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Review #2925: Alphas 1.3: “Anger Management”

Posted on the 28 July 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: J.M.

Anytime a show can create a visceral emotional impact so quickly, that speaks to the power of both the writing and the acting. A plot can be dramatic, epic, and earth shattering, but without the actors and writers to pull it off, it really just falls flat on its face, eventually. But the emotional impact created at the end of this episode with the death Agent Wilson was just the icing on the cake in this episode. Nearly every character got a moment to shine in some unexpected ways, and even the one-off villain of the week gave a good performance. In addition, the layers off the universe are slowly being peeled back and what we are seeing is a remarkably frightening look into the world of the Alphas.

Review #2925: Alphas 1.3: “Anger Management”

Before I go too much further, I forgot to mention in the last review how disappointed I was that David Strathairn shaved his beard off. That was probably to most enjoyable part of the pilot in my opinion!

On a more serious note, the show continues its strong introduction phases. Each show has given us a good setup for the central conflicts. The pilot introduced us to the Alpha’s version of the Mutant Brotherhood, Red Flag, which despite its short screen time so far lurks in the background. I strongly suspect that the humming that bothered Gary throughout the show was Red Flag monitoring the new office. Second, we have the various conflicts between the characters and within the characters’ lives. Thirdly, we have the conflict between Rosen and the government agents who have become involved in the Alphas organization, with the government represented by Agent Wilson and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali’s Agent Cley. These men have been unyielding in their appearances, strongly dedicated to combating and controlling the perceived Alpha threat by any means necessary. Rennie in particular was in fine form in this episode. Wilson was utterly imperious, demanding results and immediately taking command and dominating Dr. Rosen’s more subdued personality.

There was a bit of a dissonance in the way the character was portrayed in the pilot. There he was still the boss and distrustful of the Alpha phenomenon in general, but he was much more sympathetic, and bemused by Rosen rather than dismissive of him. I actually liked this portrayal more, and it was clear that Rennie was relishing the role and it had the stamp of a long term role,which made his death all the more shocking and unbelievable. Another thing that made it such a jarring experience watching the episode was the visceral nature of his death. The violence wasn’t particularly gory, but the effective direction and sparing but effective use of filters really hammered home how dangerous this Alpha was.

Another good character was the Alpha himself. His power was interesting, but even more interesting was just how scary the character was. He exhibited sociopathic tendencies, lying through his teeth to protect himself and the get what he wanted and did so without any remorse. In fact, the times we see him use his power he clearly enjoys the violence that he was about to unleash. Another thing that I liked was the procedural elements to the investigation were both understated and simple but effective. The evidence didn’t ever lie, rather the lack of investigative training and some misleading evidence let them run off in their own direction.

There are several more little character moments, especially in the conclusion, that wrap up the episode nicely. Rather than focus on one character or so an episode, the development gets divvied out in scenes for each character. At first I didn’t really like it, but I’m starting to warm to it. The series hasn’t forgone character development, but instead chosen to dive headlong into darker plots which reveal bits and pieces about the characters. The thing that makes this work was is that the characters appear to be fully formed already: their traits, problems, issues, and dynamics are well established and we are just being let into their world.

Rating: 8/10


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