This week, the penultimate episode before next week’s finale propels the Alphas forward toward’s Stanton Parrish’s doomsday.

I recently rewatched the pilot episode of ‘Alphas’. I was struck by how generally light the show was, despite the murder investigations, despite the team member’s troubled pasts and homelives. The team has always felt like a small family, for better or worse, and the light-hearted banter about Gary wanting to drive (a perpetual hope for him) and their crappy Queens office space. Well, they’ve come a long way from that, and just a day before Parrish’s Doomsday/War Against Humanity is set to kick off, the team is scrambling to find the upper hand, by any means necessary. This includes torture. But we’ll get to that later.

The storytelling is really all over the place in this episode, but that’s because it’s setting up for the big day, and everyone, the FBI and the Alphas are trying to recover whatever they can to stop Parrish from wiping out humanity. Gary knows that this plan likely involves Skyler (Summer Glau Alpha) so he’s been trying to call her through the chip she implanted in her arm, but she’s (crypitcally) not picking up. Kat and John have taken in Cipio, everyone’s favorite firestarter, but lost Mitchell (Sean Astin Alpha) back to Parrish, who is slowly restoring more and more of his memories that the Alphas have been trying to block from Parrish’s sight. For every step they take forward, they seem to take four steps back, and it’s not getting any better. Bill and the missus take a break from the chaos, taking adorable baby Adam for a walk, and are a few paces away from being caught an in explosion, one of several that Parrish planted throughout the city.

Skyler is tucked away in a serene little apartment with her daughter Zoe, and she’s working on… something. Something she really needs to finish for someone. We don’t know what it is, but it’s being overseen by some man who seems to help her out with everyone, including her daughter, but insists that she finish her work, so he doesn’t ‘get in trouble.’ She can hear Gary’s ringing but can’t find the source, because they don’t have a phone. When she burns herself on the gadget she’s building, it doesn’t hurt. She knows something is off, and when she tries to fight the man off, she can’t hurt him. Turns out the apartment is all a drug-induced fantasy and they’re feeding both Skyler and Zoe emotions and hallucinations while Skyler helps them come up with the blueprints for any horrible device Parrish might need. In one of the only victories of the night, Gary manages to find her, and Bill and he arrest the people in charge of harming them. But when Skyler looks at all the things she’s made for them, she’s not happy. “I built the end of the world.”

But getting to the torture: After Nina is unable to extract information from Cipio by pushing, Dr. Rosen resorts to extremely cruel measures. Parrish’s mindblocks are too thick for Nina, and she eventually stresses herself mentally, to the point where she takes a powerful stimulant to try and push herself further. Hicks gets a hold of Cipio’s girlfriend to try and scare him into talking. But eventually Dr. Rosen, after some ribbing about Dani, gets fed up and gives Cipio a stimulant to make him sweat, forcing him to burn himself. It’s hard to watch, especially after Rosen stabs him with the hypodermic needle and Cipio starts screaming. Rachel refuses to be a part of it, considering she can smell his skin burning, and removes herself entirely. Bill and Kat, throughout the episode, are entirely unaware of Rosen and Co.’s whereabouts, and when they find out what they’ve done and been complicit in, they, especially Bill, who is trying to encourage FBI/Alpha cooperation. Rosen is hardly the fatherly man who enjoyed ‘Children of the Revolution’ and speedos that we met not too long ago.

Basically it comes down to what Parrish has been building for a long time – photic sensors that enhance Alpha’s abilities greatly. Parrish has manufactured unknown numbers of these, it might be in the millions, and now they’re about the size of a cellphone. He plans to use Alphas to go berserk and kill humans using these devices. Not all at once, but building a race of super (and I mean capital ‘S’ Super) Alphas and then convincing them that humanity just wants to subjugate and imprison them? Well, it wouldn’t be pretty. By episode’s end, one of Parrish’s men accosts Rosen as he tries to go to his car and shoots at him, wounding him. Would this show go so far as to kill off Rosen? Considering that he’s been… rather unsympathetic as of late, and certainly hitting a low point tonight, it would be a big risk that might pay off, storywise, but Strathairn is certainly the show’s biggest asset as a ‘name’ and in terms of the strength of performance. I guess we’ll find out next week in the season finale.

Stray Observations:

  • Best Gary Line: ‘Bill, this is my rescue, I should get to do that.” This, after Bill pistol whips someone. Gary gets to cuff them, though.
  • I really would like to see Parrish do something other than monologue. He’s a very interesting guy, and I want to see him be explosive, not just a puppeteer.
  • Watching Nina trying to push past Cipio’s mental blocks was almost as scary as watching him be tortured.
  • Cipio to Rosen, after a last ditch appeal to humanity:  Where were you when I burned my parents’ house down? You’re about 20 years too late.” Cipio is a fantastic villain.
  • Zoe asks her mom if she’s a Terminator. You’d be surprised, kid.
  • I don’t know if anyone’s life is at stake in the finale, other than Rosen’s, so I won’t make any embarrassing bets. (Not John, please. Him and Rachel are cuties.)