Tonight marks the return of a series on Syfy and Space that is right up my alley: Alphas. It’s a show about 5 people with extraordinary powers (either physical or mental) that handle mysterious cases for the government that the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon can’t handle. Most times, these cases involve other superhumans, called Alphas, that either need help or need to be stopped. It’s been called “Heroes done Right” or a “real world X-Men” and both are correct comparisions. But the show actually has a lot more going for it with a great cast as well. David Strathairn plays Dr. Lee Rosen, leader of this group of Alphas that includes Bill (Malik Yoba), the teams strongman, Hicks (Warren Christie), a man with perfect aim and accuracy, Rachel (Azita Ghanizada), who has heightened senses, Nina (Laura Mennell), who wields the power of persuasion, and Gary (Ryan Cartwright), an autistic young “technopathic”, able to interact with wireless communication signals and manipulate them in thin air (making him as smart and fast as a computer). The show does a great job of giving a scientific explination for each character’s talents. Nobody can leap tall building in a single bound or shoot raybeams out of their eyes. It takes the fantastical and grounds it reality in a way that I have yet to see any other show do.
At the end of last season the shit hit the fan as Dr. Rosen revealed the existance of alphas to the world. Needless to say, the government wasn’t too happy about that. Eight months have passed at the start of this season and Rosen has found himself under psyche evaluation in a government facility. Imprisoned and discredited, the doctor has seen better days. Meanwhile, the team is at it’s weakest as only Bill and Hicks are left on the DCIS (Defense Criminal Investigative Service) team and Alpha round-up is at an all time high. Currently being held at the Binghamton facility, the populous of “dangerous” alphas is reaching an alarming rate and it’s only a matter of time before this could lead to an unfortunate turn of events which will bring the team back together and answer the question of where Gary’s been.
I have to admit that Alphas is one series that “got away” from me last year. I caught a few episodes, but due to scheduling and just being too darn busy, I missed out on the end of the season. After watching this premiere, I am for damn sure going to be tracking down Season 1 on DVD. If any of the episodes I missed from last year are a tenth of what this one was, it will be worth it. For a show that deals with powers, it knows it’s limitations. Many other shows on Syfy or other cable station sometimes shoot a bit farther than their budget will allow, making them look at times cheesy. Thankfully, Alphas does no such thing. By continuing to keep the stories somewhat grounded in reality, they keep effects to where they are not over the top but still impressive if we were to see them in real life. Not resting on their effects and “powers” so much allows them to focus more on character development and great story beats. This episode is no exception. We get to see a lot of great moments with Rosen, but also with the entire team. Nina and Rachel get their personal plots furthered and Hicks is dealing with problems that may affect his abilities in the field. But the most interesting story going on is between Bill and Gary. Bill’s feeling a lot of guilt regarding where Gary’s ended up. And Gary’s unwilling to open up, so much so that he’s almost speechless for the entire episode. There’s some great tension mounting throughout this entire episode that climaxes with a great little action sequence involving the prisoners at Binghamton.
I will say that the action beats especially impressed me. There was a rawness to each of them that once again drives home the “not thinking past your budget” factor. They might not be the cleanest looking shots in the show but they’re definitely the most exciting. The main story involving a prison break of sorts is well executed and for fans of New Avengers comics, it will remind you of a smaller scale version of the “Breakout” story.
All and all, this was a great start for the second season of Alphas. I will not get left behind this year as I plan to make it a part of my Monday night ritual going forward for the next few months. Be sure to catch the first episode of Alphas: Season 2 tonight at 10pm on SPACE in Canada and Sy-Fy in the States.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!