Entertainment Magazine

Review #2990: Alphas 1.8: “A Short Time in Paradise”

Posted on the 01 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: J.M.

“Alphas” is beginning to squander a lot of the good will that it built up during the first part of the season. “A Short Time in Paradise” is another standalone episode that highlights some character development and a few changes in status quo, but the episode largely falls flat because of the weakness of the main plot.

Review #2990: Alphas 1.8: “A Short Time in Paradise”

The main plot of the episode falls largely on the shoulders of Garrett Dillahunt, who delivers a detached performance as Jonas Elgin. Interestingly enough, this ties into his ability as he cannot experience the chemical driven high he gives his followers. Unfortunately, this is just an intellectual exercise, as the co-option of the team undermines some of the pre-established character traits. Bill is generally immune to mental manipulation, and Hicks’ ability also gives him some ability to resist. Nina of all people seems like one who would be immune to this kind of mental manipulation. It just seemed like a poorly thought out plot, especially the scenes where Hicks’ and Nina’s attraction was highlighted. It seemed like the writers were going to use that to break Jonas’ control over them, but it went nowhere.

One of the common themes that has developed over the last couple of character focused episodes is the concept of the ‘arc show,’ where a character’s arc (Bill’s issue with the team and having children, Nina’s ties with Skyler) are all wrapped up in a show. It must be nice for the producers to wrap it up, but it really undercuts the character’s arcs, especially since only Gary and Rachel have ongoing character development. It was appropriate then to see the characters pair up together and help each other grow. Gary, despite his autism, is probably the most well-adjusted character outside of Rosen in the show. The scene where Rachel confronts her father is all the more powerful because of the struggle we’ve seen with her family issues. It was a much more natural progression, which had its weak moments but really stood out alongside the stilted growth of some of the other characters.

I can’t say this enough: I doubt Ryan Cartwright will win any major awards, but in a just universe he would be regarded as one of the best actors on television. Whoever is writing or supervising Gary’s dialog also deserves some serious plaudits. Watching him confront Rachel about her father was both touching and heart-breaking, and he pulled it off gloriously. That scene alone saved the episode from complete mediocrity.

As far as Rosen’s character development went, it seemed all too pat to really have any emotional impact. This kind of storyline should have been built up over a season if not multiple seasons. It got me thinking back to “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (of which I recently finished a series rewatch), another one of Ira Steven Behr’s shows: there, the plot development lasted over the entire series and it was all the more effective for it.

Ultimately, “Alphas” is in the midst of a disappointing stretch of mediocrity. Hopefully the writers will be able to reach back draw on the things that made the first episodes compelling, because “Alphas” is beginning to look like another series with a promising start that is going to flame out with disappointment.

Rating: 6/10

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