Another thing you should be aware of: Syfy is airing a marathon of the entire first season of the show, starting at 11:30AM ET Monday. So if you haven't caught up with 'Alphas,' now's your chance.
I wrote here about how the drama grew on me over the course of its first season. Its last couple of outings were particularly good, and it's heartening that the show got more confident and interesting as its debut season progressed.
But if, in this busy fall season, you don't have time to check out every episode of the show, I'll give you a list of the selected episodes you might want to check out before the season finale arrives.
Keep in mind, I don't think watching all or most of the season is a bad idea or a waste of your time (there's only one episode, 'A Short Time in Paradise,' that didn't really work for me at all, despite a guest performance from Garret Dillahunt). 'Alphas' isn't perfect, but every episode either added to the show's mythology or character portraits in important or intriguing ways.
In any event, for those short on time, here's my list of 'Alphas' episodes to watch, if you don't have time to check out the whole season. If you don't catch the marathon, there are also five episodes of the show up on Hulu and on Syfy's site, though the pilot is not one of them. The episodes with * beside them are my personal favorites:
- 'Pilot': You kind of need to see where it all began. My review of the generally solid pilot, in which we meet a group of investigators with special powers and Dr. Rosen, their government-sanctioned handler, is here.
- 'Rosetta' (Episode 4): A nice showcase for Ryan Cartwright, who plays Gary, the show's breakout character. In 'Rosetta,' Gary meets another Alpha with whom he forms a special connection and we learn more about Red Flag, a group of rogue Alphas (the Magneto faction, if you will).
- 'Bill and Gary's Excellent Adventure' * (Episode 6): Two Alphas who don't particularly get along -- Bill and Gary, unsurprisingly -- are forced to work together on a case. A classic odd-couple pairing that works.
- 'Catch and Release' * (Episode 7): A crisply paced, well-plotted episode about a lone Alpha with a very valuable skill. Summer Glau is the guest star, but the episode's strengths go well beyond her typically good performance.
- 'Blind Spot' (Episode 9): If I have one critique of this generally good episode, it's that it didn't give Brent Spiner more to do. But both he and Rebecca Mader ('Lost') did good work in this hour, which found the crew trapped in their offices with a crafty attacker.
- 'The Unusual Suspects' * (Episode 10): The show was generally cooking with gas as the season drew to a close, and this hour, which harkened back to classic sci-fi "bottle" episodes, found Dr. Rosen's charges trying to figure out if they had a mole in their midst. If you've seen the entire season, you may have more investment in the Alphas' relationships, which are put to the test here, but even if you've grazed through the season, this variant on "Twelve Angry Men" should work for you.
And there you have it. Watch those half-dozen episodes and you should be primed for the season finale (you could also throw in episodes 3 and 5, if you're feeling ambitious).
As I said when I wrote about the show previously, it's not perfect, but it's certainly not a retread of 'Heroes' (thank God) and it's more a solidly entertaining take on superhero constructs than I had expected. Dr. Rosen and the rest of the team have been enveloped in interlocking layers of loyalties and conflicts, and that aspect of the 'Alphas' story has been satisfyingly and intelligently told.
Some episodes are better than others (and the starred episodes above are quite entertaining), but at no point did I think that watching an 'Alphas' hour had wasted my time, and I'm quite keen for the show to return for its 13-episode second season. David Strathairn may have been the reason I began watching the show, but, while I acknowledge that Dr. Rosen and Gary are major reasons for sticking with the show, I'm also watching 'Alphas' for the interactions within the motley crew at the center of the drama.
In the finale, the group finally confronts a Red Flag visionary, who's played by John Pyper-Ferguson, and in season 2, which has already been ordered, we'll learn even more about the rogue group. Here's hoping season 2 can build on what season 1 did right.
'Alphas' fans, let me know if you take issue with my "must view" list above. If you think there are episodes I should have included (or excluded), let me know.
And finally, here's a clip from the season finale, which contains some interesting information about Rosen:
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