Alphas is Greek for "What Heroes Should Have Been"

It's a shame that the TV media world can't shut up about Charlie Sheen and the beginning of Premiere Week today, because last night's episode of Alphas deserves way more chatter—it was easily the best thing on television last night. Viewers who ignored Sheen in favor of the summer's best new show were rewarded with the best-of-the-season-so-far "The Unusual Suspects," and boy oh boy is that a sweet feeling to have.

Last week I talked about how "Blind Spot" gave us proof that Alphas doesn't have to be the procedural it was originally billed as; "The Unusual Suspects" broke the mold nicely with an in-episode mystery to solve, a look at the greater series mystery, and stylish packaging that accentuated a mystery spot we've been curious about.

How fantastic were the opening minutes? "The Unusual Suspects" didn't waste any time grabbing my shoulders and screaming in my face, "Hold on Tim! You's about to go on a wild ride!" as our team was sleep-bulleted, rounded up, and imprisoned in Binghamton as if they were superpowered hamsters. Best fifteen minutes of the series so far, and the episode never slowed down—just one of the many things "The Unusual Suspects" did right.

We've seen the "we have a mole!" storyline plenty of times before, but Alphas was able to keep the guessing game going for most of the episode thanks to seeds it planted earlier in the season. Seeds like Bill lingering for just a moment after Griffin told him he could make a lot of money working freelance, Cam joining the team late and falling victim to mind control at one point, Nina being shady in general, and even Gary's friendship with known Red Flag-affiliate Anna. I was clueless about the identity of the mole until pretty late in the episode; if you correctly figured out that the perp was an undercover Red Flag shape-shifter masquerading as Rosen, more power to ya. I didn't, which made the episode even more enjoyable.

Also: Am I the only one who hoped one of the team members actually was the mole? That would have been BALLSY. Once the team retreated to the warehouse, I figured Rosen was the mole, but I had no idea that he was not actually Rosen. Some may call the shape-shifter a cop-out; I see him as a believable part of the Alphas universe, though I'll concede that shape-shifting is right at the outer limits of the grounded superpowers the show has given us so far.

Helping the episode's pace were some fine action scenes that weren't there just for the heck of it. These were necessary adrenaline-pumpers, and all the more exciting to watch with Alpha abilities sprinkled into the mix. I can watch Cam throw things and ricochet bullets all day, and the fight between Bill and Cam was, in my professional book-making opinion, an even fight. Well, maybe I'd favor Cam at -120.

Props go to the director of cinematography as well, because "The Unusual Suspects" looked fantastic, particularly early on in the scenes that took place inside Binghamton. (Except for the Gary crotch shots during Bill and Cam's fight, but whatevs.) We really got a sense that the compound is not a place we'd care to spend much time in, with its white walls, fluorescent lighting, omnipresent cameras, and stale environment. It's part hospital, part looney bin. We'd seen bits of Binghamton before, but nothing as in-depth as this. And you know what? I won't be vacationing there anytime soon.

There's still a huge mystery behind Red Flag, but what we do know is that they wanted some files about MKULTRA (which is a real thing, btw) erased. I wish they had expounded on this a bit further, as revealing what they were after would have packed more of a punch.

Some may nitpick "The Unusual Suspects" for some tiny holes, but it was a well put together episode that delivered excellent pacing, a great look, and writing that kept us guessing. Easily the best episode of the season for Alphas. One more to go.

Notes:
... A few good Gary lines, my favorite being: "When you interrogate people it's very important to pay attention to what they say."

... I'm still a huge fan of the show's throwaway/character-building conversations. I totally cried during Up, too, Cameron!

... I approve of Rachel and Mr. Microexpression Reader getting together. She needs to get laid, badly.

... More great work from David Strahairn who, despite being way too overqualified an actor for this show, gives an earnest performance week in and week out. It was also great to see Ryan Cartwright act "normal," if only for a bit.

... As a fan of Bill (and I think I'm in the minority), I'm concerned about his cliffhanging heart attack. But as a man who has seen many TV shows near-kill many of their characters, I'm not worried.

... I've said this before, but Alphas is a better show when Agent Clay (Mahershalalhasbaz Ali) is in it. Say it with me: Ma-her-sha-lal-has-baz Ali! Interesting note: His character's last name is Clay, and his real last name is Ali. Do you think they call him Muhammad or Cassius around the set?


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

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I try to like each new episode of Alphas too, but Tim is clearly exaggerating. With a shapeshifter around everyone could have been the mole. What was so exciting about that? Right, nothing. Even though it was a good episode (but not the best).
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I liked "Blind Spot" a little more, but "The Unusual Suspects" was one of the better episodes. I was wondering who the mole almost till the end as well. The most interesting part to me was that Clay was humanized without invalidating any of his past appearances. He just seems to be a guy doing his job. You're not alone, Tim: I like Bill too. But I'd give him the edge in a hand-to-hand, close quarters fight with Hicks based on Bill's strength.
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This show doesn't hold a candle to Heroes. The pilot has a scene practically lifted out of Heroes S1 (Eden, i mean Nina)... the whole storyline is just kind of Heroes tilted on its side anyways, locking up bad specials in Level 5 err i mean Building 7. Its just the point of view that has changed. When they all got tased and locked up in the most recent episode, all I could think of was the Fugitives arc, or the lockup at Primatech. The FBI guy and the truth/emotions detector guy going after the team on the run jut screamed of the Company and One of us/One of them, bagging and tagging, locking up the dangerous ones while manipulating the useful ones into service of the Company/government... its rehashed BS wrapped up with annoying characters in a police procedural without any of the cool powers Heroes had, and nothing coming close to the draw that was Sylar. (thers another one.. Skylar who can understand how things work and then build crazy things with it? Definately a little Sylar/Micah there too). Heroes gets way more hate than it should (3 of the 5 volumes are amazing), the third was pretty bad and that was trying to make up for the (truncated by the writers strike 2nd season) that was interrupted before it could finish. Alpha's is nowhere near Heroes standard in any category, and is a decent fun little summer show to waste time with (definately better than No Ordinary Family) but to call it groundbreaking or original in any way is an insult for those who paved the way and gave inspiration for it.
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there might be similarities, but how can anybody say Heroes is the better show? Sure, I loved the hell out of me some Heroes season 1.. but everything after that went to hell in a handbasket. season 2 was crap. season 3 was crap. season 4 was crappiest, i hated the whole circus plot. good riddance to that show. Alphas has a while to go before it can really seperate itself from any other superhero type show, so did Heroes and they failed, but it's still a good show. and unlike most of Syfy's programming, it actually BELONGS there.
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Good episode overall. The fight between Bill and Cam was cool, until Cam did his jump-and-kick-off-the-wall-or-something-then-punch-person-in-face thing he does in every fight he's involved in.
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Awesome episode, the best so far.
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I love this show. Great characters and cast!
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Alphas is one show I never miss. And while I like all the characters, on different levels, Gary is by far my favorite. You just never know what's going to come out of his mouth. And his autism makes it virtually impossible for him to lie. Oh yeah, now he's practicing lying. I fell in love with Gary when he told his mother "I have a job, I don't need a job. And I'm an adult. You can't tell me what to do." Being with the Alpha group has given him a level of self-confidence that he never would have had otherwise, but he still retains that basic innocence that makes him SO special.
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I still find Season 1 of Heroes to be amazing. Meanwhile, I've only really enjoyed a handful of Alphas. I guess I can't fault someone for feeling that Alphas S1 is better than Heroes S3 (or even S2). The one thing I liked about Heroes S1 more than Alphas, was the depictions of how the characters are dealing with having powers all-of-a-sudden, while in Alphas we just see them deal with the down-sides and their emotional / psychological problems.
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I think most of the world loved Heroes season 1. I think there were a lot of problems with the following seasons.



1- keeping the cheerleader, as hot as Hayden Pattenarie is, her character was probably the least believable of all, and yet, the most important around who everything revolved.



2- making Sylar good. Sylar was unanimously regarded as one of the best new villains in TV. And they made him good. That's sacrilege.



3- changing Peter's power. He was the show, and when he lost his power (or limited it enormously) it ended up killing the show.



4- what the hell happen to badass Hiro from the future? He never changed his shy I-will-never-kick-ass personality. Yes, we got a few glimpses in the last episodes of the 1st season, but then it just went back to his old shy self. And his pal gaining powers was just lame (I don't even remember his name).
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What the heck happened after the first season of Heroes. I loved the first season too.
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Totally agree, thought that was a great episode!
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Only watched a few and I'm no sci-fi nut but this is actually pretty good.
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I'm really liking the "realism" of the abilities. There not too overpowered.
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I couldn't agree more, this show gets better every week.
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Okay so i am a syfy buff and would probably watch any scifi show on tv and like it, but when it comes to Alphas...its got it all. Gary always present to pull out a small laugh from you with his true and sincere comments and cam and nina to do the whole love story thing for you. And cam in action is a just a beauty to watch. Big ups for the show.
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After seeing this episode I'm glad to have stuck around from the beginning - I liked it. Part from bad rendering where I could see it's a false brick, I mostly enjoyed Gary' s improvement of social interactions. The most hilarious moment however how he concluded in 20 seconds that 3 of them are not guilty and stood up and "c'mon Bill, you can drive me home" - loved it. Also the delicate remark about the philodendron. And if not in that moment when Dr. Rosen shouts at him, you didn't spot the impostor - then Dr. Rosen and his behavior in the garage before and after the fight didn't gave any clues you are dealing with a shapeshifter? What kind of a viewer are you? ....Anyway - big hopes for the 2 'nd season - oh and yes - let Rachel have some "romantic" with the "Tim Roth" guy ;) and I don't worry about Bill. The worst - he looses his ability again. But he can still help the team without it.
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I was guessing to the end too (and I can't remember the last time *that* happened with a show!). Alphas deserves a lot more attention than its getting as does Ryan Cartwright who is fantastic week after week, Gary is one of the most interesting characters I've seen in a while and he never fails to make me laugh (this weeks finest Gary comments came after shapeshifter Rosen threw up in the plant - great writing!). I also disagree with the articles complaint about the intercuts of Gary during Bill & Cam's fight, I thought it added a lot to the scene and underlined the apparent fracturing of the team.
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I stopped watching this show at episode 3 and how dare you even compare this mediocre show to Heroes?
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If you stopped watching after the 3rd episode, why are you reading articles on a show you don't follow? And as someone who has watched Alphas since the beginning, and watched Heroes for 2.5 seasons, Heroes was most definitely a very mediocre show after the end of the first season, and continually got worse. Alphas right now is vastly superior to anything Heroes did after season 1.
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Heroes was good for the first season and then it quickly went downhill, let's admit it, it's why it got axed in the first place.
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I agree, this show is so far above Heroes, it shouldn't be compared. Heroes apparently didn't expect to last beyond one season -- and REALLY should have ended there. I'm loving my Alphas and can't wait for the seasons to come.
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Lots of promise!!
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so this is the show you like... I'm not that excited, it's good and it's getting better...
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I concur.// Just wanted to add a few thoughts. Bill goes down like ton of bricks at the end of the episode. and I was worried until-- I saw him running around and throwing cars again in the preview for next week (1 word: sookie).// Enough foreplay. Red flag better be the center of the finale...
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I really like te fact that every episode are so different. In a traditional show, we would have wait 30 episodes of stand-alone procedurals before having eps that break that pattern. In Alphas, each episode tells us more about the mythology but without getting the whole picture. It's a bit like Fringe on this matter.

What I particularly liked in this ep is the fact that once more Cley is the stupid thug for the government who doesn't understand that Alphas are not a threat (or not as much as he thinks) until the final twist. During the last five minutes, we understand that he did right even so we did not like it during the last forty minutes (or last six episodes).That's the kind of subtlety that I like
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Brilliant episode, probably the best of the season so far. And It's a show that has become better and better with every passing episode, almost every passing scene. Together with Suits I think it's the show of the summer (of the new ones)
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I am going to check this show out, i am downloading the epsiode that I missed right now!!
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Best title to an article ever:

"Alphas is Greek for "What Heroes Should Have Been".

I concur. Heroes sucked, how were those people heroes? They weren't even interesting to watch, and almost never used their abilities. In Alphas they use their special powers almost every single episode. Alphas >>> Heroes.
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And why do they use them? Because they are lame powers to begin with. A strong guy. Wow. No SFX needed there. A guy that has great hand-eye coordination. Incredible. A woman that can mind control you. Holy shit! A boy that does the same lame "I rule the internets" animation thingy all the time. The only real power is the super sense girl. Which is why it isn't even shown working most of the time, because they need to do some serious animation for that. The series is already suffering from what held Heroes back after its first season. Remember when they had to make Hiro lose his powers so they wouldn't have to spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on freeze shots anymore? Alphas just went the cheap way and started right where Heroes ended up during S2.



How can anyone think that this episode is the best so far? It was boring as hell. The best by far was the second episode. That had an actual villain who was cool and had an extraordinary power. Sadly they spent the budget for SFX of the whole season on that episode. Also, Tim, you complained after all the previous episodes that the series was going nowhere. Well, this episode doesn't change that at all. So why is it better?
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I'll bet you're also disappointed Nina and Rachel don't wear spandex jumpsuits.



This show is a lot more subtle and realistic than Heroes ever was. And I'm not talking about what superpowers or SFX are shown.



I like Heroes, at first, but after a while it was so insular and repetative I lost any interest in the characters. They did NOTHING to redeem themselves. Except for Peter, NONE of them ever used their powers for good, only for profit or to protect themselves. The show should have been called "Indecisive Freaks of Nature".



Alphas may not have shown the genesis of their evolving powers, but that could be part of a later storyline. These characters work together, finding and protecting other Alphas and stopping Red Flag from hurting everyone else. They are a an effective and heroic team



The incusion of Dr. Rosen is brilliant in that he keeps the group focused and away from becoming maudlin and self-doubting. Something that Hereos completely lacked, which destroyed the show.
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Sorry but character storylines is what should drive the show, not pretty little powers that makes machines go ping. Alphas aspires to be more scientific and grounded in things that are more realistic in this what, like simple people who could do extraordinary things, not people who never die or time travel or teleport or magically heals people. Just because Alphas doesn't have those big-name media hyped up magic powers doesn't mean anything. I'd rather have better characters with more realism and actual personality than random people running around screaming about how awesome they are and showing off their powers.
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Characterization trumps special effects. Always.
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Hey hey, agree with you 100% !! Best episode to date!

Although I would like to make a remark about the "micro-expression" guy. Didn't you guys have a major Lie-to-Me dj vu? I just wanted to see the Cal Lightman book on his desk or something... anything. Hmmm... I'm reading a lot of hostility...hmm...and maybe a touch of remorse.. ??.. no, no, definitely no remorse. OMG.



But aside from that a thought the fight between Bill and Cam was the high-note of the episode.



Best regards,



Raf
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Have to agree with you Tim, best episode so far. It just edges out 'Rosetta', the one where Gary meets Anna. It was good to see Ryan Cartwright briefly reprise his English roots, although the cut to Gary pointing in the direction of Rosen was a little sloppy.



Does anyone else get the feeling that the producers are preparing for the departure of David Strathain? Maybe they are just hedging their bets in case something comes along and he wants out? Would be a shame if he did leave, plus, his replacement would be at disadvantage from the outset, unless they put Gary in charge!!!
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I agree,this show is really good and getting better..a very nice surprise actually cause I'd expected something much worse.Just hope it stays on that path.Which you have to understand can easily change with this type shows.It's enough just to start adding over the top abilities/powers/antagonists and same type of conspiracies/misteries and that's it,we'll have another Heroes,or worse yet,fantasy-packed soap opera.
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awesome show, and yes, this is what heroes should have looked like, just brilliant
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I would say this has been my favorite episode of the season, and definitely my favorite new TV show of the summer.
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Loved this episode from beginning to end. This show never fails to impress me. The shapeshifting Alpha was not a cop-out to me; in fact, I thought it was perfectly executed. By the way, you're not in the minority with Bill. He's definitely my favorite character, and I'm definitely concerned about his heart attack. I think he'll get it under control later on, but it's quite a problem right now. Binghampton was exactly what I thought it would be: like freaking Alcatraz! Red Flag has unusual and dangerous methods to make their presence felt, but I trust them way more than Binghampton or Agent Clay.
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Actually, mr. loeb was responsible for the abysmal vol. 3 Villains, which ruined Heroes beyond repair, with the god-awful storylines presented. Thats why Jeph was let go near the end of the volume, b/c the stories he had allowed to get through were completely retarded. No offense.
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Lol. Funny story about Mr. Mahershalalhasbaz. I was reading a random article about sci-fi actors and his name and popped up. At first I thought it was a typo, but the longer it read, the more tiresome it became. I think I stopped at the "shal-" part before I jus jumped to the last name and told myself, "You know what? We're just going to call you, Ali." Plain and simple.



Anyway, really enjoyed this episode. IT was awesome, straight to finish. (Although I too could have done without the Gary crotch shots). And did anyone heard Ryan Cartwright's real British accent? Glad he got to use it. However, if you watch him behind the scenes of the show, he is soooo drastically different from Gary that it's practically scary. I think I like him better as an autistic American.
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some people will always go for the fart jokes if they are there to be had and they are all over the place. as far as i am concerned they only just about work on fam guy...alphas is PURE GOLD...but i liked other eps more. not a big fan of morphed to fool. too easy . but this is the show to keep watching. love it.
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I don't know if I'd say it was the best episode, but it was definitely good, and yes, the best thing on TV last night. Gary's dialogue stole the show again (and good British accent when it was discovered he was the shape-shifter!), as well as Strahairn, of course. One thing I didn't buy was Bill's 'stressed out' acting in the warehouse -- seemed to contrived. Rachel's was also a bit over the top for the whole episode, but slightly more believable as it fits her character's overall instability.



I've also said on pretty much every Alphas thread that the show reminds me of Heroes, and I hope it doesn't take the same path the latter show did (season one of Heroes was not too bad, all told, though the dialogue was still pretty awful by comparison).
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The actor that plays Gary is actually British, so one would hope his 'English' accent would be good.
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I'm a conspiracy enthusiast of sorts, so I loved the Building 7 reference in the show. Anyone else pick up on that?
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I really enjoyed this episode, especially with every character front and center of the story. I don't think I figured out early that shape-shifting was involved with "Rosen" (that was too Heroes-like), but I thought that an Alpha had some perception ability imitating Rosen during the break out scene. First when that "reader" said his pain was real, I didn't remember Rosen having pain problems. And I didn't believe Rosen would actually think the team would successfully escape from Binghamton or endanger all of them for the rest of their lives. After that, his confess-for-my-forgiveness-or-I'll-reveal game seemed seedy.
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this show is awesome and it getting better and better the story are getting better too last night episode was awesome
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I'm just wondering how long Rosen had been incapacitated while his doppelganger was running around leading the Alpha team... I'm assuming they want the viewers to think it was just a day or so, given the opening where faux-Rosen rushes to get Gary but surely it had to be a lot longer than that. I mean, he would have had to have infiltrated the office to get access to MKULTRA files, realize he couldn't do it without Gary's help and plan everything out without letting anyone else on the team get suspicious. Of all the wonderful things this episode was, flaws and all, that's the one hole I wish would have been answered.
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The shape shifter for me was a cop-out of sorts. It was impossible to see in advance who the mole was (what's that called a blue herring?), so I was a little let down by its conclusion. I also whish they had a two hour finale, where this episode could have proposed a bigger conflict that would have trailed into next week's episode. Oh well. The episode was still very enjoyable by itself. My favorite line was by Gary: "No I was lying there I DO like pudding pops." Here's hoping the finale isn't a wrap-up, and leaves us with some more sealized elements than it came in with. A face to Red Flag would be great.
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Red herring. But blue is my favorite color, so I'll give you a pass just this once. :) lol jk

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Well I know a red herring is a deliberate attempt to divert attention of the viewers... but its something else when even a fully attentive viewer, who can sort through the red herrings, still has no chance in seeing something coming... thus the change from red to blue. :)
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I totally agree with the title of the article! Where were the writers of Alphas back in 2007 when HEROES terrible debacle began? What a waste.. Anyway keep up the good work here on Alphas! Remember that HEROES had an amazing season 1...
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They were writing The 4400, well not the actual writers of Alphas, but that's where the good superhero writers were at the time.
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I like how the title has absolutely NOTHING to do with Heroes, and is just a cheap grab for attention. As for Alphas itself, I'm glad to see someone else with such enthusiasm for the show. I think its pretty damn good, and I love how they try to ground the powers in science. However, I don't quite share the love for this episode. I thought last week's Blind Spot was the best they've done, and that one kept me more on my toes than this week's which felt contrived and cliched. This is still a great show, and I agree that Clay's no-nonsense agent adds a great. threatening dynamic to anything going on.
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coolest episode this season...loved it. loved all the episodes actually - but this episode was a non-stop guessing game and action ride.
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I'd have to call him Muhammad Clay or Cassius Ali. Probably the latter.
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43 minutes of ACTION. Either fist to face or mind to mind!!! I never figured on Rosen, so I failed. Rosen......this is the man responsible for placing people in the white hell?? Puts a lil spin on "sure boss, whatever you say." from the team. Now that they all have had a taste how reluctant will they be to subject ANYONE to it themselves??? Tell the truth Tim, you had a tutor didn't ya for Ma...her........Ali's name????
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LOL great title! Let's not jump to conclusions just yet, because even Heroes managed a good 1st season. I do agree though that Alphas is probably going to be 5 times better even if 3 seasons time.
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