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ALPHAS Gets Haunted in “Gaslight”
I have to give credit where credit is due: Alphas not only managed to finally find a way to work with Nina in a way that is both likeable and a smart use of her power, but it also did this while telling a terrific haunted house story set in a creepy hospital. It’s a sign of how much stronger Alphas has been its second season that it could do an episode such as “Gaslight” and execute it with confidence. At no point as I was watching did I find there to be a dull moment, and while the haunting aspect of the hospital eventually teetered off into predictable territory, the majority of it was genuinely nerve racking.
“Gaslight” accomplishes this atmosphere by introducing a question with no immediate answer: “What’s happening to Adam?” From the beginning, a new Spider-Man wannabe Alpha named Adam is hearing and seeing his dead sister calling for help in this hospital and goes crazy trying to save her. When Bill, Hicks, Gary and Rachel are sent in to retrieve him before he seriously hurts anyone they also start hallucinating people are in need of help. It has a very ghost-like feel to it as everyone is eventually split up, encountering his or her own horrors. What makes it truly unsettling is the way, for example, Adam would think Rachel is his sister, and when he chases her through the hospital corridors we realizes its actually Bill chasing her. It’s never quite clear who is real and who is a hallucination. The only person who isn’t terrorized by anything or anyone is Gary, who only ends up seeing Anna, the deceased leader of Red Card and Gary’s friend. It’s a touching reunion for the two, as her death was very tragic and has haunted Gary ever since. Having her around adds to the idea of some kind of paranormal activity going on.
But this is no mere ghost. An Alpha named Jason resides in the hospital and is believed to be brain dead. However, he is very much alive and is broadcasting pleas for help through infrasound waves, a frequency that particularly affects Alphas. Once Rosen is able to revive Jason, the hallucinations stop. The surprise of there being a second Alpha of the week was hidden well by using Adam and his wall climbing as a suitable distraction. Only when he is drowned – presumably of his own accord while hallucinating – do we become focused on the idea of someone else at work.
Meanwhile, Rosen finds a new use for Nina’s powers that has me quite excited. Rosen believes Nina can use her ability to pull people instead of push them, giving her access to repressed memories. The idea comes about when she tries to get information about Stanton Parish from a senator, but is met with resistance when the Senator cannot remember the information asked of her. Using Kat as a guinea pig, Nina attempts to get Kat to remember details of her 16th birthday, a particularly difficult thing to do given Kat’s inability to remember anything beyond a month ago. Not only does she draw out the long dormant memory, but it appeared as though Nina was able to feel a bit of Kat was feeling, able to recall Kat’s time spent in a hospital when someone held her hand despite Kat herself never telling her about this event.
After last’s week’s surprisingly strong episode, and now “Gaslight,” I’m starting to really feel good about where Alphas is headed this season. There’s a good amount of fun being had, mixed with smarter ideas and darker material. The ending of “Gaslight” suggests a darker path for Gary in the near future, which could provide for some interesting stories, but it could also end in disaster. Gary is a tricky character and his storylines need to be planned carefully. In fact, while Alphas has improved upon itself, it should still tread lightly in everything it does. Things have been improved, but they could always backslide.