Disclaimer: I based this review on an advanced screener full of unfinished audio and special effects. In the past, Alphas screeners have been pretty close to what ended up airing, but I do want to acknowledge that my viewing experience may've been a little different than yours. That's all!
After blowing our lids off last year with a big Season 1 finale, Alphas went into tonight's Season 2 finale with a lot to live up to. The show had been setting up for the big fight against Stanton Parish all season long, and Parish's plan to create a superpowered army of overcharged Alphas—oh, and also to kill a bunch of us normal folks—was just a thumbs up away from becoming the world's largest terrorist attack. There was a lot more at stake tonight in "God's Eye" than there was a year ago, but bigger stakes do not always mean better entertainment. And, uhhh, that's pretty much what happened with "God's Eye," which had Defcon 5 stakes but sputtered out when it tried to deliver a satisfying ending.
"God's Eye" was split into two parts, one involving Rosen hunting down Parish and the other following his co-workers as they tried to unplug Parish's big idea to zap the country into a permanent nap while Alphas swelled up with bonus abilities. Though Rosen was the highlight of the Season 1 finale, his journey in the Season 2 finale was what caused most of the episode's problems. As for the other story, well, that was difficult to follow without a degree from Electrician College. And when you consider everything that's been staged, "God's Eye" didn't close any doors, preferring a super-duper-mega-cliffhanger that disobeyed the rules laid out by previous episodes without any explanation.
We'll start with Rosen's journey as a shot-up rambling bum walking the streets of Toronto-wearing-a-New-York-City-costume. Bleeding and way too sweaty, Rosen needed some inspiration to get off his ass and save the day, so the writers resurrected Dani in his mind to serve as his spirit animal and help guide him to Parish. Okay, let's stop right there for a second. Introducing Ghost Dani in the final episode of the season was a damn ballsy move, and a big one to swallow. I'm guessing it was supposed to be blood loss plus grief causing some pretty convincing hallucinations, convincing enough to help Rosen solve the case of the missing Parish. And excuse me while I jump ahead here, but there was a bit of inconsistency when Ghost Dani was begging Rosen to shoot and kill and stab Parish at the end of the episode, and Rosen declared that that wasn't what his daughter would want, and then Ghost Dani shut up and smiled in agreement. I suppose it makes sense if we accept the fact that Ghost Dani was a product of Rosen's view of her, but then why would she tell Rosen to kill Parish only to have Rosen say that wasn't what she wanted? Me confusey. When it comes to imaginary people inside of people's heads in television, my advice is NO. Yet sci-fi television keeps insisting on it as of late, and I think it's only fun for the guest actor who gets to come back for another paycheck. YEAH I'M TALKING ABOUT YOU, MARK PELLEGRINO! (I love Pellegrino though, so I tolerate ghosting when he does it.)
In searching for Stanton, Rosen had very little to go on except for one clue he got from Mitchell's Parish-memory-spill from last week: that Parish was going to watch his plan go down from a "God's-eye view." Immediately, we thought he'd be perched atop a New York skyscraper like Spider-Man, and Rosen came to that conclusion too. Gary told Rosen that Parish was on the board of directors for an architectural firm, and that firm built the Empire State Building, so the logical step was that Parish was setting up his fold-out Yankees chair on the observation deck. Still with me? Okay. Ghost Dani told Rosen that it was time to go, they stole some drugs from a hospital to kill Parish, and then Dani suggested tubin' it to Grand Central station to get to the Empire State Building. Erroneous New York public transportation advice aside (I don't think taking a subway through Grand Central station was as necessary as they made it sound), Rosen arrived at Grand Central with the intent on hopping over to the Empire State Building when he noticed the ceiling of Grand Central Station, and how the mural up there was all the constellations drawn backward, so as to mimic God's view of the stars as he looked down upon us. God's-eye view! Voila! That's where Parish would be watching his plan of destruction slaughter everyone. And voila! There was Parish—no joke—getting his shoes shined with a big fat grin on his face, just a few steps away from Rosen. Nothing like the show's hero accidentally stumbling upon the main bad guy—just moments before the big plan to kill millions of people goes into action—while on his way to the wrong place after taking advice from the ghost of his murdered daughter and following a vague clue that was spoken to another guy a few days ago for a satisfying hero's quest.
The rest of the team was busy trying to foil Parish's plan, which had gotten so complicated over the last few weeks that I was resigned to just trusting that what they were saying made sense. Parish's plan involved flashing super-lights to amp up Alphas and fry humans by using the national power grid at 8:18pm, I think? And Parish networked the city with mini-photic stimulators inside the power inhibitors that were being used to stop Parish's photic stimulators, I think? So then the plan to stop Parish's plan became turn off the power all over the country, I think? And then everyone realized New York City was on a series of transformers designed to keep running because of 9/11, I think? So Skyler made a contraption to turn off all the transformers, but then the power came back on because of a backup power generator that was located underneath Grand Central Station, I think? It was the equivalent of watching a cartoon character stick his finger in a dam only to have another leak spring up, over and over. And nothing slows down momentum than a bunch of dialogue that sounds like it's being read from an operating manual.
Eventually the team did make it to the Grand Central Station backup generator and had a fight with Parish's men. Yay! And my description won't do it justice, but Bill THREW Kat into the fight, which was hecka-awesome. But even though they spent so much time trying to get there and beat up a few dudes along the way, Skyler and Kat still couldn't shut down the generator, meaning everyone still powered up by the backup generator would DIE.
All this built up to the episode's final moments, in which Hicks shot Parish on a train platform and his life lay in the balance. All Rosen had to do was inject Parish with the blood-thinning agents he'd stolen from the hospital to counteract Parish's Alpha ability to heal, and Parish would be dead. But Rosen, who'd been awfully firm in his stance to get justice for Dani's murder under any circumstance, pulled back and had a change of heart, saying that killing Parish wasn't what Dani would've wanted and if he killed Parish he'd be just as bad as Parish and all that silly reasoning writers come up with to take their characters off the hook.
This was disappointing to say the least.
It was the exact opposite of what made the Season 1 finale so badass. In that episode, Rosen showed what kind of man he was by letting out a potentially dangerous secret to Congress and the entire world. Here, I have to say he pussed out. And after spending so many episodes turning Rosen into a man so committed to avenging his daughter's death that he was willing to break every rule in the book, put members of his team in danger (Kat and Nina), and burn down an old cabin, Alphas totally undid all of that in a second. Last week I praised the show for taking Rosen to such a dark place and sticking with it, this week I have to sigh because it refused to go all the way. I wanted Rosen to shoot up Parish so badly. I wanted him to stick that needle right into Parish's eyeball and say, "FILL 'ER UP!" while he cackled and hopefully kicked Parish in the balls for good measure. First there was the Rosen who'd been written ever since Dani got blown up by Parish, and it was good. Then there was the Rosen who suddenly changed his mind, and it was bad.
But things weren't done, nope! Kat and Skylar couldn't stop the generator, the clock struck 8:18pm, and the lights strobed. It's unclear how much of New York was affected. Earlier Clay said the generator wasn't even capable of powering half of the city, but the episode kept the focus on Grand Central Station so let's just assume the photo-stim shock or whatever wasn't as widespread as we feared. Everyone inside collapsed, and maybe Parish forgot to carry a 1 somewhere, because all the Alphas collapsed, too. All except Gary, who was the only one left standing and walked through the station to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York," which lyrically suited the scene but tonally? Perhaps something a little more somber—say, The Smiths—would have been better? Either way, it was a pretty fantastic thing to watch Gary step over supine people wondering what hell just happened. And that's pretty much how it ended, with Gary standing over his friends and Parish, all knocked out (or worse) from Parish's flashing lights.
I'm all for cliffhangers when they're used in conjunction with some form of closure. But in "God's Eye," the season just ended with nothing for us to ponder during the break except for, "Why?" Everyone sort of won. The team successfully stopped Parish's plan from destroying the country and Parish got to kill (maybe) a bunch of people. But neither Rosen nor Hicks got their revenge for Dani's death, and that's what's sticking out not that the season is done. Let's not forget that Alphas hasn't yet been renewed for Season 3, so the show's just dangling out there and may never mop up anything.
This was a confusing end to a season that had shown signs of improvement and daring storytelling. Why it spent so much time going in one direction only to take it all back in the finale is boggling.
– Here's a funny Summer Glau pic for your Summer Glau fan blog.
– I really liked Parish singing the Johnny Appleseed song. I have no idea why I liked it, but I liked it.
– A couple scenes that didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the episode: Gary's continuing trouble with his hospitalized mother and Kat's pissiness. Both situations had emotional weight to them, particularly Gary's, but neither of them were resolved and neither one added a thing to the rest of the hour. What was the point?
– A couple other scenes that didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the episode but didn't have any emotional weight: the quick romantic cuts to Nina and Hicks and Rachel and John. Where did these come from?