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ALPHAS Makes A Potentially Fatal Mistake
I took some time to think about how really I felt about the penultimate episode in Alphas’ first season. For the most part, I thought this was a very strong episode. It was the first one to feature a “Previously on Alphas” opener, so it definitely drew on past episodes to build its mythology up. But then it made a grave story telling mistake that could possibly open a problematic can of worms.
Before I get in to that mistake, let’s talk about what worked for “The Unusual Suspects.” Someone has leaked information to Red Flag, which resulted in the death of three scientists, and the only people who could have done that are on Rosen’s team, himself included. All six are tranquilized and taken to Binghamton, and we get our first good inside look at this place. The main characters are all locked in individual soundproof and alpha-proof cells and are interrogated one by one. We don’t get treated to the more terrifying “Building 7,” but our quick view of Binghamton is suitably unsettling. This is not a place I would like to stay in. The interviews with the Alphas and Rosen were a well executed set-up to put everyone in the spotlight.
When it becomes clear that no one is going to fess up to the betrayal, they all are put in a room in the hope they’ll turn on each other. They naturally start pointing fingers, showing their little office family has trust issues. Luckily they get past all that, and this leads to a very well orchestrated escape that gives everyone a chance to show off what they bring to the team. Once they’re out and can freely talk to each other is where the potentially fatal mistake comes up.
Obviously, you don’t expect any of these six to be a mole, and as it turns out it was someone impersonating Rosen. That right there is the biggest screw up this show could have done. I’m okay with the whole “it can’t be one of the main people” trope, but a shapeshifter? That’s dangerous. That’s something you can’t really explain scientifically, which is what I’ve loved so far about this show. This ability was given no explanation for how it was possible, and that’s a huge let down. As soon as you let shapeshifting happen, you open the door to other warped abilities that don’t make any logical sense. I think it would have been a better twist if Hicks actually turned out to be the mole, with securing money for his son as motivation. That’s a scenario I can buy. But I can’t agree with someone who can change their skin and bone structure. It doesn’t mesh with the kind of grounded reality this show is trying to maintain.
Once it becomes clear who the mole is and the real Rosen comes back alive and well, all tension dissipates quickly. It was a sharp return to status quo, even if it was just brief (Bill collapses at the end, his malfunctioning ability is suggested to be the cause). There was no fallout from the Binghamton situation, at least none that seemed important. Everyone just acted like everything was fine. If Hicks had turned out to be the leak, this could have shuffled everything around in a satisfying way.
Despite this glaring problem, the episode was still strong, and I’m excited to see where things go in next week’s finale.