Alphas 1.10 "The Unusual Suspects" ReviewA tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy
The DoD imprisons Rosen and his team after they suspect that one of the members is a Red Flag traitor.
Alphas airs Monday nights at 10:00PM EST on Syfy.
For the penultimate episode of Alphas' first season, Marc Bernardin steps up from uncredited staff writer, to fully credited writer and delivers one of the most tense and impressive episodes to date. There is something special about the staff writers for this show, because they work extremely well together. I don't know what their process is, but I'm impressed.
These aren't big name writers. For some, this is their only credited writing work (according to IMDB). But they are working together and crafting one of the best sci-fi shows on television. This is the sort of focus the Torchwood crew were trying to achieve, but failed miserably at.
This week, our Alphas are rounded up like animals, put in cages, and told that there's a traitor amongst them.
Not the sort of behavior that breeds goodwill between the DoD and our Alphas. In fact, it's the nightmare scenario that they all fear, as Rachel (Azita Ghanizada) puts it, with men in black kicking in their doors and hauling them off to Binghamton.
So Clay (Mahershala Ali), after unsuccessfully interrogating them individually, puts them all in a room to sweat out the traitor.
Luckily, what makes for a good interrogation technique also makes for some good television. This group of actors is at their best when they are thrown together and have to interact. Their strengths are in making these characters seem like a family-of-sorts. The bickering, the picking, the support, all of it is just so damn natural it's creepy.
Which makes the surprise reveal of Hicks (Warren Christie) as the traitor all the more shocking. Well, sort of. Because it turns out he's not really the traitor. But boy, do they sell it.
It's a great bit of misdirection on the part of the script and the actors play it for all it’s worth. I even liked the whole shapeshifter taking Rosen's place angle. Especially when we got a glimpse of the process behind the change, with the research and overall stress and pain involved in taking some else's shape.
That was a nice, subtle touch.
Plus, we get a pretty awesomely choreographed fight sequence between Bill (Malik Yoba) and Hicks. And yes, I do enjoy listing Bill and Hicks together whenever I can. I love the shoutout to one of the greatest contemporary comics to work a stage.
I don't really have a whole lot to say about this one, to be quite honest. It was just a solid episode all around and it did a great job of setting up even more tension between the Alphas and their government employers.
Next week, for the finale, when Red Flag steps up their conflict with the Normals, they've laid enough groundwork that I'm not sure just where the season will end up.
By the time the episode ends, we have a new Alpha joining the group, Eric Latreaux (Tom Barnett), whose Alpha ability centers on reading people's faces like a human lie-detector. He's a nice addition to the group, and he's got a crush on Rachel, so maybe she'll finally get a date out of this and get her parents off her back.
We also get a glimpse into Hicks' secret life. The reason he was tagged as the traitor was because of secret deposits in a secret bank account. But that's okay. It wasn't Red Flag. It's just the embarrassing earnings from his appearances as Baseball Card shows to sign autographs.
As it turns out, he's the only person to ever pitch two perfect games back-to-back in the Minor Leagues. Which gives Bill some lovely new ammunition for making fun.
Another little bit of news is dropped this week, when during the interrogation it is revealed that Gary (Ryan Cartwright) has been maintaining a friendship with Red Flag leader Anna. But it's okay. They're just friends and don't talk about work.
Gary is awesome.
You see, even after going at each other, not knowing who to trust and who not to trust, once everything is over, these people are able to accept that it was just the situation, not the person, causing the tension and get right back into the swing of things. There's that pragmatism I was talking about last week in play again.
But then, when everything seems back to normal, Bill clutches his chest and collapses! Before anything can be done, we cut to black and will have to wait a week to see what happens!
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 US, Kindle UK, 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.