The powers and people of Alphas

This week marked the premier of Syfy’s newest serial, Alphas. It has the usual pilot kinks, which need to be worked out, but definitely boasts the makings of a great story at its core.

The story is about Dr. Rosen, an expert on Alphas, his term for humans born with extraordinary mental powers, and his small team of research subjects.

He’s got a strong-man, who has the ability to turn on his extreme fight-or-flight response, granting great physical prowess at will.

There is a mind-pusher who can sometimes control people with her voice as a sort of hypnotism. The other girl on the team is capable of giving superhuman focus to one of her senses at the expense of the others. 

Most interesting of these members is the team’s technomancer. His power is the ability to see, and selectively interpret electromagnetic waves. The number of ways that kind of power can be put to use in the modern world is staggering to think about, and the power itself is not one seen often. 

I was impressed with the essential humanity of the characters. All of the major characters were very believable, and the way their quirks and foibles played against each other was compelling. Each of the characters has a clearly different background.

It’s not a typical superhero story by any stretch, not even as much as the popular Heroes series once was, and interestingly, almost refreshingly, it’s not really about origin stories. If anything these first episodes will be about the origin of the team, and how they will undergo a transformation from a group of research subjects into a government sponsored, but mostly rogue-ish crime-fighting team.

The pilot revolves around the discover of another Alpha, a man with extraordinary agility and coordination, and the beginning of his integration into the team during their first truly challenging mission against a super powered foe.

There is, mixed in, the revelation that there is another organization of alphas somewhere working against the government, and we will likely see most of the conflict with the protagonist team ossur against these rivals.

Some of the characterizations have some rough edges, and not enough has been revealed about the overarching conflict to get a real sense of how interesting that will be, but if it is taken inthe right direction – and if it finds an audience – Alphas could be a great show.

Alphas airs Monday nights on Syfy.