With an introduction that seems inspired by ‘The Manchurian Candidate‘, the 90-minute pilot of ‘Alphas’ starts off with a literal bang. A man we will later learn is named Cameron Hicks, gets a mysterious phone call and is suddenly compelled to leave work, go to the top of a building and fire a sniper rifle. On his way up, people on the street – even a child in a stroller – are encouraging him to kill.
After a quick title sequence, we are just as quickly introduced to our team of Alphas and their abilities. They are led by Dr. Leigh Rosen (David Strathairn), who gets his marching orders from their mysterious “patron” Don Wilson (Callum Keith Rennie). Our team of Alphas are:
Nina Theroux (Laura Mennell) – She has the ability to control people’s willpower.
Bill Harken (Malik Yoba) – He’s the Hulk of the group, able to get his adrenal gland pumping to give him super strength.
Rachel Pirzad (Azita Ghanizada)- She can enhance her five senses to pick up minute details others would miss.
Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright) – His ability is, by far, the coolest. He can see all electromagnetic wavelengths, creating a really fantastic interactive stream of information in his mind.
What makes this team so good is how they work together, bringing their abilities to bear, with investigating cases and taking down bad guys. They begin by investigating an amazing sniper shot from a rooftop, through a vent shaft and directly into the head of a federal prisoner. The shot was clearly made by an Alpha, so Rosen presses Wilson to give him some more answers. Wilson finally reveals that a group known as “Red Flag” might be behind the shooting. They are a group that utilizes Alphas to their own nefarious ends.
Through their investigating, they discover that there is a “ghost” involved: an Alpha who is using post-hypnotic suggestion to get people to perform assassinations and then kill themselves. These people, however, are normal folks without abilities. Hicks, the sniper who killed the prisoner, is an Alpha with an ability to instinctively make all sorts of impossible trick shots. They bring Hicks into the fold and go after the ghost.
What follows is a series of chases, shootouts and standoffs that eventually end with Hicks taking out the ghost, only to be told “You’re on the wrong side of this.” as the man dies. And thus, the mystery of the series is born.
Overall, I really enjoyed ‘Alphas.’ It was a strong opening for a new series. My only real problem is that SyFy has decided to put this show up with ‘Eureka’ and ‘Warehouse 13.’ ‘Alphas’ is a much darker and more serious show than those two and it doesn’t feel like it gels in this whole block. That isn’t to say that it’s a bad show, but it is a little bit of a turn-off going into it after two light and fluffy ones. Still, I’m curious to see where it’s going. The cast has real potential to develop good chemistry together and the story is intriguing enough to make me want to come back.