly what he deserved.



Kat was hilarious to me, especially talking to Gary, plus the "What's up, Stan?" line. Great addition.



Nina and Rachel's "differences" did not end quickly. In fact, Alphas has done a good job of lengthening it out in my opinion.



The super Alphas thing will be tricky to do and see, but Alphas has done a great job with it so far. Keeping the good guys and bad guys grounded and human has benefited this show big time. Love it and love this show!
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The Jason story line was crap. Hated it. It's one of those few times where I'd rather punch the victim than the bully. Although I guess I wanted to punch the bully too. And, I guess, Jason ended up being a sort of bully.



The rest of the episode was pretty cool. It was certainly fun to see Stanton take a more active and personal approach.



I'm not entirely sure about the little standoff between Stanton and Rosen in Jason's head, at the end, though. Stanton created some sort of fail-safe in Jason's head, took control and was taking the kids away from Jason... but while Rosen was telling Jason to free them and break the link, Stanton then said that if he did, he'd be losing control of his friends. Wasn't Stanton himself just taking them away? Whatever.
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Oh, that's really interesting. And so relevant to this discussion! We'll guarantee you absolutely NO clicks on your link as a reward for your post.
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Rosen's inability to harden the security crew to Parish's ability to regenerate was a low point in this season, it is convenient writing that assumes our main characters are all very stupid and ineffective just when the plot needs them to be. Rosen is careful, thorough, and already knows about Parish's trickery, but he doesn't take 3 seconds to explain that to the security forces guarding him? Not buying it. Up until this utter fumble, I was liking this episode because characters were acting like people and doing things that weren't just predictable TV junk.



On another level, not just this episode, but all superhero shows that use the gimmick of a guy causing himself to bleed out and then trick his captors when they think he's dead, how does a human being "heal" from bloodloss? I can understand healing the vein quickly, but wouldn't he still be woozy, wouldn't his brain and nervous system still need a return of life-giving blood to function again? We see Stanton Parish basically die just like he has in other scenes, then come back, but where is that blood "healing" from, and why is he so spry right away? That's why I don't like "self-healer" characters.



I agree, the main plotline was lame, and the solution just plain stupid - if they have free will within the hive, why aren't they kicking the hell out of Jason in his own mind for robbing them of their freedom?



Kat's line was awesome, I really hope they don't do something cheesy and make her a plant.



Rachel as a character has become lost, she's just a tool for the plot now, she's KITT from Knight Rider, she has powers they need and a human relationship but generally isn't a person anymore - she doesn't fret about her parents, she doesn't react like a wounded girl sometimes, she isn't remotely germaphobic, she doesn't lean on the other characters for support. Now she just acts like a superhero and gives superpower-derived information when called upon.
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Also, am I the only one making the Highlander comparison to Parish?
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I agree with you about the guards. As soon as Stanton stabbed himself, I knew what his intention was... but I immediately thought "UGH! Please don't tell me the guards don't know about his power." Of course they didn't know. Blah. Oh well.



As for the kids in Jason's mind... I don't think the kids had free will. They were still being controlled by Jason in there and were still walking around like zombies, but Stanton somehow created some sort of backdoor in Jason's head that allows Stanton to have more power than him... or something like that. I think.
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"The Rachel-Nina thing settled down pretty quickly, didn't it?"



Not really.... Plenty of time passed between episodes as evidenced by Ninas trips to DC to push the Senator.
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So Parish basically jumped out of the window, then put back his bones into place and walked away? Gotta love this guy :)
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I'm still not entirely convinced that Rosen lacks an undisclosed alpha ability. I mean, his daughter has one, and he's otherwise an unusual choice to lead the team. He seemed awfully eager to join the collective for someone who didn't have a confirmed way back out. Obviously, not showing us what Parish learned from Rosen is part of keeping some secret the writers are holding out on us.

I don't think the doublecross is particularly meaningful, however, as even perfectly reasonable people can show a different side when their kids are threatened. At the time Parish was taken into custody, not only is he the focus of evil that Rosen is opposed to, but he's made an explicit threat to Rosen's child... and as long as he is free, he remains a threat to her.



On the other hand, if he does have an ability, he was remarkably patient to stay a captive for as long as he did, waiting for the government to decide they needed him after all.
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If Rosen had an Alpha ability, he would have been affected by the photo-stimulator - which he looked right at without fear or concern. I think having him be an Alpha would be cheap and would undermine the show.
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I don't think he has an alpha ability. But IF he does I would say he doesn't know it himself. Certainly his skill at understanding what makes people tick is remarkable. But something like that is subtle enough that if you had that alpha ability you might mistake it for the normal range of human empathy. So perhaps it seems like he uses reason and psychological training to figure out that stuff, but in his head the rationale comes after reaching the conclusion and then just puts it all down to good intuition. After all, the reality is that it would be incredibly difficult for those two qualities -- normal empathy and normal psychological/psychiatric training and study -- to add up to an understanding of people with superhuman abilities. Even if you'd been studying them for a long time, as he probably has.



Of course, probably the actual reason why he's so good at understanding people is that for the sake of the story the writers have decided to pretend that it's in the normal range of human abilities for a psychiatrist to be as capable as that.
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Oh goodness does this raise a very, very interesting question: at what point is a remarkable ability actually an Alpha ability? Is it like a spectrum and at some percentile you are not just gifted, but an Alpha?



I wonder if Rosen and/or Parish have sorted that out...
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Yeah, when you put it like that, I don't think Rosen can be counted as having an alpha ability, since alpha abilities are generally way beyond the usual spectrum, to the point of being -- let's face it -- supernatural.
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As "Warehouse 13" continues to get worse this show steps up and delivers another great episode. Acadamy Award nominee David Strathairn (gotta give the man his props) could have just taken this show on this network to pick up a check, but he is creating a really great character here in Rosen. This character is far more interesting than Don Draper is now. IMHO.



These writers have created a much better show than "Heroes" ever was in a short time. Its mostly due to Strathairn and the writers keeping a team dynamic and running with it. Hope they don't get rid of Danny too quickly I like Kathleen Munroe. Maybe the Rachel-Nina thing settled down because Rachel has a boyfriend? The Gary trying to figure out how Kat fits into the whole team and how to react to her presence scenes have been very good. Interested to see how Rosen reacts when he finds out what Bill has been up to in his down time.
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Poor teen nerd kid had a pretty defined hairline !
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I know it wasn't the best part of the episode, but the senator story line, that is gonna blow up in Dr. Rosen's face. When you start mind controlling senators people will notice and not take it lightly. Specially if said mind controller should be a guest of sweet hotel Bingam
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That is definitely something that would put one on the Homeland Security radar.



What the hell was Rosen thinking that he let the pushing/inducting go so far as to cause the Senator harm? He knows the damage Nina's ability can cause.
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I LOVED this episode. Sure, the case of the week wasn't anything new (indeed it was pretty trite). But the advantage of a trite case of the week is that it allows a fully fleshed out case of the week (essentially) with zero time and effort spent on it. Which allows for more AWESOME.



-This is a tricky situation, and I am curious to see where they take it. I would hope that if Bill got stimmed, he would maybe be able to go for more than about 5 minutes amped up. We'll see, I have faith in the "Alphas" writers to handle it well.

-ABSOLUTELY Parish should have seen a glimpse into Rosen's mind. You mention frequently how absolutely BLESSED this show is to have David Strathairn because they are and he is amazing. But I want to give a shout out to John Pyper-Ferguson who has up to this point gone toe to toe with Strathairn quite well. The interaction between the two of them this episode was absolutely the best part. And of course the jailbreak. Such a perfect set-up to the escape with his whole "follow orders" parable just to prove that soldiers still do things like not follow orders.

-Yay!

-Kat is awesome. Bump her up to series regular because I miss her when she's not there. And I LOVED the whole Parish introduction. Straight from the phone call, Rachel says "That's not Dr. Rosen" and all of a sudden, it's team on team. Beautiful.

-Eh, deadly danger will do that to you. Plus, Nina's been looking very much apologetic and like she's doing all she can to make things right.



Looking very forward to the rest of this season.
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I think the point of the power amplification is twofold: First, people who've recently been amped up struggle with control (meaning, BTW, that an amped up Bill probably dies as his chest explodes from being pushed beyond the limits of the human body). However, I suspect it is also going to turn out that the photo-stim technology will also allow alpha abilities to be de-activated or minimized.
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I didn't care for the case story either but everything else made up for that.
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I hope they don't make the Alpha powers too super. That their powers aren't so out there is one of the things I've loved about this show.
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Great episode.



So.. Kat's Perish's daughter, right? I seem to remember some line in this episode saying he has (or has had) children, and the obvious dramatic twist would be it being someone in the DCIS, and the only known person that wouldn't know their father is Kat.
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His last granddaughter died in the second episode of this season.
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Well, he killed someone he told Dani was his grand daughter.



(Voting, no, Kat and Parish are not related.)
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How would he even know? If you're an immortal, how religious are you about using condoms? Which begs the question, is he a carrier for EVERY STD?
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Agree with docspector. Eternal life without eternal health would have left Parish a cancer-ridden, arthritic meat raisin a long time ago. His body has to be able to overcome or reject anything that would harm a single cell, not just the entire body. Pity it didn't kick in a few years earlier when he didn't look so haggard.
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Actually my first thought when Parish was introduced was that he was the "Father" of all the Alpha's.
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If he can heal from a bullet in the head, he can probably heal from a herpes infection, too.
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Finally. Kat finally had some time out of the office.



Good overall episode. I like how they revealed to Rosen that it was Danielle that was informing on them. That was very well done. And really given his relationship to Danielle probably was the only way to reveal it to him that he would have bought.



Everything else, was kind of hectic. It was a really fast paced episode. I had to watch it twice to get everything.



I like how they are dropping little tidbits for Gary to come to whatever conclusion he is going to come to. I think that is going to be a big reveal by end of the season. I can't wait.



And I liked Parish's involvement in the episode. He breaking out of the cell coupled with the story was fantastic.



such a great show.
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Oh yes, Gary's transformation to the dark side is right on track.
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Oh yes, Gary's transformation to the dark side is right on track.
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I love Kat! "Whats up, Stan?" had me dying. She's definitely been a great addition to the cast, and I'm looking forward to seeing where she came from. My only worry is that there's too much going on and not enough time to clean it all up: Parish and his plans, super alphas, building 7 escapees, Kat's past - and all of these things getting in the way of further development of our main characters. Still, I'm loving this season, and Tim is right about a lack of filler!
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