18 July-8 August 2011, Syfy US
The Alphas (humans with ‘special’ abilities) encounter a threat to their leader, pheromones that cause violence, a woman who can understand any language and another whose ‘comfort’ is addictive.
Alphas’ second episode ‘Cause & Effect’ was nothing to write home about, unfortunately. After the effective set-up of the pilot, this episode sees the gang relocate into a different office and Dr Rosen (David Strathairn) lose his beard. The escaped-patient-targets-doctor gambit is old hat, and the episode did little with the characters and their powers, auguring badly for the rest of the series.
However, things picked up markedly with ‘Anger Management’. Real jeopardy hit the main characters as they turned on each other thanks to nasty pheromones in a bravura sequence imaginatively directed by Nick Copus (it’s unusual in formulaic TV to even notice the direction). The unexpected death of FBI liaison Don Wilson (Battlestar Galactica and The Killing’s Callum Keith Rennie) suddenly ups the jeopardy: maybe these guys aren’t as safe as viewers might assume?
By the time of ‘Rosetta’, the gang of super-powered misfits is under the auspices of the Department of Defense (a sign of a confused premise and mid-series changes or pre-planned?). The seemingly regular antagonists, terrorist Alpha organisation Red Flag, are front and centre in this one, but it is a bit by-the-numbers with the ‘surprise’ patently obvious from the git-go.
Finally, ‘Never Let Me Go’ is a bit mawkish but at least each member of the team gets to put their powers to use in significant ways to solve the problem. This episode is most notable, however, for turning around the previously annoying character of Gary (Ryan Cartwright), the autistic kid who can visualise information streams. His asides are humorous and fitting thanks to scriptwriter Jordan Rosenberg. A cameo from Lindsay Wagner playing her Warehouse 13 character suggests a ‘same universe’ setting for several of Syfy’s key shows…
Verdict: Rather hit and miss, Alphas can be impressive when it is firing on all cynlinders, but that’s only 25 per cent of the time.
Episode 2 ‘Cause & Effect’: 4/10
Episode 3 ‘Anger Management’: 7/10
Episode 4 ‘Rosetta’: 6/10
Episode 5 ‘Never Let Me Go’: 6/10
Brian J. Robb