Entertainment Magazine

Review #3035: Alphas 1.11: “The Original Sin”

Posted on the 29 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: J.M.

“Alphas” has always been a series with a great deal of potential. From the opening moments of the pilot throughout the entire run of the first season, it was clear that the writers had a very firm picture of what the show was going to be and how it was going to avoid a lot of the problems that plagued “Heroes” and even comic books. It didn’t always work out, suffering from a bit too much telling and not enough showing, but the pieces that the writers have been building throughout the season come together beautifully in the season finale that dramatically alters the status quo.

Review #3035: Alphas 1.11: “The Original Sin”

One of the things that I have enjoyed about the series is just how seriously it takes its subject. I don’t mean that its tone is consistently dour, as there are some pretty humorous moments, but rather that it takes it seriously enough to put some pretty serious thought in how it portrays its subject. The entire seasons’ portrayal of the relationship between Red Flag, the government, and Rosen’s Alpha team and just how complex and messy the whole thing had become was excellent.

The season long arc is a classic example of what is called accidental guerrilla syndrome. An insurgency theory by Australian David Kilcullen, the basic outline of the theory is this: a small, extremist element infect a larger, more isolated (either geographically or socially), which creates a ‘contagion’ by using this base to spread its ideology to other areas. Some outside force intervenes because the contagion now poses a threat to that force, which prompts a rejection from the larger element which then allies itself against the intervening power. All of this ties in brilliantly into the newly revealed mastermind, Stanton Parish, whose alpha ability of complete mental control over his body costs him his humanity. His manipulation of the organization he created to infect the alpha community and the government to bring about his vision of an alpha-mundane war ends up being a remarkably piercing yet apolitical reflection of our current conflict.

The clever manipulation of the government into murdering the moderates of Red Flag plays nicely into the words of Dr. Kern. Red Flag, as indicated in “Rosetta” as well, isn’t (wasn’t?) a monolithic organization. There existed different factions that believed remarkably different things. Looking back, it’s pretty clear that the emergence of leaders like Anna threatened his control of the movement. So he carefully orchestrated the decapitation of the moderate faction by the extremist government faction, brilliantly solidifying his control over Red Flag and driving the government’s more moderate faction away. Anna’s link to Gary, punctuated by their sweet scene together in this episode and her death and Gary’s visceral reaction to it, highlighted the proverbial Rubicon was crossed. It would have worked beyond Stanton’s highest expectations except for one thing: Dr. Lee Rosen.

While I’ve criticized some of the more heavy handed aspects and limited nature of the character development, the simple fact is that it worked in retrospect far better and established the background necessary for what happened in this episode. Every character got their growth, their moment in the sun in the season and there was a payoff for nearly every character. Gary’s newfound maturity and his friendship with Bill, Bill’s move from frustrated alpha with an unbending drive to rejoin the mundane population, to the man comfortable in his own skin: even without his abilities. Rachel went from wallflower with little to no confidence in her own skills to an insightful investigator capable of building her own relationships and challenging the authority of her parents. Hicks went from the insecure and angry divorcee to one who could believe in something outside of himself and trust others. Nina went from being scared of her powers to opening up and becoming, in a bit of a weird twist, a version of the Team Mom. But no character experienced more growth than Dr. Rosen.

He began the series an introverted and eccentric doctor who was only interested in helping his team and from a manipulative father and willfully blind to the ethically dubious goings-on at Binghampton to someone who has come to understand the cost of doing business, and that while there may be gray areas and it will never be clear who is right and wrong, finding something to believe in and make up for the mistakes that he had made in the past. The scenes with Danielle (good to see Dr. Perry again in Syfy) were amazingly touching, especially the scene in which he apologized for his manipulation. It was a sincere, heartfelt delivery that was subtle in all the right, authentic ways. It hit all the right notes, and I believe that his change of heart will have some serious impact on the upcoming season. Watching the episode a second time, I realized that up until that point, that Danielle really was trying to manipulate him and ingratiate herself into his team with the purpose of getting information. But after that scene, the dynamics changed. The dinner scene between the two was the most genuine scene of the whole episode.

Ultimately, this episode caped off a remarkable season filled with all your traditional ups and downs, but one that took its story to the next level. It did so by being remarkably intelligent: creating an enjoyable experience for the casual viewer while putting in a great deal behind the scenes for the more dedicated viewer. The characters grew throughout the season, and gelled as a team, creating a sense of emotional investment in the viewer. They managed to raise the stakes in the plot like boiling water on a frog: so slowly and steadily that by the time you realized what Rosen was doing at the end of the episode you were on the edge of your seat. A remarkable end to a remarkable season, and I for one cannot wait for next summer to begin.

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

Rating: 10/10

(Season 1 Final Rating: 7.7)

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