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“If Memory Serves” Makes Sean Astin the Most Memorable Alphas Guest Star
It took me a while to find time to write up this review – damn you Canadian Thanksgiving and your deliciousness – but I’m glad I had the extra time to ponder over “If Memory Serves,” a sharp episode that brought Kat right into the action, something Alphas could always do a little more of. Her story and character are both so compelling and likable in the simplest of ways: she’s fun to have around and her complete lack of memories makes it so we learn more about her at the same rate she does. In a way, we get to feel the exact same emotions she does as she goes through her journey of self-discovery. I certainly felt a hint of Kat’s frustration when it turned out her memory of the woman in blue turned out to be some infomercial. And in a stroke of brilliance, Kat was paired up with Mitchell (Sean Astin), an Alpha who can store other people’s memories. So now we have someone who can’t retain memories and someone who has too many.
Stanton Parish has kept Mitchell under watch in an old farmhouse and at first glance he seems relatively harmless and simple, possibly even mentally challenged. He casually says things like “Did I ever tell you about the time I met John McEnroe?” while guns are pointed at him. He speaks as though he’s stringing random thoughts together, but in reality he’s simply recalling other people’s memories. And once Hicks and Kat realize what he can do and that he might retain some of Stanton’s own memories, he becomes invaluable to them as a source of intelligence. He might’ve turned out as nothing more than a McGuffin, but Mitchell’s story is much more tragic. After he helps Kat remember the commercial and he sees how upset she is that there isn’t anymore there, he apologizes: “I’m sorry. I really am. I don’t have anything. I can’t even remember which are my memories anymore.” That’s a heartbreaking line if ever there was one.
The other storylines, involving Senator Burton figuring out Nina pushed her and Gary’s mother having a stroke and ending up in the hospital, were fine in there own right, but could’ve been put to better use than they were. The business with Senator Burton felt mostly flat until the end when she confronts Rosen about what he had Nina do to her and she tells him he’s “as bad as the Alphas you hunt!” Rosen takes her outburst in stride, telling her pushing her was the only other option that wasn’t blackmail, due to her own ties to Stanton. He leaves her standing in an elevator with the subtlest of threats: “Yes, Senator, you are right. My team is dangerous. And so am I.” Rosen is quickly heading toward totally badass territory as we get closer to the end of the season and I’m quite excited to see what it culminates in.
It’s good to see Gary having to go through real hardships and rather painful to watch him not know how to react to them. His mother is in serious trouble, suffering two strokes within the span of a single episode and Gary has to deal with it. It’s a strong story for the character, but it feels so detached from everything else that’s going on. This episode was very busy as it was; it might not have needed a third story. But with the final two episodes coming up, it might turn out this subplot will prove itself to be necessary for where Gary is headed.
Good golly, there are only two episodes left. So much has happened in the last few weeks – most of it way beyond what I would have expected of Alphas – I couldn’t even begin to fathom where things could be going from here. And please don’t confuse that as a detraction from the show. When it comes to good TV dramas, not knowing what will happen next is always a good thing.