Watching this episode got me thinking about something that has been rattling around in my head for a while. Why can’t writers do standalone episodes during television? After a series of rather unexceptional episodes that aimed at character development, ending up doing better at it than most even if it was a bit lumbering and lacking in subtlety, we get a return to the mytharc of the series. But it did prompt me to wonder just why is it so difficult for writers to get standalone episodes right?
As for “Blind Spot,” we finally get to see the guest stars shine. After a couple of mishits with Alaina Huffman and Summer Glau, the writers finally hit it out of the park with both the casting of Brent Spiner and Rebecca Mader as Dr. Kern and Griffin, respectively. Brent Spiner was completely unreadable as Kern, and even now I’m not particularly sure just whether to believe him about Red Flag. Dr. Rosen’s criticisms of Red Flag’s “rogue and unsanctioned elements” seemed to hit Kern pretty square in the jaw, so that makes me think that Spiner at least believes it; but the way he was slowly trying to shake the building down and just the vibe he gave off makes me think otherwise. Mader on the other hand was quite believable as the slightly sociopathic mercenary Griffin. She definitely nailed the flirtatious, coiled snake even in captivity and I hope that we get to see her character again.
It was also nice to see my little theory about Alpha ability’s influencing personality be correct. It made a certain amount of sense that the experience with Jonas would throw off Bill’s carefully honed control over his biochemical state, and it was funny to see him as a calmer, funnier version of Bill. It was really well done, because it was still the same character, the same traits, but without that edge of hostility and ornery-ness. Also, Griffin’s ability was rather clever. At first when Rosen was explaining it I was a little dubious, but seeing the teams scrambled reaction to try and make her visible and her own explanation of why she didn’t like anyone being able to see her or be near her really made me buy into it.
We also got to see more interplay between Cam and Nina, and it was another well-done thread, at least for the moment. Nina is right, that workplace relationships (especially on TV shows) tend not to turn out too well for those involved. It was good to see her shrink back from a potentially exploitative relationship, and good to see Cam’s impulsiveness come out. But I’m not quite ready to give the writers complete benefit of the doubt, so I’ll withhold judgment until I see more.
We also get outlines of the state of play in the “Alphas” universe here too. The fact that it was neither Red Flag, nor the government who were going after Kern is certainly alarming. What other faction is there? Is it a more radical purity organization, similar to William Stryker’s organization from X-Men, or the Rev from “Haven”, bent on eliminating the Alpha population far more proactively than the government? Is it tied into the Consortium or Anthony Michael Hall’s group from “Warehouse 13″? There are certainly a lot of questions to be answered and I hope that writers choose to run with this as the season begins winding down.
My one problem with the episode, and it’s a minor one, is the portrayal of Kern’s power. How is he immune to his own sonic waves? If anything he should be even more vulnerable to sound that anything else. Also, how did everyone not get their insides completely put through the blender? I mean, the guy was shaking down a building. It wasn’t much, but it did suspend my disbelief just slightly.
Overall, this was an excellent episode, touching on the mytharc of the series, illuminating the status quo for the viewers while opening up some new mysteries and suggesting a direction for future episodes. All in all, the first season hasn’t been without its hiccups, but by and large “Alphas” has been a very pleasant surprise, and it is good to see it get back in its groove and look like it’s going to hit the end of the season running.