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When Push Comes to Shove, ALPHAS Only Delivers Half a Good Episode
Through out the first half of “When Push Comes to Shove,” I did a lot of eye rolling at having to sit through an entire episode devoted to Nina, who is easily my least favorite character on Alphas. Compared to everyone else, she has very little to offer in terms of entertaining storylines. She doesn’t interact well with the others and her ability is much too powerful. The writers constantly have to come up with reasons to keep her from using her ability to make anyone do whatever she wants. If they didn’t, many non-violent situations would be too easily resolved by throwing Nina into the mix and telling people to play nice and be friends. Obviously that wouldn’t work, and things have advanced in such a way where Nina’s overpowered ability has become a story point, except she’s not on the side of good anymore. She’s become addicted to pushing people to get what she wants and now it’s time for her old teammates to bring her in.
We’ve been teased to the fact Nina has a dark passed and now we get to see it through flashback. It’s an easy way to tell an origin story and one I’m not entirely keen on. As I said, the first half of the episode didn’t really click and felt rather clumly. The flashbacks, at first, reveal a typical troubled home life and a young boy that takes Nina’s mind off her parents constant fighting. We learn she’s been able to push people since these times, having used her ability to keep her father from abandoning his family. And in the present, Hicks and Rachel search out Nina and we get a, frankly, disgusting bit of exploitation when Nina pushes Rachel to make out with her. I was really quite appalled Alphas would go down this shallow route.
Thankfully, around that halfway point things turned around. The flashbacks start to reveal just how dark Nina’s past really was, and darkness is always better. And in the present we see just how messed up she has become. We learn Nina’s push to keep her father from leaving has trapped him inside their home and she has to tell him its okay to go to work. His unhappiness at being unable to leave leads him to committing suicide and Nina happens upon his body. As her childhood friend, Tommy, learns more and more about her ability he becomes scared and tells her to stay away from him. Nina never forgets either of these events and tracks down present day Tommy, who is now married with a child, and pushes him to leave his family to be with her. She barely even realizes she’s doing it and has to push herself to convince her she’s happy with what she’s doing. What was once a disappointment turned into a surprisingly touching story.
I don’t know what this will mean for Nina in the future though. Just because they managed to (barely) make a good episode about her doesn’t mean she’s suddenly going to fit in with the rest of the cast. She still has the problem of an ability that’s too powerful, though now that she’s realized how dangerous she is perhaps she’ll be hesitant to use it ever again. But even when things were really bad, the rest of the cast still did really well. I’m enjoying Rachel’s crush on Jon. Azita Ghanizada is an incredibly sexy woman – have you seen her Maxim photos? – but she plays Rachel’s insecurity and neurosis in such a believable way. It’s really quite impressive. And the office antics are quickly becoming my favorite part of Alphas and Erin Way’s Kat is a wonderful new addition to that dynamic. It naturally adds humor amongst the more dark parts of the episode. But that’s exactly where Nina doesn’t fit in. I could never see her being as goofy as Gary and Kat. “When Push Comes to Shove” could be the best we ever get of Nina.