SEASON FINALE: Rosen and his team must choose sides when Red Flag launches a full-out assault on the Department of Defense.
I love it when a show can surprise me. Now I’ve been saying for a while that we were probably heading toward a confrontation between the Government and Red Flag, where our Alphas would reject both paths and strike out on their own. But I didn’t expect the twist that our talented crew of writers threw at us in the closing moments of the Season Finale, “Original Sin.”
But not only do we get this big climax, we are also given some insight into the past life of Dr. Rosen (David Strathairn) thanks to the introduction of his daughter, Danielle (Kathleen Munroe). Danielle has been living on the streets for the past few years as, effectively, a junkie. She uses drugs to keep her Alpha abilities at bay (she can make other people feel emotional states by touching them) and has a boatload of emotional issues with her father.
At least that’s what we’re supposed to think. About the drugs part. The issues are all real.
We are also introduced to the real leader of Red Flag, Stanton Parrish (John Pyper-Ferguson). You see, it turns out that Gary’s (Ryan Cartwright) friend Anna (Liane Balaban), who we thought was the leader of the terrorist group, is actually in charge of a rebel faction advocating revealing the existence of Alphas to the world.
Parrish is adamantly against this.
So, it turns out, is the U.S. Government.
And that’s where our Third Path comes into play.
When Parrish leaks the time and date of a secret meeting of Red Flag members pushing for public revelation, the Government, led by Agent Sullivan (Valerie Cruz), takes the opportunity to round them up – regardless of the fact that they’re turning against Parrish. As far as Sullivan is concerned, they’re rounding up a huge group of terrorists, so it’s a win.
I want to take this moment to say that I am very pleased with the fact that Cruz’ character isn’t the “Good Cop” that I thought she was going to be when they first introduced her. Generally, she’s been the less hostile cop, but over the past few weeks she’s made it clear that she’s not harboring any sentimental feelings for our Alphas. They are a government asset and they will do as they’re told or be considered a threat and shipped off to Binghamton with the Alphas they’ve already captured.
Having no real ally on the inside, at least no one who will actually consider Rosen’s advice, helps to push our heroes to rebel. That’s combined with the fact that Parrish pays Rosen a visit and confirms that the government played right into his hands and eliminated the threats to his control over Red Flag.
After the raid turns into a clusterfuck and countless Red Flag members are shot down in cold blood, including Anna, Rosen is called in to a secret meeting to present his opinions and guide the future agenda of the government’s Alphas program. Seems they want to hear his voice now. But with both the government and Red Flag pushing for secrecy, Rosen and our Alphas rebel in the only way left open to them: they broadcast the meeting, revealing the existence of Alphas.
That’s a fantastic way to end the season, echoing the greatest final moments of a superhero film in ages, Tony Stark’s admission that he was Iron Man, and setting up a whole new playing field when the second season begins.
Especially when the final, final moments reveal that Danielle is working for Parrish.
Cue ominous music.
Not only is the writing excellent as we close out the season, we get a number of compelling and exciting performances. Munroe’s Danielle does an excellent job playing varying levels of hostility and growing trust, and when Gary finds Anna’s dead body, Cartwright’s performance is shocking and visceral. Strathairn also does a great job forcing himself to work through his own defenses and admit that he treated his daughter like an experiment.
The moment where she shares her emotional experiences with him was very well done. The confluence of performances and writing with this program really make situations work that could easily fall flat if they were on other shows. Thanks to this, the season finale is yet another episode in a stellar first year.
When all is said and done, this is one of the most effective and satisfying first seasons I’ve watched in a long time. Alphas hasn’t suffered from the typical stumbling and faltering that new shows almost always go through. Even my favorite shows ever, Farscape, Babylon 5, Buffy, and Angel, took a while to get their feet.
Hopefully this bodes well for next season.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle and Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.