Entertainment Magazine

Review #2366: Alphas 1.6: “Bill and Gary’s Excellent Adventure”

Posted on the 17 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: J.M.

The follow-up to the disappointing episode “Never Let Me Go” is another standalone bottle show, but one that shows that the writers noticed the mistakes from the previous episode, namely the lack of interesting and compelling character development. Bill and Nina, two characters who have been underwritten yet have some excellent potential finally get some attention from the writers. However, despite their attempts to rectify some of the errors from the previous episode, somewhere between the storyboard and the finished product there was a bit of a break, because the execution was lacking.

Review #2366: Alphas 1.6: “Bill and Gary’s Excellent Adventure”

While I’m a little disappointed about the choice to air two bottle episodes in a row, after the somewhat breakneck pace established by the first four episodes it makes a little bit of sense to slow down and try and focus on the character development. It would be nice to get some acknowledgement of the consequences of “Rosetta,” even just in passing, but you can’t get everything that you wish for. While some of the characters have gotten a lot of attention to the point of disproportion, like Dr. Rosen, Gary and Rachel, it is good for the series to be able to define some of these other characters.

While the episode title focuses on Bill and Gary, it is really Bill’s episode. His desire to return to service in the FBI has been hinted at here and there, and it was nice to see him actually get a chance to act on that desire. His conflict with the lack of professionalism on the staff, his frustration at his accidental use of his powers, and his dissatisfaction that comes from having to lie to his wife certainly makes for a cauldron of emotional energy that could be unleashed at the most inopportune time. It was good to see him recognize the root of some of these problems and begin to take steps towards getting better, in addition to giving one of my favorite lines in the show (“Blah, blah, blah, SCIENCE!”). I will say I hope this isn’t the complete resolution of his personal issues, because to do so would be a bit too pat, but the character payoff was much better for him than Rachel.

Where the show really fails in the execution is dealing with Nina. Her character’s power is ripe for exploitation and misuse, and the writers have continuously hinted that she has done some pretty bad things with that power in the past. This episode we find out that she has been driving herself with guilt over the suicide of her ex-boyfriend, which she believes that she caused. It was hugely disappointing to see how they handled everything, and I believe certainly that this is not the last we’ve seen of this issue.

The writing in general has been too high quality for the writers to fumble her exposition so badly. Even if everything she told Cam was true (which I doubt, Nina can be manipulative without the need to push), the fact that the confrontation happened off-screen significantly hampered the impact of her character “growth”.

As for the actual plot, it largely got out of the way of the character development, which had its benefits and drawbacks. In some ways, it swung to the other end of the pendulum: the framing case was too underdeveloped and it was difficult to pay attention. Alaina Huffman, who guest-starred as the dirty security chief, was criminally underused, and it felt like a waste to have her in such a small role. But at the same time, it was good to have the writers focus on the main characters and their development and building those team dynamics. The pacing was much better this episode as well, avoiding that barren twenty minutes from “Never Let Me Go” where it was just a drawn out closing act.

All in all, a rebound from the previous episode, but there were too many errors in execution for it to be unequivocally better. Hopefully this is not all the character development we’ll see for both Nina and Bill, as their stories still have a lot more room to breathe and grow.

Writing: 1/2
Acting : 2/2
Directing: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Rating: 7/10

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