The splits of Alphas

The new season of Alphas is off to a strong start.

The last season left us with Dr. Rosen being arrested for his on-air comments about alphas, and wondering what the fall-out from his actions would be. After that, I was sure the majority of this season would be about dealing with that fall-out.

Instead, however, the writers chose to deal with it off-season, and jump the story ahead eight months to where Dr. Rosen and his team are reunited after a some exposition. The baddy this season is Stanton Parish personally, rather than the Black Flag initiative as an organization, and the over-arc of the season seems like it will be hunting down Parish and anyone with connections to him. By the end of the second episode, a photo of Parish has been placed up on a board in a locked meeting room, and I have a feeling that this will build into one of those stereotypical pin-and-thread investigation boards over the course of the remaining 11 episodes of the season.

The major theme this season seems to be ‘trust’, as opposed to last season’s theme of ‘self-acceptance’, though that’s still a big part of the story. The team, having been split up for eight months in Rosen’s absence, is in disarray.

Bill and Hicks remained on the Alphas taskforce, but Nina and Rachel have quit the team and gone back to their lives of manipulation and self-shelter, respectively, and Gary was moved to the surveillance division at the NSA. Now that the team is back together, along with a bunch of DCIS folks in their office keeping tabs on them, they don’t know who to trust, even amongst themselves.

Bill doesn’t believe in Rosen’s ability to lead the team after his stunt before congress, and Nina seems to have gone rogue, becoming totally unreliable, as she’s slipped back into her old ways. Hicks is lying to everyone, including himself, about the nature of his relationship with Rosen’s daughter, who is not what she seems herself – and will be playing a much larger role this season.

The show is still cleverly written, and if anything has improved, as the plots of the first two episodes are more economical, and don’t suffer as much from some of the stasis of the first season, so clearly the writers are getting better at portraying this world. There are more alphas to deal with now, and they seem to have a wider variety of powers, though still none of them presented as supernatural, which is definitely positive.

The brightest point, however, is still Ryan Cartwright’s performance as Gary. The character has slipped in his discipline some without Rosen around to keep him focused, and the Gary in these first two episodes of season two is a more raw version of the character. We get to see a bit of how Gary must have been before Rosen was there to help him all those years ago. He’s neurotic and anti-social as before, but he has a certain violent streak now, that we didn’t see before, and one gets the sense that he’s a little vindictive, using his autism as an excuse to lash out.

The way Cartwright play it though, this doesn’t diminish the sympathy we have for Gary, nor make him seem less redeemable – or humorous. In fact all the characters are a little more rough around the edges, and that’s a very good thing. As fun as these characters were in the first season, now they are more dynamic, and fuel some much more convincing drama.

If you weren’t sure about getting into the second season of Alphas, rest assured, it’s worth your time, and if you missed the first season, you can get caught up over on Amazon Instant Video. The first couple episodes of this season are over there too. This isn’t a plot you’ll want to jump into the middle of.