This week on Alphas, the team tries to catch up with Nina, who embarks on a crime spree after an emotional breakdown.

So this week was all about Nina, who was basically absent from the last episode, most likely because she’s been doing so much darn CRIME. This being my second rendezvous with ‘Alphas’, I knew that Nina had the ability to ‘push’ people into doing what she wanted, and that the team didn’t really trust her as far as they could throw her, except for Hicks, obviously, and Dr. Rosen, who seems to trust basically everyone. But I had no idea who she was, other than someone with an affinity for stolen Van Goghs. So this week, I got much more info than I bargained for, and what they threw together was both expected- powers are addictive like drugs! – and unexpected, especially the scenes that detailed Nina’s childhood.

So someone’s been robbing banks and doing all sorts of negligible things, and after some interviews with perps and witnesses, the team deduces that Nina’s on the loose again. Her pushes are lasting much longer than they used to, and it’s leaving a longer lasting effect on the victim. I’ve noticed that Nina’s powers pretty much outrank everyone else’s, and as long as she can make eye contact, there’s pretty much no way of stopping her. I know I’m missing out on a whole season of interpersonal relationships, but… trusting Nina makes less and less sense as the episode goes on, not by the conventions of Nina’s character, she really seems to have had an emotional breakdown, but by the conventions of superhero TV shows. A character that powerful usually ends up being a big bad or a Jean Grey villain/martyr character or both. (I swear I’m gonna try really hard not to compare this show to X-Men all the time.)

The implications of Nina’s powers are chilling. A person who could make anyone do anything against their will – it’s one of those powers we all want but are too polite or morally obligated to admit it. But kids don’t have the same moral compass that adults have. Not that kids are bad, they just hold that narrow, self-reflective world view. So they show us the effect of such a power on a child – Nina’s father is about to walk out on her and her mother, and Nina pushes him to stay. Specifically, “You can’t leave.” It’s the most understandable thing for a kid to do. She also uses it to impress a local kid named Tommy, whom she clings to as her house continues to fall apart. Her father won’t leave the house, mentally trapped by his daughter, and eventually shoots himself. In the present day, Nina and Tommy are running around, debauching, and planning on sailing away together. After some investigation, Dr. Rosen realizes that Nina pushed Tommy into being with her by convincing him to leave his wife and child. This confrontation leads to a scene on the roof, where Dr. Rosen tries to bring Nina out of the lie she’s concocted out of her escapist fantasy with the one boy who ever cared about her as a kid. She tries to jump off the roof, but Hicks saves her by propelling down on a cable. It all ends with Nina in hospitalized confinement, her eyes covered with gauze. Dr. Rosen enters her room, removes the gauze and sits down with a Strathairn-ly “Hi.”

In the lives of the other Alphas, Kat and Bill continue to be ADORABLE, although nothing is mentioned or said about Bill’s return to Alpha Fight Club. Kat is a welcome addition, I find, her energy levels everyone else’s nicely. Kat’s focused on memory, mostly because she doesn’t have any and Dr. Rosen gives her a flip camera to record everything so she can allude to it, even if she forgets, as a way of building long-term memory. Memory had a lot to do with this episode, both in Kat’s story and Nina’s, as her power damages the memories of everyone around her. Memories are painful things, but the end of the episode seem to suggest, especially by Bill, that the good mostly outweighs the bad. Sometimes. Gary is still screaming off the stress brought on by last season’s time spent in Binghamton. And Nina, even though Dr. Rosen is speaking for her, is still on thin ice. I mean, a lot of people have a hard time keeping their moral compass in check without super-mega mind-inducing powers, so I’m not sure how Nina’s gonna stay on the right side of this one. Not to mention that the rest of the team basically doesn’t trust her anymore. Except Hicks, manfully wounded by the past, as per usual.

Not much else to speak of, other than Rachel and Jon. Turns out, Jon’s hesitant to enter a relationship because he’s a burn victim coming out of his military service and hasn’t been with anyone since. This is a legitimate concern, I’d suppose, when it comes to a girl with super-heightened senses. But they seem to be well on their way, by episode’s end. They’ll probably be married at the end of the season at the rapid-fire rate at which they are progressing.

It’s nice to know that this show isn’t always a case-of-the-week procedural. (I can hear long-term fans of this show going ‘Duh, we could have told you that, are you new.’ Shhhh, I’m discovering.) There’s a really earthy, lived-in feeling to this show, and it helps that the actors have a certain organic quality in their scenes. No one’s trying to hard, even Oscar-Nominee Strathairn. Nina sticks out a bit more, mostly because she’s got a certain femme fatale quality, a kind of archetype personality that the rest of the team seems to lack. But coming off of this episode, I’m starting to see more of the frayed edges. And I like it. But there’s a sort of blue-collar feel to most of these super-humans with the exception of Nina. But maybe if I had her powers, I wouldn’t settle for average either.

Stray observations:

  • Knowing whether or not someone’s phone is dead, or about to die, would be a super-useful power.
  • Really? A faux-lesbian moment? Sure, it was used as a less damaging example of how Nina could use her powers as sexual abuse, but the brief fake-bi-titillation felt cheesy and exploitative.
  • Dr. Rosen kind of just….gives up info Nina gave him in therapy? Probably more plot-convenience/briefly forgot patient confidentiality while writing the episode than anything, but still.
  • The song Kat was listening to at the end was ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ by Yes. Earlier in the episode, she was asked if she had a favorite song, and seems to try to be finding one. I like Kat. I’m Team Kat.
  • Was Rachel just strongly reacting to Jon’s burn scars or does burn tissue have a smell? I thought she liked his smell, so that confused me.
  • Next time Dr. Rosen doesn’t tell the guys in charge about a case like Nina, he’s getting thrown under the bus. Yeah, like there’s no way that won’t come up again.
  • I really do not care about Hicks and Nina’s past relationship. This is less how it’s executed and more of I’m bored with seeing things like it on TV.

Did you miss an episode? Check out our recap of last week’s ‘Alpha Dogs‘.